Saturday, April 2, 2011
GARLAND: Meshack's Bar-B-Que Shack
240 E. Ave. B
Garland, TX 75040
Open Tues 10:30 to 5ish, W-Sat 10:30-7ish
Update: Travis Mayes, the pitmaster at Meshack's, poked hid head out through the side door to ask when he'd get his fifth star. He knows the power that his BBQ has over the locals, and he was feeling his oats today. No wonder with all of the accolades, long lines, and calls from the Food Network who are planning a shoot in the near future. Even with that success in this far corner of Garland, the Mayes family is looking towards Dallas, more specifically East Dallas to find the right place for a new location that is more easily accessible to the larger Dallas population. They also yearn for a place with interior seating, since on a chilly day like this one I had to bid my regards to eat in my normal spot - shielded from the wind in the driver's seat.
The quality of the sausage wasn't noteworthy on previous visits, but the flavors that have been highlighted in these Smoky Denmark links by the deft hand of the pitmaster was amazing. I've eaten many versions of these name brand hot links, but never have they been so perfectly crisp and juicy at the same time. They even seemed to have a bit more kick than normal. What was lacking was the normal Meshack's brisket. While these slices from the lean end looked exemplary, they were missing the signature smokiness and nicely rendered fat that I'm used to here. The meat was plenty tender and moist, but only a few choice bites, thick with crust from the narrow end of each slice released that pecan smoke flavor.
A hearty and pleasantly chewy bark on the ribs held loads of flavor. The fat had melted into the meat for a lusciously moist texture, and the seasoning and smoke had melded together to form and excellent collection of ribs and tips. Given the frequency of my BBQ meals, there is seldom a time where I'm a member of the clean plate club anymore. However, on this day every bite was consumed.
Since my first positive review, the Mayes have always shown their gratitude for my coverage whenever I stop by. There's no family I'd rather validate with a fifth star than this one, but I know Travis wouldn't want me to just give it to him. Given the perfectly smoked ribs and tantalizing sausage, the brisket just needs a slight improvement for that coveted additional star. Since I've eaten far better brisket on several occasions here, I know Travis has it in him and it will just be a matter of time before I find smoked meat perfection at Meshack's.
11/2009: During a recent trip to the Garland area to run some errands, I convinced my wife that a side trip to pick up some brisket was a necessity. Arriving a few minutes before opening, I found owner Travis Mayes working to get things ready for what he assumed would be a busy Saturday. Ribs and sausage each needed about another 1/2 hour on the smoker, so I grabbed a pound of unsliced brisket and some potato salad. While waiting for my order, I was invited inside the tiny shack to check out the operation.
Travis showed off his huge brick smoker which takes up an entire wall of the place. He also noted that the now beige interior had been painted stark white when they opened back in May. The smoke that tints those walls smelled great in the morning and really got my appetite working.
Rushing home I could barley keep myself from digging into my newly procured hunk of meat. I immediately got to slicing when I arrived home, and the meat did not disappoint. While it was slightly dry, the texture was perfect and the flavor was deeply smokey from the black crust, and the fat on the edges had been well rendered. This was a nearly perfect brisket.
I just can't wait until the next visit to get a rack of those ribs. If you stop by, be sure to grab one of their new menus which features the BBQ Snob and this blog's 4-star rating on the cover. It was a small thank you for all the business they've received after the publicity, but I assured them they deserved all of my gratitude. The Mayes' are the ones who do all the work, and they do it well.
08/2009: I can't tell you if the name Meshack's refers to one of the three thrown in the furnace in the Bible's story of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego, but I can tell you that this man uses plenty of pecan wood to stoke his 100% wood burning furnace, and has to sweat through the heat in his AC-less shack.
This tiny shack is run by Travis "The BBQ Man" Mayes and his wife Donna. Travis claims to be well known in the Garland area (please comment if you're familiar with this man's work) from his first venture in this same spot which closed in 1996. He has recently reopened under the name Meshack's in May. Food is take-out only, and ordering is done through a screen window. I grabbed a sack with a sliced beef sandwich and a rib sandwich.
Unwrapping the foil, I could already smell the smoky meat. Lifting the limp white bread revealed slices of beautiful crusty brisket with a substantive smoke ring. Each slice was tender with perfect moisture and line of perfectly rendered fat at the base. There was even a bit of meat caramel evident on some of the slices. This was some damn good brisket!
Ribs were nearly as good. Some unrendered fat and dryish texture kept them from perfection, but the crust and meat were both smoky to the core. Each rib had a bold flavor, and may have just been seasoned with smoke. Next time I can't wait to try Donna's "famous" potato salad and baked beans.
If Mr. Mayes wasn't well known enough to keep his joint going before, he should get a name for himself soon with the good stuff he's churning out these days.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 8:06 AM
Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT