Friday, April 30, 2010

Oklahoma Station BBQ

OKLAHOMA: Oklahoma Station BBQ
4331 NW 50th St

Oklahoma City, OK 73112


Open M-Sat 11-9, Sun 11-4

When the first thing they do after you order the brisket is slice it, then meticulously cut off all of the fat AND the bark, you wonder why they bothered smoking it in the first place. Oh wait, did they really smoke it? The meat was barely passable for good roast beef.

Ribs had a nice crust with plenty of seasoning, but they too lacked smoke. The meat had good texture with plenty of moisture and no fat. The sides were self serve, and the slaw and okra were both great. Sure, the ribs were decent and the sides were fine, but that brisket was an abomination.

Rating **
Oklahoma Station BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thwarted BBQ search

I had plans for an 1-1/2 lunch where I'd hit three joints as quickly as possible. I had just found Turner Bros. BBQ on a lunch trip to Wingfield's (arguably the best, and probably the largest burger in Dallas), and would have stopped that day if not for the group of ravenous burger hounds in my car. I made a mental note and returned as soon as I could. The scene didn't look too great when I pulled up with blackened windows and debris strewn about the empty asphalt lot. An old-timer across the street informed me that I was a few days late. A fire causing major damage had just closed this joint down a few days earlier, and there's little hope it will open again.

The next stop was Teal's Ribs in Cedar Hill. I learned of this tiny joint when I issued the BBQ Challenge (no longer in effect) on Sidedish, and "william" alerted me to a couple of joints I had missed in DFW, including Teal's Ribs. It took a while to find the place, as it's tucked between a truck rental placed and a barber shop. The handwritten sign on the door said "Closed until April 28th due to surgery". Two strikes.

A short trek back up Highway 67 led me to the other joint that "william" alerted me to, Dave's BBQ. It was open, and it was packed (full review forthcoming). Finally, some lunch. If you're out there "william", I'm still willing to buy you a BBQ lunch somewhere. They closed down the comments on the Sidedish page before I could write back. Give me a shout.

- BBQ Snob

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jack's Bar-B-Q

OKLAHOMA: Jack's Bar-B-Q
4418 NW 39th St

Oklahoma City, OK 73112


Open M-Sat 11-8

Just after breakfast with my father-in-law, there was a moment when we really understood one another. We were both stuffed, but he mentioned a BBQ joint that he had just spotted over on Route 66 in OKC. I insisted that we try it. It was a special moment because I understood that he understood this smoked meat obsession, and didn't question it. I'm glad he didn't because this was one of the better joints I've tried in Oklahoma City.

I was the only one in the joint as I ordered from the cafeteria line. As the meats were pulled from the warmer, and unwrapped, I could tell this might be some good smoked meat. I didn't learn much about the place while I was there, but Jack's seems to be a bit of a legend in OKC. That is until the original owner passed, and the joint then passed hands several times with mixed results. I don't know how long this team has been at it, but they definitely have hit on something. The firm brisket slices had mild seasoning, but incredible smoke flavor. Too much of the fat had been trimmed, but the meat was still plenty moist. This was some solidly good brisket. The ribs were step down. While very large and meaty, the meat was a bit tough as well as underseasoned. Again, the smoke was there, but I needed a bit more oomph. The beans also needed a bit more, but the broccoli salad was full of flavor. Hopefully, this owner can stick around until I get a return visit. Maybe the ribs will be better.

Rating ***
Jack's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Leo's Bar-B-Q

3631 N Kelley Ave

Oklahoma City, OK 73111


Open M-Sat 11-8

While I'd already visited the downtown location, I'd heard rumors that the original Leo's was reopening. As I approcahed the corner of 36th and Kelley, I could see the smoke billowing. It was after 2:00, so the haphazard drive-thru was my only option. I like that the menu offers "1 rib", so I went with that and a sliced brisket sandwich.

The tough brisket was chunked rather than sliced, and the meat without crust had little smoke flavor. Even with the crust, the meat needed more flavor. The "1 rib" ordered ended up getting me a mangled spare rib, and a rib end. While the large rib was chilly and full of mainly fat, the nicely cooked rib end had great smoke flavor, and it was nicely seasoned with salt and plenty of black pepper. Given the spotty ribs, and the barely average brisket, I was a bit stunned that so many had talked up the original location when it was closed. I guess memories grow fonder after something's been gone for a while. I guess all I'll have are memories too, because I won't be back.

