Grab and Go: Dickey’s smokes out Texas barbecue
People prefer their barbecue made low and slow, but at the same time, but they want it fast. That’s the biggest challenge for Danny Mabalot, who opened Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Kapolei, the first Hawaii location for the Texas- style barbecue chain.
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People prefer their barbecue made low and slow, but at the same time, but they want it fast. That’s the biggest challenge for Danny Mabalot, a Makakilo resident who opened Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Kapolei, the first Hawaii location for the Texas- style barbecue chain.
The lines wound out the door when Mabalot opened Dickey’s Oct. 3 in Kealanani Plaza near Walmart, but the waits aren’t as long on weekdays, and the weekends are busy but not crazy. At first everyone was clamoring to try the popular barbecue brand, but now the “honeymoon is over,” he joked, and staff has worked out the kinks so things operate more efficiently.
Without a doubt, the tender smoked brisket and the juicy pork ribs are snapped up the fastest, Mabalot said. They’re accompanied by barbecued beans, macaroni and cheese and other tempting side dishes the South is famous for. There’s even pecan pie for dessert.
DICKEY’S BARBEQUE PIT
Kealanani Plaza, 91-710 Farrington Highway
>> Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
>> Cost: Plates $11.25-$15.25
>> Parking: Free in shopping center lot
>> Seating: Tables for 24 inside and over 40 on the patio under umbrellas
>> Contact: 674-2271, dickeys.com
Dickey’s has been around for 77 years — its slogan: “Legit. Texas. Barbecue” — with hundreds of self-service locations in 45 states. It’s a place that will bust your diet, but calorie counts are given for each item, so diners can calculate the cost to their waistlines.
Mabalot, who owns two Subway franchises in Waianae and Wahiawa, knew Dickey’s would be a hit in Hawaii once he visited one on the mainland, because people here love barbecue, he said. The islands have few Texas or Southern barbecue restaurants to choose from, he figured, and “everybody wants something different.”
Mabalot, a backyard pit aficionado for years, said he did lots of research and picked up tips from competition-level pitmasters he befriended on social media. They taught him how to judge the doneness of the meat by its look and feel, and how it’s supposed to jiggle when tender.
“In Texas there are a lot of mom-and-pop barbecue joints that are really passionate about making great barbecue. That’s how I want to be. I wanted to be a literate pitmaster before I went to training (at Dickey’s).”
Texas transplants looking for a taste of home make up a lot of his regulars, as well as military folk, he said, but local residents are also eager to try everything.
Everything is cooked daily in a giant stainless-steel smoker using a hickory wood blend, right in the kitchen area; nothing is grilled on direct heat. The brisket takes 12 to 14 hours to smoke, and it’s a challenge to keep up with the demand for more than 300 pounds a day. Ala carte, it sells for $8.95 a half pound, or you can get it in a variety of meal combinations.
The pork ribs take up to three hours, and come with a choice of sauces — the tangy original, sweet and spicy. They’re $12.95 for a half rack, and $24 for a full rack (about 13 bones). A Saturday special is beef ribs so big they’re called “Dino Ribs,” for $18 a pound.
WHAT TO ORDER
Besides the brisket and ribs, Dickey’s offers pulled pork, chicken breast, turkey and two kinds of Polish kielbasa sausage (regular and jalapeno cheddar.) Plates come with one to three meats, and include two side dishes, from $11.25 to $15.25.
For smaller appetites there are sandwiches and tacos. But the Smoke Stacks for $7.95 are a bit more filling — combinations of Fritos corn chips, chopped brisket, beans and cheddar cheese (just 1,090 calories); or brisket and mac and cheese (680 calories).
Sides from $3 to $5 include creamed spinach and the new Onion Tanglers, which are like fried onion rings but more of a tangled mess. Mabalot is especially proud of the fried okra and waffle fries, also popular.
He has permission from Dickey’s to be the only franchise with rice on the menu, knowing “some people can’t eat without rice.” Rice eaters will often try something new as a second choice, he’s found.
Dickey’s is also known for its Big Yellow Cup, a 32-ounce thirst quencher at $2.50, that can be brought back to the restaurant for 99-cent refills.
HOW TO ORDER
Call in or order at the counter. Soon to come are online ordering and delivery by Bite Squad.
Grab and Go focuses on takeout food, convenience meals and other quick bites. Email ideas to email@example.com.