Monday, August 31, 2009

BBQ Book Review - Legends of Texas Barbecue

Title: Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook
Author: Robb Walsh
Published: 2002 by Chronicle Books

This is the most informative and overall well written book I've read about about Texas Barbecue. It's part history book, part guide book, and mostly a recipe book. However, these aren't the author's recipes, and he hasn't attempted to add filler recipes. These are all from Texas pit masters who know their 'cue including no less than seven distinct recipes for brisket with varying levels of difficulty. Darrington Penitentiary Barbecued Brisket is the easiest version since it's done in an oven. Big smokers just aren't prevalent in prison kitchens.

The history gathered by Mr. Walsh is worth a book all its own. He describes the differing styles within Texas. Stories from pit masters and historic photos assist in explaining the finer points of the black influenced East Texas style which highlights saucy ribs, and why it differs from the Tejano South Texas style which features barbacoa. Central Texas 'cue created by German immigrants with its focus on heavy post oak smoking is contrasted with the West Texas cowboy style which features high heat from mesquite coals.

A short guide to many great BBQ joints rounds out the book. It's broken up in sections from the "Barbecue Belt" centered in Lockhart, and includes urban BBQ joints along with the historic Texas meat markets. Overall, this in depth look at the cultural influences that flavor our favorite food is just as insightful as it is hunger inducing.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Friday, August 28, 2009

CT's Real Deal Bar-B-Que

DALLAS: C T’s Real Deal Bar-B-Que
2901 S Lancaster Rd

Dallas, TX 75216


Open Daily 7:00am-past midnight

Update 2009: I headed in for a quick to-go snack of smoked brisket on white bread. The slices were piled high with a thin layer of sauce applied over the meat. These buttery slices of beef had been cut on a severe bias resulting in abnormally large slices. Each piece had well perfectly seasoned meat, rendered fat throughout, and a dark smoky crust surrounding it all. A robust smoke flavor was evident in each bite. Needless to say, it was gone before I started the car.

At that point, I decided to run back in for a rib sandwich.

Again, meat was piled high between cheap white bread. The 100% hickory smoked meat had good smokiness, and the meat was tender with little unrendered fat under the crust. What was lacking was a good hearty bark, which may have disappeared after some generous sauce basting. Overall, these were good ribs, but the brisket was the real winner.

Rating ***

2008: South Lancaster Road Tour/2 of 4 - I had a joint called Hardeman's on my list, but 4 months ago, CT's Real Deal took over. In addition to BBQ they have a full menu of soul food...and two giant flat screens in the dining room. Also littering the dining room is paraphernalia from nearby Paul Quinn College. I ordered at the counter above the steam table, and service was friendly. Instead of the standard beans and slaw, I chose the broccoli rice casserole and the peas & carrots. They were delicious, but I was here for protein.

The meat came sauced, but I yanked an unsoiled slice from beneath the pile and got a wallop of smoke flavor. The well formed almost dry crust held incredible flavor and the smokiness permeated the meat. The slices were tender and flavorful, but a bit dry and stringy. The ribs were also smoky and flavorful. The meaty spare ribs were cut in half separating the bony end from the fatty end. They had a good crust and great flavor, and the well rendered fat gave the meat a moist and tender texture. This wasn't just good meat, but a great meal.

C T’s Real Deal Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wood Pit Bar-B-Q

MESQUITE: Wood Pit Bar-B-Q
2632 W. Scyene Rd.
Mesquite, TX 75149
Open M-Thur 10:30-9, F-Sat 10:30-10

The Nikolopoulos Family has been serving up 'cue in this tiny yellow building for 32 years (their four year old website says it's been 28 years, but it also still lists the Davis St. location which is closed). Inside is a bar big enough for just four stools with a dining room just large enough for four small tables. You can tell by the banter between owner and customer that this is a neighborhood place, not to mention the sign on the wall that solidifies the notion as it reads "You can now purchase a 5 gallon bucket of scraps for $5 or a bag for $2. It's great to mix with your dogs food". Neighborhood place for sure.

