Monday, January 26, 2015

Black's Barbecue (Austin)



Our go-to barbecue joint in Lockhart is Black's Barbecue. They are open every day of the week, and their brisket is top notch. The food is consistently good. When it was announced that a location was being opened in Austin, I was indifferent. It was closer for me to go to the Lockhart location anyways. Then I heard that they were transporting the meats from Lockhart, I could not find a reason to visit the Austin one frequently. This location is right by the campus of The University of Texas. Freedmen's is my favorite by campus, but the prices at Black's make it more affordable to the student crowd.


It was rainy and cold when I went this day. On these days, it must be hard for food trailers. Not everyone wants to brave the elements. It was nice and warm inside of Black's. The selection here is not as expansive as the Lockhart one. I ordered a quarter pound of moist brisket, a pork sparerib, and a ring of jalapeño and cheese sausage. My wallet was only 10 bucks lighter after paying. That was a plus. The thinly sliced brisket had a lot of unrendered fat. It could have used a little bit more time in the smoker. The meat was tender, but if it was sliced thicker, it would have been chewier. The flavor and smoke was good though. The sparerib I got was not very meaty. It was also dry. I have never gotten the jalapeño and cheese sausage before. It was great. The grit and snap from the casing was on point. You can taste the chunks of cheese and jalapeño.



Take the drive to Lockhart. It is worth it to go to the original Black's. There is a lot of tradition and history that you miss out on at the Austin location. I am not going to grade this post because there are too many variables when you are transporting the food from one location to another. If the meat is smoked in Lockhart, why not just eat it there?  While you are there, hit up the other historic BBQ joints. Do not get me wrong. I have no issues in going to the Austin one. It is convenient, and the prices and hours are just right. The opening of Black's adds another solid barbecue option to the capital city of Texas. Grade: N/A



Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 3110 Guadalupe Street, Austin, TX 78705
Phone: (512) 524-0801
Website: http://blacksbbqaustin.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blacksbbqaustin
Twitter: https://twitter.com/blacksbbqaustin

Monday, January 19, 2015

Roegels Barbecue Co.


My parents were leaving for Vietnam next week so I had to make a quick run to Houston to pick up their house keys. We also met up with our friends for a birthday lunch at Pappasito's. I was not going to miss out on a chance for some barbecue so a second lunch was in the plans. After some research, I chose Roegels Barbecue Co. It used to be a franchise of Baker's Rib before Russell and Misty Roegels decided it was time to do things their way. I follow a ton of BBQ folks/joints on social media, and every time I see something about Roegels, it has been positive. It was also not far from where we ate lunch.


I wanted a slice of moist brisket, a link of mild sausage, and a pork rib. The guy working the counter was confused with my order. I just ate lunch and did not want a ton of food. He was like if you want to sample everything, get a three-meat plate plus it is a better deal. I was not going to argue with him. I was going to have leftover barbecue. Oh darn. The plate came with two sides, and I got coleslaw and macaroni and cheese. The thin slices of brisket I got were from the flat instead of the point so I missed out on the bark. The flavors and the smoke were on point. The texture was like roast beef though. It might have been better if I had some from the fatty side. I was disappointed in the brisket. The ribs were much better. The sweet black pepper rub and smoke made a great duo. Combine that with the tender meat, and you have a winner. Reheated the next day, they were still great. There was a lot of sausage on the plate. The sausage was tasty with a good snap from the casing. The homemade sides were superb. The macaroni and cheese was nice and cheesy. The coleslaw was fresh and crispy and tasted good. I felt sort of healthy eating in. I wanted to try the other sides too. They all looked delicious.


My first time to Roegels Barbecue Co will not be my last. Sure the brisket was not very good, but it was not terrible either. Owner/pitmaster Russell Roegels reached out to me after I posted my pictures on Instagram and facebook. He owned up to the quality of his product. I respect and admire that so I will give them another chance when I am in town. I am looking forward to it, but until then... Grade: C+


Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 2223 South Voss Road, Houston, TX 77057
Phone: (713) 977-8725
Website: http://www.roegelsbarbecue.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Roegels-Barbecue-Co
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thepigonvoss

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Stubb's BBQ


You can find Stubb's BBQ sauce in grocery stores all over the world. If you did not know, there is also a restaurant located in Austin. Stubb's actually started in my wife's hometown of Lubbock, Texas. Even President Barack Obama has stopped in here for lunch. The next time Obama was in town, he stopped at Franklin Barbecue. That man loves his barbecue. It has been a while since I have eaten at Stubb's. The last time I ate here was on a Sunday during brunch. You have to make a reservation to attend the Gospel Brunch. The brunch buffet features items like brisket, migas, catfish, and enchiladas with a live band for entertainment.