Rating **
Leo's Bar-B-Q the Original on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Learn 2 Q

Here's a reminder that tomorrow evening at 7:00, Championship Barbecue Chef and founder of, Troy Black. He will be offering a special BBQ 101 cooking class as a "pre-festival" event on Thursday, April 22nd, at the Mesquite Convention Center. For more details about the class particulars, go to his website at Learn 2 Q. Additionally, he also has a brand new cookbook the Big Book of BBQ, on sale April 6, and DVD project Real BBQ Know How, that is now available for sale, that he will be promoting during his demonstrations during the festival.

Also, over the weekend, don't miss the "Taste of Mesquite" Barbecue Cook-Off during the Real.Texas.Festival, which will run April 23 - 24. It is open to the public (anyone can sign up to compete), and they will have a $2,000 payout, with a $500 Grand Champion Prize. Entry fee is $60 and categories include beef brisket, pork spare ribs and 1/2 chicken. Rules/application form available at"

Is anyone out there planning to enter the 'cue contest?

- BBQ Snob

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Rooster's Roadhouse

DENTON: Rooster's Roadhouse
113 Industrial St

Denton, TX 76201


Open Sun-Thur 11-10, F-Sat 11-11

I'd heard about Rooster's a while back on the Dallas Observer's website, and I'd stored it in my brain for just this occasion. The wife and baby and I were on our way to OKC for Easter, and the baby was hungry just as we crossed Lake Lewisville. I quickly put my wife on IPhone duty to search for a solid dinner stop in Denton, then remembered a joint that served BBQ which my wife might actually enjoy. I referred to it as a "burger joint" in my convincing explanation, and in a few minutes I was staring at the back of the menu which features their BBQ options.

Ribs are not an option, so I went for brisket, pulled pork and sausage. The sausage had the most perplexing flavor. It is smoked then cut lengthwise before being slapped down on the flat-top griddle where another layer of flavor is added. The spiciness of the meat was also out of the ordinary for a BBQ joint, then I noticed on their website that they use Syracuse Sausage from Ponder, Texas, which specializes in Italian sausages, and are mainly featured on the menus of fine Italian restaurants in the area. That explains all of those spices.

Pulled pork wasn't quite so dynamic. The meat was average with just a hint of smoke. It was a bit dry, but the overall flavor was fine. Brisket was better with a decent amount of smokiness. The moist meat was perfectly cooked, but it could have used more seasoning to really bring out the flavors. If it's flavor you're after, then the sides is where you need to look. Okra os perfectly crisp and salty, and the spicy "rooster tails" are breaded onions strings that neither of us could stop eating. An authentic banana pudding in a Mason jar was the perfect finish.

After the meal, one of the owners gave me a tour of the J&R Manufacturing pit which uses all hickory wood. He also explained that ribs are just offered as a special because the demand is too hard to determine to keep them on the regular menu. Before I can bump their rating, I'll have to find time to get back to Denton when the ribs are smokin'.

Rating ***
Rooster's Roadhouse on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Meat Prices

I've recently been reading that hog futures have raised to historic levels due to shrinking supply, but have started to lower in recent days because of shrinking demand (not my fault). Smithfield, the country's largest pork processor, closed a plant in Iowa which should further reduce the demand considering that 13,000 less hogs will be purchased every day because of the closing. At least our ribs won't get too outrageous.

What is getting outrageous are recent brisket prices. A recent story in the Fort Worth Star Telegram (thanks to Joseph's Riverport BBQ for alerting us) highlights what local BBQ joints have been dealing with, and how they're trying to cope with a 20% increase in wholesale brisket costs. To add insult to injury, the briskets on the market are larger with a higher fat percentage, making the meat even more expensive. Here's hoping for a swift end to this alarming trend. To think the whole reason that briskets even came to prominence in smokers across the state was due to its low demand and low cost. Don't be surprised if you start seeing chicken on special across DFW.

Hidden in that story is a little nugget about Dallas Green. If you remember, this blog reported his arrest almost exactly a year ago today when he carried a gun into his partner's BBQ establishment in Colleyville. Now we learn that he's still doing business in Hudson Oaks, but is just now back on his feet after a motorcycle accident and five weeks in a coma. We're wishing him well.

- BBQ Snob

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hog Heaven

OHIO: Hog Heaven
2730 Cleveland Ave NW

Canton, OH 44709


Open Sun 11-8, M-Thur 11-10, F-Sat 11-11

This is the second location of a joint that has gained a great biker following in its much larger venue in southeast Ohio. This joint was pretty dead at about 2:30 in the afternoon, and only the bar was operating. The menu is extensive, but we weren't looking beyond the BBQ, that is until we saw "Hog Eggs" on the menu. Hard boiled eggs are battered, deep fried and dusted with a spicy seasoning. While not exactly addictive (how many could you really eat anyway) they were surprisingly enjoyable. We should have stopped there.

