Thursday, July 30, 2009

If you didn't want our merchandise before, you will now...

Brad's Man-Up trucker's hat arrived today, so he's sporting it, taking our post-dinner cigar smoking to a new and oh-so-healthy level. Oh, and speaking of dinner, Brad and 4 others hit up City Market in Luling and Smitty's and Kreuz in Lockhart tonight. You heard me right: 3 premier Texas BBQ joints in one evening. Talk about manning up. I don't even know what to say right now. Reviews and pics to follow.

New Book: "Republic of Barbecue: Stories Beyond the Brisket"

Read about the book and the project that led to it.

More from Opie's

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009: Opie's Barbecue (Spicewood, Texas)

After a few of us took a dip in Hamilton Pool, 12 of us manned up at Opie’s Barbecue, a Man-Up favorite in Spicewood. We were fortunate enough to have co-owner Todd Ashmore hang out with us during the meal. The food and the service from the entire staff were fantastic, as always.

No surprise, the sweet-and-spicy ribs (my favorite Texas BBQ order) were great; but the biggest hit of the day for me was the pulled-pork shoulder. Outstanding. I got the first pull from it, and it was what can only be described as hot, salty, flavorful perfection. Great pulled pork in Texas? WHAT?!?!?!?!?!

Anyway, several reviews to get to, with first-time reviewers Travis and Matt leading off.

Travis: “Pork ribs: some of the best I have ever had. Brisket: makes me want to cut it up with my fork and eat it, and then rub the next bite all over my face in a circular motion. Jalapeno sausage: Incredible. Note: it’s hard to mess up sausage, which means that Todd did not get cooking instructions from Brian over at Sam’s. Beans: just like my next door neighbor in El Paso used to make, minus the cigarette ash. Spicy corn: creamy and spicy. I rank it very close to Rudy’s corn, which is the best corn I have ever tasted. Home brew: perfect choice for the summer. Fantastic. Pork loin: tender, juicy, and well seasoned. Banana pudding: Brings me back to the womb in just one trip to the lips. Hospitality: So close, but yet so far away from a perfect 10, which I could only give after an offer (and acceptance) of a foot massage and cigar followed by a Turkish bath. Overall: Opie’s is by far my favorite BBQ place in Texas. If I met someone that had never tasted beef, pork, Kristin’s spicy corn, Kristin’s banana pudding, or Todd’s home brew before, I would take them to Opie’s to try them out for the first time.”

Matt: “My constructive criticism: the sauce needs work: less vinegar, thicker. Brisket: It was some of the most tender and thick brisket, without being fatty, that i have ever had. I think they can add some flavor to it to make it better. Sausage: nothing fancy, but tasty. Sides: top notch for a BBQ place. Cole slaw, the special corn dish, potato salad are all great! Plus, the banana pudding is not the best, but one of the top 3 ever, and has their unique sugar cookie twist. I've never had better hospitality and special treatment that I can recall at any eatery, much less BBQ.”

Dana weighs in: “I really like their brisket even if it was more like a roast, it still ‘melts’ in your mouth tator tot side I really enjoyed and the banana whipped pudding dessert. Not a rib fan of really anywhere and Opies didn't change that. The sausage was forgettable and the pork thing Russell had was not cooked thoroughly, so that brings them down. But, the home brewed beer was excellent. I know what to get next time, and there will definitely be a next time. The owners were super nice, too - plus, plus!!!”

Russell, who never leaves me hanging when it comes to reviews and scores, closes us out: “Opies: I’ve learned what I like here, and that’s what I get. I still think their brisket needs work; but one cannot top their sides (particularly spicy corn and tator tot casserole) and nanner puddin’. The sweet and spicy ribs are awesome and almost as good as Smitty’s and the rib is probably the best meat item. Pork chop was incredibly big and good…once I got it cooked like I like it.”

