Monday, September 21, 2015

Pappa Charlies Barbeque

I just realized that this my first review in two months. I am still eating barbecue a few times a week. I got my blood checked out recently, and my cholesterol is looking good. Over Labor Day Weekend, Amber and I headed to Houston to spend time with a few of our friends. The BBQ destination on this trip was Pappa Charlies Barbeque. We met up with Houston BBQ bloggers Bryan, Scott, and Andrew.

Owner/pitmaster Wes Jurena participated in competition BBQ as a hobby. When he lost his previous job, he turned BBQ into a career and opened up the Pappa Charlies trailer. The trailer is located at Jackson's Watering Hole. Wes had the soft opening for their brick and mortar location yesterday (9/20) actually. He smokes his meats hot and fast so a brisket could be finished in five hours. To win on the barbecue competition circuit, you have to do what it takes to win so all kind of spices and injections are used. Wes has learned from John Mueller of John Mueller Meat Co to keep it simple with salt and pepper on the brisket after an event they did together.

I ordered all the smoked meat available this day. Moist brisket, pork rib, turkey, and short ribs burnt ends. I had to add some of the macaroni and cheese that people keep talking about. The 44 Farms brisket was good. It was tender but not as smoky. The salt and pepper rub gave it a nice taste and texture but also let the beef flavor shine through. One bite into the rib and my lips were burning. A good burn. The fiery glaze was also sweet and made the rib a treat to eat. The juicy meat came away from the bone cleanly. I am not a turkey person, but the turkey here was great. The combination of the peppery crust and the moist meat won me over.

The star of the show was the short rib burnt ends. Meat candy. The blissful nuggets were outstanding. Wes smoked boneless short ribs, cubed them, sauced, and threw them back on to the pit. The result was this tender, smoky, flavorful bundle of joy. The macaroni and cheese lived up to the hype. The cheesy and gooey goodness was a delight. I will add brisket to it next time. Wes brought some tri tip slices and tri tip sliders out for us to try. The meat was good, but I prefer fattier cuts of beef. I told him he should name the sliders after me because of the Asian influences.

Once Wes gets his brick and mortar up and running, the future for Pappa Charlies Barbeque will be even brighter. No more dealing with the elements and having time and space constraints. Imagine if he had a full kitchen to work. The tacos looked tasty, and the other homemade sides are worth a look. I missed out on the beef ribs and prime rib on this trip. It will not escape me for long. Grade: B+

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 1205 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77006
Phone: (281) 650-1985

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Gatlin's BBQ (Preview)

My wife and I were going to Houston to spend time with our friends over Labor Day weekend. Amber and I have an agreement where I can only have one barbecue stop per trip. We met some BBQ friends on Saturday at Pappa Charlies Barbeque. I will post the review soon. While in town, I saw on Twitter that Gatlin's BBQ was going to do a preview at the new location on Monday. I talked the wife into stopping by. We had some crêpes at Sweet Paris in Rice Village for brunch so she was not hungry. I ate half of mine to save room for some 'cue.

Pitmaster/owner Greg Gatlin announced in December 2014 that they were going to move to a bigger location. If you had not been, the prior space was small and tight. There was not a lot of seating available. The lease at the old location had run out in February, and Greg and company were forced to move sooner than expected. They have been operating out of a food truck since. Greg is also a partner of Jackson Street BBQ located near Minute Maid Park.

The preview was taking place between 11AM-2PM. When we got there a little after 12PM, the line for food was snaking through the restaurant. The wait had to be over an hour long. We were not going to stick around because we wanted to make it back to Austin at a reasonable time. I did take a picture of Michael Fulmer's tray. Thanks to him for letting me do so. The sampler plates were $15 bucks, and in return, you received two meats and two sides with a drink. Brisket, ribs, sausage, and pork ribs were the choices.

