Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hart's Firehouse BBQ

LAMPASAS: Hart's Firehouse BBQ
1799 S Highway 281

Lampasas, TX 76550

Open ?

Picnic tables abound under the huge shade trees out in front of this joint in between two state highways on the south side of Lampasas. There's not much indoor seating in this tiny joint where ordering is done directly at the counter where the meat is stored so you can ask for specific ribs on a rack or portions of crusty brisket that look particularly appealing. Unfortunately, looks can sometimes deceive.

The ribs that I chose were great. They were well seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper. They were smoky throughout, and had great moisture, but were just a bit tough. Brisket had all the right textural notes of a well cooked piece of meat, but it just needed more smoke. The meat didn't have the robust flavor of the ribs, and was an overall disappointment. The sausage was good and smoky. These nicely flavored links had great snap and had just the right amount of fat. The meats may not have been perfect, but the setting can help make up for inconsistencies.

Rating ***
Hart's Firehouse BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Red River Bar-B-Que

HAMILTON: Red River Bar-B-Que
706 North Rice Street

Hamilton, TX 76531


Open W 11-2, Thur-Sat 11-8, Sun 11-2

Only the wife from this husband-and-wife team was working on this busy Saturday. To put it mildly, she was in the weeds. Making cream gravy to order for the chicken fried steak special wasn't helping. I'm a patient guy at these small joints, but 20 minutes for a two-meat plate is a bit of a stretch. While we waited, we took in the OU-UT decor. The "house divided" idea loses some steam when memorabilia from either team is placed haphazardly on either side of the space whose floor is crimson on one side, and burnt orange on the other. Also, the "OU" door is locked forcing all patrons to enter the "UT" side. The scene was made more surreal by the gaggle of severely obese men sitting at a table in front of the only television. It was a Saturday, and prime football viewing time, but these guys were watching an infomercial. I thought maybe we were all forced to watch it because the busy owner couldn't spare the time to change the channel, but then one of the guys whipped out the remote and turned it to a global warming documentary on the History Channel. We were miles from the Red River Rivalry.

Sauce covered meat was a disappointment. It came alongside small portions of potato salad and beans which were of grocery store quality. That sauce was also a sweet commercial version which kept the meat's flavor from coming through. Brisket was tender and moist, but little smokiness could be detected. The same was true for the large spare ribs, but they were also undercooked and chewy. Given the chaos in the kitchen, I felt like I may have just caught them on a bad day. Either way, I don't know if there was enough promise to bring me back.

Rating **
Red River Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Squeals on Wheels

Brisket and blue cheese? That's not a combo I'm used to, but when I asked the guy manning the newest food trailer (cart, really) in Dallas what he recommended, he suggested the off menu special - a cup of blue corn grits, chopped brisket and a blue cheese crumble topping ($6). I went for it, and the flavors worked. The cheese had a sweetness brought out by the saucy brisket, and the creamy grits below help cut some of the intense richness. This is a dish made for fall. Maybe not the sunny 80+ degree we had today, but I enjoyed it none the less.

Squeals on Wheels
is the newest local food trailer (thanks for the tip Nancy), and it's been parked out front of the Screen Door for the last six days, mainly because they need the kitchen. Pulled pork, chopped brisket and hot links are available alongside non-BBQ items like hot dogs and gumbo. Even the 'cue menu isn't for the purist. Hot links ($4) from Smokey Denmark's in Austin were warmed through submersion dirty-water-dog style. The well seasoned link still held up well on a hot dog bun with a little mustard and hot sauce. The other meats are chopped and presauced like a smoked meat sloppy joe. This is most evident in the pork ($5) which had no texture or flavor variations, but instead tasted like little more than the sweet sauce. The fresh slaw created a nice crunch, but more was needed to really taste it. The bun was a simple white sesame seed version that quickly broke down under the moist pressure of that pile of pork.

The guy manning the cart said the brisket is smoked for 24 hours, and the pork for 12, but I find it odd that the only smoked item on the Screen Door menu is cheddar. I doubt they have a smoker just for that, so how is this stuff being smoked? Parking is easy along Flora Street so I'll be back, but I'll stick with the brisket.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Bunkhouse BBQ

301 E Morgan

Meridian, TX 76665

Open Tues-Sat 11-8

Update: This joint is CLOSED.