Travis’ scores – Pork ribs: 9.91; Brisket: 9.92; Jalapeno sausage: 9.93; Beans: 9.94; Spicy corn: 9.95; Home-brewed beer: 9.96; Pork loin: 9.97; Banana pudding: 9.98; Service: 9.99; Overall experience: 9.95

Matt’s scores – Brisket: 9.8; Sausage: 9.6; Sides: 9.8; Overall experience: 9.85

Rachel's scores - Brisket: 9; Sweet-and-spicy ribs: 9.6; Sauce: 8; Service: 10; Overall experience: 9.5

Laurin’s score – Overall experience: 9

Russell’s scores – Brisket: 8.75; Sides: 10; Banana pudding: 10; Sweet-and-spicy ribs: 9.99; Pork chop: 9.93; Overall experience: 9.92

Drew’s scores – Sweet-and-spicy ribs: 9.8; Pulled pork: 9.9; Service: 10; Overall experience: 10

Dana’s scores – Brisket: 9.75; Tater tot casserole: 9.99; Banana pudding: 9.99; Overall experience: 9.25

Brad’s scores – Sweet-and-spicy ribs: 9.25; Brisket: 8.5; Home-brewed beer: 10; Banana pudding: 9; Overall experience: 9

Overall Man-Up Score: 9.55875

Opie's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Merchandise Spotlight: Official T-shirt

The first of many spotlights of official Man-Up merchandise is on our basic t-shirt. Check out the t-shirt's page on Zazzle, play around with color schemes to find what you like the most, and take the plunge! All the cool kids are doing it. (long pause) You wanna be cool, right?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Coming up...

1. The first of many spotlights of Man-Up merchandise

2. Review and pics of our visit to Opie's

3. New round of Battle BBQ

4. J-Pa leads a party of 4 to Lockhart for a Sunday afternoon smackdown

5. Review and pics of our visit to Louie Mueller

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Man Up heads back to Louie Mueller

Yesterday, while I was en route to Chicago, Man Up made the trip to Taylor for lunch at Louie Mueller Barbecue, the big winner in our Best of 2008 Awards. Review, scores, and pics to follow; but, in the meantime, check this out: Louie Mueller Barbecue named by USA Today as one of the "10 great places to eat regionally, eat well." Congrats, LMB!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Free music and Rudy's BBQ tonite at Bob Bullock Museum (Austin)

Free music, Rudy's BBQ, and more at Music Under the Star. At the Bob Bullock Museum in downtown Austin around 6:15. Free museum admission from 6-9 pm, and free event parking in the Museum's underground garage on the corner of 18th St. and Congress Ave.

In the back

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Man-Up products for sale on Zazzle!!!

You've been patient, and now it's time for your reward. Man Up gear available for purchase on Zazzle!!! More products on the way. See the bottom of the blog for a peak at what's for sale!!!

Texas BBQ on

I've created a Texas BBQ group on Join, and help develop the group!

Early action at Sam's

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009: Sam's Bar-B-Cue (Austin, Texas)

We’d been hearing for quite some time that we needed to hit up Sam’s BBQ in East Austin. It’s close to downtown, we’d heard nothing but glowing reviews, and it got good marks from Fearless Critic; so, on a sweltering Thursday night, 12 of us made the short trip down East 12th Street to Sam’s, a decades-old Austin institution.

A friendly mother-and-son-run joint in an old white house, Sam’s definitely has character. Brian, who single handedly manned all of the food cutting and serving, was kind enough to show us the kitchen/pit and answer all of our questions. The pictures on the walls walk you through years of Sam’s history and can keep you intrigued and entertained for as long as it takes your meal to be ready, by which time you should be sweating from the lack of air conditioning in cramped quarters. Based on our experience, however, the walls of the restaurant might be the highlight of your visit.

The food was a consensus disappointment. The brisket was decent enough, but the pork ribs were very tough, and the beans were downright dreadful. The best I could do was basically gnaw on the ribs; and, as three of us pointed out independently of one another, the beans actually had negative taste. They were out of chicken, my first choice. I didn’t care for the house special: mutton.

