Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009: Mann's Smokehouse (Austin, Texas)

Even after a year of BBQ outings, there are still plenty of BBQ joints in the Austin area we haven’t hit up yet. Mann’s Smokehouse, one of only two Austin restaurants to make Texas Monthly’s Top 50 list in June 2008, was one of them, until 10 of us manned up on it for a rainy Saturday lunch.

The brisket was pretty good, and the chicken wasn’t bad, but my sides of green beans and turnip greens were definitely not the ticket. The decor was kitschy, and the mood was subdued (perhaps because of the dreary weather). Housed in a former KFC and located underneath a major highway, the atmosphere isn’t a major selling point. Maybe my hopes were too high, but Mann’s wasn’t as solid as I thought it would be. Several better choices in Austin. But let’s hear from the others…

Dave was impressed: “In general the food was...delicious! The meat was tender and fairly moist along with a good amount of flavor, but not too much. The sauce definitely contained a good amount of vinegar, which combined well with the meat, in particular the saltier than usual pork ribs. Another fact that shown through was the decor, a lot of old school advertisements and memorabilia that is fun to give a look, although since I've recently started watching quite a bit of the show Madmen about an advertising firm in the 60's its easily possible that my interest in the decor had been set up a bit before arriving at Mann's.”

Mark writes: “Brisket: I had the middle cut - kinda moist but kinda lean. Not bad at all, but not great. Better without the sauce. Sauce: probably my least favorite sauce so far. Might go with Chinese food better than BBQ. Chicken: too dry and not very tender. But still better without the sauce. Slaw: not bad, but not good enough to finish all of it after eating all the brisket. Big Red: saved the day. Service: good cutlery and nice enough servers. A little stiff for a down-home BBQ joint, though. Atmosphere: great wall signs. Not the clientele you'd typically see at a Salt Lick or even Rudy's - very reserved and looked at us funny sometimes when we actually talked to each other. Overall: for me, this place will get lost in the mix of all the other mediocre BBQ joints I've been to. Serviceable enough BBQ, but nothing memorable, and probably not worth the drive from South Austin.”

Dana wraps up her thoughts succinctly: “What can I say, I'm a tough critic, but it is decent BBQ for inside the Austin city limits!”

Dave’s scores – Brisket: 8.5; Pork ribs: 8; Jalapeno sausage: 9; Fried okra: 8; Roll: 10; Sauce: 9; Atmosphere: 9.5; Overall experience: 9

Mark’s scores – Brisket: 8.85; Chicken: 7.2; Sauce: 4; Slaw: 7.5; Big Red: 10; Service: 8; Atmosphere: 9; Overall experience: 7.6

Dana’s scores – Brisket: 8.7; Chicken: 7; Sides: 7.5; Atmosphere: 9; Overall experience: 8.5

Drew’s scores – Brisket: 8.4; Chicken: 7.5; Sides: 5; Atmosphere: 5; Overall experience: 7

Brad’s scores – Brisket: 8.25; Sides: 4; Atmosphere: 6; Overall experience: 7.35

Overall Man-Up Score: 7.89

Mann's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 28, 2009

Time to mail some stuff!

Coming up...

1. My Man-Up stamps are in!

2. Review of our first visit to Mann's Smokehouse in Austin

3. Explanation of Man Up's scoring process

4. Russell, Megan, Joel et al. hit up Baker's Ribs in Dallas and Randy White's in Frisco.

5. Review and pics of our first trip to Bert's BBQ in Austin

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009


Man Up makes its first trip to Bert's BBQ in Austin. Stay tuned for review and pics.

More from Fritze's

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lunch #3 in Boerne: Fritze's BBQ & Catering

My final stop of the day in Boerne was Fritze's BBQ & Catering, on the north end of Main Street. Fritze's was opened in December 2007 by David Fritze, with whom I had the pleasure of spending the better part of my visit. Housed in a former furniture store, Fritze's is decked out in comfortable Texas decor, with seating available in the main dining area, the front and back patios, and the beer garden (in which the host live music from time to time).

Unlike most Texas BBQ joints, Fritze's uses an indoor rotisserie to cook their meats. They have one smoker out back, but it's not used unless the rotisserie is on the fritz (pun intended). Fritze's does a large catering and drive-thru business, and they always strive to be family friendly. They have daily specials, even do BBQ baked potatoes, and, according to David, "will never fry anything." David told me the next menu endeavor will be breakfast tacos.

As this was my third lunch of the day, my appetite wasn't huge, so I sampled the brisket, pulled pork, sauce, and green beans. The brisket was similar to the brisket I had earlier in the day at Bar D BBQ: thinly sliced and smokey; the pulled pork was thin and stringy, with a mix of inside and outside cuts; the green beans (my first side of the day) were served hot, but that's all I remember about them (The vegetables at Fritze's come with unlimited free refills.); and the sauce was great: thin, peppery, tangy, and piping hot. David sent me home with a half chicken, which I reheated in my oven and downed that night for dinner (very good). Next time I'm there, the main event will be the half chicken with sauce.

David, Katie, and everyone at Fritze's were wonderful hosts, and it seems like they've got a good thing going at 926 North Main Street in Boerne. It was easy to see that David, who's spent his entire career in various positions in the food/beverage industry, truly loves what he does. Stop in to see him, next time you're in Boerne, and stay tuned for more pics.

Fritze's barbeque on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Merchandise Spotlight: Dog Shirt

In light of the fact that we actually sold one of these last week, today's Merchandise Spotlight is the Doggie Ribbed Tank Top. It's 100% cotton, folks, and comes in 6 colors and 7 sizes, so you really have no excuse denying your canine this simple pleasure, especially as colder weather moves in. And, while you're at it, might as well get some other stuff.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lunch #2 in Boerne: Riverside Market

After my first lunch at Bar D BBQ, I continued on down Main Street and stopped for a second lunch at Riverside Market, in the center of town (491 South Main St.). Akin to Rudy's, Riverside is inside a gas station/convenience store. Riverside is no-frills. Not a place for big groups or a place to soak up the atmosphere, but it's a great place to stop in for a quick lunch.

I wanted to still have some room left for my third stop, so I simply ordered a slice of brisket and a slice of pork loin ($1.08, including tax). The thick slices were pretty dry. If I return, I'll probably give the half chicken a try.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

BBQ in Alabama

Not an official Man-Up outing, since we weren't in Texas, but Brad and I hit up Dreamland BBQ in Northport, Alabama, after going to the Alabama-North Texas game in Tuscaloosa. Half a rack of Dreamland's famous ribs and a big pork sandwich, sopping in sauce on a bun with a liberal amount of butter. In other words, really healthy. Didn't have my camera, so we'll just have to settle for pics from my Blackberry. Another option would've been to hit up Archibald's (amount a mile from Dreamland), whose ribs, I think, are the best I've had in Alabama. Next time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Best. Casual. Friday. Outfit. Ever.

Just when you think Bo can't get any more awesome, he goes and pulls a stunt like this!!!

More from the pit at Bar D