Sunday, June 28, 2009

Junior's Bar-B-Q

RED OAK: Junior’s BBQ
251 E. Ovilla Rd

Red Oak, TX 75154


Open M-F 11-8

Bubba Q might get all of the attention from passers by coming off the highway just up the street, but Juniors seemed to have a good share of the local crowd at lunchtime on a recent Friday. The parking lot was full of trucks bulging just beyond the painted yellow lines beneath them, and the booths inside struggled to contain some of the bulging customers voraciously enjoying their meals.

My sister and I shared a generous two meat plate of brisket and ribs with a decent version of potato salad and crisp, lightly crusted okra. Hunger overcame us before I remembered the camera in my pocket, so the photography did suffer. The brisket slices we dug into first had a good crust, a handsome smokeline, and well rendered fat. A smoky flavor permeated deeply beyond the crust, but there were crustless slices that tasted a bit roast-beefy. The overall flavor was pleasing, but not overwhelmingly good.

On the other side of plate sat ribs with a hefty rub providing a bold flavor to the meat. Despite the heavy rub, a decent crust was allowed to form which provided a good level of smokiness to the reddish hued meat. Layers of well rendered fat made for moist tender ribs worth savoring, but again our hunger didn't allow us to savor. The ribs were gone in a flash, almost as quickly as the okra disappeared. For all of you who usually stop in at Bubba's on your way to Austin, do yourself a favor and head up the road to Juniors for some quality protein.

Rating ***

Junior's Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Posey Express BBQ

LITTLE ELM: Posey Express BBQ
1900 W FM 720

Little Elm, TX 75068


Open M-F 11-8

I really and truly wanted to love this place. After numerous recommendations, I made the long trek up to Little Elm. Tucked away in a hard-to-reach corner of the Metroplex sits this shack of a BBQ joint who's sign out front reads "Posey's Welding Shop and Posey's BBQ". A friendly older lady watches over the counter inside almost simultaneously taking orders from the drive-thru and from those in the tiny dining room. A handwritten sign above the trash directs customers to the restroom located in the welding shop. If I could judge a joint on charm and potential, this would get the highest rating yet.

But alas, the food is what must be judged. With great anticipation, I cracked the lid of the heavy styrofoam container to relish the spoils gained from this long anticipated moment. Forlorn, I stared into the abyss of brisket slices that closely resembled freshly tanned leather and sausage slices that had barely caught their breath from their liberation from plastic Sysco packaging. Ribs, only available on Fridays, were not included in this sad array.

Biting into the brisket gave the old mandibles a bit of a workout. Even roast beef flavor was fleeting in these strips of shredded slices more closely resembling jerky than fine smoked meat.

The sausage's most prominent flavor was salt, while the slices turned to instant mush in the mouth. Just a few minutes into my meal, my grand hopes had been defeated. I closed the lid, put on my seat belt and pulled out of the gravel parking lot. On the hour drive back to Dallas I tried to find something redeeming about this meal so I didn't have to hurt the pleasant proprietress's feelings, but only the sting of lost potential remained on the tongue.

Rating *
Posey Express BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Longoria's BBQ

EVERMAN: Longoria’s BBQ
100 Christopher
Everman, TX 76140


Open Tue-Sat 11-7

Update 2009: After sampling some Longoria's chopped beef and delectable brisket sausage at the Rahr Brewery tour, I knew I needed to get back soon. Besides, I was already out of the beef jerky that I picked up at the tour which is the best I've ever tasted (in addition to being a BBQ connoisseur, I'm also a jerky fanatic...bacon freak too). After a quick stop at Hickory Stick down the street, my sister and I headed over to Longoria's.

Feeling our oats, we opted for a three meat plate of sliced brisket, St. Louis style ribs and their famous brisket sausage. Also on the plate were unremarkable green beans and over-sweet potato salad. This being our fourth stop of the day, the sides were just unnecessary distractions anyway. Besides, with meat of this quality staring you in the face, we were firmly focused on the protein.