Granted, BBQ joints can have a great day one day and be terrible the next. And on the same visit, one person might leave wowed and another might leave nauseated. Tastes vary. It’s quite subjective. But, for the life of me, I cannot figure out how Sam’s food was rated a 9 by Fearless Critic (out of 29 restaurants rated, one of only 8 whose food got a 9 or above).

Maybe we just hit them on an off night. Maybe rave reviewers have just bought into the hype. Or maybe we just don’t know what we’re talking about. Regardless, I think it’s safe to say Man Up won’t be making the short drive down East 12th anytime soon.

Russell has some thoughts: “Best thing I can say: Sam’s was a unique, Stevie Ray Vaughn-esque experience….and it sure made the Amy’s Ice Cream afterward taste mighty fine! However, the aftertaste of the mutton and tater salad made my cigar and scotch later at Brad’s taste a bit funky. Atmosphere: Nice people; I really appreciated the proprietor Brian and his mom for their friendliness and helpful nature. But no air conditioning to speak of was not cool on a 100+ degree day, and I was definitely not a fan of the whole Obamanation theme they had going on in this run down little cottage of place. That said, I was glad we went to check out something different. Mutton: This is his best seller; but I was surprised to hear Brian say he doesn’t prefer the ‘gamey’ flavor! I thought it was very moist, tender and good at first, but the aftertaste is where I lost belief in this item. Brisket: The moist brisket was tender and tasty. This would be my recommended item here. Pork ribs: So bone dry they made me cough and not much flavor. Sausage: Decent but pretty nondescript. It’s hard to mess up sausage anyway. Sides: Beans were extraordinarily notable for their blandness. Tater salad was pedestrian at best. Sauce was ok. Overall: All said, I suffered through the heat and the meat to get to the ice cream and the scotch later in the evening! But I leave this experience feeling really blessed to have such a great group of friends with whom to man up that even when the BBQ is subpar, the evening is still a lot of fun and one to remember. PS: We may need a trip to Opie’s next weekend in order to get back on the wagon in a big way!”

And, with the first haiku review in our history, Bo weighs in:

SAMs BBQ place
Olan mills photography
Brisket was ok

I spy Hillary Clinton
Air conditioning no where
The beans had no taste

Old BBQ pit
Barack Obama star wars
Mutton was the best

Deep east side and down
The pork ribs were kind of tough
Dallas cowboys rule

The food not the best
Hospitality awesome
Overall score 6

Russell’s scores – Brisket: 8.35; Mutton: 6.95; Pork ribs: 2.83; Sausage: 7.75; Sides & Sauce: 4.15; Atmosphere: 5; Overall experience: 5.33

Bo’s score – Overall experience: 6

Leticia’s score – Overall experience: 3

Dana’s score – Overall experience: 3.15

Drew’s scores – Brisket: 8; Pork ribs: 4; Beans: 0; Atmosphere: 6.5; Service: 9; Overall experience: 6

Brad’s scores – Brisket: 4.5; Pork ribs: 2; Mutton: 3; Sauce: 2; Beans: -3; Atmosphere: 6; Service: 9; Overall experience: 5

Overall Man-Up Score: 4.7467

Sam's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Big brisket fun

Unveiling the brisket

Texas BBQ in Portland, Oregon? You bet your brisket!!!

Our very own B-rad spent the July 4 holiday with some friends in Portland, Oregon, where he attended a backyard Texas BBQ, hosted by his buddy Brian, a native of Irving, Texas. Folks, this was a legit brisket-smoking fest. Pictures on the way...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Man-Up outing tomorrow

Bright (and already blazing hot) and early tomorrow morning, we're heading to Hamilton Pool and then lunch at Opie's in Spicewood. Check "Events" on our Facebook group page for details, if you want to join.

First visit to Rudy's in Round Rock