A friend took this picture in a Switzerland grocery store


It was freezing cold outside when I went, but it was nice and toasty inside. I got the three-meat plate with the Texas trinity of moist brisket, ribs, and house sausage with sides of serrano cheese spinach and hand-cut fries. The brisket had a thick red smoke ring. The meat was tender but lacked favor, and the crust had a creosote aftertaste. You can get creosote with too much smoke, stale smoke, or a dirty smoker. Air needs to flow efficiently through a smoker. The sauce did help mask the taste. The rub on the ribs tasted good and were also smoky. The ribs were soft but were dry on certain bites. The sausage was fine. It was heavy on black pepper, and I liked that. The casing was chewy though. The hand-cut fries were great. It tasted fresh and was a nice change of pace. The spinach was similar to a thicker creamed spinach with spicy undertones. It was served lukewarm but was tasty. I was so full after the meal. There was an all you can eat option during lunch. I would be useless at work the rest of the day if I had done that.


If you want to grab a quick bite when you are downtown, Stubb's BBQ is an okay option. For locals, it will probably be a disappointment, but for tourists, it might be one of their better BBQ experience. Amber and I see a lot of concerts here. It is not best venue to see a show because it can get hot outside. The beer prices are not bad, and they serve barbecue sandwiches. On the way back to work, I drove by Franklin hoping for a short line because of the lousy weather. To no avail, I kept on driving. Grade: C-


Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 801 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701
Phone: (512) 480-8341
Website: http://stubbsaustin.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StubbsAustin
Twitter: https://twitter.com/stubbsaustin

Monday, January 5, 2015

Smoke Shack BBQ


Amber's family met up in San Antonio for the holidays this year. It was another opportunity for me to explore more barbecue. Last time we visited San Antonio, we went to Two Bros. and The Granary. I have heard a lot of good things about the Smoke Shack BBQ so that was my vote for lunch. I guess I have a lot of pull in the family because that is where we went for lunch. Smoke Shack started in a food truck back in 2010 and opened up a brick and mortar location in 2014.


If I can, I would prefer to order combination plates over ordering meat by the pound. Normally they are better values, and you get sides with the meal. I got the three-meat plate with the Texas trinity of moist brisket, ribs, and sausage. It came with spicy cream corn and potato salad on the side. The brisket was good but nothing amazing. It was cooked on point. The oak/pecan kissed meat was nicely smoked and tender. I wanted a better bark with a little bit more flavor from the rub though. Dynamite. That is how I would describe the pork ribs. The sweet rub and smoke were balanced to perfection. The juicy meat gave little resistance to each bite. I could probably eat a whole rack of ribs by myself. It was just that good. It might be one of my favorites. The beef and pork blend sausage was solid. The casing was snappy, and the garlic and pepper made the sausage tasty. You can see that there was a lot of thought put into the homemade sides. The cream corn was not as creamy as I would like, but it was a good change of pace. There was a nice kick of spice. The potato salad was similar to a loaded baked potato but served cold. I tried some of my wife's macaroni and cheese. It was very cheesy and had bits of smoked meat in it.


If Smoke Shack was in Austin, I would go here a lot. It is good and has chicken tenders for the wife. They are open till 9 pm so you have time to stop in after work. The Congers have done a superb job with this joint. I am getting hungry thinking about them ribs. My only regret is for not getting the pulled pork on this trip. When people think of San Antonio, they do not think barbecue. Maybe they should. Grade: B


Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 3714 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX 78209
Phone: (210) 957-1430
Website: http://www.smokeshacksa.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/congerssmokeshack
Twitter: https://twitter.com/smokeshacksa

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rudy's Country Store And Bar-B-Q (Austin on 360)


I have not been to a Rudy's Country Store And Bar-B-Q in a long time. The last time I went, I had a bad experience. The four Rudy's located in Austin are owned by K&N Management. They also own Mighty Fine Burgers Fries & Shakes. A favorites of mine. The Rudy's off of 360 was one of the first barbecue joints I have eaten at. I remember the food being awesome, but I also had nothing better to compare it to back then. It was also all about the sauce at the time. I could drink that stuff. I really wanted barbecue this day and decided to give the Rudy's name a chance to redeem themselves.


