Texas Brisket Is Coming to Kapolei

Hickory-smoked, Texas-style barbecue is coming to the west side in September, thanks to barbecue fan and Makakilo resident Danny Mabalot.

Mabalot is pit master and franchise owner of the new Kapolei Dickey’s Barbecue Pit—the first Hawaiʻi location for this popular chain that’s in 44 other states.

What: The first Dickey’s Texas-style BBQ in Hawaii.
Where: Kealanani Plaza, 91-0710 Farrington Hwy (near Walmart).
When: Opens September 7. UPDATE: Some construction delays put opening behind schedule. We’ll update this when we hear a new date!
You Gotta Know: Beef brisket is their specialty.

Before Mabalot agreed to open, he had to make one important request. To the leaders of Dickey’s, it was a pretty unusual one.

“I told them: ‘For the sides, we want to serve rice.’”

Mabalot says his contact at Dickey’s was a little skeptical. “He said: ‘Lemme get back to you. Gotta see if I can get approval.’”

Approval came through, a big relief to Mabalot. “The locals gotta have rice, right?”

Mabalot met us for a quick chat at the restaurant, which is under construction in the small shopping center on Farrington Highway across from Walmart. He is a friendly, busy, high-energy guy. He served in Iraq with the US Army, and since returning has helped manage two other franchise restaurants—his family owns a Subway in Waiʻanae and another in Wahiawā.

Dickey’s fits more with Mabalot’s interests. “I’ve been doing smoked barbecue for a while-backyard kine,” he says. “I’ve been doing my own rubs. Sometimes I make friends with barbecue pit masters, they send me their rub recipes.”

At Dickey’s, Mabalot will serve pork ribs, pulled pork, sausage, turkey, chicken, and sausage. But the specialty will be the king of Texas barbeque-beef brisket.

Smoking beef brisket is practically a religion in Texas. On weekend mornings you’ll see people standing in lines 30-40 deep at barbecue stands and trucks. You have to line up hours before opening at some of the famous ones, like Franklin Barbecue in Austin.

The best beef brisket has a thick, flavorful crust, called the bark. Just below is ring of pink that comes from the smoke. If you don’t see that pink ring, you aren’t eating real wood-smoked barbecue. As you can see above, Dickey’s brisket has it.

Texas barbecue isn’t slathered in sauce—that’s more of a Kansas City thing. Instead, the flavor comes from the smoke and a dry rub, which, according to Mabalot, is pretty simple.

“Pretty much all brisket rubs are salt and pepper based,” he says. “It’s not rocket science.” It is enough science, though, that Mabalot spent three weeks at Dickey’s Barbecue University in Dallas. All franchise owners are designated as their location’s pit master. They’re required to attend the classes to learn the Dickey’s way.

dickeys pulled pork

Dickey’s will ship hickory wood from the mainland so people in Hawaiʻi can experience the authentic Texas flavor. That will be a first.

Mabalot is also planning another innovation at his restaurant: self-serve beer.

No more waiting for a bartender to do the simple task of pulling a tap. At Dickey’s you’ll be able to pour as much or as little beer as you want-you’re charged by the ounce.

Here’s how it works:

  • You’ll trade your credit card for a special card that records what you drink.
  • You flash the card next to the tap of your choice, and pour away.

You can do tasters, or load up on your favorites. Mabalot plans to have beers from Maui Brewing, Aloha Brewing, and Saint Archers on tap.

Mabalot will open Dickey’s doors on Friday, September 7, with a grand opening celebration planned for Saturday the 8th. We’ll be learning more about the party, the food, the smoking process, and the beer. Stay tuned.