Monday, January 31, 2011

BBQ Snob Mentioned in NYT

Sam Sifton of the New York Times was in Dallas last week, and he asked the locals for their food recommendations. I threw my barbecue choices into the ring, and he seemed to listen. After a few tweets, it was evident that he'd made it to Mac's Bar-B-Que on the outskirts of Deep Ellum. He sampled nearly every meat and loved every bite. The full article featuring all of his eats in North Texas will be in tomorrow morning's paper, but you can check it out online now. Check the last few paragraphs on the first page to catch his views on DFW BBQ. I can agree with most of it, especially the choice to feature an independent pitmaster who does it the right way. What do you think?

- BBQ Snob

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

BBQ in the News

In case you haven't heard, Lockhart Smokehouse in Oak Cliff is opening this week. According to their twitter account, they'll be opening at 10:30 on Wednesday, February 2nd.

Papa Joe's Backyard BBQ, also in Oak Cliff, opened (finally) over the weekend, and the Texas BBQ Posse was there to see it.

Luckie's Smokehouse is the third joint opening in the Cliff, but no news on an opening date since the owner told me he expected to open mid-December. Their website still shows the old address with no news of the opening.

Franklin BBQ
in Austin will soon be moving into a brick and mortar joint just down the highway from their current location. Austin 360 was told it could be done by the end of this month, but I haven't heard anything definite yet.

Edgar Black shows his method for trimming, seasoning and smoking a brisket at Black's on the Cooking Channel.

On Wednesday night, a fire caused heavy damage to Smitty's BBQ in Brownwood (not Lockhart). Hopefully they can get the place going again.

Finally, the Super Bowl of Texas BBQ will take place this week at the House of Blues in Dallas. Man Up Texas BBQ chose the best pitmasters from around the state to cook for a huge crowd of media types. I'm happy to have gotten an invitation to attend from the Texas BBQ Posse.

- BBQ Snob

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MOULTON: Patek's Grocery
100 SE First
Moulton, TX 77975
Open Saturday only for BBQ

This small town grocery store changed its name a few years ago, but locals still know it as Patek's, and the sign out front still reads the same. I was told to give it a try by blog reader Kip Riske () who picked some up on a BBQ trip a few months back. Smoked brisket is available here on Saturdays only at the deli counter in the back of the store. They have a few other interesting looking items on the case, but none of it was available hot, so I came away with 1/2 pound of brisket for under $4.

The meat was a bit dry, and the large line of fat running through the center was poorly rendered. The meat was well seasoned and moderately smokey, with a good dark crust that held the most smoke flavor. Overall, this was decent brisket if you don't have another option, but with Schulenburg, Hallettsville, and Gonzales all within 1/2 hour, I'd opt for the short drive to any of them.

Rating **

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Friday, January 28, 2011

City Market (Schulenburg)

109 Kessler Ave

Schulenburg, TX 78956


Open M-F 8-5:30, Sat 8-2

Update: Rarely do I find reason to increase a joint's rating by two stars, but I had a feeling on the last visit that they weren't showing off their best. I learned why on this visit. On that first trip I ordered at the counter, and they were out of nearly everything. This trip I discovered the pits. You see, the lunch hour is their rush period, and ordering is done at the pit to be sliced by the pitmasters. What I had previously eaten was just the leftover scraps that they keep at the counter. On this visit, I got the cream of the crop straight from the pit.

During lunch, you can pick your meat directly out of the pit, and give instructions to the deft pitmasters on how you want yours cut. We ordered some sliced brisket from the middle, so we could get some flat and point. We then added some ribs and a house made hot dog to top it off. Orders are then taken to the counter inside to settle the bill.

The hot dog may have been house made, but microwaving it to order wasn't what I was expecting. On a simple white bun with a squirt of yellow mustard, it still turned out pretty well, but I was here for the smoked meat.