2010: A wide menu is offered here including a bounty of deep fried items straight from the Sysco freezer to you. Jalapeno poppers and fried green tomatoes served as out of the ordinary BBQ sides, but weren't anything special. The BBQ had the look of meat with potential. My wife is not a BBQ fan, but after seeing so many orders and watching my reactions, she has trained her self to recognize good or bad BBQ by sight alone. She thought this might be a good experience, especially since her burger was enjoyable.

Brisket was aggressively trimmed and extremely dry. It had a great crust which usually signals smoky bites to come, but there just wasn't much smoke. All of the fat had been trimmed away, so I thought another chance was in order. I requested a few more slices from the fatty end. Nothing was different about these slices save some chewy bits of undercooked fat. Ribs glistened with a generous glaze. A few bites sent my taste buds into a bad way. The level of salt was uncomfortable and thirst inducing. That the sugar could still be identified is a wonder, and a testament to how generously it was included in the mix. As the ribs cooled, the glaze got harder as the massive amounts of sugar in the glaze cooled as well. The sad part is these may have been decent ribs if they'd just been spared the glaze mop.

Rating **
Bunkhouse BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Monday, October 25, 2010

BBQ in the News

BBQ has been in the news quite a bit this month. Big news of openings in Dallas falls right alongside a few splashes around the country. Cat Cora looks to lend her talents to a new BBQ joint in the San Francisco airport while Lee Ann Whippen of BBQ Pitmasters fame offers up $32 racks of ribs in Chicago. That's highway robbery, especially given that they'll come out of a gas fired Southern Pride smoker.

There's a new local BBQ blogger. Should we trust him? And an out of state blogger discovers the beauty of Meshack's in Garland. If only these guys from Chicago had discovered Texas BBQ in their 3337 mile road trip in search of great smoked meat, they would know just how much time they wasted in those other states.

Franklin BBQ is certainly a favorite of this blog, and it's getting some accolades from a fine dining magazine as one of the best new restaurants in the country. Eddie's in Lubbock gets some props for using local meats and produce.

A local journalist gets herself all certified to judge "The Jack", and writes this great recap, while another local reviewer offers her picks for the best southern and Texan cuisine in Big D. With the only BBQ mentions being Smoke and Rick's Chophouse, let's hope she spares us from her best local BBQ list.

Finally, and most importantly, Dallas has a mobile BBQ truck. They'll be selling chopped beef and pulled pork sandwiches along with hot links and other less important items. I have no idea if the parent restaurant, the Screen Door, has a smoker, but I'll find out soon enough.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Leach Bros. Pit Bar-B-Q

CLEBURNE: Leach Bros. Pit Bar-B-Q
1106 E Henderson St

Cleburne, TX 76031


Open M-Sat 11-7

The hours on the door and the website say they open at 11:00, but it couldn't have been any later than 10:00 when SmokeMaster1, my wife and I made our way through Cleburne on a Saturday morning. We were taking the long way to Blanco, Texas for a wedding, and thought some BBQ was in order on our way down. This was the first stop.

After unwrapping our order in the car, it seemed that they may be trying to get rid of yesterday's (or the day before's) meat. The ribs were misshapen and poorly cut, the meat tasted steamed rather than smoked, and only the heavy seasoning made them decent. Brisket slices were dry and a monochromatic level of pale gray. It was essentially roast beef, and relied heavily on the sauce crutch. Even after our small order, there was plenty left when we put the car in drive and hoped for something better at the next stop.

Rating *
Leach Brothers Sales on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Smokey's BBQ

5300 E. Lancaster
Ft. Worth, TX 76112
Open M-Thur 11-9, F-Sat 11-11, Sun 11-4

Update: Brent Deen has moved on to another location in the Deen family located in Kaufman, Texas. Not to worry, the deft pitmaster Paul Calhoun is still reigning over things in the kitchen and has been given the new management post. My last visit here was yesterday during a BBQ tour that I led through Fort Worth. Paul was there to explain his smoking procedures and what makes these ribs and brisket so special. I knew they were tour worthy after several trips which all featured stellar 'cue, including one last month where I laughed in the face of common practice and placed my order 3 minutes before closing time. This review is based on that visit.

There were a few folks left in the dining room, and I assured the cashier that I would eat fast. After the first bite of brisket, I was chomping down the rest of it with gluttonous abandon. The meat was perfectly smoky, moist and lined with silky fat. The meat could have been a bit more tender, but this is great brisket. Ribs are just as good. The sweet and spicy rub creates a nice caramelization. This does keep a nice smoky bark from forming, but the flavor is distinct and addictive. The meat comes cleanly from the bone of these spare ribs, but there's nothing falling onto the plate.