In researching BBQ options in Ohio, I have now learned the valuable lesson that just because it's listed on Urbanspoon under the category "Barbecue", and the restaurant advertises that they have BBQ, doesn't mean that there's a smoker in sight. All of the meat here is either grilled or baked. The ribs were both. They lost all of their consistency in an oven, then had all of their flavor masked on a grill after being absolutely drenched in sauce. The feeble meat had no chance of staying on the bone, and the first bite of mush tasted like nothing but sauce. At least the fries were good.

The pulled pork was no better. This monochromatic mound of meat had no bark, fat or flavor. It had to have been baked, but it might as well have been boiled or microwaved. There was just no flavor.

Luckily, for anyone in Canton looking for something that can be classified as BBQ, there's a location of Old Carolina just across the highway.

Rating *

Hog Heaven on Urbanspoon

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Old Carolina Barbecue Company

OHIO: Old Carolina Barbecue Company
620 Ridgewood Crossing Dr.

Akron, OH 44333


Open Daily 10:30-9:30

The irony of a joint in Ohio hawking Carolina 'cue with a Texas BBQ joint on their website is palpable, but I wanted to see if their smoked meat was palatable. The front page of their site claims that it's "just like the barbecue served at road-side shacks throughout the Carolinas", but the photo above that statement may be familiar to those of you that read my review of Texas Pride BBQ in Adkins. According to their website, the owners had traveled across the Carolinas sampling 'cue before deciding to start a BBQ competition team, and ultimately starting this mini Ohio-based chain in 2006. A year later this location opened in BBQ starved Canton, so I had to see how it stacked up against my favorites in Texas.

Most of the menu choices would be familiar to the Carolina 'cue fans. Pulled pork, vinegar slaw and hushpuppies are all available along with ribs and the very un-Carolina brisket. While the brisket looked decent enough, the thinly sliced dry meat lacked smokiness and overall flavor. Ribs had better flavor, but it came mostly from the dunking of sauce it receives before the racks are reheated on a charbroiler. The meat was tender with decent smoke, but I'd rather try an untainted version. The standout here was no surprise. Pulled pork had a good ratio of meat, fat and bark, but the meat was a bit dry. The smokey meat had great flavor on its own, and also worked well on a sandwich with slaw and my favorite of their five sauces, the "Piedmont" variety. Also, if any of you fellow Texas BBQ snobs put your nose up at the thought of hushpuppies and BBQ together, think again. These bits of perfectly fried cornmeal were a great addition to the plate, and it was plate that the folks at Old Carolina should be proud of, especially in this area of Ohio that is in its 'cue infancy.

Rating ***

Old Carolina Barbecue Company on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ohio BBQ No. 2

Any time I take a trip to Ohio, my brother, who is now hooked on Texas style BBQ, insists that we smoke some meat on his neighbor's smoker. We borrowed it early on this Saturday morning and it was soon belching cherry wood smoke. The night before we had brined a brisket, and it was first to go on along with an eight pound pork shoulder. After many High Life's and many games of cornhole later, we were ready to wrap the various meats for a controlled cool down in the igloo cooler. The natives were getting restless so we quickly got to picking and slicing once all the meat was complete.

The brisket had great smoke, and good flavor, but I oversalted the meat a bit. We had a hard time keeping a consistent temp on the thin walled smoker, so the meat was still a bit tough as well. Overall, it was an average home smoked brisket, but the Ohioans thought it was perfect.

The pork spareribs were better. A good amount of brown sugar in the rub helped create a perfect bark, and the rib meat was nicely done. The butchers around my hometown aren't too keen on leaving much meat over the bones, so there were a few shiners in the mix, but these were tasty ribs.

Though the ribs were very good, the pork shoulder was the best of the meats smoked on this day. A rub heavy in black pepper and brown sugar caused a deep crust to form, and while the fire wasn't quite right for the brisket, it was perfect for rendering the fat in the pork shoulder. The ratio of this silky smooth fat, deep black crust and tender smoky meat made for an incredible pulled pork.

My brother, sister and mom pulling pork

What a great way to spend a picture perfect Spring day in Ohio. While not all of the meats were perfect, the company along with real Texas style BBQ in Ohio was reward enough for a long day of breathing in wood smoke. I can't wait to do it again.