I ordered up a two meat plate with sliced beef and ribs. Huge meaty spare ribs came piled on top of brisket slices, and everything was covered in a thin brown sauce. Crisp garlic cole slaw and addictive chunks of fried okra came on the side.

The ribs were meaty but had strands of fat tucked between layers of dry tough meat. Maybe it had smoked a bit too long, but the sauce didn't provide enough moisture to save my jaw. One thing that was good in these ribs was the flavor. They had a good smokiness to them, and the atypical sauce provided even more smokiness.

I ordered the brisket specifically with some crust still on it. On their website they state proudly "We specialize in trimming off as much of the fat and brown as possible, unless you specify otherwise." I specified otherwise, and what I got were the thickest, toughest, blackest burnt ends imaginable. They were flavorful, but I couldn't really get at the essence of the meat, so I grabbed a dry sandwich to go. Dry it was, I mean looking like shag carpet dry. Each slice fell apart from being too dry, and despite the honest smoke ring, the smokiness was really lacking outside of the crust.

While I did enjoy the sauce, the moisture in this meat had been chased away so effectively, it really depended on the sauce to be any good. Those sides were damn good though.

Rating **

Read the rest!

Monday, August 24, 2009

BBQ Book Review - Real Barbecue

Title: Real Barbecue
Vince Staten & Greg Johnson
Published: 2007 by Globe Peqout Press

This book is the second edition of the original which was published back in 1988. The book is described as a guide to the 100 best BBQ joints in the country, but it's really a guide to finding great barbecue with a head start of 100 good suggestions.

The authors claim to have eaten at nearly 1000 joints in research for this book. They're way ahead of me in numbers, but we're dead even in philosophy. The intro is summed up with their mantra "barbecue is more than a meal; it's a way of life." Here, here! Topics then meander through the history of barbeque, discussions about BBQ architecure, and then into one of the most sound explanations about how to find good barbeque. Most guides stop at the point where they tell you to look for a stack of wood. These guys go into detail about how that stack should look. It shouldn't be covered with a tarp, and should not be stacked neatly lest it be for show. One item this book introduced to me is the word "oleaginous" which I'll be adding to my 'cue lexicon from this point forward.

The meat of the book then delves into the authors' favorite joints in all the land. Texas is of course mentioned, but unfortunately Sonny Bryan's in Dallas made the cut. That's the only real flaw I found in this gem, so pick up a copy and enjoy it all around the country.

- BBQ Snob

Here's a list of the Texas joints mentioned:
Sonny Bryan's - Dallas
Angelo's - Ft. Worth
Hammond's - Glen Rose
Louie Mueller - Taylor
Southside Market - Elgin
Iron Works - Austin
Kreuz Market - Lockhart
Smitty's Market - Lockhart
Prause Meat Market - LaGrange
Otto's - Houston
Goode Co. - Houston

Read the rest!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Leo's Barbeque Factory

OKLAHOMA: Leo's Barbeque Factory
7 Harrison Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
Open M 11-2, Tues-Thur 11-8, F-Sat 11-9

Leo's is one of the most historic BBQ joints in OKC. It's been around since 1974, and anyone dining here knows that the lingering smell of hickory smoke will stay on them for ages as well. Over this lunch hour, I ordered up a Leo's Special which includes two ribs, brisket, a hot link and bologna along with potato salad baked beans and a slice of cake (more on the cake later). The flavor of the ribs, heavy with a salt and black pepper rub, featured prominently in my mind from a previous visit, but the ribs on this visit just didn't measure up.

These ribs were dry with a decent crust and little smokiness. The umph from the black pepper was there, but these ribs just tasted aged. Brisket made a good showing. The chopped version is served on the Leo's Special plate. Bits of crust and fat mingled well with the shredded bits of meat, and a higher level of smokiness was attained in this meat. The hot links were either Earl Campbell's or a similar variety, and they exuded heat and salt with few remaining flavor profiles. Bologna was nothing more than a thick quarter slice of grocery store bologna grilled until a few black marks formed. Nothing special. Both the hot links and the bologna were served well by a slathering of the hot BBQ sauce. This version truly has some heat along with some graininess that must come from applesauce.