Officially, Gatlin's BBQ will start serving lunch this Friday, September 11th to the public. The new spot is much bigger and more open. There is a lot of seating and two dining areas. I am excited for them as they begin their next chapter. I am looking forward to my next visit. I think I would have to order everything off of the menu. Who is in? On the way out of town, I stopped by Pho Saigon in Katy because I was starving. FYI- I was really impressed by it. Grade: N/A

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 3510 Ella Blvd, Houston, TX 77018
(713) 869-4227

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

TMBBQ Behind the Pit Dinner - Snow's BBQ

At the last TMBBQ Behind the Pit Dinner at Franklin Barbecue, I had a fantastic time. It was such a cool and intimate setting to be at. When I saw that they were going to do a dinner at Snow's BBQ, I had to go to it as well. I got on at 10 AM the morning the tickets went on sale, but the website said there were none available. Darn. I decided to try back in 7-8 minutes just in case some tickets expired in someone's cart. It did. Bingo. I bought a pair, and the site said sold out right after. I purchased the last two tickets. Sweet.

Where is the electric knife?

I went to Snow's BBQ recently. It was excellent as usual. Here is my "official" review from a couple of years ago. Snow's is only open on Saturdays from the morning until they sellout (probably early afternoon). So getting to eat there on a Tuesday evening was pretty awesome. 44 Farms brought owner/pitmaster Kerry Bexley some beef ribs and briskets to smoke. Karbach Brewery provided the beers. Yeti was also one of the sponsors.

Kerry and Tootsie Tomanetz smoked brisket, pork ribs, beef ribs, original and jalapeño sausage, pork steak, and turkey for the event. Everything was tender and smoky. They served the briskets they usually have and the 44's. The only noticeable difference was that the 44's had a beefier taste. The beef ribs were a nice treat because they were not normally on the menu. They packed a lot of flavor and were rich. I tried the turkey for the first time, and they did not disappoint. Moist and flavorful.

Kerry Bexley & Tootsie Tomanetz
Kerry Bexley, Tootsie Tomanetz, & Daniel Vaughn
After dinner, there was a question and answer session. Kerry and Tootsie talked about the history of barbecue in Lexington and how Snow's got to where they are today. Over the years, people have questioned the use of an electric knife to cut the brisket. Kerry told us that they use one to make it easier on the person cutting, and also that the briskets are smoked so tender that they will break apart when using a standard knife. CNN was also there filming a segment on beef. They had followed Daniel Vaughn throughout the day eating BBQ and a stop at Shake Shack.

Direct Pits
Offset Smokers
Tour of the Pits
If you have not gone to a TMBBQ Behind the Pit Dinner, try your hardest to do so. I think the only other Central Texas BBQ joint they do it at is Louie Mueller Barbecue. I want to try to make it to that dinner the next time around. I have seen Pecan Lodge in Dallas and Killen's Barbecue in Houston host it before. It is a neat experience. You get to hang out with other barbecue lovers, eat great BBQ, and drink a few cold ones. It is relaxing and has a chill vibe to it. Driving back to Austin in a meat coma was totally worth it.

Until next time, happy smoking...

Saturday, August 8, 2015


Want a $250 gift card for eating six burgers in a week? McGuire Moorman Hospitality is putting on a burger challenge for the month of August. The spots you have to hit are Lamberts Barbecue, Perla's, Elizabeth Street Café, Clark's, Josephine House, and Jeffrey's. You have to eat a burger from the six different places. You receive a $50 gift card to the MMH restaurant of your choice and the MMH Burger Challenge T-Shirt by taking a month long. If you finish in a week, you collect a $250 gift card to the MMH restaurant of your choice and a special MMH Burger Challenge Champion Cap. You can also be a winner by eating the most burgers in a month and win their Friends & Family discount (25% off) at all six MMH restaurants for a year and a cleanse from JuiceLand. I think this route is risky because the return on investment will be marginal. I am all in for the week. Let's do it!

Update: You can only receive a stamp if you pay full price for the burger.

