Spice Things Up!

Texans have a special kind of pride when it comes to barbecue. As Texans, the knowledge of how to expertly smoke a brisket, make corn bread from scratch and use just the right amount of seasoning in coleslaw is written in our DNA. Even if you are not the cooking type, your taste buds still probably know how to spot barbecue imposters. There are even barbecue competitions all over the state that attract eager, hungry eaters, not to mention fierce competitors. Many of us even declare barbecue as its own food group. In summary, native Texans (and some adopted Texans) take the art of barbecuing very seriously.

The new VooDoo BBQ & Grill, located right here in Frisco, accepted the challenge of bringing a new twist to southern barbecue. The company, as obvious from its name, started in New Orleans, La., and it has expanded into several locations within Louisiana and Florida. The Frisco location is the first of its kind to open in our great state.

VooDoo BBQ & Grill offers a casual, sit-down dining experience located within the retail center just north of Stonebriar Centre. Once you step inside, it feels like you are transported to the infamous French Quarter. There is patio seating strategically placed on the shady side of the building and floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides of the restaurant. Pressed metal, exposed ductwork ceilings and gaslight lamps fill the open space. The seating area consists of booths and tables with wooden chairs and the festive jazz music creates an upbeat atmosphere. Even the menus and signs are decorated with full-blown Mardi Gras themes and colors. You almost expect to see a little parade come through the restaurant while you are enjoying your meal!

My husband and I met for a workday lunch, eager to see how the New Orleans take on barbecue compared to our love for Texas barbecue. Parking, because of the perpetually crowded retail center, was a small challenge, but we both found spots relatively close to the restaurant without having to make the dreaded parking lot circle. When we arrived, we were greeted enthusiastically by the friendly staff that was busy working in the food preparation area. After that, we waited in a short line to place our order. The cashier was friendly and very knowledgeable about the menu. She answered our questions with ease and knew a lot about all of the dishes available. As we paid, we noticed that the food was priced very reasonably!

We grabbed our drinks from a soda fountain, which offered all of the usual choices with options to add cherry, vanilla, strawberry or lemon flavoring. The strawberry flavoring that I added to my Dr Pepper® was surprisingly refreshing!

Then, we found a booth and sat down with our order number in the dining area. There were several other people having lunch, including families, co-workers and groups of friends. Because of the location and setup, this is a great spot to meet for a quick meal before heading back to the office. The crowd was made up of an eclectic mix of people, but everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy their food and the fun ambiance.

Our meals arrived in a timely manner. My husband ordered the Signature Pulled Pork Sandwich, Potato Salad and Brownie, and I chose the Barbecue Shrimp, Corn Bread, Baked Beans and White Chocolate Bread Pudding. My husband tried all three of the restaurant’s special barbecue sauces and decided he liked the VooDoo Mango Sauce the best. It was similar in taste to a buffalo wing sauce, as it was spicy, but not over the top. The MoJo Sauce tasted similar to a traditional Texas barbecue sauce. It was smoky with a thick consistency. The Cane Vinegar Sauce was vinegar-based and the unique taste was very prominent. All three sauces are available for purchase, in case you feel compelled to start putting it on everything you eat (which you might)!

My husband said the pulled pork on his sandwich was moist and well-seasoned. When he ordered, the cashier informed him that he could add more seasoning to the dish, if he desired. It turned out to be a great choice because he loves spicy and hot foods. The bun on the sandwich had been toasted to keep it from getting soggy from the barbecue sauce or juices from the pork. This is just one of the many important details for a barbecue aficionado to pay attention to. VooDoo BBQ & Grill smokes its meats in-house and they are sticklers about serving everything competition style (without sauce) so patrons can choose the flavor they like the best. The potato salad my husband tried with his sandwich was mustard-based, and he ate every last bite!

The only way to describe the brownie is that it was magical. My husband is a big fan of chocolate and the brownie was served warm under a white and dark chocolate drizzle. It was a hefty serving! The $2.49 price tag seemed like a real bargain for the size of the treat. I snuck a bite and noticed that it was incredibly rich. I almost wished we had some milk to drink with it!

