Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Last day for 25% discount on The Q Card

Just a reminder that you have until the end of today to get The Q Card for just $7.50 (25% off). You can purchase via email or via PayPal on Even if you don't have a PayPal account, you can still use PayPal to pay with a credit card.

Jacob & friends: Teddy's review

Friday we arrived in Austin and Jacob had saved us a few pieces of Brisket from Franklins. Obviously eating the brisket cold was not the same experience as getting it warm, but it was still quite good. I will defiantly try to get into to Austin earlier next time so that I can try it again. We then went out to the Salt Lick in driftwood. I have been there many times before and while the BBQ may not be award winning, it is still a fantastic experience with a fun atmosphere.

Saturday, we got up early to head to Snow’s in Lexington. On the way there we pass through Elgin, so we had to stop by the Southside Market and get some Sausage. It was very good sausage. We even bought a few links to take back and cook ourselves. After the quick stop in Elgin we continued on to Lexington. Driving up to snows you wouldn’t expect you were about to eat the best BBQ in Texas, but once you step out of the car and take a smell of what is cooking you know you are in for a treat. I didn’t think that it could possibly live up to the hype surrounding it, but it really did. The brisket was excellent. It just melted in your mouth. Unfortunately, they had already run out of ribs, so we were unable to try those. After snows we headed to Giddings and went to city meat market. Everything was great but what stood out the most to me was there pork. It was very juicy and easily the best pork I have ever had. From there we went on to LaGrange and stopped at Prause Meat Market. By this point it was hard to think about eating more food after we had already had quite a bit of BBQ, but we ordered anyways and got Sausage and a little bit of burnt end brisket as they had run out of all the other brisket. The sausage was good, and unfortunately we didn’t get enough of the brisket to be able to form an opinion. The market also had lots of great pictures on the wall that were fun to walk around and look at. After this we were planning on heading Vincek’s in East Bernard. On the way, we stopped at a Buc-ee’s to fuel up before we continued on. I went in to look around and when I came back out Jacob had a plate full of BBQ from Austin’s Barbeque & Catering which was across the street. I had a piece of the brisket and a few bites of sausage; I was not very impressed with either. But to be fair I was a bit full and had been to some of the more stellar BBQ places in Texas already that day. After the surprise BBQ stop, we headed to Vincek’s smokehouse. It was a very nice atmosphere and we got a small sampling of the brisket and sausage. I think at this point I must have slipped into a meat coma because I can’t remember much about how the brisket and sausage were. I will have to stop by there again sometime when I am not already stuffed from 5 other BBQ stops. Overall the trip was amazing and I will definitely be trying to make a few more trips like this to hit up some of the other top 50 BBQ restaurants.

Jacob & friends: Heath's review

Jacob saved us a small piece of brisket from Franklin’s to kick off our trip. It was delicious, even though it had been sitting out for the prior 5 hours. I look forward to trying it out for reals on a subsequent trip to Austin.

Salt Lick
Jacob tried to warn us that “this place sucks,” but none of us had been there before and felt it merited a try. We pull up and see a packed parking lot, complete with 3-4 charter buses parked outside. Mass market meat is usually not that great in my experience.

The good – the BBQ sauce was fantastic and the sides (particularly the potato salad) were good. Also, I had one of the best glasses of lemonade of my life there. Plus, the atmosphere was incredible and the service was awesome (our server got an extra tip for repeatedly referring to Jacob as an Ohio-resident, much to Jacob’s consternation).

Unfortunately, the brisket was pretty plain. The waiter described it as their “moist” brisket, but it felt more like lean. The “burnt end” style brisket was noticeably better, but not on par with Smitty’s, Kruez, Snow’s, etc. The pork ribs were decent and the sausage was good.

Southside Market – Elgin
At 9:30 a.m., Teddy, Steve, and myself stopped at Southside Market for a quick bite. We split one small piece of brisket and a link of sausage. The sausage was so good we bought a pound for a later cook-out. The brisket was moist and left me wanting more. Unfortunately, we were on our way to Snow’s and decided to pace ourselves.

Snow’s BBQ
Easily the highlight of the trip. Even though we arrived at 10:15, they were already out of ribs by the time we arrived. We still loaded up some brisket, sausage, and pork loin. The brisket was just as advertised…excellent. It moved into my top 2 briskets of all time (behind Smitty’s, but strangely ahead of Kruez). I took a half pound home for our girlfriends to sample and it still stood up well with re-heating two days later.