Tales of the all brisket sausage are told far and wide across the Metroplex, and it did not disappoint on this date. The coarse grind of the brisket held little filler and copious amounts of smoke. The lean sausage was bursting with beefy flavor surrounded by a casing with average snap. It was hard to stop popping those slices, but the other meats were getting jealous. A generous salty rub on the ribs still allowed a deep black crust to form. The tender meat beneath mixed with the well rendered fat to create a deeply smoky rib. The brisket slices were a bit more dry with less smoke, but these lean slices had a good crust and smokeline with a line of nicely rendered fat at the base of each slice. The only thing this meal was missing was a jerky chaser which we managed to down on the way back home despite our distended midsections. It may be a haul from Dallas, and even downtown Ft. Worth, but Longoria's is definitely worth the trip.

Rating ****

2006: Longoria's might sound familiar, and they'd like to make you believe that they're related in some way to the famous Eva, but they've made a name for themselves with unique menu items. The Longoria's are famous in the area for making brisket sausage and burgers made from smoked brisket. The brisket sausage was some of the best I've tasted. The casing had a great snap with a lean coarse grind. The smoke and black pepper provided powerful flavor. The brisket burger patties were just as powerful. The smoky robust flavor was excellent, and no fixin's were needed with all that taste. I can't give a rating for this joint until I go back to try their sliced beef and ribs, and I'm looking forward to it.
Longoria's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hickory Stick Bar-B-Q

EVERMAN: Hickory Stick Bar-B-Q
900 E Enon Ave.

Everman, TX 76140


Open Tues-Sat 8-8

Update 2009: It had been nearly three years since I headed over to Everman for the first time to give the dynamic duo of Hickory Stick and Longoria's a try, so I thought it was high time for a repeat visit when my Ohioan sister came to town looking for good 'cue.

I ordered up a two meat plate to share. They had just run out of ribs, so I opted for hot links and brisket. The hot links had to have been from Smokey Denmark in Austin. The all beef links were flecked with black pepper and had a decent snap to the crust. What was missing was any added smoke flavor from the pits at Hickory Stick. The beef was also missing the smokiness. Moist tender slices were covered in sauce. With little crust and no discernable smokeline, the sauce was about the only thing giving flavor to these roast beef slices.

The sides were also uninspired. Grocery store grade cole slaw sat next to pinto swimming in the liquid straight out of the can. Having missed the ribs on both visits, I'm hoping that I can try them on a return trip I see if this joint's popularity is based on ribs alone.

Rating **

2006: This joint is just south of Ft. Worth in the town of Everman which houses two quality joints just down the street from one another. The sausage here had a chewy skin with a fleeting bologna flavor. It had just enough fat, and a good peppery flavor. The brisket had a passable crust, but the smoke was not evident. The slices were lean to a fault creating a dry, dense brisket, but there was still some decent flavor there.

Hickory Stick Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shiner Smokehaus

Shiner has just released a new seasonal beer for the "Sommer" called Smokehaus. The label boasts that "It's Smokin' Good" due to the fact that it's mesquite smoked. Their website explains it a bit more in depth: "Enjoy Shiner's Smokin' Sommer Bier! Brewed with pale malt that's been smoked with native mesquite in the backyard of our little brewery in Shiner, Texas (pop. 2,070), this refreshing Helles-style beer has a smoky flavor that goes great with all the flavors of summer."

I had to try it over the weekend, and while it was a tasty refreshing beer, I got about as much smoke flavor as a slice of Dickey's brisket...that's almost none.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Stevenson Bar-B-Que

PAULS VALLEY: Stevenson Bar-B-Que
2602 W. Grant Ave.
Pauls Valley, OK 73075
Open Daily 11-?

