Guest Contributor: Straight from the Panhandle, the Midnight Smoker shares his beef from Tom & Bingo's BBQ.
Tom & Bingo’s, Lubbock’s sole representative in the Top 50 list presented in last June’s Texas Monthly, is one of the longest operating restaurants in the city. My dad, in his 60’s now, remembers walking there for lunch when he was a student at nearby JT Hutchinson Junior High back in the late 1950’s. They are only open for lunch at Tom & Bingo’s, from 11am until “whenever we sell out of brisket,” and they aren’t open at all on Sundays. The store is a real little joint, known for its tiny floor area, its school-desk seating, and its brisket sandwiches. I headed there on a recent weekday to have a couple.
Readers of this blog know the custom is for us reviewers to sample and write about servings of sliced brisket, pork ribs and sausage. But at Tom & Bingo’s, they only serve brisket on sandwiches and they don’t serve ribs or sausage at all. You can get your brisket regular or chopped, and smoked ham and burgers are also available. I ordered one sliced and one chopped to go, paid my $10 or so and headed home to eat and contemplate in more comfort than the little school-desks allowed. First, about the difference between regular and chopped beef - there is none. The meat is cut the same either way, but if you want it chopped they just chop it up before placing it on the bun. The meat for my sandwiches seemed to come of the “top” or fatty part of the brisket (“Lean” brisket is available for an extra charge). The meat on both my sandwiches was very moist and tender, but the smoky flavor was faint. The sandwiches were good, but a little too small and a little too fatty. The vinegar-based sauce had a nice tang to it, and helped to flavor up the beef.
Frankly, I think most Lubbock ‘cue aficionados would agree with me that Tom & Bingo’s, while a neat place with some history behind it, does not serve the city’s best brisket. I’ve eaten there before, and in my experience this was a pretty typical meal. It was good, but not outstanding, and left me wondering just how many Lubbock places got tried by Texas Monthly before they settled on this one again (Tom & Bingo’s was recognized in the first TM survey, I understand). Sometimes I think they focus more on the “joint” and less on the “BBQ”.
- Midnight Smoker