Tender slices of brisket were heavy with black pepper. The heavy oak smoke penetrated every layer of the moist meat, and these slices were just perfect. The nearly 1/4" thick smokering was one of the thickest I've seen. Intensely smoky ribs had the same heavy black pepper rub. The meat was moist and perfectly tender. It came from the bone with the greatest of ease, and every bite was bursting with bold BBQ flavor. These quickly became some of the bet ribs in my recent memory. I now know what I was missing on that first trip here. Make sure to come around lunch time for the best quality meats. Come any later and the pits will be closed up and you'll only get the mediocre leftovers.

Rating *****

2009: Advertising itself as "The Best Little Meat Market in Texas", this small meat market just south of I-10 also churns out some good 'cue. Buffalo steaks, sausage and their famous wieners fill the case that nearly runs the length of the store. Unfortunately the 'cue is not on display, so I had to order blindly at the register where orders for BBQ and raw meat alike are placed. I was told at 1:00 on a Saturday that they were already out of ribs. I ordered brisket, sausage and smoked turkey.

The smoked turkey was one of the best meats we had all day. It was tender and moist, which is hard to do with this incredibly lean meat. The crust, and the meat were smoky and succulent. The sausage was a solid effort with a semi-fine grind, high fat content and a bit of casing snap. None of the flavors provided much of a kick, but this was a solid link. The brisket, while smoky and flavorful, needed some more time in the smoker to tenderize a bit more. It's tough and slightly dry texture tells me that this brisket may have been cooked with too little patience, but the fat was well rendered, and the black pepper in the crust provided a nice flavor dimension in addition to the smokiness. I'm anxious to return and try the ribs and another version of their brisket next time I'd headed between Houston and San Antonio.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Prause Meat Market

LA GRANGE: Prause Meat Market
253 W. Travis

La Grange, TX 78945


Open M-W & F 7-5:30, Thur 7-1, Sat 5:30-1

Update: A pork roll sounds like a school cafeteria main course that's been chopped, pressed and processed. It's much better than that when executed by the pitmaster at Prause Meat Market. A whole pork shoulder is deboned then wrapped and tied in a roll before smoking. On this visit I tried the pork roll alongside and end cut from the pork chop. The only brisket available was yesterday's and the lady taking the order was quick to tell me not to bother until some new product became available, but with the first few briskets off the pit already being spoken for by previous orders, we were happy to just add a few links of their excellent home made sausage.

That sausage is mostly beef with a bit of pork, and is eternally moist. The snap, the spice and the smoke made for a few links of perfection. That end cut from the pork chop was heavenly. Bits of crispy fat mixed with a seasoned crusty exterior and nicely moist meat. We were getting full on this road trip, but that pork chop bone was picked clean. The pork roll, although boneless with less fat, was similar to the pork chop. Well seasoned meat that was nicely tender rounded out the meal, but this cut was a bit drier than the pork chop and it would be tough to order it again if the chop is available. I'm now glad that I have a good excuse to go back so I can try that brisket again, and another pork chop just might sneak into my order.

Rating *****

2009: Through a non-descript metal door on the side of the building is the entrance into the pit of this joint with over 100 years of history. Prause was a meat market in the late 1800's and has been a BBQ joint nearly all of its life according to one of the family owners, Mark Prause. He seemed to know all the locals that passed through the aforementioned back door as we stood and chatted. I had come through the front door like an amateur marveling over the selection of fresh meats in the large case. I was pointed to the rear of the space to place my BBQ order, and at 11:00 they were already running low on items. Given the lack of a line, I was surprised to hear that, but I must have hit a slight lull as the line snaked around to the front by the time I left a short while later.

Given the distance from La Grange to other major cities, and the inexplicable lack of statewide fanfare associated with this joint, the crowds were mainly locals. Many enjoying a quick bite alone on what is probably a standard weekly visit. Juxtapose that with three camera-totin' self-proclaimed BBQ aficionados on a weekend long road trip to find the best 'cue in Texas, and you might expect some stares, but everyone seemed downright mesmerized by the meat in front of them, too much so for them to notice our table.