Normally sides aren't a big item in my ordering, but cole slaw, potato salad and beans are available for self-service on a buffet table along with standard BBQ condiments. All of these items are made in house, and the creamy coleslaw still had a nice crunch, and the beans were robust, smoky, and full of sausage chunks. A semi-mashed version of potato salad is also worth the stomach space. After I was done stuffing myself, I couldn't help but grab a slice of that buttermilk pie. Also made in house, this rich pie is the perfect balance for all that savory meat. As I made my way out the door, I noticed that others still lingered. I felt good knowing I'd kept my promise of a fast meal, and that Smokey's kept up their end of the bargain with great food all around, even right at closing time.

Rating ****

2009: Smokey's might be some of the best BBQ in the area. I arrived just three weeks after Brent and Eddie Deen reopened this former Fort Worth institution. Brent was running the place when I stopped in on a Saturday at opening time. I ordered up a "Cool Hand Luke" which includes sliced brisket, ribs, hot links and two sides. The plate that arrived was picture perfect.

Ribs had a salt and pepper rub and a sweet glaze. Smokiness permeated the moist combination of rendered fat and meat which required a slight tug from the teeth to separate it from the bone. These were excellent ribs. The brisket was nearly as good with a deep smokeline just below the flecks of black pepper clinging to the black crust. The texture of the meat was exemplary. The slices were both firm and tender, but had not reached the point of falling apart or being mushy. The beef had a robust flavor, but could have been just a tad smokier. Hot links from Costco had jalapeno flecks dotting the beefy links. They were sliced lengthwise allowing the eater to enjoy the snappy casing surrounding the juicy meat. Sides were adequate if not memorable.

After enjoying my meal, I sat and talked with pit master Brent Deen. Their first Sunday they had just two customers. Since the meat is smoked ahead of time it must be consumed by the end of the day, so Brent held an employee rib eating contest to build morale and get rid of some extra inventory. I inquired about smoking methods, and he informed me that the brisket is smoked over hickory in an Oyler pit while ribs and sausage are also smoked over hickory, but in a Southern Pride smoker. He insists that he uses copious amounts of wood in the gas fired Southern Pride, and the results seem to support that. I don't care what brand of smoker he's using as long as the meats come out this good every time.

Smokey's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lockhart Smokehouse is Coming

I've you've been paying attention to the BBQ scene in Oak Cliff, you know there's much to be excited about. Luckie's Smokehouse is set to open soon at Davis and Clifton, and just a few blocks east on Davis is the future home of Lockhart Smokehouse, not to be confused with the recently opened Lockhart's BBQ in Detroit. If you've seen any local food blog over the last couple of weeks, then you've likely read about the latter joint, whether from SideDish, Pegasus News, Eats Blog, City of Ate, or Go Oak Cliff where the news first broke.

Tim McLaughlin is a partner in the business, and we be the pitmaster. He's been quite the culinary journeyman, and is currently the chef of Clean Plate Catering in Dallas. The menu there is quite a ways from ribs and brisket, but this chef has been on some recent journeys to the heart of Texas BBQ country to hone his craft and learn from the masters at Kreuz Market. In a recent conversation Tim noted, "I have been working with Keith and Roy at Kreuz for a few months now. Not straight, but a week at a time here and there. Learning the business a little and mainly how to deal with the wonderful meats. It has been a really fun experience."

One lesson learned from Kreuz is that wood is the fuel to be used for smoking, and there's no place for gas fired pits. "We will be using post oak for the smoking. The Bewley pit is being custom made with our specs. They have a Bewley at Kreuz and we are following that model with a few tweaks. The boys over at Bewley even let Jeff Bergus, my business partner, do a little work." Below is a photo from their tour of the Bewley factory in Dallas.