- BBQ Snob

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Omahoma Bob's BBQ

OHIO: Omahoma Bob's BBQ
128 S Market St
Wooster, OH 44691

Open Tue-Thur 11-7, F-Sat 11-8


When I was growing up, the closest you could get to BBQ in Wooster, Ohio were the riblets at Applebee's, so it was exciting to hear that an actual BBQ joint had opened up in this tiny town while I was away. Bob moved around through Texas and Oklahoma and places in between driving trucks all around the country until he settled down in Ohio after buying a meat market in my hometown of Wooster. After a while the meat market had run its course and he decided to open up an authentic BBQ joint. He had plenty of time for research while out on the road, and the profits of all that research shows in his brisket.

There's a load of other meats as well which can all be sampled on his six meat sampler plate. This includes slices of the aforementioned brisket, smoked hot wings, pulled pork, baby back ribs, sliced pork and smoked sausage. For a meat market guy, I expected much more from the sausage, but this was barely smoked sausage with a boring flavor profile and little snap in the casing. Ribs were thick with meat, but needed more time on the smoker to render the still tough fat and the tougher meat. The flavor was fine from the nice rub, but the smoke just wasn't there. Pulled pork had potential with a decent mixture of crust and moist, smokey meat, but it was mixed with far too much of the powerful Head Country sauce that's featured in house. Sliced pork was little better, but the moist slices needed more smoke and more seasoning.

The two offerings that stood out were the brisket and the nicely smoked wings. The wing sauce didn't overpower the smokey meat, and these wings were crispy and flavorful. Brisket was probably the best of the smoked meat items. Although all the fat had been trimmed from these thick slices, a nice crust and hefty smokering were left providing a deep smokey flavor. Of all that I've sampled, this was the best brisket available in Northeast Ohio. I just hope the people in Wooster realize what they have.

My nephew Gus thought the wings were pretty good.

An odd item on their menu were the hog wings. This was the only time I've seen these offered at a BBQ joint since I was at Cripple Creek BBQ in Athens, Texas. These were only offered with hot wing or BBQ sauce, so we went for BBQ'd. The meat was tender enough, but the flavor was completely dependent on the sauce. Bob mentioned that he was looking for a supplier that could get him fresh hog wings rather than frozen version he'd been making do with. Here's hoping.

My brother, David, eating hog wings, in preparation for the next days smoke feast.

After trying nearly all of the meats, it was evident that Bob is aiming for the right targets, but he's handcuffed himself with a Southern Pride smoker, but he states that he uses plenty of hickory wood during the smoking process. I just hope he keeps serving that tasty brisket and that the other meats start to catch up.

Rating ***

Omahoma Bob's BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Milt's Pit BBQ

KYLE: Milt's Pit BBQ
905 N Old Hwy 81

Kyle, TX 78640


Open Tues-Sat 11-8, Sun 12-7

Update: Milt's has MOVED, but just down the street. They are now located at 208 W Center St. in downtown Kyle.

2011: After meeting Logan on the first trip, I got to meet his dad Milt on my next visit. Milt was born in Texas but moved to California for work. After having enough of the west coast, he headed to DFW and soon tired of the treeless landscape. After reading an ad for a defunct BBQ joint in small town Texas, he moved his family to Kyle to try his hand at smoking meat. After several research trips to Lockhart and a few years of practice, I'd say Milt has it down.

Instead of the Lockhart sausage, I opted for the staff recommended jalapeno sausage made by V&V Sausage Company from Cistern, Texas. It's an all beef sausage that had a pleasant kick and a better flavor than the Lockhart sausage. Brisket was just as good as the first trip. Silky smooth lines of fat were sandwiched between tender, smoky meat. The crust and smokering were both prominent on these flawless slices. Ribs were also similar to the first trip, if a bit better. The meat was still a bit chewy, and the glaze was a bit more subdued. The whole snack was enjoyable, and the trip got better with a tour of the pits.

Two large pits are in operation to feed the demand that Milt has created. While touring the smoke filled back room, we were offered a few slices of a freshly smoked turkey breast. Although it was tongue searingly hot, the moist meat had incredible flavor with a nice level of smoke. Yet another meat that Milt's does well.

Rating ****

01/2010: Milt's is a bit of a rarity for Texas BBQ joints in that it's open on Sunday. That worked out perfectly for me as I headed back from a weekend trip in San Antonio. Milt's is just off I-35 about 1/2 hour south of Austin. It came with high hopes given all of the good things I'd heard from BBQ loving friends, and the lack of media coverage elsewhere made it even more intriguing. Orders are placed with the friendly staff just inside the door at a window reminiscent of a fast-food restaurant. Meat can be ordered by the 1/4 lb, so I went for a helping of ribs, brisket and Lockhart sausage.

