Saturday, November 13, 2010

Smoke Shack Pit Bar-B-Q

HAMILTON: Smoke Shack Pit Bar-B-Q
702 S Rice St
Hamilton, TX 76531

Open M-F 10-4, Sat 10-2

Many times I had passed this joint on a Sunday while tooling up state highway 281, but the Sohms only operate from Monday through Saturday. On a recent Saturday, I decided to take the long route down to Austin, and hit 'em up. A call on Friday revealed the opening hour as 10:00 am, and I followed the owner inside the door as he unlocked it precisely at the designated time.

Doris and Butch Sohm run this joint. Doris has worked there for 38 years and took over from the former owners. Her husband Butch came along in 1995, and is now the pitmaster. They lamented the scant availability of good help that can be found in the area which is why they split all the duties between the two of them. In general they seemed frustrated with the hours of work that they must put in for such tiny profit margins. I further understood their plight after paying $4.50 for 1/4 pound of brisket, two ribs and a coke. Let's just say they could stand to raise those prices.

Back in the car, I unwrapped the foil pouch and took a bite into the nicely sized rib. This was no giant spare rib, but it wasn't full of fat and gristle either. It was a 3 1/2 and down rib (from racks that weight less than 3 1/2 pounds total) that was perfectly cooked. The meat came away from the bone easily, had great moisture and was nicely seasoned. They needed a bit more smoke to get a good bark and smoky flavor, but these were good ribs. Brisket was nearly identical save it was a bit dry. Most all of the fat was trimmed off, but what remained was nicely rendered with good flavor. The tender slices had great beefy flavor and had good seasoning, but also needed more time (perhaps unwrapped time) in the smoker to get a nice crust and smokiness. Something tells me Doris and Butch aren't going to change a thing no matter what this review says, but they've been doing just fine over four decades doing things their own way. No matter, it's certainly worth a stop if you're headed through town on any day but Sunday.

Rating ***
Smoke Shack on Urbanspoon


bbqhunter said...

Don't miss their home made fried pies. I usually get two apricots for the road and they don't last long.

Unknown said...

Hi. I'm hoping that this is the rite place. That is own by my cousin. I'm cookie Ada Mae lee goodman daughter.


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.