Thursday, January 10, 2013

Johnny’s Bar-B-Q

MIDLAND: Johnny's Bar-B-Q
316 North Big Spring St.
Midland, TX 79701
Open M-Thur 11-7, F-Sat 11-7:30

The smoke was thick coming out of the Oyler smoker in the back of this joint, and the neon was bright over the door as we entered. Toward the back of the room was a long cafeteria style counter with the meats on display, but the bright red heat lamps did little to make it look appetizing. Watching the knife man cut the brisket reminded me of the carving station at a hotel banquet. Until I got my tray and headed over to a booth in the dining room, I had no idea what the meat really looked like.

The stringy dryness of the ribs was startling. These long thin spare ribs had dry meat and a drier crust covered in salt. There wasn't much to like. A fatty commercial sausage had been split open and warmed on the flat top. Chewy brisket with large white orbs of unrendered fat didn't make for a pleasant meat finale. Not even the sauce could help this stuff.

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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.