We were no doubt enthralled by our bounty of brisket, pork ribs and a healthy slice of pork roll (that's what I was told when I inquired about the cut. I'm not sure where the 'roll' is on a swine). This being our fourth stop of the day, you may expect that no meat could still taste good, but this brisket was the closest to perfection of any meat that has passed these protein stained lips. The crust and smoke line were pronounced, the texture was almost buttery due to the perfectly rendered fat, and the flavor was robust with smoke, salt, pepper, and love. I was in BBQ heaven. The pork ribs were country ribs, so they were much thicker and meatier than a standard spare rib. The meat was a bit dry, but incredibly flavorful if not intensely smoky. Oddly enough, we all agreed that the rendered fat on the crust of these ribs tasted just like fried chicken skin. Who knows how they make that happen. The pork roll was great as well. It wasn't as dry as the picture makes it seem, and the flavor from the smoke and the salty crust was intense.

Much of the enjoyment of this place obviously came from the food, but the surroundings were a sight to behold as well. I stood for several minutes watching the pit master carefully check the doneness of the meat before placing it in a tub to be carried to the meat counter for serving. This room had layers of history covering the walls, and the delicious aroma of post oak smoke.

No survey of Texas BBQ is truly complete without a stop at this quintessential joint, and it's worth the drive from anywhere in Texas. Read more about the history of this joint in this interview.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Texan Station

GRAPEVINE: Texan Station
1501 Gaylord Trl
Grapevine, TX 76051
Open Daily 11:00-1:30am

I'd never been to the Gaylord Texan, but my wife wanting to take our daughter to go see ICE, so I drove we drove out to Grapevine hungry. We needed some serious sustenance to weather the line that would be ahead of us just to see some frozen Peanuts characters. Texan Station looked like the least overpriced option at the Gaylord, and they had BBQ. Here goes nothing.

What arrived after ordering the $26 'Kitchen Sink' was a thrown together mess of meat and sauce with a wet nap. They piled it on to justify the ridiculous price tag for nothing more than a three meat plate, but quantity wasn't factored in. A few of the dried out brisket slices had a kick of smoke but they were mainly just roast beefy. As thinly sliced as they were, they couldn't help but be tender, but the staff much have a big brisket slicing party at the beginning of dinner service because these abused slices pulled from beneath the drowning sauce were terribly dry. Ribs were plenty moist with their 1/4 thick layer of sauce, but they tasted baked. Pulled pork was nondescript, and needed the sauce which wasn't half bad. It had a reserved level of sweetness and a good chipotle kick. Order it as a side with their crispy fries instead of bothering with this $26 monstrosity.

Rating *
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Super Bowl XLV BBQ

If you're coming to visit Dallas for the Super Bowl, and you think you are about the enter a Mecca of Texas Barbeque, then I'm here to let you down easy. Dallas and Fort Worth don't have BBQ that compares to the best in the state (you'll have to drive a few hours south), but there are some places worth your time. I know many of you will choose various accommodations, so I'll organize my list around the focal points of the Metroplex.

DFW Airport:

Cousin's (in the Airport) - Stop in Terminal D for their great smokey brisket and well made sides. Don't miss their multiple Fort Worth locations as well.

Bartley's (Grapevine) - Tasty ribs and pecan cobbler are not to be missed.

Big Rack's BBQ (Grapevine) - For BBQ with a sides of mammaries, grab a seat here and enjoy the view.

Hard 8 (Coppell) - If you want that Hill Country experience where ordering is done straight out of the pit, then this is a closer, if not perfect option near the airport.

North Main BBQ (Euless) - Award winning ribs can be enjoyed at this joint during their Super Bowl week only expanded hours.


Mac's Barbecue - If you need some good 'cue during the lunch hour M-F, then stop here for a chopped beef and hot link sandwich. Don't forget the fries and beans.

Pecan Lodge - The best sliced brisket in the city limits can be found here.

Baker's Ribs - In addition to their great sides, be sure to get the, you guessed it, ribs.

Meshack's - Some of the finest brisket around is here, but bring cash and plan to eat off-site.

Smokey John's Depot - With two locations in Dallas, you're never too far from their homemade beef sausage or the excellent ribs.

