Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tom & Bingo's BBQ

Tom & Bingo’s BBQ
3006 34th Street
Lubbock, Texas
Open M-F, 11-3:30, Sat 11-2:30

Guest Contributor: Straight from the Panhandle, the Midnight Smoker shares his beef from Tom & Bingo's BBQ.

Tom & Bingo’s, Lubbock’s sole representative in the Top 50 list presented in last June’s Texas Monthly, is one of the longest operating restaurants in the city. My dad, in his 60’s now, remembers walking there for lunch when he was a student at nearby JT Hutchinson Junior High back in the late 1950’s. They are only open for lunch at Tom & Bingo’s, from 11am until “whenever we sell out of brisket,” and they aren’t open at all on Sundays. The store is a real little joint, known for its tiny floor area, its school-desk seating, and its brisket sandwiches. I headed there on a recent weekday to have a couple.

Readers of this blog know the custom is for us reviewers to sample and write about servings of sliced brisket, pork ribs and sausage. But at Tom & Bingo’s, they only serve brisket on sandwiches and they don’t serve ribs or sausage at all. You can get your brisket regular or chopped, and smoked ham and burgers are also available. I ordered one sliced and one chopped to go, paid my $10 or so and headed home to eat and contemplate in more comfort than the little school-desks allowed. First, about the difference between regular and chopped beef - there is none. The meat is cut the same either way, but if you want it chopped they just chop it up before placing it on the bun. The meat for my sandwiches seemed to come of the “top” or fatty part of the brisket (“Lean” brisket is available for an extra charge). The meat on both my sandwiches was very moist and tender, but the smoky flavor was faint. The sandwiches were good, but a little too small and a little too fatty. The vinegar-based sauce had a nice tang to it, and helped to flavor up the beef.

Frankly, I think most Lubbock ‘cue aficionados would agree with me that Tom & Bingo’s, while a neat place with some history behind it, does not serve the city’s best brisket. I’ve eaten there before, and in my experience this was a pretty typical meal. It was good, but not outstanding, and left me wondering just how many Lubbock places got tried by Texas Monthly before they settled on this one again (Tom & Bingo’s was recognized in the first TM survey, I understand). Sometimes I think they focus more on the “joint” and less on the “BBQ”.
Rating **

- Midnight Smoker
Tom & Bingo's Hickory Pit BBQ on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I agree. I was there this week-06-03-09, and after I had the chopped beef samdwich, I wondered why. The meat was moist but flavorless. I could not detect any good smoke flavor.
I do think there are much better places in Lubock for BBQ.

Midnight Smoker said...

There you have it...independent verification of my review. Tell me your favorite, Mr. Anonymous, and I will try to go there soon.

Anonymous said...

Different "anonymous" here, I would recommend J and J on Texas Ave. Not the best I have ever had, but I have never been disappointed. It is also a small joint and the pit is too small for ribs, but the brisket is good.

I agree about TM. They are definitely more concerned about the atmosphere of a joint and the characters that run it rather than what really matters: the meat.

Anonymous said...

Sure makes you miss Stubbs, the earlier or the later, and Great Scott's don't it?

Emily Davis said...

You MUST go to Wiley's BBQ. You know you are in the right neighborhood because you can smell it for blocks. 1805 Parkway right off MLK Blvd. It's wonderful as is their own sauce. They also have great Family Packs which we've used quite often. Their lunch combo comes with chips or potato salad - my kind of place. Their chopped beef sand. is HUGE. Give it a try...

Anonymous said...

AGREED! Wiley's is very very good! Super hot food with very good ribs and meat. I would also recommend J&J downtown, however it can get pretty crowded in there with all the police force going to lunch down there. Texas Cafe and Bar? or what is locally known as The Spoon out on 50th and Knoxville serves some really great BBQ. In my honest opinion, for as much of a reputation Tom and Bingos has, it is not a fair representation of great west Texas barbeque. Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

J&M on Slide rd. close to 82nd has the best brisket in town!!

Anonymous said...

This article is stupid. There is a difference in the chopped and sliced meat. one is chopped, and one is sliced. did you not watch the guy make your sandwhich right in front of you? and the meat has incredible smoked flavor. they dont season the meat at all. that is pure hickory flavor. have you ever had meat anywhere else that was that moist? most bbq places leave their meat out to dry. tom and bingos will throw away an entire briskett before they sell a sandwhich that isnt perfect. you dont know good bbq if you dont like tom n bingos.

Anonymous said...

This place is closed.

BBQ Snob said...

Via a contact in Lubbock, as of 10 minutes ago, Tom & Bingo's is open for business. Why the confusion, Anonymous?


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.