Every meal ends with a slice of their famous strawberry banana cake which was moist and flavorful without being overly sweet. This cake might be as famous as Leo's barbeque, and for good reason.

Leo's may not have been on their game this trip, but I'll be sure to return. I just hope the ribs on the next visit will harken back to fond memories.

Rating ***
Leo's Barbeque Factory on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

BBQ Book Review - Searching for the Dixie Barbecue

Title: Searching for the Dixie Barbecue
Author: Wilber W. Caldwell
Published: 2005 by Pineapple Press

The tedious search for the "Real Dixie Barbecue" is discussed at length in this book. The back cover promises to answer three questions: "What is 'real' barbecue?", "How do you find it?", and "What does it mean to be Southern". What it mostly includes is the author's long list of rules the determine if you're eating good barbecue (taste wasn't mentioned as one of those factors). Being a true Georgia boy, he takes a few cheap shots at Texas because Texans are "obnoxious" and we "bask in an abrasive aura of exclusivity" (sounds like someone's jealous). Because of these inherent flaws, the "Real Dixie Barbecue" cannot be found in the Lone Star State, or maybe it's just because we like brisket.

It would have been good if the author would introduce us to a few of the characters that he met on his journey. Only a few are included like Howard Thaxton who is beloved mainly for serving decent 'cue in the midst of complete squalor. Dora Williams and Kate Hardy are profiled for serving very fine smoked meat, but the author seems reluctant to admit their prowess simply because they offer more than pulled pork and ribs. Explanations of the history and varied recipes of Brunswick Stew along with discussions about choosing a good smoking wood are intriguing, but the rest of the book was nearly unreadable. In the author's constant attempt to be colloquial, he included so many apostrophes and phonetic spellings I had to constantly remind myself that I wasn't reading Huck Finn.

By the end of the book, all I could wonder was who is the intended audience? Is it a guide for the "Yankees" that are so derided in these pages that they'd likely stop reading after just a few pages of Confederate rhetoric, or is it a guide for Southerners that wouldn't seem to care that such a needless guide existed according to the author? Methinks it might just be the babbling of one man who wants to share his personal "rules" for determining the worthiness of any Southern barbecue place all while disguising his ramblings as the generally accepted views of an entire population.

On a positive note, it is full of great black & white pictures of run down BBQ joints in the South. I just wish there was a bit more explanations in the captions than just the city and state that the photo was taken. I guess you're just expected to know, that is if you're Southern.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Recent Publicity

The BBQ Snob and Smokemasterone got some recent publicity in the Dallas Morning News. I did an interview at Baby Back Shak with Lindsay Kalter of DMN who has just learned to enjoy BBQ after living in Michigan for most of her life. Clarence, the owner of the Shak was glad to see us there, and happy to give me some tasty morsels for the road. I sure do love their ribs. One of the photographers that came along is the founder of Baby Back Shak's Facebook fan club, so he was happy to be eating for free. We all had plenty of food and a plenty good time.

Photo by David Woo / Dallas Morning News

On another note, Urbanspoon just celebrated having their 1000th blogger by writing up a story about their current blogger. FCGBBQ gets a nice mention in the article.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Oklahoma Barbecue...A Unique Style?