Smoke - Enjoy some of Dallas' best sausage and a huge beef rib in a swankier setting than your normal BBQ joint.

Baby Back Shak - Cornish game hen, boudin, bologna and chicken wings can be found alongside all the BBQ basics. Don't miss the Shak beans.

Big Al's Smokehouse - Ribs, sliced sausage and turkey are all great.

CT's Real Deal Bar-B-Que - Fill up with great BBQ with soul food sides.

Fort Worth:

Off the Bone - The best ribs around can be found here, but every meat is excellent. Home baked desserts are also great.

Angelo's - This Fort Worth institution serves a selection of excellent smoked meats and ice cold beer.

Smokey's BBQ - Incredible meats across the board. Finish off yur meal with some of the best buttermilk pie around.

Railhead Smokehouse - The frozen schooners are almost as popular as the brisket, so make it your stop for happy hour.


David's Barbecue - Currently the closet decent BBQ to Cowboys Stadium.

D-Two - The second closet decent BBQ to Cowboys Stadium.

- BBQ Snob

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

City Meat Market

GIDDINGS: City Meat Market
101 W. Austin

Giddings, TX 78942


Open M–F 7:30–5:30, Sat 7:30–4

Update: You may remember from the first review, that City Meat Market in Giddings makes their own sausage for the market as well as providing it to Snow's. After just trying it at Snow's we wanted a good comparison of not only the sausage, but the brisket as well. I enjoyed my first trip here enough to give it four stars, and they were kind enough to display the certificate I sent right next to their mention in Texas Monthly's latest Top 50 BBQ issue.

The meats together just didn't have the same most and tender quality of Snow's, even the sausage. It was a bit less smoky and quite a bit dryer. It was again amazing to see just how different the same raw links can taste after a few hours in different smokers. Brisket and ribs were better than the photo reveals/ The beef slices were thick with a nice line of fat, but were oddly sliced with rather than against the grain. Even the most tender brisket will be tough to chew when sliced in that way. Ribs had great seasoning and flavor, and were the smokiest meat of the bunch, but they were a bit dry. I should have asked for some longer ribs near the center of the rack which is possible here since you get to watch as your order is being sliced right in front of you.

While it wasn't quite as good as the first trip, it was close, and would have been much better given more careful slicing of the brisket. I like this place and plan to return in hopes that it will produce an experience more like the first visit.

Rating ****

2009: Thousands of drivers a day pass through Giddings along Texas Highway 290 on their way between Austin and Houston. They would all do themselves a favor if they stopped right in the center of town to sample the fine meats smoked at City Meat Market. This is a true meat market with cases full of steaks, ground beef and sausage right inside the door. Walking back beyond the cases and through the small dining area, all the while drawn by the seductive smell of post oak smoke, you find the entry door into the pit area simply labeled "IN".

All that now separates you from the smokers full of meat is a short counter and the freindly pit boss, Gerald. He was happy to slice my order of brisket, pork ribs and sausage and curl it up on a pile of butcher paper. The ribs and sausage were taken straight out from under the heavy smoker lid, but Gerald pierced the brisket with a large carving fork and lifted it from a metal vat full of a deep brown liquid. He explained that instead of wrapping the brisket to keep it moist, he stored it in a vat of captured brisket juices...a smoky Central Texas au jus. No matter how it's stored, all of the meats came out picture perfect, and steaming hot.

The sausage was an enigma. City Meat Market supplies Snow's with their sausage, and it was delicious and smoky just thirty minutes earlier in Lexington. This version had the same texture but was drier, far less smoky, and simply not as good in this reviewer's opinion. The brisket was excellent with a nice smokeline, and the crust had not deteriorated as you might expect with it soaking in liquid. Another thing that you'd expect from soaking the brisket is that it would stay ultra moist, but this wasn't the case. The tender slices were slightly dry, but the fat was well rendered and the smoky flavor ran deep. The ribs were the best and smokiest offering with a heavy salt and pepper rub over a deep red crust. The meat was moist and flavorful, but a little on the tough side. Overall, this is obviously a joint that pays close attention to their meat, and takes great pride in the product they turn out, but they weren't quite up to five star standards on this day.

