Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Vitek's Bar-B-Q

WACO: Vitek's Bar-B-Q
1600 Speight Ave

Waco, TX 76706


Open Tues-F 10:30-6, Sat 11-4

Vitek's is generally pregame central on football Saturday's given its convenient location just south of the Baylor campus. Most students stop in to rab a "Gut Pak" which is a glorified frito pie which includes fritos, cheese, chopped beef, beans, sausage, bread, pickles, onions and jalapenos. It comes in two sizes, and is their signature dish. They even have a traveling food trailer called the Gut Pak Shak, which will soon be available for franchising according to the website. This is a far cry from the humble food market that opened in Waco in 1915, and leaps ahead of the Vitek's of just a few years ago that was without a website when I first starting researching BBQ options in Waco. Instead of ordering a Gut Pak, I opted for some of the raw ingredients. I was only stopping for a snack after all.

Not pictured above is the third component of the three-meat plate, the homemade jalapeno sausage. It was the best item I sampled, so I'll start there. The coarsely ground pork sausage had good snap and loads of smoked flavor. Bits of black pepper and plenty of jalapeno chunks were present in this pleasing blend, but it was it was not overpoweringly hot. The links had a great balance of fat to keep things moist without tasting greasy. This sausage was also gray, which is the true sign of being homemade. Sausage that is processed for wholesale is treated with nitrates to preserve the meat for a long shelf life, and those nitrates give the sausage the familiar reddish hue.

Ribs were not as successful. The meat had little bark from a combination of under-smoking and over-glazing. They were plenty meaty, but the meat was too firm, and lacked smokiness. The rub was a bit overpowering, but a little more smoke would have balanced it out well. The brisket had a great texture with very good moisture that broke apart without falling apart. The smokiness was evident in the crust, but could have been stronger in the rest of the meat. The overall flavor was robust from the nice salty rub, and I would definitely order it again. Beans and potato salad were both pedestrian entries, but the beans would work well enough as filler for the Gut Pak. I'll be looking for that Gut Pak Shak next time I'm at the game to try all of the ingredients together. I have a feeling I'll like it.

Rating ***

Vitek's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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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.