Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Joesph's Riverport Bar-B-Que

I headed to East Texas a day before the 2016 Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival to explore the barbecue in the region. I was off to a good start with a stop at Bodacious Bar-B-Q. The second destination of the day was at Joesph's Riverport Bar-B-Que up in Jefferson. The Texas Monthly Top 50 currently includes Riverport so I was excited to see what was in store for me. Pitmaster/owner Stephen Joseph has been there since 1991 and took over the business in 1993. An electrical fire gutted the building in 2012. Stephen had to get a new Bewley smoker and build the place back up from its ashes.
I did not go crazy at Bodacious so I had plenty of stomach space to spare. I went with a three-meat plate and ordered brisket, pork ribs, and pulled pork with Cajun fries and potato salad on the side. When I received my meal, I was like what?! All this for 13 bucks?! I felt like I was stealing. The tender, smoky brisket was easy to eat. I was pleasantly surprised. The bark was seasoned by salt and pepper and also cayenne and garlic. It had a good flavor to it. The meaty pork ribs were no joke. The juicy meat came away from the bone easy and had a sweet finish to them. I wanted to eat more than one but needed to pace myself. The trend of good smoked meats continued on to the pulled pork. My mouth enjoyed the succulent bites of pork. It had a nice texture and taste to it. All the sides are house-made. They even cut their own fries. The potato salad was solid. The fries were wonderful. I ate all of the sides. Stupid mistake. Stephen brought me out a half order of the Swamp Fries to try. It comes loaded with Cajun fries, cheese, onions, jalapeños, bacon, and topped with chopped beef. It is a meal in itself. I could not stop eating it and somehow ended up finishing it all. Tasty and fulfilling.
Although Jefferson is a ways off of I-20, it is worth going out of the way to check out Joesph's Riverport Bar-B-Que. The quality and value makes it a no-brainer. I will try to stop by again next year. I really want to do the Swamp Fries challenge. It is basically five pounds of meat and fries. No one has come close to completing it. If I attempt it, I would probably be useless the next day. Anyone want to come join me for moral support? Do yourself a favor and visit Stephen and company. He is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. East Texas BBQ was treating me well so far on this trip. Grade: B+
Until next time, happy smoking...
Address: 201 N Polk St, Jefferson, TX 75657

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bodacious Bar-B-Q (Longview- Mobberly)

I was headed to the 2016 Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival. The plan was to make the most of it and hit a few spots in East Texas the day before event. The original Bodacious Bar-B-Q opened up in 1968. Additional chain restaurants opened up later, but each one is individually and operated. The original location temporary closed when owner Roland Lindsey got ill. Lindsey's son-in-law Jordan Jackson had a culinary background and worked at Stanley's Famous Pit Bar-B-Q in Tyler. The restaurant is now open again with Jackson manning the pits and with Roland's health better. This was the first stop of my day.
I wanted to get to Bodacious by opening but ended up arriving right before noon. I was all alone on this four stop BBQ trip so I had to pace myself. I ordered a little bit of brisket, baby back pork ribs, and some homemade sausage. The brisket was... how would you describe it... stupendous. I have not been introduced to a good brisket in a while so it was a nice surprise. I could not stop myself from eating the tender beef. I kept reminding myself I had three more stops. The briskets are smoked for 20-22 hours!? They start in a mesquite smoke bath and finish with post oak. The bark and the well-rendered fat made for some good eating. The baby backs were pretty tasty. The sweet, smoky, and juicy meat did not give up a fight as it came away from the bone. Once again, my multiple stops day was putting a damper on things. I could have eaten a half rack easily if not a full one. The homemade sausage was a good effort. The brisket and pork shoulder blend had a good amount of fat, and the casing could barely hold everything together. I would have prefer a beefier sausage. Not pictured is the beans they give away. Although I only ate two bites, I thought they were on the better end of beans I have eaten.
The original Bodacious Bar-B-Q will be on my schedule every time I go to Red Dirt. The smoked meats were superb. I did not get to try the pulled pork but will definitely next time. Jackson and crew are doing great things. The locals do not know how good they have it. Some of them got turned off from other Bodacious locations and do not know what they are missing out. Grade: B+
Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 2227 Mobberly Ave, Longview, TX 75602
Phone: (903) 753-8409

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hometown Bar-B-Que (Revisit)