Larry Lewis (of Bewley), Tim, Jeff Bergus and Mr. Bewley

I asked if he'd be smoking shoulder clod in addition to brisket like his brethren in Lockhart, and he offered only that he'd like to, but the menu hasn't been finalized. "As far as the menu we are going to focus on the time honored tradition of Central Texas BBQ with some updated sides. We want to serve good honest food at a good honest price. We are also going to be the sole purveyor for Kreuz Sausage in the Dallas Market." That last statement has many mouths drooling for that unique jalapeno cheese sausage. I know I'm looking forward to the whole menu. The new year can't seem to come fast enough.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Michna's BBQ

WACO: Michna’s BBQ
2803 Franklin Ave.
Waco, TX 76710
Open Tues-W 9:30-3, Thur 9:30-8, F-Sat 9:30-9, Sun 9:30-2:30

Update: A request for some fatty brisket did not fall on deaf ears on this return visit to this Waco institution. Thick slices from the flat had a nice layer of fat still clinging to the meat. Both the meat and the fat had great flavor and good smokiness, but that fat could have been more silky smooth and the beef could have more tender. In addition to the good brisket were some of the best ribs I've had. The meat was smoky down to the bone, and came away from that bone with just a tug. The meat below the perfect crust was juicy and had perfect tenderness. Sausage is made for Michna's from a special recipe. The beef and pork mixture had flecks of black pepper and cayenne to give it just enough heat. The coarse meat had great flavor, plenty of fat and good snap to the casings. I tried a bite dipped in sauce, but the sweet concoction was pretty awful. A much better option is the hot sauce that resides on every table. It's a mix a hot pepper sauce, pickle juice and ground chilis, and works great with the sausage.

I returned to the counter after the meal where the pitmaster, Joe Flores, was happy to show me the pits. He opened the doors to an Ole Hickory smoker to show off a few briskets. While the Ole Hickory is a gas-fired pit, it was obvious from the cloud surrounding Joe that they used plenty of wood to impart that smokiness.

After 23 years of operation, Michna's (pronounced Mick-nuz) really knows how to crank out great smoked meat, and they deserve a stop for anyone heading through Waco, or the few who make the city their destination. I know I won't wait so long to return.

Rating ****

11/2010: Hometown service is taken to heart here. The owner came by our table, and I complemented the sausage. He was back shortly with two more links for our enjoyment. Later, at the end of the meal, he brought two complementary banana puddings that were excellent. The decor is also down home with John Wayne memorabilia and dusty mesh hats lining the walls. The smell of smoke permeated it all.

We ordered brisket, ribs and sausage. The server began by slicing off some beautiful black crust off of the brisket and setting it aside. I asked him to reconsider, and he obliged. The brisket was outstanding with a good smoke line and an intensely smoky flavor throughout the slices. The fat at the edges was well rendered and the crust was black and delicious. The beef wasn't quite pull-apart tender, but overall was a standout. The ribs were small spare ribs, but were meaty. The tender ribs were smoky with a great crust and well rendered fat. It was evident that this protein had been well attended to in the pits. The sausage was not house made, but the owner said it was Michna's recipe that made nearby just for the joint. The links were a bit greasy, but the medium grind, black pepper, and snappy casing made for some tasty links. Drop by here for some friendly service and some excellent smoked meats.

Michna's Bar-B-Que Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Uncle Dan's BBQ

WACO: Uncle Dan's Bar-B-Que
1001 Lake Air Dr

Waco, TX 76710


Open M-Sat 10:30-9

In the same day I visited an empty Michna's which was serving up beautifully smoked meat with genuinely thankful service, I walked into a packed Uncle Dan's at 2:00 in the afternoon. Hoping for the best, I went with the three meat plate of ribs, brisket and hot links.

Simply put, it was awful outside of the nicely balanced pea salad. The brisket was chewy had little flavor of any kind let alone smokiness. The single spare rib was gargantuan, and damn chewy. My jaw got a workout trying to dislodge the few bites that I could stomach. Hot links that tasted like little more than hot dogs did nothing to save the day. Even the mac & cheese was subpar. This was one day when I was jealous of my wife (happy birthday, honey) who ordered a simple cheeseburger. She shared just enough to make me wish I could have reconsidered my order, except that pea salad.

Rating *
Uncle Dan's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mama & Papa B's Bar-B-Q

WACO: Mama & Papa B's Bar-B-Q
525 S 8th St

Waco, TX 76706


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

I drove by the joint looking for the sign that I'd seen in Wyatt McSpadden's Texas BBQ book, but the wall facing the corner had been whitewashed. I learned from the owner that he'd paid a man to repaint the sign, and he'd all but disappeared after the single coat of white paint was applied. They're still looking for someone to repaint if you're interested.