I managed to order signature items from the menu, which I think was a good decision. The Barbecue Shrimp was served in a bowl with two pieces of bread and a sauce that was out of this world. The bread was very necessary because it was perfect for soaking up the extra sauce. I am not kidding when I say I considered drinking the sauce straight from the bowl. It was tangy, had a hint of garlic and was deserving of its featured spot on the signature dish list. The baked beans were sweetened with brown sugar, making the flavor combinations of smoky and sweet taste phenomenal together. The corn bread was crumbly and buttery with a few pieces of real corn. It reminded me of the corn bread my grandmother makes from scratch.

The White Chocolate Bread Pudding was everything you could hope for in a good bread pudding. It was warm, dense and the white chocolate gave it just the right amount of sweetness. Again, it was an ample portion. Both of the desserts we ordered were big enough to share with another person.

The staff was eager to assist us, and they checked on us several times while we ate. We felt like they really wanted to make sure we enjoyed our meal, but they were not overbearing or bothersome when they checked in. It can be a tough balance of timing, but they had it down. As we left, someone made sure to ask how our experience at VooDoo BBQ & Grill was before wishing us a pleasant rest of our day. We left full and happy. I ate more than I usually would for lunch, but I do not regret one morsel of it.

VooDoo BBQ & Grill provides catering services and the option to pick up a meal to go. There is also beer available for purchase in a cooler as you walk in. If you visit the restaurant’s website, you will see that it serves Abita beer, a Louisiana favorite. Even better news is that moms and dads do not have to worry about finding something on the menu for their children. There is a kid’s menu in case your little ones are not adventurous eaters and want to stick to staple dishes like chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese or a cheeseburger.

This new Frisco dining destination is a festive and casual spot that offers an authentic, unique, upbeat and spicy take on a Texas staple food. If you have been shopping or out running errands, this is a tasty place to take a break. It could also be a great new place to meet up with friends or with the family for a fun dinner.

I had the opportunity to speak to Brad Burgess, the owner of this franchise. When VooDoo BBQ & Grill opened on May 4 of this year, he said he was surprised how many people were from Louisiana and sought out the restaurant as a familiar friend. He has a silent partner out of Oklahoma City, Okla., and the team hopes to bring additional VooDoo BBQ & Grill locations to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex in the future. Mr. Burgess said, “I researched franchises for about a year. I really wanted to find a new concept because there are so many options here now. I knew there were a lot of people from Louisiana here.” He thought this restaurant would be a good fit for Frisco and he was right! I like to consider myself an adventurous eater, and I have never had this particular mixture of flavors before. VooDoo BBQ & Grill stands out among our city’s many restaurant choices.

Aside from the BBQ Shrimp, that I hope to enjoy again soon, Mr. Burgess also recommends the BBQ Jambalaya, which is a signature dish (and his personal favorite).

As previously mentioned, the original VooDoo BBQ & Grill started in New Orleans. It opened in 2002, in the height of that year’s Mardi Gras festival. The restaurant’s website shares stories of employees going out into the streets with coolers to sell food and keep the party going because it was so crowded inside the restaurant. It makes for an even better story when you learn that the founders met in college at Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers)! They wanted to bring their passion for the unique flavors of New Orleans to everyone by creating a new category of food, including New Orleans-style barbecue blended with Caribbean, Cajun and Creole flavors.

Frisco residents love going out to eat. We have a seemingly endless variety of places to choose from that feature every type of cuisine imaginable. Now that VooDoo BBQ & Grill has arrived, our dining scene may very well be complete. There may be people who prefer to stand firm and continue to eat only traditional Texas barbecue, but they are going to miss out on a new, fresh, cultural twist on an old favorite.

Be bold. Be daring. Spice things up. Try a new favorite meal at VooDoo BBQ & Grill! You will not be disappointed.

Christi Redfearn is a wife, mom and Aggie in search of that perfect lap time in her weekend race car.