Rating ****
City Meat Market on Urbanspoon

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow's BBQ

516 Main St

Lexington, TX 78947


Open Sat 8–12

Update 2010: After driving three hours from Dallas to arrive in Lexington at 9:00 am, it's hard not to suffer some validation bias no matter what you sink your teeth into, but it helps when it's perfectly smoked and silky tender brisket. I invited a friend on a last minute whirlwind trip through the finest that Central Texas had to offer, and Snow's was our obvious first stop. This was his first time trying the Saturday-only gem, and he didn't hesitate to inform me after just two bites that this was the best brisket he'd ever eaten. We had nine more places on the list for the day, so I had to convince him not to lick the butcher paper clean, but I even had a hard time following my own advice on this visit.

We ordered a few brisket slices, then I asked for a chunk off the fatty end. We added a link and a hefty bit of the pork steak and we were ready to feed our growling stomachs. The fatty end of brisket was a perfect morsel of smoked goodness. I can't say much more. The sausage's flavor was deeply smoky, but the meat was still perfectly moist. Heavy black pepper worked well with the beefiness of the link, which worked as a good counterpoint to the richly fatty pork steak. This chunk was cut thicker than my last trip, and turned out better. The fat was perfectly rendered creating a rich and sticky meat experience. Seasoning heavy on the black pepper worked nicely with the salty meat. For this meal, I'd gladly get on the road again at 6:00 am on a Saturday. It was that good, but we had plenty of greatness ahead of us.

Rating *****

2009: A full nine months after Snow's was named top BBQ joint in Texas, there's still a line at 7:58 waiting for the doors to open. Brisket, ribs, sausage, and pork steak was on the menu today.

The brisket was again the stellar offering of the day. The thick black crust and ample smoke line created the deeply smoky brisket I was craving, and made for some excellent meat caramel. The sausage (supplied by City Meat Market in Giddings) had a coarse grind with a solid snap to the casing. The overall flavor was smokier than I'm accustomed to for sausage, and it was no less than delicious. The pork steak could have used more time on the smoker to render the tough strings of fat a little better, but the smokiness coupled with the salt and pepper rub made for an excellent overall flavor. The dry ribs are what kept this joint from reaching to the heights of 6 stars. The red colored meat was flavorful and smoky as expected, but the texture was tough, and the meat had the moisture sucked right out of it.

After we ate, Tootsie took us on a tour out back to see the smokers. Even with the thick smoke, it almost seems to be a local hangout for some of the old farmers in the area.

2008: Waking up at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning in Austin with a hangover from the night before tested my BBQ cravings, especially with an hour drive ahead of me. The drive was great, and after a mundane drive, I turned onto FM 696 for a great drive into Lexington. At 8:05 there was already a line up the ramp into this tiny metal building. Everyone was anxious to get a taste of this newly fabled joint that is recently famous due to its #1 ranking in the latest BBQ review from Texas Monthly. I spoke with Kerry Bexley, the owner afterwards and he said they went from cooking about 300 lbs. of meat, and selling out by 11:30 a.m. to now cooking about 1200 lbs. and selling out by 10:00 a.m.

I was about to order some chicken along with pork ribs, brisket and sausage, but the lady in front of me got the last half chicken at 8:20. The place had only been open for 20 minutes! I got most of the order to go, but I had to sample some brisket and ribs for breakfast. The brisket was astoundingly good, bordering on perfect. The smoke line was thick, the brisket was lean and tender, and the smoke flavor was incredible throughout, not just on the perfectly formed black crust, but even in the most remote bite of beautiful beef. The spare ribs were also good, but not as overwhelmingly flavorful. They had a good crust with only salt and pepper for seasoning, but the fat could have been rendered more thoroughly. A good smoke flavor kept me craving more until I returned home again an hour later.