On my way back from a recent trip to OKC, our one month old decided for us that a stop was necessary. Knowing that the book America's Best BBQ had recently listed Stevenson Bar-B-Que as one of the top 100 joints in the country, I conveniently suggested that we exit in Pauls Valley. Even given the accolades, my expectations were tempered by my experience at Van's Pig Stand earlier in the day. The heavy smell of smoke in the parking lot quickly eased my worries.

Leaving my wife to feed the baby in the back seat, I walked through the glass doors about an hour shy of closing time. The spacious interior of the former Braums building felt less than quaint, but the owner behind the counter oozed with small town hospitality. We discussed the joint's write-up in the previously mentioned publication, and his pride was evident. I got the feeling he was hoping for more customers after the book's release over a month ago, but he was happy that I knew about the book. I inquired about the menu on the wall that was missing the smoked catfish featured in the book and he laughed at he recalled how his brother happened to be smoking some catfish for strictly home consumption, but the authors had tried some during their back of house tour and decided to write about it. He then became one of my favorite proprietors when he offered a rib to munch on while I waited for my to-go order.

I arrived back at the car with a bag full of brisket, ribs, okra, pinto beans and banana pudding. Hickory smoke was liberally applied to the huge spare ribs which were nearly 3" thick at the fat end. The rub created a sweetness on the well formed smoky crust while the moist meat below the crust was intensely smoky if a bit tough. Slices of roast beefy brisket were far less smoky with little crust. The brisket had been wrapped during the cooking process creating moist, tender meat, but hindering all important smoke penetration.

A dish of well seasoned, peppery pinto beans swam in a thick, smoky gravy while okra was lightly breaded and flash fried to perfect crispness. If the ribs were the star, the banana pudding wasn't far behind. A layer of lemony crust creating an acidic counterpoint to the sweetness of the chunky pudding flecked with Nilla wafers that was layered on top. A truly great finish to an excellent dashboard meal.

Rating ***
Stevenson BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Van's Pig Stand

OKLAHOMA CITY: Van's Pig Stand
937 W. 59th St.

Oklahoma City, OK 73109
Open M-Sat 11-7, Sun 11-4

Update: This joint is CLOSED.

2009: My first official self-scheduled BBQ assignment outside of Texas took place last weekend at Van's Pig Stand. The mini-chain (5 locations) opened its latest joint in OKC, but the oldest location in Shawnee, Oklahoma has been going strong since the 1930's. The history coupled with its mention as one of America's top 100 'cue joints in America's Best BBQ put it tops on my list, not to mention the fact that the in-laws live in OKC making it an easy target.

Van's is admittedly famous for pork, but the brisket had to be sampled as well. The sliced beef was basic corporate 'cue with a meager crust and a wisp of smoke followed by a one dimensional flavor of roast beef. The tough ribs had more adequate smoke, but the heavy handed sweet and spicy rub hindered any chance for crust formation. Layers of unrendered fat were also evident in these poor examples of smoked swine.

The more popular swine available at Van's is the pulled pork on a bun. The buns are layered with a sweet special recipe relish and presauced meat. The texture of the meat was good with varied levels of crust, fat and tender meat. What these cheap sandwiches (2 for $6) didn't deliver on was flavor. The only thing anyone at the table tasted was sauce and relish.

The only item to relish here is the fried okra. These piping hot morsels of sweet okra with a tender crispy, nearly grease-free crust were the only item finished at the table. For the accolades they've received from 'cue experts as well as the likes of ESPN, I expected much more. Even the OKC natives said they saw no reason to return.

Rating **
Van's Pig Stand on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Xtreme Bar-Be-Que

Seven Points (?): Xtreme Bar-Be-Que
13172 State Highway 198
Mabank, TX 75156
Open Thur 11-9, Fri 11-12, Sat 11-9, Sun 12-3

Update: This joint is CLOSED.

2009: This stop is what might be called a "target of opportunity." While spending Memorial Day weekend at Cedar Creek Lake, we (the misses and I) had a little time to kill in the general vicinity of lunch. I had, I thought, come prepared with addresses for four different bbq joints in the area (via urbanspoon). We found one that appeared to be shut-down ( Texas Pit Bar B Que) but we couldn't find any others. We headed west across the Hwy 334 bridge to get something to eat when we came across Xtreme Bar-Be-Que, not at all where the map indicated.