Day 1: Lamberts Downtown Barbecue - $16
I thought it was cruel for them to include a BBQ joint in the burger challenge. I had to eat a burger when I could be eating delicious barbecue? I modified the burger a little and added brisket. The burger itself was tender and solid. The brisket added smoke, salt and a different texture. Good but it took away from the burger. When in a BBQ joint... The burger is also available for half off during happy hour. Of course I got the macaroni and cheese as a side.
Wood Grilled House Ground Cheeseburger - Cheddar, Butter Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion, Mayo, Dijon Mustard, Sesame Bun
Wood Grilled House Ground Cheeseburger - Cheddar, Butter Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion, Mayo, Dijon Mustard, Sesame Bun

Day 2: Clark's Oyster Bar - $16
The plan was to eat at Elizabeth Street Café for lunch. I forgot about a long work meeting and missed eating lunch. When the meeting was over, happy hour was about to start at Clark's. I called an audible and took advantage of the half off a burger special. The burger was simple but fantastic. Tasty, juicy, cheesy. Cooked to perfection. Good bread to meat ratio. All for eight bucks? Score. I ordered the burger with coleslaw for a little bit more veggies in my diet. Won't hurt, right?
Pan Roasted Black Angus Hamburger - Sauce Gribiche, Gruyere
Pan Roasted Black Angus Hamburger - Sauce Gribiche, Gruyere

Day 3a: Elizabeth Street Café - $12
Until now, I had never eaten a burger from a Vietnamese restaurant. I did not know what to expect from the "secret burger." The place was packed at lunch so I sat outside. It was hot! The burger was a pleasant surprise. The Asian flavors worked well together with the meat and the bread. There was no cheese on it, but the burger tasted great without it. The shrimp chip was not the imitation stuff you normally would get. Fresh and real.
Secret Brisket Burger - Griddled Ham, Cucumber Kimchi, Iceberg Lettuce, Kewpie Mayo, Sesame Seeded Brioche Bun, Shrimp Chip
Secret Brisket Burger - Griddled Ham, Cucumber Kimchi, Iceberg Lettuce, Kewpie Mayo, Sesame Seeded Brioche Bun, Shrimp Chip

Day 3b: Jeffrey's - $24
Burger double shot on this day. Dave of Brisket and Bagels and I went during happy hour because the burger was half off. The bar area was full so we sat in the dining room. It was like a romantic date... Everyone around us were ordering the burger and/or doing the challenge. When we got our burgers, we actually moved them to a window to get better lightning. Yeah we are those people. Dry-aging Wagyu gives the burger a beefier and nuttier taste to it. The burger was delectable, but at 24 bucks (not during happy hour), it would be hard to swallow.
Dry-Aged Prime Wagyu Burger - Mustard Frisee, Cambozola, Caramelized Onion, Horseradish & Caper Mayo, Steak Fries
Dry-Aged Prime Wagyu Burger - Mustard Frisee, Cambozola, Caramelized Onion, Horseradish & Caper Mayo, Steak Fries

Day 4: Josephine House - $18

I did not want a burger at all this day, but I was so close to finishing. The restaurant was small but cute. It was a really cool space. The burger was pretty basic but had a ton of flavor. The succulent beef and the house made bun with the aioli made a terrific team. I was stuffed when I finished it.
Josephine House Burger - Grafton Cheddar, Harissa Aïoli, Grilled Red Onion, House-Made Bun, Frites
Josephine House Burger - Grafton Cheddar, Harissa Aïoli, Grilled Red Onion, House-Made Bun, Frites

Day 5: Perla's Seafood and Oyster Bar - $18
Yes! The last freaking one. I ran five miles and worked out in the morning so I felt great. I was hungry and ready for lunch. The burger was pretty standard. It was moist and flavorful. I felt like I was eating an upgraded fast food burger. Nothing special. I thought about adding seafood to it to make a surf and turf burger. Might be a little bit crazy. After finishing it, I did not want to see a burger for a few days.
Perla’s Flat Top Cheeseburger - Iceberg Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Pickles & Special Sauce
Perla’s Flat Top Cheeseburger - Iceberg Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Pickles & Special Sauce

I ate a lot of great burgers during the MMH Burger Challenge. Clark's burger was so simple yet so damn good. The price point especially during happy hour made it a clear winner in my eyes. The burgers from Jeffrey's and Josephine House were no joke. They do no mess around and get to the point. Serious but delicious. Elizabeth Street Cafe's version was surprisingly good but is not always available. I had no issues with Perla's and Lamberts. They just could not compare to the others.