Another important note...this brisket was also good warmed up on Sunday, on Monday, and again on Tuesday! I have never enjoyed brisket much the day after, so this fact made this fantastic brisket stand out even more. One factor was probably that I kept the brisket whole, and warmed it that way, and only sliced it after warming. This kept the brisket much more moist and flavorful.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Best Sausage in Dallas

Grinding meat and stuffing it into a pig's rinsed and salted intestines is not an art form often embraced by the pitmasters of our fair city. Dallasites seem happy enough to munch down on the overtly brackish links with hot dog like consistencies that are the standard offering. Over the past few years I've tried to take note of where you can find a decent link in the city that isn't available as the buy-one-get-one special at Albertson's. Here is that list.

Smokey John's Bar-B-Que - While several type of sausage are offered, the smokey all beef link is house made and has plenty of black pepper kick. Get a three-meat plate and try all three of their sausage offerings.

Smoke - The sausage trio at Smoke has gotten a blog entry of its own, but it's worth reiterating the uniqueness of these tasty links. The rabbit sausage remains my favorite, but you might as well get a tasting of all three.

Mac's Bar-B-Que - While Billy McDonald doesn't stuff this jalapeno hot link himself, he has it made to his specifications in West, Texas. He said it's not done by Nemecek's, so I presume he's getting it from the other sausage maker in town (I learned recently that Mac's old supplier went bankrupt. He now gets his sausage from J bar B). I go to Mac's if I want a bite of that half beef, half pork link with just enough heat from the diced jalapenos mixed in. I like these slices best atop a chopped beef sandwich.

Dave's BBQ - In South Dallas, you can find these homemade links that are perfectly spiced and nicely smoked. They have just the right amount of snap for a natural casing sausage, and are subtly spiced.

Mike Anderson's Barbecue
- While they don't make it themselves, these guys know how to smoke some local favorites. Their hot link is from Smokey Denmark's in Austin which is beefy and peppery. Bits of it can also be found in their beans because that's where the trimmings go. Mike's regular sausage comes from Rudolph's just a few miles away in Deep Ellum. This kielbasa is mildly spiced, plenty fatty with lots of salt, but it's a great choice at Mike's. It's also one of my favorite links to throw on the grill at home. A few more local joints using Rudolph's sausage are Big Al's Smokehouse and Hawk's Hickory House among others.

Baby Back Shak - The final entry isn't for a traditional smoked sausage, but instead for the cajun specialty that is boudin. Usually, the meat and rice mixture is squeezed from the casing until all that's left is the skin, but some folks chomp on through like any other link. It's not homemade, but I like this version most because it's available as a very filling side item to any of their plate meals.

If you know of any other great sausages available in the area, or especially any that are homemade, please comment below. I suddenly have a hankerin' for a good tube steak.

- BBQ Snob

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pit Stop BBQ (Competition Style)

3901 S Highway 287

Waxahachie, TX 75165


Open Daily 11-9

Competition style is how they bill the product offered here at Pit Stop BBQ, and you'll need and eagle eye while strolling down Highway 287 if you want to grab a bite of it. I was headed south between Waxahachie and Ennis and had it marked on my Iphone's map, and I still had to backtrack to find it. Inside, the dining room is divided between a comfortable tented enclosure and an enclosed air-conditioned portion with just a few booths. Orders are placed at an elevated window, and I opted for the usual two-meat plate.

Competition style may sound titillating, unless you've judged one. Then you'd know that the meat is overseasoned and oversauced to a point that the one or two bites ingested by the judges will leave an impression that will hopefully result in a high score. It isn't meat that's made for a meal, and this was no different. Brisket had been trimmed into uniform rectangles that were devoid of fat, crust, a smokering and smoke. The beef broth that had been brushed onto the meat to keep the slices moist was the overwhelming flavor, and it wasn't pleasant. Speaking of overwhelming, the amount of cumin in the thick rib rub overpowered most anything else that went into these ribs. They were certainly moist, but had been overcooked a bit and struggled to stay attached to the bone when I picked them up off the plate. This isn't the texture they seek in competitions, and the mushiness wasn't how I was hoping to end my BBQ day. Instead I headed to Randy's for some good smokey, fatty, crusty brisket ends to satisfy my non-competition style cravings.

