Friday, May 29, 2009

QOTD: What's your single favorite BBQ order?

If you could only have one item from one Texas BBQ joint, what would it be? No trying to get out of picking just one. No, "I've narrowed it down to two, so I'll name both." No, "Can I pick one for each type of meat?" No, "Well, it depends on whether it's for lunch or dinner, so I'll pick one for each." No, you won't! One item from one place. Go.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nextstop's "The Best Texas BBQ" Challenge

Man Up may have taken first place in Nextstop's "The Best Texas BBQ" challenge, but the second-place winner, Daniel Vaughn, was featured last week on CNN, which highlighted his quest to find the best BBQ in the Lone Star State. How awesome is that?!?! Follow his journey on his blog, Full Custom Gospel BBQ. Congrats on the CNN article, Daniel!!! Also, Man-Up reader DeLea Becker took third place in the Nextstop challenge. Congrats, DeLea!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Best ribs in the country???

Hat tip to blog reader Darrell Caldwell emailed this to me. The video is of the 4 finalists for Good Morning America's competition for the nation's best BBQ ribs. A few comments:

1. I've never been to Cousin's in Fort Worth, but I am at a loss for how the pork ribs at Smitty's Market and/or the sweet-and-spicy ribs at Opie's Barbecue didn't make the cut. The two best I've had in Texas.

2. Archibald's in Northport, Alabama, is right next to my alma mater, The University of Alabama, and we would pick up their ribs every gameday in the fall. Easily some of the best ribs I've ever had. True pit BBQ. No frills. Just a tiny shack. The vinegar-based sauce is fantastic.

3. The guy from the place in New York is right: my head was about to explode, while watching the video. Syracuse? Des Moines? Really?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009: Donn's BBQ (Austin, Texas)

This was our first trip to Donn’s BBQ at the Y in Oak Hill, on the edge of Austin. I liked it a little more than the ten others who made the short trip. The service was great, and the food was better than I expected. As far as the places we’ve been in Austin go, I put Donn’s below Rudy’s but firmly above places like The Pit and Green Mesquite (which has a second location in the Y, as well). Way above RJ’s. A solid, if unspectacular, choice, if you aren’t up for a drive past the Y to Opie’s or The Salt Lick.

I didn’t order any, but I tried a bite of a beef rib, and this is the first place I’ve been where I liked them. The pork ribs were average but at least tasted better than they looked. The brisket was good, but the turkey and ham were better. Both had great flavor and were quite moist. I liked the slaw, and I liked the squash-zucchini medley even better. The green beans were interesting.

Jason, Russell, & Todd weren’t impressed. Jason: “Brisket was ok; very moist but lacked much flavor…I needed salt and I don’t feel I like a lot of salt. Sausage is hard to mess up; had good flavor and taste; but didn’t really stand out. Pork ribs were not very good; I was not a fan.” Russell: “Sweet tea was their best item. Pork ribs their best meat but still somewhat subpar. Brisket a little roast beef-ish. Was disappointed in sides because I’d heard good things that raised my expectations. Liked the atmosphere, though.” Todd: My visit to Donn's with the group was a bit underwhelming. While the sides were good, I thought the BBQ was a little less than to be desired. The ribs were tough and the brisket was missing that ‘something special.’ All-in-all, Donn's is a good place, but is not on the top of my list for a second visit.”

Jason’s scores – Brisket: 8.2; Sausage: 8.5; Pork ribs: 7; Overall experience: 8.3

Russell’s scores – Brisket: 7.8; Pork ribs: 8.5; Sides: 7.5; Sweet tea: 8.8; Atmosphere: 9; Overall experience: 8.55

Todd’s scores – Brisket: 7.2; Pork ribs: 6.8; Macaroni & cheese: 8.5; Sweet tea: 8.5; Overall experience: 7.5

Amir’s scores – Brisket: 9; Pork ribs: 7.5; Sausage: 7.5; Overall experience: 8

Drew’s scores – Brisket: 9; Pork ribs: 8; Ham: 9.2; Turkey: 9.25; Overall experience: 8.7

Overall Man-Up Score: 8.21

Donn's Texas Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Back from Houston

At least my 10-hour round trip to Houston included two lunch stops for BBQ on Interstate 10: Spring Creek Barbeque in Katy and Jerry Mikeska's Bar-B-Q in Columbus (recaps and pics to follow in the next week or so). I noticed a couple more joints on the stretch of the interstate I traveled (between Luling and the 610 loop in Houston), so I will have to hit those up next time.

Speaking of interstates, I've added a new label for posts ("Interstate highways") that lists the places we've been that are adjacent to an interstate. So, unless you are unwaveringly loyal to Cracker Barrel, check one or more of them out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Battle BBQ (Round 3): Texas v. Kansas City

A blog post from a friend of Todd's provides an opportune time for the latest round of Battle BBQ: Texas v. Kansas City. Which one does BBQ better? (View previous battles.)

I didn't even know KC has BBQ. I thought it was just a steak town. Anyway, if you've had both, whose brand of BBQ is better? Weigh in, and don't feel the need to play nice. I mean, this is BBQ we're talking about here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Calling all Houston BBQ recommendations!!!

I have to make an early-morning trip to Houston tomorrow, just for one errand, so I need to make the long round trip worth it. Never had BBQ in Houston, so I'm open to suggestions. Unless someone convinces me otherwise, I'm going to hit up Spring Creek, like Bo did a few weeks ago. Leave comments, or shoot me an email.

This week...

