Monday, June 30, 2014

The Shack BBQ

My wife and I were heading back to Lubbock for her brother's wedding. The last time we were there, we hit up J & M Bar-B-Q & Catering. That did not turn out well. I still have some friends living in the LBK, and they mentioned that there was a new barbecue joint in town. The Shack BBQ had just opened up in March. It is located on the northwest side of town. We went to check it out to see if we can add this to our Lubbock rotation. When we got there, the parking lot was empty. That was odd because it was during lunch time. People in Lubbock love to dine out it seems.

When we got there, I was disappointed to find out they only had ribs on Sundays.  I ordered the two-meat plate with an extra meat. I got moist brisket, pulled pork, and jalapeño cheese sausage with a side of macaroni and cheese and loaded potato salad. The brisket was super solid. It was tender and flavorful. It had good smoke from the pecan, but it was missing a more developed bark. That being said, I was sad after eating the last bite because there was not anymore left. The brisket reminded me of the one from Brown's Bar-B-Que. Very similar. The pulled pork was definitely good. It was juicy, and the sweet rub gave it a nice taste. The owner said they use a very similar rub on the pork ribs as well. The sausage was not bad. They procured them from the meat market located on the campus of Texas Tech. Did you know that the meat market helps fund scholarship? The sausage was not as spicy as I would like. I probably should have ordered the german style one. The homemade sides were excellent. The macaroni and cheese was creamy and cheesy. The loaded potato salad hit the spot and was fantastic. They also make four barbecue sauces in house. I enjoyed them all, but I prefer the extreme and sweet because of the spiciness and sweetness respectively.

The Shack BBQ has to be one of the best in the Hub City. It is good to see that Lubbock now has a reliable BBQ joint besides Rudy's. Hopefully word travels out faster about this place. It seems like they would be one of those places that should sell out of food frequently. But then again, people in Lubbock love their chain restaurants. Kyle Farris and his fiancée Kelly run the restaurant by themselves and supply it with local products. I will definitely go back when I am in town again to try the ribs. They are adding another smoker to boost ribs production. Grade: B

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 2309 N Frankford Ave Lubbock, TX 79416
Phone: (806) 747-1810

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fitties BBQ

My wife and I had plans to go hiking at Bastrop State Park on this particular Sunday. The park was kind of disappointing. The wildfires that rip through the city a few years ago did a number on the park. I would imagine that the park used to be beautiful. I was looking for some barbecue to try in the area afterwards. I wanted to try Zimmerhanzel's BBQ in Smithville which was only about 15 minutes away, but they are closed on Sundays. I found a place that was a good compromise for us because they also served burgers and breakfast tacos in addition to barbecue. Fitties BBQ was the name and was located west on the outskirts of Bastrop.

We ordered a breakfast taco with sausage, egg and cheese and cheeseburger plus a three-meat plate that was not on the menu. I got moist brisket, pork ribs, and homemade sausage with dirty rice and coleslaw on the side. When we got the order, the smoked meat was swimming in the barbecue sauce pool. I did find a few bites of each meat without sauce. The brisket was lean. The lady at the counter heard me ask for moist because she yelled across the way saying I wanted extra fatty. I do not understand how some places cannot understand a simple request. The lean cut I got was chewy. It was not smoked long enough to render that fat. It was like eating a well-done steak. It did have good smoke though. The brisket was just okay. The pork ribs were a little better. They were overcooked and dry however. It did have some nice smoke, and the flavors were solid. The sausage was the winner. It had a nice pop and texture. It was sure tasty. The sausage could also have stayed in the smoker a little longer to bathe in the smoke and heat. It was grayish in the middle. The coleslaw was chopped finely, and it was crispy and refreshing. The dirty rice was really good. The cheeseburger was sad. You can tell that they used a frozen beef patty for it. The breakfast tacos were huge and pretty good. Everyone sitting around us had ordered them.

The barbecue was just okay at Fitties BBQ. They seem to get a lot of business. They are located on a busy stretch along Highway 71. Order the sauce on the side. The sauce was overwhelming at the end. It is not a bad sauce, but there was just too much of it. I felt disgusting after I ate. I could not finish all of the meats which tell you something. I was feeding the leftover meat to a stray cat. Excuse me if the pictures are not great. There are a few other BBQ joints in Bastrop if you want to give them a shot. If I were you, I would probably drive into Austin. Grade: Other

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 1376 Texas 71, Bastrop, TX 78602
Phone: (512) 303-6808


Monday, June 16, 2014

La Barbecue (Update)

My blog is now one year old! I have counted that I have eaten barbecue at least 78 times in the last 52 weeks, but I have not gained a pound of weight. You can now find the blog at an easier address - You can still find me on Twitter @TheSmokingHo, facebook at, and Instagram @TheSmokingHo.

Now that my blog is a year old, I can do updated reviews. I wanted to force myself to keep trying new places, and I will still keep on doing that. If I can, I will continue to post a new entry every Monday. I have done a couple of reviews that I have regretted the manner in how I did them. This includes the one I did of La Barbecue. I did not give La Barbecue a fair shake. It was rainy so I could not get any good pictures. The rain affected the whole experience. I have been back numerous times, and I was going to make this visit count. There has been a lot of buzz about them lately. The Austin American-Statesman named it the best barbecue place in town. After my visit, Fed Man Walking wrote that La Barbecue was also the best in Austin. The line on this Wednesday was definitely longer than what I have experienced in the past. Although I got there when La BBQ opened, I waited about an hour before I got to the counter.