I often hear folks from Oklahoma crying that their state's version of barbecue is superior to Texas BBQ or any other regional offerings. With equal weight given to Texas style brisket, KC style sliced beef sandwiches and Memphis style ribs, I'd never been able to get a straight answer about what defines OK BBQ...until now. Rick Bayless grew up in Oklahoma City, and his parents ran Hickory House Barbecue on 25th and S. Western in OKC from 1949-1986. In Saveur Magazine he wrote about his experiences at his parents' joint, and attempted to define Oklahoma 'cue in his article “Hickory House Memories”. Here is an excerpt:

"What I do believe is that most people don’t think of Oklahoma barbecue as unique – in contrast to the kind found in Texas or Kansas City or Memphis or North Carolina. In fact, this barbecue is usually described in terms of what it’s not: it’s not as saucy as barbecue from Kansas City, though both places commonly use hickory wood, and what sauce it has can be similar to K.C.’s with ketchup as a main ingredient. It’s not as tangy as Memphis barbecue and not as vinegary as what they serve in North Carolina. It’s not as dry as most classic Texas barbecue, and it’s not inclusive of just one kind of meat: both pork ribs and large cuts of beef (like brisket) play a major role. What it has in common with the other well-known barbecue styles of this country is that its tradition has existed for almost as long as theirs and was likely created by the same combination of European immigrants and black workers who came to the area and looked for good, cheap food when they arrived."

Maybe it's just that those who sing the praises of Oklahoma barbecue simply appreciate that the style welcomes the use of sauce, and embraces the inclusion of myriad pork items onto the menu. I guess you could say Oklahoma is sort of BBQ Switzerland.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back Country Bar-B-Q

DALLAS: Back Country Bar-B-Q
6940 Greenville Ave
Dallas, TX 75231
Open M-Thur 11-9, F-Sat 11-10, Sun 11-8

Update 08/2009 - Given that it was the only joint ranked with four stars in Dallas, I got many comments about this one. Some of these shared some negative experiences, especially lately. I decided to stop by a couple of times in the past two weeks to see if t was holding up to the level of quality found on my previous visits. At lunch two weeks back I ordered the standard two-meat plate with ribs and brisket. The ribs had a slightly sweet rub and good smoky flavor. The meat was the right tenderness with good moisture, but the overall flavor was lacking a good punch. Dry slices of brisket were not as good. Fat had been trimmed from all the slices contributing to the dryness, and nearly all the flavor, including smoke, had been sapped from the meat.

Another try today produced similar results. Ribs again were good, but the brisket was again lacking smoke outside of bites containing a large amount of the crust. The slices were again dry and too lean.

With similar disappointing results in these closely scheduled visits, a star reduction is in order.

Rating ***

01/2009 - An hour before closing time, I was prepared for the possibility of sub-par meat. I ordered a brisket sandwich and two pork ribs to go. The brisket was nearly flawless with a strong smokiness throughout and perfect tenderness. The deep smokeline was encased by a flavorful dark crust, and the overall flavor of the meat was outstanding. A little more moisture would have made perfected these slices. The ribs were incredibly tender without being mush, which often happens so late in the day. A sweet crust was well-formed with deeply flavorful meat beneath. The meat was moist, but could have been more smoky. Nonetheless, this was a strong showing.

2008 - Back Country Bar-B-Que was a pleasant surprise in Dallas. The place smelled of strong smoke as I entered, and the service was friendly. I ordered a 3-meat plate with ribs, brisket and sausage. The ribs were too-tender bordering on mushy without a nice crust. The flavor was nice, but the smoke could have been stronger. The sausage was not remarkable, and had no snap to the casing. The brisket however, was quite good. The crust and smoke line were front and center, along with great flavor, and a nice smoke flavor, although it faded outside of the crust. The brisket was also nicely tender, and moist.

Back Country Bar B Q on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cowboys Barbeque & Rib Company

HUDSON OAKS: Cowboys Barbeque & Rib Co.
3322 Fort Worth Hwy
Hudson Oaks, TX 76087
Open Tues-Thur 11-8, F-Sat 11-10, Sun 11-3

Update: This joint is CLOSED.

2009: Cowboys Barbeque & Rib Co. may be a well known name to readers of this blog. The proprietor is the infamous Dallas Green who lent his name to the now defunct Cowboys BBQ in Colleyville, which has since reopened under new ownership as Daddy Joe's. The local paper seems to like this compact but spiffy new joint which Dallas owns and operates (he even waited on me when I visited), but I found the offerings a bit lacking in the smoked meat department.