Although it was lunch time and they were busy, the line moved at a brisk pace. I ordered a slice of moist brisket, one pork sparerib, a link of sausage, and a side of creamed corn. Before I sat down, I cleaned my hands in the automatic hand washer. It is a Jacuzzi for your hands and a perk for going to one of the Austin locations. The brisket looked sad but tasted better than it looked. I could not find a smoke ring, but you could taste the smoke in the crusty exterior. The meat was tender but bordering on dry. There was not a whole lot of flavor and could have used more fat. Perfect time to use their sauce. The pork rib had decent smoke and was soft and juicy. The meat gave little resistance to my teeth. The rub was tasty and complemented the meat well. The rib saved this meal. The sausage was solid. There was a nice pop from the casing, and the blend tasted fine. It was a little too greasy. The creamed corn was good as usual. The pickles and onions were free here.


Rudy's Country Store And Bar-B-Q is a good stop if you are in a hurry or need something to eat for dinner. The barbecue is just okay, but there are days it could surprise you. I have had better brisket from here before. Everything on the menu is pretty decent. My wife loves the chopped beef and chicken. The breakfast tacos are pretty good, and they smoke turkeys for the holidays. I have never had the baby back ribs, but you have to order them by the half rack. Someday. Grade: C

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 2451 S. Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 329-5554
Website:
http://www.rudysbbq.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rudysbbq
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rudysbbq

Monday, December 22, 2014

Kent Black's Barbecue


Black's Barbecue is our favorite BBQ spot in Lockhart. We have had consistently good barbecue every time we go. Manager/Pitmaster Kent Black of the Lockhart location recently opened a place with his namesake in San Marcos. Kent is a third generation pitmaster, and his sons Barret and Eric are also helping him in San Marcos. I have been patiently waiting a couple of months to check them out because I wanted to give them some time to find their stride. My wife and I met up with friends here one evening. It is probably not the best time of the day to go judge the quality of barbecue though. Kent Black's is a huge space with a lot of indoor/outdoor seating to accommodate big parties. There is even a bar area.


Amber and I shared a sliced of moist brisket, a pork rib, a ring of sausage, and a little bit of turkey. We got smoked cabbage, macaroni and cheese, and green beans on the side. I had some Franklin Barbecue for lunch at work on this day so I was not hungry. The smoke on the brisket was nice, and the meat was tender. The brisket was dry, and I thought it also could use a lit bit more flavor. More pepper? I thought the pork rib was good. It was juicy, delicious, and smoky. The sausage was the same one they used in Lockhart. The sausage was good and tasty. The texture of the sausage and the snap from the casing were on point. I have yet to run across a German-style sausage that I do not like. The turkey was mostly for Amber, but I had to sample some. It was a smidgen dry, but it was not bad at all. I would not mind putting that between two slices of bread. The smoked cabbage was different but tasted good. I felt healthy while eating it. The macaroni and cheese hit the spot. I dislike green beans so it was all my wife's.


I try to be as transparent as possible with the blog. I am not getting paid so there is no reason for me to not to be. I could not get good pictures of the outside so I stopped by again during the day. I arrived to Kent Black's shortly after they had opened for the day. I could not pass on getting some brisket. The brisket was less dry than the first time. Besides the salty crust, there was not a lot of flavor after that. There was not a lot of fat left on it.


I would go back to Kent Black's Barbecue. I might have gone there on their off days. The prices are very affordable. I would go back and try the baby back ribs or the huge beef ribs. The first time I ever got beef short ribs was at Black's. I had no idea how big they were and ordered three. My wallet was 80 bucks lighter that day. Hays County BBQ remains as my go-to in San Marcos. Grade: B-


Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 500 Hull St, San Marcos, TX 78666
Phone: (512) 878-0795
Website:
http://www.kentblacksbbq.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kentblacksbbq
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KentBlacksBBQ

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hometown Bar-B-Que


Amber and I were going to New York City for our fifth wedding anniversary and also to see my sister who lives there. The only time I have been to NYC was when I was eight or so with my family. My wife and I went on a "diet" before the trip so I was limited to how much barbecue I can eat. When we travel, I put a lot of focus on food so we knew our waistline was going to increase. Traveling out of town with me is not easy. I try to hit up as many BBQ joints as I can. I know my wife gets annoyed with how much barbecue we eat so we decided on one stop on this trip. Hometown Bar-B-Que located in the Brooklyn was my choice.