When I got to front, I saw that pitmaster John Lewis was cutting the meat. I have had the pleasure in the past to talk to him. He is a nice dude. They always give you a bite of the brisket when you are ordering at the window. That one bite can make you weak at the knees. I ordered my usual Holy Trinity of Texas barbecue (brisket, pork ribs, and sausage). I actually got both cuts of brisket this time. The moist and lean were both phenomenal. Lewis does stray from the normal salt and pepper rub. He also uses mustard and pickle juice?! The deepness of the post oak smoke combined with his rub makes you see stars when you are eating the brisket. It is like you are having an out of body experience where you are hovering above your body watching yourself eat it. Both cuts are so juicy and flavorful that I might have to keep ordering the lean when I come back again.

The sublime experience does not end at the brisket. The pork ribs were quite excellent. They were on the saucier side but still tasted great. The tender meat was barely hanging on to the bone. The smoke and the glaze create this wonderful awakening for your taste buds. Last time I gave the sausage AKA hot guts no justice. I was definitely hating on it. I blame it on the rain. It is one of the best all beef sausages out there. Normally beef sausages are drier, but John did a good job mixing the different ingredients together. Having a good fat ratio also helps. The snappy casing could barely hold in the gritty mixture. The spice was nice too.

La Barbecue never ever disappoints. I have never had a time when I went that I thought that it was just "good." It always freaking awesome. When you are there next time, consider getting the El Sancho "loco" style. It is a sandwich filled with chopped beef, pulled pork, and sliced hot link with pickled red onions. So basically a three-meat between two buns. I have also had the beef rib in the past. It is definitely a heavyweight in this town. Grade: A

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 1906 E. Cesar Chavez St, Austin, Texas 78702
Phone: (512) 605-9696

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mann's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que (closed)

I have had barbecue from Mann's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que a few times over the years. The company I for work also orders catering from here quite frequently. The pits are (wo)manned by Kathleen Mann. She is the daughter of the owners and one of very few female pitmasters out there. They used to be a Texas Monthly's Top 50 BBQ restaurant in 2008, but the BBQ market has gotten very competitive since then. I never thought I would be able to stop in again because I do not work in the area, and they are not open on the weekends. I had some business to attend to in North Austin on this day and was able to drop in for lunch. Sometime things just work out.

I ordered the Texas Sampler which comes with brisket, pork ribs, beef ribs, and jalapeño sausage. It also came with two sides so I ordered coleslaw and macaroni and cheese. The brisket was decent. It was missing that dark bark I love. Mann's uses an Old Hickory smoker which is fueled by natural gas instead of solely wood. You can taste the smoke, but you will not get the deep smoke that some of us cherish. The moist cut was tender and fatty. The pork ribs were solid and meaty. It had a nice flavor, and not much effort was required to pull the meat off. The beef ribs were a baby back variety. Compared to short ribs elsewhere, they do not have as much meat on the bone. Although there was not a whole lot of meat, the smoker did do a good number on it. It was smoky and flavorful. The jalapeño sausage was a commercial sausage, but it was not bad at all. The spice from the jalapeño gave it a nice finish. The macaroni and cheese was different. It was not as creamy and had spaghetti noodles in it. The coleslaw was crisp and fresh.

Kathleen gave me a sample plate of her BBQ sauce, Brunswick stew and pulled pork. The sauce was a Georgia-style one that was mustard and vinegar based. In case you did not know, I hate mustard. I was surprised by the Brunswick stew. I have never had it before, but I liked it. It was a tomatoey concoction with bits of leftover smoked meats. It was good. The pulled pork was probably my favorite meat here. The smoke, rub, and moisture of the pork worked well together.

No frills. No fuss. Blue collar. That is how I would describe Mann's. They put out consistent barbecue for the everyday working man. Not everyone has time to stand in a long line to get their barbecue. Ain't nobody got time for that! They do have daily specials that work with everyone's budget. Not pictured is the brownie I got for free. They have free brownies a couple of days during the week, and on Fridays, they serve up homemade ice cream. The combination of the pulled pork and Brunswick stew is enough for me to go back.

Until next time, happy smoking...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Lone Star BBQ

I knew Lone Star BBQ had opened last fall, but I have never seen it. I somehow missed the trailer when I was looking for it. It was located at a food trailer food court on South Lamar. I was really excited to eat here. I had no expectations coming in. It was lunch time when I got there, and there was no line. Score! Well I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

I ordered a quarter pound of all the meats (brisket, pork ribs, and pork belly) and a link of sausage. The moist brisket was solid. It was smoky and tender. The post oak kissed bark was lacking a little bit of flavor though. A dash more of black pepper would have gone a long way. The pork ribs were the show stopper on this day. They had a sweet glaze that made it super tasty. The meat was falling off the bone without being dry. I wish I had gotten more ribs to eat. The pork belly had the same rub as the ribs. It was meatier than what I have seen out there. They were quite delicious, but I think the sweetness was a little too much. I think it would have worked better with a rub similar to the brisket. The sausage was the red headed stepchild of the group which was outsourced from a place in Brenham. It had a good pop, grit, and fat ratio though. There are just not many people out there who make their own sausage. There were two types of barbecue sauces. There was a sweet Carolina style sauce and an original Texas style made with Lone Star beer.

I was pleasantly surprised with Lone Star BBQ. I might have hit them on a good day, but either way, you should check them out. There are just so many good barbecue choices in this town. I did enjoy everything I ate. If you check in with Yelp, you can get a free drink. Of course I went with a bottle of sweet tea. The husband and wife duo of John and Jaylyn Morell were also a pleasure to talk to. Grade: B

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 2323 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Phone: (512) 739-4724