The photo above is what you should plan to receive when you order a 1/2 lb of "sliced" brisket. The meat had very little smoke flavor, even in the meager portions that were crusty. The shredded morsels were plenty moist, but roast beef was about the only detectable flavor.

The ribs were better with a good flavor, but it was obvious that these were more towards the rib cook-off variety than real Texas 'cue. The St. Louis style ribs were basted and finished on the grill giving them a straight from my backyard flavor. Each rib had plenty of moist meat that was fall off the bone tender, but they needed more smoke. At $23 for a full rack dinner, you'd expect more from a plate of ribs that cost more than a prime steak at many Dallas steakhouses. Once again, great success on the competition circuit does not translate into great restaurant 'cue.

Rating **
Hash Knife on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Playboy's A-List

Alright, so I'm putting a link to Playboy's website here, but I swear it's about BBQ. Playboy supposedly traveled the country finding the best barbecue around. Each region is conveniently represented here along with the token joint in NYC and in L.A. Whenever both of those towns are included in a list of the best 'cue in the nation, you know there's a reason to be suspect. However, as far as the Texas representatives go, it seems that they've chosen wisely. Angelo's in Fort Worth and Smitty's Market in Lockhart have both made the list, but what's with those pictures from Angelo's? That bag of Lays must have expired in 1988. I have a strong feeling that there might be eight other Texas BBQ joints better than the other eight mentioned, but they are a national magazine afterall. At least they kept their choices limited to joints that smoke with wood.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hashknife on the Chisholm

PEADENVILLE: Hashknife on the Chisholm
8131 N. Highway 281 (@ Hwy 254)
Salesville, TX 76486
Open Tues-Thur 11-8, F-Sat 11-9

This joint has been on my list for a long time. Back in June 2008 Texas Monthly's "Top 50 BBQ Joints" listed Hashknife on the Chisholm, and a name like that really peaked my attention. Peadenville, Texas is barely a blip on the map at the crossroads of two state highways. Besides this joint and a gas station on the opposite corner, Peadenville is made up entirely of horse and cattle farms. As I neared the crossroads, the scent of smoke filled the air and the word "BARBECUE" come into focus, and my mouth started to water.

Orders are taken at the counter inside, then delivered to your table. The coveted three meat plate was offered, so I took them up on it. A plate piled high with ribs, brisket, beans and cole slaw arrived as I breathed in the intoxicating aroma. Hot links arrived a few minutes later after a slight mix-up. The moist brisket , smoked in a Southern Pride over pecan and oak, was falling apart a bit, but the fat was well rendered. A good bark and nice smokeline provided a good depth a flavor and great smokiness. Pecan smoked ribs has a great crust from a slightly sweet rub. The meat was moist and tender with robust smoky flavor. Those late hot links had a good snap to go along with the smoky, beefy flavor coupled with a black pepper and bit of heat. The homemade potato salad and kicked up ranch style beans were a good addition.

FULL DISCLOSURE: As I neared the door to leave, the pit master "Big" Jim McLennan hollered at me. He said he reads the blog and gave me a t-shirt (which oddly enough misspells the town's anem as "Pedenville") and asked for a good rating. I told him his meat had already done the talking, but the shirt was a nice touch.

Rating ****
Hash Knife on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Smokey D’s

BRANCH: Smokey D's
E Lucas Rd and County Rd 456
Branch, TX
Open Thur-Sat, 11-7pm

It’s surely a sign of Dallas’ sprawl that this roadside joint is 35 miles from downtown and you still pass subdivisions left and right. However, from the picnic table under the canopy of a big old tree, you can forget that for a few minutes. They operate out of a trailer with a small side-box smoker in back. This is truly a no-frills operation with a small pass-through window intended to serve people taking their meal to-go. I took a seat instead as the weather was far too temperate for this time of the year.

