JASPER: Larkin's Bar-B-Que
568 Gibson St.
Jasper, TX 75951
Open Tues-F 10-7, Sat 11-6
I hadn't heard much good feedback on the barbecue in Jasper, so we had planned to just pass through town on our way south. A fancy looking joint with fake Austin stone on the exterior proudly displayed stainless steel gasser pits on a busy corner. We passed it by, but then a red trailer tucked off the road caught my eye. The trailer along with a big steel smoker was sitting on a concrete pad under a large metal structure, and a couple of picnic tables sat outside. We ordered a combo plate of brisket, ribs and a hot link, but it's what we didn't order that was most surprising.
|Photo by Nicholas McWhirter|
Owner Michael Larkin sat with us as we ate, which is a pleasant proposition if you like it all. We suffered through a few slices of spongy and overcooked brisket and a thick rib in need of salt and smoke. The pork was chewy with a thick layer of unrendered fat and the gummy exterior from a thick rub didn't help it go down any easier. What was tougher was having the owner look on as we choked down his favorite item, the ribs. Luckily the smoked beans were there to provide something worth gushing about. They were sweet, spicy and fantastic. A hot link from Zummo's in Beaumont was a good version, but nothing special.
Just as we were finishing up, Michael asked if we wanted some of the homemade sausage. Of course we would. I could hear the ding of the microwave before he came out with a balloon inside a paper boat. It was just the sausage, but the loose casing had expanded quite impressively while the filling was steaming away in the microwave. The finishing touch was a splash of straight-from-the-bottle Italian dressing. This barely looked like food at this point, but it was actually pretty good once I popped the inflated casing. The filling resembled Mexican chorizo in both texture and flavor. What tasted like smoked paprika brought in the flavors of Spanish chorizo as well and the vinegar from the dressing helped cut through the fatty filling. Is was a series of unexpected flavors in a not-so-handsome package, but it was an inventive sausage recipe that was pretty good stuff. Pair it with the beans and don't bother with the rest.