Monday, January 9, 2012


AUSTIN: Pok-E-Jo's
4109 S. Capitol Of Texas Hwy
Austin, TX 78704
Open Daily 11-9

Smoking with green mesquite wood is an ill advised practice. Ask any wood supplier about it and they'll shake their head. Mesquite should age for no less than a year for the creosote forming oils to dissipate, but there are some odd joints out there that insist on using it. Begrudgingly, wood suppliers will sell it so they don't lose a customer. It doesn't take long to determine if your favorite pit uses it. Takes a few bites of crusty brisket or ribs. If your tongue starts to tingle and starts to feel numb, you've been struck. I walked out of Pok-e-Jo's I scraped my tongue hopelessly against my front teeth to try and defeat the creosote monster. On my way out I inquired about their smoking apparatus with slurred speech. No surprise - I was told they use green mesquite in a gas-fired Southern Pride smoker.

A standard combo plate of brisket and ribs came with potato salad. Large chunks of tender red potatoes, eggs, mayo and green onions made for a hearty side. Ribs had a thick sweet rub applied that had plenty of black pepper. A finishing glaze of sauce was applied which provided a pleasing flavor. The meat could have been more tender, but they weren't bad.

Brisket, on the other hand, was bad. I had some optimism when I saw what looked like serviceable crusty brisket being sliced en masse for a catering order, but what I got were sorry looking gray slices of smoke-free meat. Not even a dip in the sauce could revive these chewy sad looking slices from the point.

The banana pudding rounded out the meal. It's admirably available as one of your sides, and was a promising grayish color. When you peel a banana, it is not yellow, so yellow pudding is an automatic indication of artificially banana flavored pudding. While the gray color meant that plenty of bananas were used, the pudding was still artificially flavored (probably vanilla pudding) and not remarkable. I should have gotten double potato salad.

Rating **
Pok-E-Jo's Smokehouse 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.