Rating **

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Odom's Barbeque (Waxahachie)

WAXAHACHIE: Odom's Barbeque
317 N. Elm St.

Waxahachie, TX 75165


Open M-Tues 11-9, W 11-6, Thur 11-9, F-Sat 11-10

It's hard to write an original review of this relatively new outpost of the Dallas original given how closely the food resembles the the parent location. Until this trip, I hadn't realized that Odom's has three locations (Dallas, Duncanville and Waxahachie) with this one being the newest after the owner's son pulled up stakes in Cedar Hill and moved a bit further south. While I waited for my order outside, moms stopped by picking up dinner for the family, teenagers dropped by to snack on the $2 chopped beef sandwich and railroad workers had a bite in their vehicle. I went for brisket, ribs and two sides. Just like the Dallas location, the choice for sides is made for you in a mashed potato salad heavy on pickle and mustard, and smokey pinto beans.

Beef slices were somewhat smoky with a nice crust and thick smokering. The chewy meat was a bit underdone, and could have used more seasoning, but as evidenced by the sauced meat (requested on the side) they rely on it for some flavor. Ribs were again a standout item. They were moist, incredibly tender and had much more smokiness than the beef. The meat came of the bone easily and had great overall flavor. My toddler at home liked the leftovers so well, I didn't get another bite of them.

As I sat waiting for my order, I noticed the hours on the front window. You can tell what's important to this small town joint by the fact that they close early on Wednesday for 'Church Night'. Otherwise, you can get your rib fix pretty late.

Rating ***

Odom's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gulf Coast Gathering

If you haven't already seen the 'Gulf Coast Gathering' announcement in City if Ate, SideDish, Eats Blog or Pegasus News, then check out the details of this great local event below. As a founding member of Foodways Texas (a new organization with a new website) I am especially excited for the event which will be the group's first event in Dallas. It doesn't hurt that I love sucking down a few raw oysters. So come join Robb Walsh and I for some great seafood by Smoke's chef Tim Byres, and help get Foodways Texas off the ground.

The first Dallas event is a fundraiser to be held on Monday, January 24, 2010 from 6:30-10 pm at Smoke in Dallas. A family style dinner of Gulf seafood will be prepared by acclaimed chef Tim Byres and an oyster shucking contest will be held for those willing to try their hands at releasing the sweet meat of the state’s finest bivalves. A screening of “Good, Better, Best” — a documentary about the making of sorghum syrup — will also be shown during the reception. Please come out and support the seafood industry of the Texas Gulf Coast. Texas food enthusiasts wishing to support Foodways Texas can purchase tickets, priced at $75 each, or become members of the organization at

Gulf Coast Gathering Menu

Cocktails: 6:30 pm

Dinner: 7:30 to 10 pm

Cocktail Reception
Pimento Cheese Croquette & Tejano Red Sauce
Pickled Shrimp with Rio Star Grapefruit
Salted Snapper & Fresh Masa
Smoked Sausage Kolache with Fruit Mustard
Chicken Salad & Celery Toast

Family Style Menu

Brick Roux Gumbo with Fresh Fish, Oysters & Andouille Sausage
Fire Roasted Oysters with Scampi Butter, Mexican Chorizo & Ash Salsa
Raw Oysters with Mignonette & Red Chile Vinegar
Grilled Whole Shrimp with Horseradish, Herbs & Pickled Relish Vinaigrette
Cornmeal Fish Fry with Green Chile Hushpuppies
Lettuce Salad with Radish Vinaigrette
Stewed Collard Greens with Sorghum
Hominy Casserole
Blue Cheese Cabbage Slaw
Mustard Seed Potato Salad
Spicy Charro Beans
Assorted Vegetable Pickles: Peppered Green Beans, Sweet Carrots, Bread & Butter
Cucumbers, Cumin Red Onions & Jalapenos
Fresh Breads, Biscuits & Butter with Jalapeno Jelly

To grab a few tickets, go to Prekindle.