Our friend Amanda introduced us to the Hamilton musical back in August of last year. After a couple of listens, we were hooked and wanted to go to a show. Tickets were sold out through the middle of April! We found a Friday showing that worked for the three of us. It also split Amanda's and Amber's birthday. Perfect timing. I wanted to drop in at a couple of BBQ stops while we were in NYC as well. The first stop was Hometown Bar-B-Que. We went to Hometown back in December of 2014 and enjoyed it. I ditched the girls, had my subway/bus card ready to go, and headed to Red Hook. I had just missed owner/pitmaster Billy Durney when I got there.
Pastrami bacon
Vietnamese Hot Wings
Chinese Sticky Ribs
I eat a ton of barbecue. Maybe not as much as some but definitely more than most people. Before getting there, I knew I wanted to try your not so average BBQ items. I ordered the pastrami bacon, Vietnamese hot wings, and the Chinese sticky ribs. Everything I got was smoked first then fried or grilled. I kept seeing the pastrami bacon plastered across social media and was jealous. I was finally getting to try it. It was wonderful. Bacon in general is already fantastic, but this took it to another level. My taste buds were very pleased. Each bite consisted of a smoky, rich, and tender meat. If you follow me on my social media accounts, you know I love Asian influences in barbecue. The Vietnamese hot wings surprised me in a good way. It was one of the better things I ate on that trip. There was a nice spice to it, and the cilantro ranch gave it nice balance. Eater even put up a video on to make the wings and the dip. Billy and crew uses baby back pork ribs for the Chinese sticky ribs. They were good and tasty. The meat was moist and easy to come off the bone. The sauce was on the sweeter side.
Lang Smoker
I wanted to check out the pits at their offsite location, a few blocks over but there was no one available. I wanted to see the pits that Aaron Franklin built for Billy. Maybe next time I am in NYC? It was a welcome change to eat something other than your Texas trinity. If you ever in the area, go check out Hometown Bar-B-Que. Get your traditional BBQ items or be adventurous and order the wings, tacos, and/or etc. Whatever it is, Billy and pit crew are doing great things in Red Hook/Brooklyn/NYC. He is also opening a fried chicken place soon.

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 454 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Phone: (347) 294-4644

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

FullHouse BBQ (First Impression)

We do not have a lot of reasons to go to Georgetown. I know we pass through it every time we go to Dallas, but that is about it. A friend of ours was having a get together at her parents' house in Georgetown so it was a good opportunity for me to stop in at FullHouse BBQ. Fullhouse has been on my list to visit for a few years now. They used to be more accessible to me when they were still at the GoodLife Food Park (home of La Barbecue for a little bit as well) in Austin. Robert Garrett and his trailer have been up in Georgetown since August 2014.
The baby back pork ribs special is only on Fridays and Saturdays. This particular weekend their meat supplier did not deliver any. I was a little bummed. I ordered a two-meat plate with moist brisket and homemade sausage. It came with potato salad and beans. I also got some brisket end pieces to try. The brisket was solid. It had a great flavor, the fat was rendered nicely, and the meat was moist and tender. I thought they could have done a better job with trimming the brisket prior to smoking it. The fat cap was about a half inch thick. I could not bring myself to eat it. The brisket end pieces were enjoyable. It gave me a better idea of the smoke profile. The homemade sausage was a welcome surprise. The beef sausage which comprised mostly of brisket had a nice depth of flavor. The casing was snappy, and the grind was coarse to my liking. Both homemade sides were delicious. The beans were one of the better beans I have eaten.
I ate everything in front of me. I would say my first visit to FullHouse BBQ was a success even if I did not get to try any pork products. I guess it gives me a reason to come back to do a full review. Go check out FullHouse BBQ in Georgetown. Grade: N/A
Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 402 W Morrow St, Georgetown, TX 78626
Phone: (512) 608-3803


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hou BBQ Festival 2016

Fresh off of the Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival and a BBQ tour of East Texas, I was a little "tired" of barbecue. Blasphemy. I know. I think it is more of me eating in excess than anything. There was only a week between Red Dirt and the 2016 Houston BBQ Festival. It was a quick turnaround. I tried to eat lighter and more salads between the two. I ate all 23 booths at last year's event. I had no intentions of repeating that this year. There were 26 BBQ joints participating this time.
BBQ Godfather - Brisket, turkey, sweet potato casserole, and brisket macaroni and cheese
Brisket, turkey, sweet potato casserole, and brisket macaroni and cheese
Blake’s BBQ - Brisket and homemade sausage
Brisket and homemade sausage
Blood Bros. BBQ - Gochujang 44 Farms beef belly, beef chuck ribs, and jalapeño creamed corn. I finally was able to try their beef belly. I love the Asian influences.

Gochujang 44 Farms beef belly

44 Farms beef chuck rib

Gochujang beef belly, beef chuck rib, and jalapeño creamed corn
The Brisket House - Brisket. We missed out on beef ribs.

