What is it that makes good road food? If you’ve ever done a cross-country trip – or a trip across Texas, for that matter – you might have found yourself relegated to a Slim Jim, chips, a soda – something you could grab at a convenience store.
But if you ask some truck drivers what they consider to be great road food in Texas, more than a few of them might direct you to Mr. D’s BBQ in Texarkana.
Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor for Texas Monthly, shared more about what makes Mr. D’s so impressive.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: What is this Mr. D’s BBQ all about? And why are Texas truck drivers so happy that this is now an established thing?
Daniel Vaughn: Well, if you’re headed out toward Texarkana, just before you get to town, you take the Leary exit. And really, the only thing at the Leary exit is a giant truck stop, and right across the street is this tiny little yellow trailer. It’s a little food truck called Mr. D’s BBQ.
And it’s placed there specifically because that giant truck stop across the way is there. You can go inside the truck stop and get a Subway, or you can head across the street and get some really great barbecue.
I was just thinking about the monotony of food on the road, but obviously, you ask a truck driver what’s good to eat, and they’re going to give you the real deal. I’m curious as to the business plan here with setting up this Mr. D’s BBQ spot right across the street from from the truck stop.
Well, yeah. The thing about Mr. D’s is inside, there is no mister in that trailer. It’s Nikiya Dansby, and she runs the pit; she runs the food truck.
And the mister of Mr. D’s is actually a truck driver – he’s out on the road. So she really knows the needs of truck drivers and really the the monotony that you’re talking about they can get on the road. And so she’s trying to offer something a little bit different.
» GET MORE NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE: Sign up for Texas Standard’s weekly newsletters
So what makes it so different?
You know, the thing is, like if you’re driving up to it just as a regular customer, not somebody who’s a truck driver, it’s really unique. Because you walk up to this trailer, and there’s a camera on you, and there’s a walkie-talkie, and you actually can call Nikiya Dansby on the walkie-talkie. Because chances are she might be back in the house doing prep work.
So it kind of feels like you’re ordering by CB. You sit there on the walkie- talkie, placing your order, and then she comes out and gives it to you. It’s a cashless system as well, so it’s like Venmo or Cash App that she takes. So it’s really all streamlined.
But you can’t really see much of what’s going on in the trailer or back in the house. So when you open up that big styrofoam tray, you don’t really know what you get. But man, when I did, I was so impressed with the pork ribs, especially. I mean, they were beautiful. They were delicious. It’s just just one of those things, like, it’s these unexpected places that you get great barbecue, and it just always feels good to open up a tray that looks that good.
You know, Daniel, coming from you, that’s high praise indeed. Tell us a little bit more about what’s on the menu.
Well, I went right for the Bro-quet, which is basically a Valentine’s Day special for men that stuck on the menu, which is four meats and two sides. She’s like, “guys don’t like roses. They like meat.” So she put the Bro-quet platter together, which gets you some brisket, some fabulous smoked chicken with a good crispy skin, sausage, pulled pork and ribs. Did I say four meats? I’m at five.
I mean, it was so good that I had to go back and see what I had missed on the menu. And so I got a little bowl of the smoked gumbo as, I guess, dessert. And it was just another impressive dish.