I pulled open the box and then the foil inside to find a thickly sauced pile of beef and ribs. Not having seen the preparation, I hadn’t had a chance to specify. However, the sauce hadn’t yet made its way throughout the box, so I still got a fair sampling of the original flavor. I’m not sure when their peak business occurs in the day. I was the only one there for the length of my visit, so it appears to be some time well after noon. This might be why the brisket was still a little tough on the thick end. In contrast, the flat yielded a few smoke-packed and tender bites. The ribs stood even further down that road. They were falling off the bone and falling apart. They had a nice flavor but lacked the right balance as they came apart in my fingers. My prognosis is that the small, hand-made nature of Smokey D’s operation means that you’ll find a wider range of outcomes.

I'm highly tempted to give them a higher rating because of how good I think their best can be and the intangibles of the location. The truth is, I can't recommend going out of your way. I do think I'll give them another shot when the summer heat breaks.

Rating **

Read the rest!

C&B Bar-B-Que

ALLEN: C&B Bar-B-Que
400 E Main St

Allen, TX 75002-2843


Open Tuesday - Saturday 10:30am - 7:30pm‎

Update: This joint is CLOSED.

2009: As I approached the front porch of C&B Barbecue, the distinct smell of wood smoke managed to cut through the post-thunderstorm humidity. I took this as a good omen. I’ll have to review my methods of divination as the meats that met me inside were largely a disappointment. The old stand-by two meat plate yielded little in distinctive flavor. The ribs were a bit tough and had a firm layer of fat just under the surface. Too much heat too fast had clearly kept any of the smoke I detected in the parking lot from penetrating. The brisket was cooked a little more gently and had a touch of moisture left. However, the flavor was straight-from-the-oven roast beef.

Rating *

PS: This is another spot that sports mannequins in rustic frontier or cowboy garb. So far, the most plausible theory I have come up with is that they are intended to serve as some sort of scarecrow warding off Yankees. I don’t think this will work. Some of the most atrocious, and I mean atrocious like war crime atrocity, examples of “country cute” hail from place like Pennsylvania and Connecticut. If anyone else has an insight into this phenomena, please let me know.
C&B Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

David's Barbecue

PANTEGO: David's Barbecue
2224 W Park Row Dr # H
Pantego, TX‎ 76013

Open Tues-Sat 11-9

UPDATE 2009: Don't be alarmed when you are greeted by a pair of hollow, lifeless eyes upon entering David's. A pair of poker-playing cowboys hold down the first table immediately before you make a right hand turn into the cafeteria-style cue. I'm not sure if they are cast-offs from Six Flags or the product of some other sort of vision of barbecue ambiance. Either way, it’s a little odd.

Rather than go for the two meat plate, I had a sandwich with a side of ribs. This may have cost us both. The ribs had a decent smoke line. There was a subtle, sweet tang to the crust. They were tender and moist, really ideal as far as the basics of cooking go. There was a definite smoke flavor, but not the deep, strong presence I was hoping for. Still, well above average. The sliced beef for the sandwich was trimmed of almost all the crust. The few pieces that did had a terrific flavor, while the rest just had a hint that came on later. The slices were just a tad low on moisture. I'll have to go back and try the brisket plate. Hopefully, I'll get the full impact of what was a very promising tease of brisket.

Their sauce was thin, mild and sweet. It's flavor would be familiar to most DFW barbecue fans. The potato salad was of the mild, mustard variety. They had smaller pieces of potato, which I liked. Something smokey had been dropped in the beans. Maybe it was a little burned as there was a harsh tone in there.

Overall, this was a promising visit that could easily move up to four stars with a proper, crusty serving of the brisket.

Rating ***

2007: This joint is in a nearly abandoned strip mall on the edge of Arlington. The storefront is non-descript as is the sparse interior. The energy lacking in the decorating, goes straight into the meat. The crimson crusted ribs were well rendered and tender with a slightly sweet rub. The smoke flavor was fleeting, but the other flavors combined for a standout rib. The brisket had a deep dark crust that contributed to a strong smoky flavor. This lean beef bordered on dry, but overall, it made for some enjoyable eating.
David's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hilltop BBQ

1250 East Hwy 199
Springtown, TX 76082
Open ?

Update: This joint is CLOSED.