I sat at a picnic table in the dining room to grab a few bites before I got back on the road. The sausage, which is a beef sausage that comes from Kreuz in Lockhart. This coarsely ground sausage had good snap and a great smoky flavor. Brisket slices were perfect. The smokiness in the brisket was excellent as evidenced by the well formed crust and beautiful smokering. The overall flavor, texture and moisture were great with just enough well rendered fat clinging to each slice. The ribs seemed to take a cue from Smitty's with a slightly sweet glaze applied once they were done smoking. The flavor was great, but they could have used a bit more time on the smoker to build that smoky flavor, and to get the meat a bit more tender.

After that quick bite inside, I met the pitmaster, Logan, and told him how much I enjoyed the place. He said it was a special day since the business was celebrating their second anniversary. With meats this well smoked, I'm sure they'll stick around for quite a while longer.

Rating ****

Milt's Pit BBQ on   Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tillman's Roadhouse

FORT WORTH: Tillman's Roadhouse
2933 Crockett St

Fort Worth, TX 76107


Open M-Thur 11-11, F-Sat 11-2am, Sun 10:30-11

While this restaurant has long hours every day of the week, barbecue is served at lunch only, and during brunch on Sunday. Chef Lance Smith blames it on the size of their wood fired Oyler smoker, which is just too small to smoke a days worth of 'cue. I applaud their willingness to sacrifice some options on the dinner menu to ensure that the BBQ is at it's best for lunch. This is the second location of Tillman's with the first location in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas, and they have one item that has unfortunately carried over - Chipotle BBQ Baby Back Ribs. These ribs were devised as a non-smoked item in the original location, so they're served covered in a gritty marinara-like sauce that is under seasoned with little heat. The meat was a bit dry beneath the sauce, and any smokiness was masked by the unfortunate sauce. Luckily, the rest of the smoked meat items were much better.

The mixture of oak, hickory and pecan worked well to create a great crust on the brisket, which had a hefty smoky flavor, but nary a smokering. The meat was tender and the nicely rendered fat created some slices worth a return visit. An all beef sausage is made in house. Flecks of herbs and pepper combined with the smoky, well seasoned beef for some great slices of sausage with a nice snap. Crispy potato chips were served on the side, but I had already had my fill since these same chips are complimentary for every table. I guess of all days to get a fill of chips it was most appropriate on National Potato Chip Day.

With slightly better ribs, this place would be a real contender, but their rating suffers despite the excellent brisket and sausage.

Rating ***
Tillman's Roadhouse on Urbanspoon

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Muck 'N Dave's BBQ

AUSTIN: Muck 'N Dave's BBQ
1603 South Congress

Austin, TX 78704
Phone ?

Open ?

Update: This joint is CLOSED.

2010: There's a stretch of South Congress in Austin where you can stop in at various trailers and get some fried avocado as an appetizer, some tacos for your main course, and cupcake to finish it all off. A few weeks ago a new trailer joined the mix, and I was there for their third day of business. Muck 'N Daves serves sausage, ribs and brisket along with a few side choices. The meats are smoked on a mixture of fruit and hard woods, then stored, foil wrapped, in a warmer inside the trailer. Once Muck takes your order and money, Dave doles out the goods, and they smelled great.

I went for a tasting of their ribs and brisket, and this is a place where you can get a nice sampling of meat without the need to purchase sides. I took my first bite form the picture perfect baby back rib and got a mouthful of flavor. There was adequate smoke coupled by a powerful rub. The rub created a sweet beef jerky like flavor which detracted a bit from the smokiness, but I admire them for really bringing the bold flavors. The meat needed quite a tug to get off the bone, and even then I couldn't get a clean release. The brisket was also undercooked and took some effort to pull apart. While also smokey, the meat was treated with the same sweet rub as the ribs. This created an odd flavor, and the heaviness of the rub didn't allow a good crust to form. There was also a line of poorly rendered fat left on the edge that was tough to chew. Overall, the brisket did have a decent flavor, which was helped by their unique mustard based sauce, that may have a had a hint of horseradish.

Given the fact that they just opened, I think they deserve a return trip since it's obvious that these folks really care about what they're doing. I just hope I know when to stop by next time I'm in town. Muck, Dave...if your out there, can you let us know your hours? How about a phone number?

Rating ***

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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.