TMBBQ Fest 2013

So the New York marathon was this weekend. One of my friends ran his first marathon in it. Congratulations Juan! I had my own marathon on Sunday as well.

I used to think Christmas only came twice a year, the start of the Longhorn football season and obvious the real Christmas. Well you know how this football season started out for us Longhorns. This weekend was the Texas Monthly's Barbecue Festival. This is their fourth year to put it on. I went to it the second year and was drunk off of meat at the end. I started to feel delirious, and some of the meats just did not taste right at the end. The last thing I tried was Franklin's lean brisket, and it was still excellent (you guys should know by now I am not a lean brisket type of guy). This event might be my third Christmas of the year.

I put in a little training in before the event. I ate a lot of veggies on Friday and had a Chinese buffet for lunch on Saturday. On Sunday morning, I just ate a banana to get my metabolism going. I wanted to maximize my stomach space. I met up with Lisa from the blog Full and Content and Tom of Micklethwait Craft Meats to start the festival off. I had a plan of attack for this year. I was going to skip places I have been to and try everything else. This was going to be a marathon not a sprint. I am just going to recap what I ate at the event and not treat this as a review.

The place I really wanted to try most was Pecan Lodge. They were one of the top barbecue restaurants in the state. The wait here can be just as long as Franklin. I just have not had a reason to go to Dallas as of late. They were the first stop on my list. The brisket was excellent with a great crust. The sausage was good and flavorful. Based on this small sample size, I have to go to Dallas soon. They also apparently have an awesome beef rib. Later when I walked by, they had run out of everything. That makes sense.

Tyler’s Barbeque (Amarillo) was next. The brisket was good and so were the ribs. It had a nice sweet glaze.

We hit up Lockhart Smokehouse (Dallas) next. We were jumping from one line to the next. This was faster that I wanted to go. I was going to have to ditch my eating buddies. Remember, this was 26.2 miles we are talking about and not a 5K. I had to pace myself. The brisket was okay. It was a little chewy and had an interesting rub on it. Not picture was the baby back that I got. It was really good.

At mile/stop 4 was Hutchins BBQ (McKinney). The brisket was good and smoky. The pulled pork was a little salty, but it was still tasty and full of flavor.

Opie’s Barbecue (Spicewood) is pretty close to Austin. I was thinking about doing a road trip there soon. The brisket was smoky and good. The turkey was moist and tender. The jalapeño cheese was spicy but okay.

I thought the ribs at Pody’s BBQ (Pecos) were really good. It had a sweet glaze. The brisket was just okay.

Hatfield’s BBQ (Rockport) did a good job with their brisket and sausage. The sausage casing had a nice pop. The ribs were a little bit too saucy though.

I started to slow down before I got to Miller’s Smokehouse (Belton). Their brisket was really good. It was tender and smoky. The sausage had a nice snap to it.

I was excited about Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue (Tyler). Their ribs were excellent. Yes they were saucy, but it worked out just right. The sausage was just okay.

Buzzie’s Bar-B-Q (Kerrville) smoked good sausage and ribs. The brisket was just a little boring.

I hit the wall at City Meat Market (Giddings). This happens to me around mile 20 or so during my race. This becomes a true test of your character. Do you fight back or just barely finish? Everything I tasted here felt blah to me. The brisket, ribs, and sausage were just okay. This is probably not a true reflection of their barbecue, and I do apologize for that.

I fought on to Austin’s BBQ and Catering (Eagle Lake). Their brisket and sausage were good. This was also the first time at the event that I had barbecue sauce. It was already in the bowl when I got it. I had to grab some lemonade after this to see if I had anything left in tank.

Cousin’s Bar-B-Q (Fort Worth) was the final stop of the joints that I have never been to. Their brisket was really good. I want some more when I think about it. Their sausage was just okay. Not only do I need to make it to Dallas, I probably need to plan some kind of metroplex barbecue road trip. Who is in?

I was starting to see the arbitrary finish line when I headed to La Barbecue (Austin). I was surprised to see John Lewis (pitmaster) slicing up brisket. The last time I saw him slicing brisket was when he was still working at Franklin. The brisket was superb as usual. I felt like I was done eating and could not even muster up some energy to pick up the sausage.

I walked around a little bit, snapped some shots, and talked to people. When I was walking by the Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor) booth, I saw that he had brought the sweet jalapeño barbecue sauce. I knew I had to try it with his beef ribs. It was the perfect combination! His tender, peppery, and smoky ribs with the sweet and spicy sauce was the perfect way to end the day on a high note. I was done! My time was just under two hours.

Here are the other barbecue joints I have eaten at and did not get a chance to sample at the festival.

Black’s Barbecue (Lockhart)
Franklin Barbecue (Austin)- The obligatory image of the line at Franklin booth. Even at the festival, there was a long line. Aaron Franklin did have to pull out the sold out sign later. They apparently went through 1600 pounds of meat.

Hays Co. Bar-B-Que and Catering (San Marcos)
Lamberts Downtown Barbecue (Austin)

Snow’s BBQ (Lexington)
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew (Austin)

When I was leaving the event, I was so full. I was thinking to myself "why do I always do this to myself?" I have the same thoughts go through my head when I am running a marathon. "This is stupid. Why I am doing it?" But the very next morning after the race, I am ready to run another one. As I write this post today, I am hungry for some more brisket. Go figure. As when I was leaving the festival, I saw my eating buddies, Lisa and Tom. They had made it to about 10 places. I would say I reached my goal with this barbecue marathon.

Thanks to Daniel Vaughn and Texas Monthly for getting me into the event. And yes, I did run seven miles Sunday morning.

Until next time, happy smoking...


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