It's set up more like a hang-out with a small stage for live music or karaoke and a juke-box well stocked with country tunes. I dropped a couple quarters for a little Willie Nelson and Hank Williams. Service was relaxed and friendly. It wasn't too busy for a holiday weekend. We were surprised that the whole area was pretty laid back when the reports we heard from Lake Lewisville and Lavon were bedlam.

There were out of sliced beef, so that was a serious mark against before we even got through the door. The ribs I had were from a little too far down. They were extremely fatty. It was a greasy chore to locate the meat between the small bones, not one I enjoyed. I have a feeling they can do better as the flavor of what I did locate wasn't bad. These particular ribs needed a little more quality assurance/quality control. It's a lot harder to judge the skill of the smoker with chopped beef as there are so many ways to fix the most common shortcomings. I suspect what I had was a mix of two different pieces as it was very moist but some bits had a little crisp to them. The flavor was very nice with a little tang and smoke. The sides and their sauce were all good but didn't really distinguish themselves.

I think barbecue isn't the first goal at Xtreme Bar-Be-Que. It's a good place for locals to hang out, have a cold beer, listen to some music and maybe take the stage themselves. The barbecue doesn't get in the way of that, but it doesn't take center stage either.

Rating * *

Read the rest!

Bodacious Bar-B-Q

ARLINGTON: Bodacious Bar-B-Q
1206 E Division St
Arlington, TX 76011
Open Mon-Thur 11-3, Fri-Sat 11-7

The ambiance along this stretch of Division St. is well known in Arlington but hard to describe to the uninitiated. The Close Encounters-finale-like-UFO that is the new Cowboy’s Stadium intrudes on an otherwise consistent theme of neon era motor courts, manufacturing and perpetually torn-up roads. Bodacious Bar B Q definitely fits in the pre-Jerry Jones model of the area. The restaurant set-up follows the cafeteria style layout many of us are familiar with. My service was a little slow even thought they didn't appear to be busy.
The ribs had a very nice spicy and sweet glaze. They were moist and well done with only a hint of smoke. The brisket was a mixed bag. I ended up with slices from several parts of the cut. One was with the grain that was tough and had little flavor. There was a tasty & smokey little bit from the tip. However, most of it was a little low on 'punch'. After having had Bodacious recommended several times, it was hard not to leave disappointed.
Rating * *

Bodacious Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saveur: The Texas Issue

Saveur Magazine's June 2009 issue (#121) is dedicated to Texas cuisine. As you may have guessed, Texas BBQ is heavily represented. BBQ was featured in no less than 6 of the 24 things they liked best about Texas. Whether they were discussing mesquite wood, Texas beef, slow smoked brisket, or the New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, my mouth was watering from cover to cover. One of my favorite books, Texas BBQ, even got a mention.

Also, while looking back at other Saveur issues, I found this one on different rib cuts in issue #118. Good stuff.

-BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Jesus Bar-B-Que

FT. WORTH: Jesus Bar-B-Que
810 South Main Street

Fort Worth, TX 76104


Open M-Sat 10-10

On a leasurely Saturday afternoon, Smokemasterone and I ambled back to my car after a tour of the Rahr Brewery in Fort Worth's industrial district just south of I-30. We enjoyed some excellent chopped beef and sausage from Longoria's at the brewery, but just a block away sits Jesus Bar-B-Q (& Mexican Food) so we couldn't pass it up. The vines growing on the sign attest to its age, and the fact they give nothing away (water to go is $0.35) is probably a symptom of having a flophouse named the Bunkhouse just next door.

The interior was sparse with few patrons. It seems that their to go business is more popular than the cramped booths, so the waitress didn't hesitate to take our order from the counter right as we walked in. I ordered a two meat plate with sliced brisket and ribs, and she immediately began packing up the order. I wasn't given a choice of sides, but later learned that perfectly crisp french fries and a meager salad dressed with thousand island were the only choices.

