Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bar-B-Q Express

 MARSHALL: Bar-B-Q Express
801 Elmore St.
Marshall, TX 75670
Open Tues-Sun 11-7

A few months ago I realized I was closing in on 500 reviews. Not visits, but 500 unique barbecue joints visited while writing this blog. I wondered aloud then if I should contrive it to be somewhere special or notable, or if I should just let it happen. The feedback from readers was mixed, so I thought I would just let it happen. If the joint wasn't great it would be more fitting anyway given that most of those first 499 BBQ joints weren't really notable. It wasn't until a couple of weeks after this visit to Bar-B-Q Express in Marshall that I realized it was the big #500. I'm glad to say it was some serviceable barbecue served in a bleak part of the state for well smoked meats.

Photo by Nicholas McWhirter
I had a eaten my share of fatty little East Texas links the previous day without uncovering my fondness for them, but they'd all been baked. Maybe it was the smoke they were missing. Nope. They were crispier here, but still awful even after a bath in the smoker. A “Hot-Hot Link” on the special board was nothing more than a spiced up hotdog, but the crusty and saucy ribs were much better. The meat was tender on the thick spare rib and the smoke wasn’t hidden by the relatively mild sauce although it covered entire rib. This was solid East Texas style barbecue.

The chopped beef sandwich wasn’t scooped out of a steam table vat of pre-chopped meat. I watched as a fresh brisket was sliced thick then chopped on wood block. The knife man told me it was lean sandwich, but I had just watched him chop some very fatty slices from the point end of the brisket. No matter as the meat was well smoked and the fat well rendered. The texture of the sandwich was silky with a spicy sauce. The hickory smoke was prominent even with the heavy amount of sauce.

If you travel into East Texas, don't expect to get heavily smoked meats on butcher paper sans sauce in the Central Texas style. Meat around here will be over-tender and saucy and served on styrofoam. Sometimes it will even be pretty decent which is why Bar-B-Q Express might be notable after all.

Rating ***


Smokin Ronnie Halcomb said...

500. Mr V, uda MaN.

Anonymous said...

BBQ Express is the best joint in a couple of counties. A tad inconsistent, sausage is only OK, but when it's good (which is more often than not) the brisket is the best you'll find around East Texas. They usually have a daily blue plate special that's pretty good, too!


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.