Lately, it seems like New York City is a hotbed for barbecue. You would think the two would not go together. A Yankee smoking meat? Where would the smokers go? Texas Monthly BBQ editor Daniel Vaughn caused a stir when he said "The brisket I've had in NYC lately is better than a lot of places Texas" in this article. I find some truth in that statement. Some of the places I have been to in Texas do not put their heart and passion into the 'cue and it shows. Hometown Bar-B-Que is owned by Billy Durney. Check out an interview of him here. Hometown just celebrated its one year anniversary. It would have been opened for business earlier, but Hurricane Sandy had other ideas.


The first thing you will notice on the menu is the price of the meats. This is New York so it is definitely not cheap. Brisket is 28 bucks per pound. Franklin is charging $20 per pound right now which is the most I have paid. We ordered a quarter pound of moist brisket and pork belly, a link of jalapeño-cheddar sausage, and a half rack of jerk baby back pork ribs. I wanted a beef rib too, but I did not want to break the bank. We also got a side of Texas-style queso macaroni and cheese. The brisket was outstanding. It was very comparable with the stuff you would find at good places in Texas. There was a nice smoke flavor, and the meat was tender. The influence of Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller showed with the peppery bark. I wish I had ordered more. When I bit into the brisket, I regretted not getting the beef rib. I knew it would have been great.


The flavor of the pork belly was superb. The sweet rub played well with the smoke. I have seen pork belly sliced but not pulled before. Every bite was rich and savory. I was disappointed in the house-made jalapeño-cheddar sausage. The grit and pop were on point, but I did not like anything else about it. There was something off about the flavor profile. I expected more heat and to taste more cheese. I gave up after a few bites. Hometown also serves a beef link but was not available today. I normally go with spareribs but went with the baby back ribs instead. It was recommended to me so I could not pass it up. The half rack of the jerk baby back ribs was delicious. The unique Caribbean inspired jerk rub packed a ton of flavor. The spices were not overwhelming and made a great duo with the sweet undertones. The meat was juicy and smoky. We ate every single one. The macaroni and cheese was very cheesy but good. It was essentially macaroni and cheese with queso poured over it.


It was worth the hour long subway and bus ride. Daniel Vaughn might be on to something. If Hometown Bar-B-Que was located in Texas, it would absolutely do well. Brisket is king here in Texas, and Billy can smoke a mean one. The highlights of the noteworthy menu included Sriracha hot wings, pork belly tacos, and lamb belly banh mi. I want it all. Maybe next time when I go back. I am thinking of hitting up Delaney Barbecue too. Maybe I should start a crowdfunding so I can do a NYC BBQ tour? Grade: N/A

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 454 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Phone: (347) 294-4644
Website: http://www.hometownbarbque.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hometownbarbque
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HometownBarBQue

Monday, December 8, 2014

Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill


I was back in Cleveland. Progressive's headquarter is located here. Too bad my work's headquarter is not located in one of the better BBQ regions. I sampled Famous Dave's last time, and you know how that turned out. When I was leaving Famous Dave's, I saw Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill. I told myself I was going to hit it up when I am in town again. I saw one on the way to the hotel so I stopped in. Did I make the right decision? When I walked through the doors, I did not smell the wood smoke you expect at a BBQ joint. That is not a good sign. Smokey Bones apparently smoke their meats on-site with 18" hickory logs.


I created my own combo. I ordered Texas-style beef brisket, baby back ribs, slow-smoked spiced sausage, and hand-pulled pork. The plate also came with coleslaw and broccoli with garlic toast. I had to get some vegetables somehow. The brisket is only available after 4 PM and is smoked for 14+ hours. It was actually not terrible. I have had worse. The brisket was tender with the right amount of fat. It was cut into huge chunks covered with sauce. There was not a whole lot of flavor by itself. It needed more smoke and a better defined bark/crust. The ribs were tender but dry. The saucy exterior hid a lot of the impurities. It did have a decent amount of smoke. The sausage was not good. It was like eating a bratwurst. It was not what I was expecting. It did have a good texture and snap/pop. The pulled pork was average. It had a good flavor but was dry and missing the smoky tones I am looking for. The broccoli was well broccoli. The coleslaw was creamy. The garlic toast was my highlight of the meal. Sad.