1. Round 3 of Battle BBQ

2. Review of our first visit to Donn's BBQ in Austin

3. First trip to Miss Mae's Bar-B-Q in Wimberley

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009: The Pit Barbeque (Austin, Texas)

We finally made the short trek to The Pit Barbeque on Burnet Road in Austin. Our showing of ten was impressive, given the less-than-one-day’s notice. Greg got there first and had his food when we arrived, but Russell manned up, as Russell does, and ordered for the rest of us. The food was nothing to write home about, but the staff were very hospitable, and the lady who owns it was kind enough to take the time to show us around the kitchen and smoker.

Jason had brisket and chicken: “Brisket was ok; kind of tough and had a rough feeling in my mouth as well; I felt like I needed the sauce to eat it; It was a lean cut; but then again; I did not get to the food while it was hot cause I had to wait in line for a plate; thus only getting brisket and chicken only…oh well. Chicken was def. the best thing here; I would come back here for chicken; best chicken I’ve had hands down. Better than any other place I’ve been too…But hey, I don’t judge BBQ by chicken. Def. good chicken; they do know what they are doing with that! I like sharing family style…but not w/ 10 people… I shall remember that for future reference…Not my fav. But def. close to my house.”

Russell writes: “Pork ribs: Excellent ribs by any measure. Very juicy and flavorful. This would be my recommended item at The Pit. Chicken: As you know, I’m not a huge bird fan, but this was very good, juicy chicken. Turkey: Above average, but not as moist as some. Brisket: Was a little disappointed with this item; it looked more tender and juicy than it was. It was actually a little leathery and dry, and I would challenge the Pit to work on this very fundamental item…so when I come back I hope to see improvement on the brisket! Sides/Desserts: Excellent banana pudding; good peach cobbler; and pretty good slaw. Overall Experience: For north-central Austin, TX, this place is pretty authentic BBQ and is hard to beat for ribs and old-school, mid-town-BBQ atmosphere. The propreitors were friendly folks once they got over the initial shock of the sheer size and scope of our massive, man-up, ala carte order. We found out why they call it ‘The Pit’…the same old smoky pit has been on that same piece of real estate since the 1950’s!?"

Brad’s thoughts: “Pork ribs: I concur with Russell and it was my favorite meat of the day. I will get ribs exclusively next time though. Chicken: I only like dark meat but this was good stuff. Daddy like! Brisket: Again, I concur with Russell on this and thought it was really dry. I think it has something to do with the fact that they cook it at night and it sits all day under the hot lamps. They also use post oak - -but lets be honest we all know Mesquite is better. (this gets the ManDown Award) Desserts: Had better. Overall Experience: I like the small intimate setting that feels like you have just walked into a joint located in Earth, Tx. You almost forget you are in Central Austin until JP rolls up on his 10 speed. Overall though good food, location and easy process. The only regret I have is not ordering more RIBS!”

Greg weighs in: “Turkey - Not that flavorful, but not a bad piece of meat. Brisket - Good, not great. Cobbler - Good not great, hard to mess up cobbler, it was pretty good. Sides - I really liked the beans and potato salad. Sauce - it was better than I thought it would be judging by looks. not bad. Service - friendly staff from the moment I walked in the door. Overall - not the best place we've been, but a pretty good local option. Inexpensive, friendly people. Small venue, but a great experience. I heard the chicken was phenomenal, I wish I would have gotten some.”

Mark: “Chicken - Best taste of any chicken thus far - and the most tender. Only complaint is that there wasn't enough meat on each piece (i had a breast and a leg). Brisket - solidly good, but for me it was overshadowed by the chicken. Sauce - not particularly memorable, but did the job by making the brisket more moist and adding a bit of flavor. Good consistency - sufficiently thick and not too watery. Service - the lady who showed us around the pit and backroom (the owner? manager?) was incredibly friendly and obviously takes pride in what she does. People at the register were more subdued, but still very helpful. Environment - wood tables and benches in a small space + a ceiling-TV in the corner = all i need for a good BBQ dining experience. Other diners included kids and soccermoms and old folks alike. Overall: The chicken carried the experience, which otherwise was pretty good. Will definitely go back.”

Lacey: “Pork ribs: Great texture and flavor, by far my favorite meat of the day. Sausage: Edible, but tasted like it had been sitting under a heating lamp for far too long. Turkey: Nice flavor, but dry and chewy which brings back memories of an overcooked Thanksgiving turkey. Brisket: Looked appetizing, but lacked the tenderness and flavor I look for in a well cooked brisket. Sides/Desserts: Dessert wasn’t bad and the slaw was what I would expect. Also, I was very disappointed that there was not any cheese! Ambiance: The gold A/C and the wood paneling were the highlight for me and I hope they never feel the need to upgrade.”

Jason’s scores – Brisket: 8.4; Chicken: 9.9; Peach cobbler: 9.2; Banana pudding: 9.2; Overall experience: 8.7

Russell’s scores – Pork ribs: 9.85; Chicken: 9.15; Turkey: 8.55; Brisket: 7.23; Sides/Desserts: 8.95; Overall experience: 9

Brad’s scores – Pork ribs: 9; Chicken: 8.75; Brisket: 6.5; Desserts: 6; Overall experience: 8.65

Greg’s scores – Turkey: 6; Brisket: 7.5; Cobbler: 8; Sides: 8; Sauce: 7.5; Service: 9; Overall experience: 7.5

Mark’s scores – Chicken: 9.92; Brisket: 9.1; Sauce: 8.9; Service: 9.4; Atmosphere: 8.8; Overall experience: 9.3

Lacey’s scores – Pork ribs: 9.41; Sausage: 7.75; Turkey: 8.25; Brisket: 7.75; Sides/Desserts: 8.5; Atmosphere: 9.5; Overall experience: 8.53

Drew’s scores – Pork ribs: 8.7; Chicken: 6.5; Turkey: 7; Service: 9.5; Atmosphere: 6; Overall experience: 7

Overall Man-Up Score: 8.38

Pit Barbecue on Urbanspoon