The burger challenge is physically exhausting. That is a lot of burger to cram into five days. I would rather run another marathon. Some people are doing all six in a day. That is idiotic. McGuire Moorman Hospitality gives you seven days for a reason. Enjoy and savor the burgers. They are not cheap. Imagine eating the fifth/sixth one on the same day. It would taste like a pile of meat and bread and probably terrible. Gross.

I think the marketing idea behind the burger challenge was brilliant. I went to three places that I have never been to, and more than likely, I will return. Based on the @mmhaustin's Instagram account, 117 folks had finished the challenge in the first week! There is a lot of money being spent on this campaign. MMH essentially paid me to eat some mouthwatering burgers that I would have probably not ordered otherwise. I took the week off from barbecue to make this challenge feasible for health purposes. Surprisingly I did not miss brisket, but I did consume a lot of red meat. What is stopping you from doing this challenge?

Until next time, happy smoking...

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue
Address: 401 W 2nd St, Austin, Texas 78701
Phone: (512) 494-1500

Clark's Oyster Bar
Address: 1200 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78703
Phone: (512) 297-2525

Elizabeth Street Café
Address: 1501 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704
Phone: (512) 291-2881

Address: 1204 W Lynn St, Austin, TX 78703
Phone: (512) 477-5584

Josephine House
Address: 1601 Waterston Ave, Austin, TX 78703
Phone: (512) 477-5584

Perla's Seafood and Oyster Bar
Address: 1400 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Phone: (512) 291-7300


Monday, July 20, 2015

TMBBQ Behind the Pit Dinner - Franklin Barbecue

No line outside of Franklin Barbecue

Sometimes I feel like an advocate for Texas Monthly BBQ. I have blogged numerous times about their events. They do curate some cool ass stuff. I had an opportunity recently to attend the TMBBQ Behind the Pit Dinner at Franklin Barbecue. It was sponsored by 44 Farms, Yeti Coolers, and Lonestar Beer.

The event itself was very intimate. There were no more than 60 people present. You did not have to wait in line for hours upon hours to order your food. The meats were sliced by owner/pitmaster Aaron Franklin at the counter and brought out to the tables. You should watch the BBQsnob's Instgram video of Aaron slicing brisket. It is mesmerizing.

Aaron slicing a 44 Farm brisket
Aaron cutting some 44 Farm beef ribs

Brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, and sausage were served at the event. Aaron normally smokes Creekstone products at his restaurant. For the event, he used the beef from 44 Farms. He had some challenges with the meat (smaller briskets with less of a point), but the results were still the same. Spectacular. The brisket did taste more beefy. The beef ribs were heavenly as well. They were tender, had a nice amount of smoke, and rich in flavor. Remember you can only get beef ribs on Saturdays. I do not think I will ever have the time to wait in line on a Saturday for one of those.

Pile O' Meat
We are not here for this...

There was a Q&A session with Texas Monthly BBQ editor Daniel Vaughn and Aaron. I learned that one of Aaron's guilty pleasures is eating tacos from Taco Bell.

Daniel Vaughn and Aaron Franklin

We also got a tour of the smokehouse. It was blazing hot in there. The summer heat and the fires in the smokers are a bad combination. I only lasted for a brief moment; just long enough to take some shots.

View of the Capitol
The Man, The Myth, The Legend

If you ever get a chance to get into TMBBQ Behind the Pit Dinner, do it. It is really an awesome experience. The atmosphere is a lot more chill than normal. Eat great BBQ. Check. Drink a few beers and relax. Check. A chance to win a Yeti. Check. Tickets are limited so pay attention to the TMBBQ website for dates and details. Join their club to get early access to the tickets. Everyone attending the event will enjoy it. Well, unless you are a vegetarian... 