Luckily the front window is still painted with a sign, so I knew I was in the right place. Inside the glass door, the tempting smell of smoke from hickory, pecan, mesquite and oak (and pretty much any other wood they can get their hands on) hung in the air. They offered a rib sandwich and a two meat sandwich or sausage and brisket. Brisket had one of the deepest smoke rings I've seen anywhere along with a crisp black crust. The tender meat had great smoke flavor and well rendered fat throughout. The only down side was the slightly dry texture. Elgin sausage was a great blend of spicy, peppery, moist meat that had plenty of good smoke. Sliced lengthwise, it was easier to enjoy in large bites.

The ribs also had a nice bark and just enough good smoke. The overall flavor was great from simple seasoning and little else. Meat needed just a slight tug to come off the bone, but some of the chewy fat could have been better rendered. I liked that they separated the ribs tips and left them on the plate. Gnawing on these tasty morsels was almost better than the meat on the long bones. Here's hoping that you can find it on your trip to Waco because it's really worth a stop, sign or no sign.

Rating ****
Mamma & Pappa B's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


ELGIN: Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse
188 Hwy 290
Elgin, Texas 78621
Open M-Thur 10-8, F-Sat 10-9, Sun 10-7

Update: Maybe you're dehydrated and need to boost your sodium intake by a hefty amount. Meyer's is the place to begin, especially if you're used to eating in your car. The convenience of a drive-thru is just too hard to pass up when on a day-long BBQ tour. I ate mine without leaving the driver's seat.

A sign at the drive-thru

The flavor of the ribs were little more than the excessively salty rub and the heavy dose of cracked black pepper. No smoke was evident on these bones which needed more cooking time to get more tender. Brisket was plenty tender, but also had little smokiness. What these slices had was a well developed crust that held so much salt it tasted like it may have been cured meat. The rub mixture had the flavor of jerky, but the brisket was rich and beefy.

After the appetizers, I sunk my teeth into what Meyer's is really known for. The peppery links of garlic sausage were juicy enough to stain a shirt and pants all at once, but that snap is unforgettable, and the flavor was intense. Yes, intensely salty, but it had more dimensions with the garlic, the pepper and all that delicious pork. Not quite as smoky as I'd prefer, but this was a couple of great links. That's what I'll be ordering more of the next trip.

Rating **

2006: Meyer's is the Elgin sausage rival to Southside Market, and they take the title. The garlic sausage here is the signature, and it was bursting with flavor. The casing had a good snap, but the texture was slightly mushy from a fine grind. The links were a bit spicy with a good black pepper flavor. The brisket was not as good. It had a decent crust, but the flavor, texture and moisture were all average. Intense smoke flavor was also lacking. Stick to the sausage here, and be sure to douse it with their delicious spicy sauce.

Meyer's Elgin Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Perez Bar-B-Que

BARTLETT: Perez Bar-B-Que
220 Elm St.

Bartlett, TX 76511

Open Sat 6am-5pm, Sun 6am-3pm

Armando "Sodie" Perez runs this tiny joint with his son. Meats are smoked over oak in the custom brick pits which look as ancient as Sodie. I opted for 1/4 lb. of sliced beef and a pork rib, all of which were extracted pre-sliced from a large vat of thin, tomato based sauce. As it was being wrapped up, I learned that homemade sausage was their specialty, and they even threw in a link with my order. It all came to less than $5.

I headed back to the car past the only table around which a few older men were camped, clutching their paper bag lined beer cans. It was before 10:00 am.

Given its storage method, the meat couldn't help but be moist, but it suffered from lack of smokiness. The brisket showed what was once a good looking crust but the meat had little flavor outside of the sauce. Ribs were also nicely cooked, but they too tasted only of sauce. The sausage on the other hand had not been stored in the sauce. It's wrinkled skin was crispy and the moist meat inside was of a coarse grind. These smoky links were herbaceous like a breakfast sausage but spicy like a hot link. It made for a great flavor combo, and I'd stop again just for a few more links. Maybe I'll ask if they can slice some fresh meat sans sauce.

Rating **
Perez Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Southside Market

ELGIN: Southside Market BBQ
1212 U.S. 290, at Hwy 95
Elgin, TX 78621
Open M-Thur 8-8, F-Sat 8-10, Sun 9-7

Update: Sometimes my first visit to a joint is misleading. It can be the best day of an average joint, or the worst day of a good place. When I visited Southside Market four years ago, I felt like I might have been catching a decent joint on a very bad day. I've been anxious to get back since, but it took some time to get the opportunity. I'm glad I made the return visit.