As we waited for our order to be bagged, we munched on a lemon fried pie that was a few minutes past fresh, but still tasty. Surprisingly, our order came with a bag of chips and salsa which is a first for me in my BBQ travails. I also noticed as I was about to leave that handmade business cards were available for the taking. Any benevolent printing company out there would do themselves well to trade a few hundred cards for some of this 'cue.

Inside the car, the smell of smoke wafted from the styrofoam container. Not expecting much from a Mexican/BBQ joint we sunk our teeth into the molten hot pork ribs. They were sloppily carved and a bit tough, but the flavor of the well formed crust was bold and smoky, and the meat inside was also full of flavor. The brisket was taughtly sliced with a well formed crust and a minute smoke line. The moist meat had a beefy flavor tinged with smoke, and I suspect it shared the rub ingredients that coated the ribs which were none.

Jesus challenged my preconceived notions of a joint that doesn't just specialize in their 'cue. Given my expectations, I was tempted to give it a higher rating, but comparing it to my previous body of work made me realize that even Jesus needs some work to perfect his smoked meat.

Rating **
Jessie's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Best of WFAA List

WFAA TV is soliciting votes for their "best-of" list for DFW. You can vote in a multitude of categories, and of course Best Barbecue is one of them. Check out the current standings below.

The good news is that Dallas is showing a more refined palate by not voting Dickey's or Sonny Bryan's in the top spot so far, so log on and keep it that way.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Tom & Bingo's BBQ

Tom & Bingo’s BBQ
3006 34th Street
Lubbock, Texas
Open M-F, 11-3:30, Sat 11-2:30

Guest Contributor: Straight from the Panhandle, the Midnight Smoker shares his beef from Tom & Bingo's BBQ.

Tom & Bingo’s, Lubbock’s sole representative in the Top 50 list presented in last June’s Texas Monthly, is one of the longest operating restaurants in the city. My dad, in his 60’s now, remembers walking there for lunch when he was a student at nearby JT Hutchinson Junior High back in the late 1950’s. They are only open for lunch at Tom & Bingo’s, from 11am until “whenever we sell out of brisket,” and they aren’t open at all on Sundays. The store is a real little joint, known for its tiny floor area, its school-desk seating, and its brisket sandwiches. I headed there on a recent weekday to have a couple.

Readers of this blog know the custom is for us reviewers to sample and write about servings of sliced brisket, pork ribs and sausage. But at Tom & Bingo’s, they only serve brisket on sandwiches and they don’t serve ribs or sausage at all. You can get your brisket regular or chopped, and smoked ham and burgers are also available. I ordered one sliced and one chopped to go, paid my $10 or so and headed home to eat and contemplate in more comfort than the little school-desks allowed. First, about the difference between regular and chopped beef - there is none. The meat is cut the same either way, but if you want it chopped they just chop it up before placing it on the bun. The meat for my sandwiches seemed to come of the “top” or fatty part of the brisket (“Lean” brisket is available for an extra charge). The meat on both my sandwiches was very moist and tender, but the smoky flavor was faint. The sandwiches were good, but a little too small and a little too fatty. The vinegar-based sauce had a nice tang to it, and helped to flavor up the beef.

Frankly, I think most Lubbock ‘cue aficionados would agree with me that Tom & Bingo’s, while a neat place with some history behind it, does not serve the city’s best brisket. I’ve eaten there before, and in my experience this was a pretty typical meal. It was good, but not outstanding, and left me wondering just how many Lubbock places got tried by Texas Monthly before they settled on this one again (Tom & Bingo’s was recognized in the first TM survey, I understand). Sometimes I think they focus more on the “joint” and less on the “BBQ”.
Rating **

- Midnight Smoker
Tom & Bingo's Hickory Pit BBQ 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.