The last little bit of brisket
Brooks’ Place BBQ - Smoked oxtail and onion bomb (basically meatloaf wrapped in bacon then and wrapped in onion and smoked)
Smoked oxtail and onion bomb
CorkScrew BBQ - Brisket, turkey, and sausage
Brisket, turkey, and sausage
El Burro & the Bull - Smoked pork tamalito on a bed of roasted Sonoran style elote

Smoked pork tamalito on a bed of roasted Sonoran style elote
Fainmous BBQ - Brisket and pork ribs. So this was the 24th tent we visited. For whatever reason, I forgot to take a picture of the meats. I think the meat delirium was setting in.
Feges BBQ - 44 Farms smoked steamship beef round and whole hog
44 Farms smoked steamship beef round
Pig head
Whole hog
44 Farms smoked steamship beef round and whole hog
Gatlin’s BBQ - Brisket and baby back pork ribs
Baby back pork rib
Gerardo’s - Brisket, barbacoa, pork carnitas tacos
Brisket, barbacoa, pork carnitas tacos
Harlem Road Texas BBQ - Seaweed pork belly and beef ribs
Seaweed pork belly and beef ribs
Jackson Street BBQ - Brisket on a jalapeño cheese biscuit and sausage
Brisket on a jalapeño cheese biscuit and sausage
Killen's Barbecue- Pork short ribs, brisket, and turkey jalapeño and cheese sausage. Ronnie Killen brought a special cut in- pork short ribs. His homemade turkey jalapeño and cheese sausage was new too.

Artist at work. Manny "painting" the pork short ribs.

Side profile of pork short rib
Pork short ribs, brisket, and turkey jalapeño and cheese sausage
Lenox Bar-B-Que - Brisket and jalapeño and cheese sausage
Brisket and jalapeño and cheese sausage
Louie Mueller Barbecue - Beef ribs and jalapeño sausage
Jalapeño sausage

Beef rib and jalapeño sausage
Pappa Charlies Barbeque - 44 Farms short rib burnt ends, brisket, sausage, and pulled pork sundae (coleslaw and mashed potatoes). We missed out on the smoked prime rib. I am a big fan of those burnt ends.
44 Farms short rib burnt ends
Pulled pork sundae (coleslaw and mashed potatoes)
44 Farms short rib burnt ends, brisket, and sausage
Pinkerton's Barbecue - Smoked alligator and brisket. We missed out on the fried boudin balls. What did the alligator taste like? Chicken...
Smoked alligator
Smoked alligator and brisket
Pizzitola’s Bar-B-Cue - Chopped beef sandwich, pulled pork, and pork ribs
Chopped beef sandwich, pulled pork, and pork rib
Ray’s BBQ Shack - Brisket, pork ribs, boudin, and fried corn
Brisket, pork rib, boudin, and fried corn
Roegels Barbecue Co. - Ruben/pastrami, pork belly, and sausage
Southside Market & Barbeque - Brisket, sausage, and sausage slammers
Brisket, sausage, and sausage slammers
Spring Creek Barbeque - Brisket, pork ribs, stuffed jalapeño popper

Brisket, pork ribs, stuffed jalapeño popper
Tejas Chocolate Craftory - Brisket, pastrami, carrot soufflé, and chocolate espresso panna cotta
Brisket, pastrami, carrot soufflé, and chocolate espresso panna cotta
Tin Roof BBQ - 44 Farms smoked sirloin, brisket, and baby back pork ribs. They also had brisket tacos.
44 Farms smoked sirloin
44 Farms smoked sirloin, brisket, and baby back pork rib
The Wooden Spoke - Pulled pork coleslaw sandwich and jalapeño cheese sausage
Pulled pork coleslaw sandwich and jalapeño cheese sausage
When Amber and I started the day, we were going to eat at a few of the tents. Try new or different items. We ended up eating at all of them. Bryan had eaten all of the bites within the first hour. I guess that got my competitive juices going. We somehow made it through the 26 booths. It was hot so we were drinking a lot of water. The salty meat made us even thirstier. We even stopped at Sonic on the way out of town during happy hour to further quench our thirst.

The Houston BBQ Festival is a great event to attend. It is well organized/planned, roomy, and has a ton of good eats. The event started a little early because a storm was supposed to roll through in the afternoon. The storm never came, and the skies opened up. It warmed up fast. I wish the event was held at a cooler time of the year. Not sure how logistically that is possible with so much going on in Houston though. That is my only complaint. The event is an excellent showcase to highlight the best that the Houston barbecue community has to offer. We always talk about moving to Houston. BBQ would not be the only reason, but it would definitely help Houston's case. 
Pit area
Until next time, happy smoking...