Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vincek's Smokehouse

Vincek's Smokehouse
139 S. Dill St. Map
East Bernard, TX 77435
Open Tues-Sat 7-6, Sun 8-3

Between the deer processing, sausage making and meat smoking, Gary Vincek is a busy man. He is also a great host who showed us around the entire operation at this gem of a barbecue joint southwest of Houston. A couple of skinned deer legs peeking out of the boxes in the back of a truck in the parking lot reminded us us that their core business is meat processing, and inside the shelves of goods and the meat case that runs the length of the joint could be warning signs that the barbecue is an afterthought. That couldn't be further from the truth.

On the far right of the meat counter is an area with several bustling employees filling the orders for smoked meat. You almost have to yell out your order into the crowd and hope that it sticks. My combo plate of ribs, brisket and the homemade sausage came out quickly with potato salad, beans and a slice of homemade bread.

As Gary explained, the huge concrete smokers in back were there when they bought the place 26 years ago. Huge metal lids are raised by a pulley system to reveal grates full of chicken and ribs with glowing charcoal below. There's no wood for these meats, just lump oak charcoal. Over in the bricked smokehouse, the sausages and briskets are indirectly smoked with pecan. When the briskets are within about three hours of being done they are transferred to the charcoal pits to finish cooking and to take on some of that charcoal flavor. It's a unique process that brings about a unique flavor.

Sausage is the house specialty, and it shows. The meats are ground rather than chopped in order to get a coarse consistency. Spiced with black pepper and garlic, these links are smoked until the casing are nicely crisp resulting in one of the finest sausages I've had anywhere. St. Louis style ribs had taken on the flavor of the charcoal quite well. They tasted similar to the ribs I had all over Memphis, which is a city where direct heat charcoal cooking is popular. The high heat hadn't rendered out the fat, and the ribs were still tough, but the flavor was great. The brisket slices were a bit dry, but they had great smoke and a crisp crust that had been further developed over the charcoal fire. Even with the dryness, this was some fine brisket that any joint would be proud of, and it's good to see that the ownership here takes plenty of pride in what they do. This includes the mini homemade pies that should be a required finale to any great meal here.

Rating ****
Vincek's Smokehouse on Urbanspoon


TG said...

The slice of bread looks interesting - like maybe it's made there. Or is it just a good angle

Texas2step said...

You're definitely in my neck of the woods bbq snob! When you're there next, make sure to get the Banana Pudding! It's home made and some of the best I've ever had! Also, another notable would be the seasoned rib-eyes! After you eat, grab some from the butcher area! Good eating!

Karen Sabrsula said...

I agree!! Some of the best BBQ around!! After having sausage from Vinceks, I will not buy it anywhere else. Yes, the bread is made right in the store. I have ordered it for family occasions, along with meat trays and my favorite, poppy seed struedels!


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.