A four meat sampler is available, so I watched as they heaped on sliced brisket, pork ribs, a beef rib and that famous sausage (a.k.a. hot guts). Hot guts aren't quite as hot as they were back in the old days since they took some of the cayenne out of the recipe in the 70's, but you can douse yours in the hot sauce that's on every table. I even tried some of that hot sauce on the brisket with a surprisingly tasty outcome. Not that the brisket needs the sauce. It was well cooked, plenty moist with good flavor from a simple rub. It could have used a bit more smoke, but it was a good brisket overall.

I and my daughter both enjoyed the beef ribs. Big meaty back ribs were tender and covered with a rub heavy with black pepper. Pork ribs were also good, but had some chewy fat that could have rendered out a bit better. Both types of ribs needed more smoke, but they had good overall flavor. A little shot of hot sauce woke them right up. While another trip will probably focus on the sausage options, I was glad to see that Southside does a commendable job on their other meats too.

Rating ***

2006: This place is more of a superstore than BBQ joint. You can buy everything from a BBQ to bulk sausage to prepackaged jerky. I ordered a two-meat plate with brisket and their famous Elgin hot sausage. The sides tasted like Sysco, and the hot sausage wasn't hot. Southside makes an all-beef sausage that is incredibly greasy. It has good snap and a nice black pepper flavor, but almost no heat. The gray brisket here is full of unrendered fat with no crust or smoke flavor. Stick with the sausage, just drain it first.

Southside Market & BBQ Inc. on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Davis Grocery & Bar-B-Q

TAYLOR: Davis Grocery & Bar-B-Q
400 S Robinson St

Taylor, TX 76574


Open Daily 10-7

After a stop at Louie Mueller's up the street, I had Davis Grocery on my mind. I read about it in Follow the Smoke, and have wanted to stop since. Walnut Street is just on the other side of the tracks from the bustle of downtown Taylor. Without the Louie Mueller traffic, it was positively serene around this tiny metal building. Things inside were quiet with only one other customer, so our group was certainly noticed. Along with my family and I, we brought along a group from Houston that included Chris, Fulmer, Phaedra (the inventor of the term foochebag) and her husband who took a load of great photos.

This joint is a true grocery store with walls full of dry goods and plenty of drink options. I snagged a tall boy of Big Red while I waited to order at the counter where owner and pitmaster James Davis does the carving.

In addition to the Central Texas BBQ standards, the menu also features mutton ribs and smoked fajita meat. We ordered a little of everything, but the highlight for me was the brisket. The meat was intensely smokey with a great crust. A simple rub allowed the beefiness to shine through. The meat was plenty moist, but could have been a bit more tender.

Ribs had the same issues with tenderness, but again the meat had incredible flavor from the balanced spices and great mesquite smoke. I continue to order mutton ribs in order to acquire the taste, but I still haven't come around. They were certainly well cooked, but the taste just reminds me of the smell of wet wool. Fajita meat (or skirt steak) is a notoriously tough cut. It requires fast cooking and a deft slicing hand (and usually some meat tenderizer) to make it chewable. I learned here that smoking it can provide a very unique flavor, it doesn't result in tender meat as the finished product. My next trip to Taylor will certainly include this joint, but I'll be sticking with the brisket and ribs.

Rating ****

Davis Grocery Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bar-B-Q Shack

107 US Highway 70 E

Kingston, OK 73439


Open ?

The Bar-B-Q Shack is run out of a tiny metal building in the tiny town of Kingston, Oklahoma. Most orders are taken at the window for to-go orders, but there are a few seats inside and some picnic tables outside if the weather is right. The sign says "100% Hickory Smoked", and you can definitely smell it in the air when ordering. I went with my regular order of a brisket and ribs combo plate with potato salad and beans. Meaty beans were an option, and they came out as a pile of smoky beans a la chopped beef. Perfect. The potato salad wasn't bad either.

Brisket was a bit overcooked, and slightly dry, but all else was good. The crust and smoke level were great, and the overall flavor was quite good as well. Big meaty spare ribs had well rendered fat throughout, and the meat was nicely tender. A good bark helps the smoke level, but it could have been smokier deep into the meat. I'm just glad to know I have a good option for BBQ when I'm visiting the family at Lake Texoma. This is truly some quality 'cue.

Rating ***

Bar-B-Q Shack on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!


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.