So I went to a chain BBQ restaurant in Cleveland. That is probably not the best idea. I did not hate Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill, but I for sure did not love it. The food tasted better than it looked. The artificial lightning above the plate did not help. They have a pretty extensive menu. There are plenty of options for everyone. So far, it has my best out of state review. Hopefully that will not stand up. I wonder if I should keep trying barbecue every time I go to Cleveland. I know Food Network chef Michael Symon is opening a barbecue restaurant downtown. Maybe one more time? Grade: N/A

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 7725 Reynolds Rd, Mentor, OH 44060
Phone: (440) 942-0993
Website: http://smokeybones.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SmokeyBones
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SmokeyBonesBar

Monday, December 1, 2014

Franklin Barbecue (Updated)


When people ask me what my favorite BBQ joint is, I am always reluctant to answer that. I have to preface my answer. Franklin Barbecue is my answer, but I am hesitant because of the long wait/line. My first review on my blog was on Franklin, and you can find it here. It has been a long time since I stood in line at Franklin. It has been over two years. I have had it at festivals and through pre-orders since then. Pre-ordering is the way to go. You sign up online about a month ahead; order over five pounds of meat, and walk up and pick up your delicious meat without waiting in line. You cannot eat the food there though.

Line when we got there
Line right before opening

Amber and I took the day off so we can wait in line at Franklin. We got there around 9:15 AM and were about 50 people back. I was surprised the line was so long on a Tuesday. When the staff came around gauging how much food everyone was ordering, they informed us there will probably not be any pork ribs left for us. I was bummed. They came back later and said there will be some because a pre-order had cancelled. Yes! We had some friends meat us at various points while we are waiting. The time moved a lot quicker than the last time I waited. We got to the door around 12:15. We finally arrived at the counter at 12:45 PM. 


There were five of us so I wanted to make sure no one was hungry after we left Franklin. I ordered three pounds of moist brisket, a pound of pork ribs, half pound of pulled pork and turkey, and three links of sausage. I got carried away and might have ordered too much. Is that possible at Franklin? The only meat that was missing was beef ribs. It is only a Saturday special, and you will not catch me in the longest line of the week. Five hours or more? Nope.
 

One bite into the brisket and I was transported to that magical place. It has to be one of the best things I have ever bought into my mouth. The explosion of flavor that came from the bark was delightful. The meat was so tender and smoky. The rendering of the fat was on point. I could live solely off this brisket. I could not stop eating it. The pork ribs were delicious. The meat could barely stay on the bone. The rub and smoke meddle together forming a deep flavor with every bite. We typically forget about pork butt in Texas. Aaron however did a great job with the pulled pork. It had a nice balance of moisture, rub, and smoke. I am not a fan of turkey normally, but the slice I had was fantastic. It was juicy and flavorful. I did wish for a little bit more smoke. I enjoy their sausage, but I wish they made it in-house. Besides the line, this is their only other flaw. Not bad flaws to have if you can call them flaws. The sausage is made to their specification by Texas Sausage Co. The grit and snap were ideal. It had a great taste from the pepper and garlic blend. Everything was excellent that I forgot about their three sauces. You can even buy their sauces from HEB now.


We got a tour of the new smokehouse. Franklin Barbecue was closed for a couple of weeks this summer to build it. With the new smokehouse, the weather elements will not affect the smoking process as much which allows for shorter and better cook times. The added on structure now houses fives offset smokers and a rotisserie smoker for ribs.

Brisket 3 hours in

Sometimes it is hard to put your opinions into words or on paper. My friend Rob that night said it best, "I did not eat dinner because I didn't want the taste of Franklin Barbecue to leave my mouth." True. What I do not get is how some people think Franklin is overhyped. Have they tried their meat? They like their BBQ covered in sauce? Sure there is wait, but the prize at the end of the tunnel is superb 'cue. If they do not think this is good barbecue, they might want to get their taste buds checked out. This visit affirmed everything I know. It is my favorite and the best barbecue I have ever had. Grade: A+


Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 900 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702
Phone:
(512) 653-1187
Website: https://franklinbarbecue.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/franklinbbq
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FranklinBbq