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If you’ve put Wright’s Barbecue in Johnson or Bentonville on your “gotta-try-someday list,” go ahead and switch it to the “must-try-today” list ASAP! Because once you’ve tasted perfectly smoked pit barbecue made the Wright way, you’ll never procrastinate again!
Once upon a time in 2011, Jordan Wright purchased a Big Green Egg backyard smoker and started cooking brats and “all the barbecue meats” in his backyard. The smoking bug bit him hard – much to his family and friends’ delight.
Two years later, Jordan decided to stop at a barbecue place “somewhere in Texas” and that’s when it happened. His first taste of “real Texas barbecue” hooked him even deeper and Jordan found himself watching barbecue video after barbecue video on YouTube, learning the tricks from Aaron Franklin and other barbecue giants.
He wanted to bring the method of open flame and 100% wood fire to Northwest Arkansas. Most of all, Jordan wanted others to have a life-changing barbecue experience.
“I ate at Franklin’s in December 2015, along with many different little barbecue places in Texas that had good meats and sides. Once I started getting a knack where I wanted to get better at it, I went and got a real pit cooker and started improving.”
Jordan moved fast and in 2016 he opened a food truck and began selling his smoke meats at the Fayetteville Farmers Market and other Fayetteville community events.
Customers wanted more. So, in the spring of 2017, Jordan moved his food truck to a location where he could stay open longer. Business was good and several months later he quit his job at Tyson Foods and embraced the pit barbecue life full-time. He was all in.
The adorable 1917 home where his food truck was opened became available and Jordan quickly purchased it and began renovating it into his flagship restaurant, opening in October 2017.
The food truck moved around back and he added on the patio and yard, expanding the seating options from inside to outside.
His urgency paid off. Customers kept coming and meat kept selling out. One-1000 gallon pit became two 1000-gallon pits. Two 1000-gallon pits became three 1000-gallon. And it kept on growing and growing as demand kept building.
In the summer of 2020, another adorable home became available a few blocks off the square in Bentonville. Jordan jumped at it, renovated it to match the Johnson spot, and opened the doors one day a week.
“And then we added more days and eventually we decided that we needed to fully staff the Bentonville one, too.”
It was a good move because customers kept coming and meat kept selling out. Instead of adding pits to the Bentonville location, everything is smoked in Johnson and shuttled on up to Bentonville.
The Bentonville location is more convenient to the biking and walking community and fits a need for the downtown square community.
Pitmasters work the smokers from Monday until Saturday night. Wright’s uses pecan wood, cherry wood, white oak wood or whatever is available for the meats.
And while they do their best effort to smoke the right quantity to meet demand, they usually run out of chicken and the smaller cooked meats. It’s not like they don’t warn you of the possibility. The moral of the story is to get there early in the day or order your meats and sides ahead of time.
Honestly, even if they run out of meat… stay for the sides. Believe me, they’re worth it and all are made in-house.
“Sides are made in-house and in-kitchen at both locations. We take pride in making high quality sides and making them fresh every day.”
Wondering what to eat?
I recommend starting with the brisket, the most popular menu item. It is Jordan’s favorite too so you can’t argue with that!
“I’ve eaten a lot of brisket now in my life. I love brisket. I love our ribs, too. I’m pretty much impartial. I try to keep a balance barbecue diet, especially when you work in it. But push comes to shove, the brisket is my favorite.”
The menu has bowls and plate options, which will allow you to experiment with all the sides. Most people go with the two-meat plate.
I personally could live on the green beans, slaw and mac ’n cheese.
If you find yourself obsessed with Wright’s barbecue sauces, you’re not alone. The original barbecue seasoning and meat rubs are available throughout Arkansas in Walmart stores.
Believe it or not, there are people out there that say they “aren’t barbecue people.” But hear me out: Wright’s Barbecue has something wonderful for everyone.
This is delicious food. It is unbelievably tender food. It is the kind of food you want when you want something special that isn’t stuffy. This is the real deal kind of food with a purpose.
“Our mission is bigger than barbecue. Wright’s is a place that works and serves our community and gives back, like through Potters House. But you have to work and serve in the community so that we have a higher purpose to what we do. A positive impact where people come to work and have a great career and give back to the community.”
212 Main Drive
Fayetteville, AR (Johnson)
208 NE 3rd Street
Open until they are sold out!
Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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