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
Phone: (903) 665-2341