2009: Perched on a prominent hill along the highway, this aptly named joint is housed in a newish metal building. Several months ago, it had a change in ownership, and the new owners aim to please. Although meat by the pound was not on the menu, they were happy to oblige my request for two ribs and 1/4 lb of sliced brisket. They even threw in a complimentary side of jalapeno corn simply because they're so proud of it.

Both meats had a heavy rub that lended a jerky flavor. The brisket had a bold beefy flavor, but the slightly tough meat held almost no smokiness. Sadly all the fat was cut away as I watched, and with it went the moisture. The ribs were even a bit tougher with the same lack of smoke. Lines of unrendered fat ran through the somewhat stringy meat. After the less than stellar 'cue, the rich jalapeno corn was a welcome punch to the taste buds. Fresh kernels were mixed with butter, cream and jalapeno bits to form a sweet, spicy and satisfying concoction that I couldn't stop eating.

Rating **
Hilltop BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Picnic at Smoke

I'm sure you've read about the Cliff Cafe's impending make-over here, here, here, or here, but I went to check out the grub at Smoke's sneak preview on Thursday night. Tim Byres was cooking up some 'cue on some large outdoor grills while the King Bucks played classic country tunes with the lit-up Dallas skyline at their backs. Red cardboard boats were served piled high with ribs, skin on chicken, blue cheese slaw, and potato salad. House made pickles were served alongside (their tagline is "Raisin' Hell From Scratch" afterall), and plenty of wet naps were available.

The decidedly PBR and Lone Star crowd (both varieties ran out) was still partying when I left 3 hours into the party. I did get a chance to talk with chef Tim before heading out and he spoke excitedly about his trip to the Blues & BBQ trail in the Deep South, mainly in Mississippi, eating up the best the state had to offer. He was also visibly giddy about all of the meats they plan to smoke like bacon and sausage in addition to standard 'cue items like the night's ribs. About those ribs...they had great flavor from both smoke and sauce, but I hope the ribs served in the restaurant have a little more meat on them.

Smoke plans to open sometime in September, and from the night's offerings, it looks like they've got a good start.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Trading Post BBQ

AZLE:Trading Post BBQ
101 S. Pearson Ln.
Azle, TX 76020
Open Daily 11-8

Update: This joint is CLOSED.

2009: Owner Mark Langston (not the baseball player) caught me snapping a picture on my way in, and made sure I was going to tell my friends about this place. Once I ordered, this gregarious host took me to the back room to show me their huge barrel smoker that consumes only mesquite. Using purely mesquite to slow smoke brisket is a rare thing in North Texas, so I was anxious to try the fruits of his labor.

My three meat plate of brisket, ribs and sausage arrived in a styrofoam container piled high with meat. Mark is not stingy with his portions. The brisket's heavy rub still allowed a good smoky crust to form. A line of well rendered fat lined the bottom of each moist slice. The mesquite had noticeably altered the flavor of the meat from the normal hickory flavor, but it wasn't as harsh as expected. Ribs had a slightly dry interior with a firm outer crust. The same rub was that was used on the brisket was present here, and again a good smoky crust was standing strong. the fat was so well rendered that I even got the slightest flavor of crispy chicken skin that I hadn't seen since Prause Meat Market.

After those stellar meats, the sausage was an abomination. Overly fatty slices of standard grocery store grade sausage muddied an otherwise exceptional plate of 'cue. Each slice had a singular texture and pedestrian flavor that only the uniquely flavored sauce with a heavy vinegar tang could save it.

If your not paying attention, you could shoot right past this joint without noticing. It lies down an incline on the west side of the Jacksboro Highway just north of Azle. Now pay attention on your next trip to this area, because this joint's definitely worth a stop.

Rating ***
Trading Post Barbeque 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.