Quaint Roanoke, TX is located just north of Keller, about 50 minutes from Fort Worth. Although not the original location, along the main road with many other restaurants is Hard Eight BBQ.
Hard Eight compliments the town of Roanoke perfectly. Upon walking in, like most BBQ places, you head straight up and get your order. No waiters or hostesses necessary. But what makes Hard Eight a little different from other BBQ places is the pit is right there to greet you. Most BBQ places display the meat they are going to serve you, but here it’s like walking into a bakery where everything is on display.
What’s also a tad different is that as you enter into the next room you’re herded (ha) into an assembly line or as the website calls it “Texas style service”. You go down the line and pick up any sides you see fit to accommodate your meal. You start off at the bread station, where if you got this far and ordered the brisket sandwich and didn’t get bread, you request it here! After that it’s pretty much the usual: coleslaw, potato salad, fruit, cups for BBQ sauce, and ending with hot cases filled with Mac and cheese and cobblers. Then you pay, get your drink and enjoy. Now if any BBQ connoisseurs are reading this you may be thinking “wait, what about beans?” Have no fear, for here the beans are free. That’s right, FREE. They station two pots of beans boiling within a mixture of bacon and jalapeños by the drink dispenser. Did I mention they’re free? #blessed
Now to this day, I still swear by Angelo’s and I may be a bit biased, but still. So going into any brisket endeavor I try to be unbiased. When the pit master sliced the brisket you could tell it was tender and pulled apart beautifully. I did not see a significant smoke ring. The meat was tender and delicious, there were particular bites that had a smoky flavor. The sauce was pretty basic, certainly not hot (there are two kinds of sauce: their classic and hot n spicy…I wish I got the hot).
The sides I got were coleslaw (which Angelo’s also has the best in my opinion) and Mac n cheese. The coleslaw was actually pretty good! Very close to Angelo’s and was not thick with mayonnaise. But the winner of this dinner is the Mac n cheese: one bite and immediately I moaned. So creamy, so cheesy, the shells cooked perfectly. I didn’t even need to add salt or pepper. I would drive 50 minutes for that Mac.
Hard Eight certainly has a fun atmosphere, it was cool getting to be apart of ‘making’ your meal! The rustic Texan atmosphere makes eating your BBQ that much more enjoyable, I would certainly go back for this unique way of serving BBQ.