Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mumphord's Place Bar-B-Q

VICTORIA: Mumphord's Place Bar-B-Q
1202 E Juan Linn St
Victoria, TX 77901
Open Tues-Thur 11-7, F 11-8, Sat 11-6

Barbecue south of San Antonio generally means indirectly smoked meats done with mesquite. As we walked up to Mumphord's the smell coming from the screened in pit room at the back of the joint was unmistakeably from direct heat BBQ. We started our visit right there with a tour of the pits from Bubba Barnes, who is one of a few pitmen here. They burn their wood down to coals and cook the meat directly over them in several pits that all have their own given names like 'Goliath' and 'Chicken Smoker' which is reserved for, well I think you guessed it. A mix of mesquite and oak coals provide the flavor, and Bubba provides the know-how.

After a thorough tour of the place, which included dozens of photos of this athletic family which includes coaches, baseball players, and even a couple of former NFL players, it was time to eat. A four-meat plate was on the menu, so a pile of ribs, brisket, turkey and sausage was soon in our grasp. Employee recommendations of green beans and potato salad rounded out the plate. Direct heat cooking doesn't make for incredibly tender brisket, and this one was no different. The meat had a pleasing chew, but wasn't tough. The meat had simple seasoning and great flavor from the coals. Ribs were thin on meat and a bit dry, but the overall flavor from the rub and the smoke was excellent. A dip in their homemade sauce (the only secret they kept from us was this recipe) which was a sweet mix of tomato, mustard & maybe Italian dressing, took care of any moisture issues. My favorite meat here, the turkey needed no help. They start with a whole turkey breast, apply a salt-heavy rub and lay it over the fire. The meat was perfectly tender, moist and succulent. A German sausage from Schulenberg, Texas was smoked nicely with good snap and a pleasing mix of salt, pepper and garlic.

The sides of fresh green beans in a sauce heavy with salt and butter were still crisp and the potato salad was obviously homemade with a mashed consistency but too much sugar. A better option for the sweet tooth are their desserts which are made by a lady from their church. A slice of chocolate cake with cream cheese icing was perfectly moist with a restrained amount of frosting, which I'm partial to. I was a great dessert to finish off what was a great meal. It's tough to find well cooked meats like this in this region. This may not have been perfect, but it's the best we found anywhere within a seventy-five mile radius of Victoria. I'd gladly return.

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.