Monday, April 6, 2009

Gonzales Food Market

GONZALES: The Gonzales Food Market
311 Saint Lawrence St
Gonzales, TX 78629
Open M-F 8-6, Sat 7-6

The Food Market on the historic square of Gonzales, Texas is part BBQ joint and part convenience store. Pass through the glass door and you'll hear a hum of activity as you walk towards the large glass faced cases that display the plethora of smoked meats available. Behind the counter to take your order will most likely be Richard Lopez, the third generation owner. (A great oral history of the joint from Mr. Lopez himself can be found here.) This joint was our eighth stop of the day, so we were doing well to fit any more meat in our stomachs. I'd heard from so many sources that this joint was good, but it's never made it into the heralded Texas Monthly Top 50, so I was skeptical.

I swore to my companions that I would order the minimum required to get a taste, but the prominently displayed meats and the delightful aromas changed all that. I ordered a plate of sliced brisket, spare ribs and sausage. I finally got to snap a shot of the brisket after we'd polished off most of the other was that good.

A crispy, almost candy crust coated the brisket. The texture was as if the meat had dried out, but these slices were perfectly moist and tender with perfectly rendered fat. The crust's flavor was also smoky, as was each slice from top to bottom. We later learned from a clipping on the wall that the crust was formed by smoking the briskets in a pan that captures the rendered fat and juices. The brisket is then seared in this pan during the cooking process to get that wonderful crust. The ribs were equally as good, if not as complex. There was little rub, but the wonderfully smoky flavor ran through the moist, if not incredibly tender meat. Each bite just made me want another despite the lack of gastric real estate. The sausage was run-down-your-chin juicy (fatty) with lingering heat not reminiscent of anything else in the area. The meat had a fine grind, and the casings had good snap. Of the joints tried on this day, Gonzales Food Market was the only place that nailed every meat. This joint should be considered a must try for anyone traveling the Central Texas BBQ trail, and how it has never cracked the Top 50, I can't begin to know.

Rating *****
Gonzales Food Market on Urbanspoon


Unknown said...

I am from Shiner, Texas which is 18 miles south south west (I think off the top of my head) from Gonzales. I LOVE the sausage from Gonzales Meat Market and everytime we visit my folks we have to make a side trip to get some sausage! It's that good! There is a bar b que joint here on the South Side of Fort Worth, Longoria's that has just about the same type of sausage, they are originally from Gonzales. But they just don't have the sauce, that's what really makes the sausage even better. I am going to have to take a trip pretty soon. Oh yeah, East Texas Hot Links come pretty close but not quite there.

Maria Juarez

g.cue said...

My son and I visited the Gonzales Meat Market last Saturday and thought it was the worst BBQ we had ever eaten. We had been to Luling City Market earlier in the day and have made 2 trips to Lockhart this summer. We ordered the lamb ribs, pork ribs and brisket. The lamb ribs were a chaw of fat, the pork ribs had absolutely no flavor and the brisket was roast beef in flavor. I have made over 25 BBQ trips since April and am all about 2nd chances, but Gonzales will probably not be one of them.



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.