- BBQ Snob

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Jacon (Beef Bacon) at Bolsa

I make a habit of seeking out meat that is out the ordinary, but Bolsa in Oak Cliff has been curing their own beef bacon for quite some time right under my nose, and I never noticed. That is until I had a quick chat with Bolsa's owner, Chris Zielke when the subject of cured and smoked beef belly came up. I had to have some, so Chris invited me to drop by and meet with Jake Depew, the restaurant's sous chef and creator of this beefy concoction which has been dubbed 'Jacon' by the staff as an ode to its creator.

My introduction to this dish came with a plate of several unadorned crispy hot strips of beefiness. It was sliced thicker than your usual bacon slices, and it had been baked rather than pan fried, so it remained a bit toothsome. The flavor was certainly salty and smoky like pork bacon, but the beefy flavor was undeniable. The fat itself took a bit more chewing due to the higher melting temperature of beef fat (+/- 110 degrees) than of pork fat (+/- 98 degrees) which melts more readily on the tongue.

After enjoying a full plate for a snack, Jake gave me a more detailed view of the bacon curing operation. First, whole Wagyu beef bellies are ordered from Waxahachie's own Marbelous Beef Company. For a while the restaurant got it for nearly free since it was considered basically worthless, but of course after enough orders are put in for it, the supplier began to realize its worth.

After the beef bellies are trimmed, Jake rubs them with his special (and secret) blend of salt, pepper and other spices and it's left to cure in the cooler. Once the curing process is complete, the beef is rinsed then cold smoked back in the kitchen. What comes out of that smoker is more fat than meat since the Wagyu cattle it comes from is very high in fat.

After the tour and explanation, Jake and I sat down for a drink and he presented a large chunk of the meat already wrapped up for me to take home. Chef Graham Dodd joined us and we talked about smoking meat, California blue cheese and beer. These highly talented and acclaimed chefs were not only genuinely hospitable and generous, they were also simply nice folks to chat with, even though they'd never met me before. I left with a full stomach, a hunk of cured and smoked beef, and a smile.

Two weeks later I made my way back to Bolsa for lunch. Jake mentioned that the Jacon sometimes shows up on a burger, in a salad or in other various dishes. I was hoping to find a beef bacon burger, but Jacon was nowhere to be found on that day's menu. I meekly asked the bartender if there was any beef bacon back in the kitchen that could be added to the Marbelous Wagyu burger. He returned form the kitchen with good news. Jake had spotted me and already had some Jacon frying. That ridiculously juicy beef patty, crispy beef bacon and creamy sweet chunks of Shaft's blue cheese wrapped between that soft brioche bun made for a burger experience like I'd never had. It may well have been the single best burger I've eaten. I liked it so well, I recreated the burger at home over the weekend for myself and a few friends. You can too by grabbing some ground Wagyu at Hirsch's in Plano, Shaft's bleu cheese from Central Market, and unless you can convince Jake to sell you a few slices, then order your beef belly from Marbleous and get started with the curing. It'll be worth the wait.

- BBQ Snob

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ellis County BBQ

700 Silken Crossing #300

Midlothian, TX 76065


Open M,W-Thur 11-10, F-Sat 11-11, Sun 11-8

It was about 1:00 on a Saturday afternoon when I walked into the empty dining room to place my to-go order with one of the servers. There were a few guys seated at the the bar, but not a single tablecloth covered table was inhabited. Although the wide menu allows for your choices to wander towards salads and burgers, I stuck with the well named 'Daniel Plate' that had two meats and two sides.

As I lifted the boxes lid, the meat was laid out like a competition box with ribs and brisket slices all aligned. Ribs were tender and came easily off the bone, but the flavor tasted of liquid smoke. While the meat was moist and well cooked, I couldn't get past the odd flavor profile. Unlike competition brisket, these slices had no smokering and were missing a deep smoke flavor in bites that didn't include crust. The meat was overcooked, but not yet dry. This meant slices needed to be very thick just to stay together, and the three in this box were bordering on 1/2 pound of meat. A dip into the thick dark sauce that had some heat and sweet helped boost the flavor of the beef.

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.