Stack of Post Oak

Until next time, happy smoking...

Monday, July 13, 2015

Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue

Amber and I were going to Lubbock for July 4th weekend. It was a great chance to shoot off fireworks because I cannot do so in our neighborhood. The Shack BBQ has been our go-to barbecue joint in my wife's hometown. A few of months ago when one of Amber's friend said that Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue is Texas Monthly's Top 50 worthy, I totally dismissed that statement. I said to myself, "People in Lubbock do not know good barbecue." Back in April, I was in Lubbock for less than 24 hours, and they were not open on the weekends. Terrible timing. When Daniel Vaughn visited, he had lots of good things to say about it. I knew it was time to stop by Evie Mae's the next time we rolled through the LBK. We were coming into town for a birthday celebration and a funeral. I made sure that we got there a day early.

Old Menu. The menu has since changed.

Husband and wife duo, Arnis and Mallory, opened the BBQ trailer back in February of this year in Wolfforth. Wolfforth is about five miles outside of the Lubbock city limits. Nothing is far in Lubbock. The two knew each other while growing up in New Mexico, right on the Texas border. They started a landscaping business in Tucson, Arizona after Arnis attended landscape design school there. Arnis took up smoking meat as a hobby and ended up building a reverse flow smoker on a trailer. It ended up turning into a one day a week gig out of a little trailer. The right opportunity came along, and they sold their landscaping business. Most of their family is Lubbock or just across the border in New Mexico. They upgraded their trailer, decided to do barbecue full time, and got back to Texas as fast as they could. Evie Mae's is named after their daughter.

Some of the best BBQ around.

Amber, her brother, Zach, and I shared a two-meat plate of brisket and sausage and a pork rib plate. We ordered sides of green chile cheese grits, smoked beans, potato salad, and cornbread. One bite into the brisket and I was impressed. The apple and oak wood slow danced with the brisket for over 10 hours, and the results were superb. The meat was tender and smoky, and the fat was rendered perfectly. The salt and pepper rub gave the brisket enough flavor. This brisket rivals some of the good ones in Texas. When I was eating, I actually thought it reminded me of La Barbecue's with less rub. The meaty pork ribs were great. They were juicy and soft with a little resistance. The meat was kissed with a nice amount of smoke, and their BBQ sauce gave it a touch of sweetness. The pork sausage was a custom blend made for them. It had New Mexico influences with green chiles carrying the majority of the spice. It was good and had enough fat without being overly greasy. The grit gave it a nice texture, and the casing was snappy. The end pieces of brisket on the plates were divine. A little piece of heaven on earth. #meatcandy

Mallory loves to cook so she is in charge of that side of the business. Everything was made from scratch. The green chile cheese grits reminded me of Micklethwait's. They were creamy and rich. My wife and I do not like grits, but we enjoyed them. The potato salad was pretty standard. The smoked beans were out of this world. They sit in the smoker for five hours under the beef ribs. They had a nice balance of spiciness and sweetness with a huge depth of flavor. The cornbread would make any granny proud. They were moist and fantastic. I ate the last bite, and my wife was disappointed it was all gone. Mallory says she wants to open a bakery someday. I would be excited to visit if that ever goes into fruition.

I am already asking my wife when we are going back to Lubbock. I lived there for two and half years while Amber was in law school and did not have the best experience. That tells you something about the BBQ that Evie Mae's is putting out. I do regret not trying the turkey, pulled pork, and the beef ribs. Next time for sure. There was more than enough food for the three of us. They are now open Thursday through Saturday so you can get your barbecue fix on the weekend. Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue is also a perfect destination for those who are on road trips. The indoor seating to get out of the extreme West Texas weather is an added bonus. Grade: A-

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 717 U.S. 82, Wolfforth, TX 79382
Phone: (806) 782-2281