By Jarred Kibbey
I recently traveled to Texas and Kansas City in back-to-back weekends where I got to eat some very good BBQ. What I did not expect was some of the best BBQ that I have had was not in either location, but instead in Johnson, Arkansas at Wright’s Barbecue. Wright’s is a fairly new operation, but they are turning out some incredible BBQ like some of the more established BBQ joints across the nation.
When you drive up you are instantly hit by the smell of BBQ, which is being put out by their giant smoker appropriately named “Hakuna Matata.” We ordered the Texas Trinity, which is a combination plate consisting of brisket, jalapeno cheese sausage, pork ribs, and two sides. All three meats were excellent. The sausage had a great toothsome snap to it, exactly what you want out of smoked sausage. The pork ribs were cooked exactly how I like them, easily pulling away from the bone, but not falling apart as you try to eat them. They were some of the best ribs that I have had in Arkansas.
Finally, the brisket. I love brisket, but there is no place that I have found in Arkansas that can come close to cooking a good brisket. This all changed when I visited Wright’s. The brisket was the standout on the plate. As we arrived, we watched as the owner pulled out a giant piece of brisket and sliced it in front of us to show how moist and tender it was. The best part of the brisket was the bark that Wright’s was able to generate. It was thick and flavorful without tasting burnt, which is quite the accomplishment. This is not only the best brisket that I have had in Arkansas, but it is some of the best anywhere.
The Texas Trinity is usually served with bacon burnt ends, which unfortunately he had already sold out of by the time we made it up there from Little Rock, but a friend went to Wright’s the following day and got an order and his response guarantees I will try them next time. “I now know what I want for my last meal.”
The sauce also deserves a shout out. I am generally not a fan of sauces, preferring to let the meat and cooking method speak for itself, so I almost wrote it off, but decided to try it since I had a small container of it with my meal. It was simply amazing. It’s a fairly simple sauce containing only five ingredients, but you can tell they have been working to fine tune it for quite a while. I found myself dipping just about everything in it by the time the meal was over. This included a chocolate chip cookie that I accidentally dripped some sauce on. While I don’t think Nestle will be making a BBQ chocolate chip cookie any time soon, it was actually pretty tasty. You know you have a good sauce when it is good on a cookie.
Wright’s is on top of its game. What is even more impressive is they have only been in their brick and mortar location for two months (previously a food trailer) and are already doing great things. The sky is the limit for them. So I encourage everyone to stop by and give them a try. Arkansas needs good BBQ. Arkansas deserves good BBQ, so everyone needs to do their part to make sure quality places like this can make it in such a tough industry. Yes they are a little off the beaten path in Johnson, but they are worth the drive. Heck, I am thinking about making the drive up there again just for some more brisket.
2212 Main Drive (Johnson, AR)
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 11am-9pm; Closed Sunday-Tuesday