The sausage was great, but kinda generic (I assume it came from Elgin and is not made on premises, but I could be wrong). The pork loin was outstanding and after 2 bites I was prepared to declare it my favorite pork loin of all time (but, see below). As for atmosphere, it was great. Its what you expect an excellent BBQ place to look like (hidden, slightly dirty, and filled with toothless characters). All in all, I think Snow’s is in my personal top 2.

City Meat Market – Giddings
We stepped to the backroom to order our food and initially we decided to get a half pound of everything so we could each have a bit (and still pace ourselves for later in the day). As the pitmaster was slicing the pork loin, however, I noticed how awesome it looked and made the impulse decision to double our pork loin order to a full pound. I am glad we did, because we were able to gorge on the best pork loin I had ever had in my life. It was moist and had a great skin on it. It was perfectly seasoned and flavored. My only regret was not ordering another pound to take home for pork sandwiches all week. I wanted to take that pork loin out behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

As for the rest of samplings, I was left unimpressed. The ribs were good, but they had been talked up so much by Jacob, they couldn’t meet my ridiculously high expectations. The brisket was fine, but unimpressive. The sausage was good, but not great. The atmosphere gets a “Check Plus.”

Prause Meat Market
By this point, the meat pains are starting to set in. So, it was a slight relief when we arrived at Prause at noon and they were already out of meat. We had a small bit of sausage and gnawed on some burnt brisket ends, but not enough to form an opinion. Next door was a place called the “Man Shop,” however, which had a great selection of pearl snap shirts. Our friend Brett bought a beautiful one and looked like a man for the rest of the day.

Austin's BBQ & Catering
While at Buc-ee’s for some much needed dumping and Dr. Pepper Icees, Jacob ran across the street to Austin BBQ to grab a sampling. I was unimpressed with my small sampling. Perhaps it was nothing more than my sampling bias. I mean, I’m sure this place is a good place, but once you’ve had Snow’s 2 hours earlier, it’s hard to be impartial towards another place. I did not get to see the inside, because I was busy with my Dr. Pepper Icee and debating bird law with Teddy.

Any place that has pictures of show steers on the wall gets my vote. This was a pretty cool place, but we just had the smallest of samplings. The samples were good, but suffered from the same phenomenon I observed at Austin BBQ earlier in the day.

After this trip, here is my personal Top 5:
(1) Smitty’s
(2) Snow’s
(3) Kruez
(4) City Market in Luling
(5) Opie’s

I’m visiting Louie Mueller in two weekends, so I reserve the right to change my rankings.

Jacob & friends: Steven's review

2010 Memorial Weekend BBQ Tour De Forces

2 days, 5 friends, 700 miles, 8 BBQ joints, and 720 ounces of beer. If that does not sound like great Texas Memorial Day I don’t know what does. I feel like I have to start by saying that I live in Dallas and if you haven’t heard there is not an over whelming amount of great BBQ. Outside of town and especially towards Fort Worth we have a handful of good places and on some days great BBQ. But if you live in Central Texas consider yourself very thankful. Each one of these places (Saltlick included, at least for the fun of it) would be considered the best or among the best BBQ in the Metroplex. The sausage situation alone is troubling. I can count on one hand the amount of places that make their own sausage in Dallas. Snap? I don’t think so, not in Dallas. Again, Central Texas I hope you know what you have got.

Franklin BBQ – Austin
Outstanding. It would be unfair to fully review this BBQ because it had been in the refrigerator for around six hours. Without a doubt, even cold, this is better than anything in Dallas City Limits.

Saltlick – Driftwood
We had to try this after hearing every Longhorn in Dallas constantly sing its praises. Not sure if this is BBQ or grilled meats posing as BBQ. The meat was disappointing, the BBQ sauce is pretty fantastic, and the location/ atmosphere is everything it is cracked up to be. Overall great place to spend a Friday night.

Southside Market – Elgin
We had originally planned on stopping at Meyer’s, but after talking it over with Jacob we decided if we were going to make one stop in Elgin it had better be Southside. We were not disappointed. Saving room for Snow’s we only had one link of sausage, it was top notch, and one slice of brisket. If I had only been paying attention I might have realized that they had cut all of the bark off of our brisket before we were back on the road. Regardless of the bark blunder the briskets as very good. Flavor reminded me of what you will get in Lockhart, but just slightly less good.

Snow’s BBQ – Lexington
The big event. Happy to see that they were still drawing a large out of town crowd. Brisket, sausage, and pork. By the time we had order (10:30 AM) all of the ribs were gone or spoken for. So impressed with the brisket. When I dream about good BBQ, my dreams are filled with brisket like this. Pork was dry, but had a great flavor. And the sausage was better than average, solid offering.

City Meat Market – Giddings
Starting to feel a little bit full at this point. Ordered; brisket, sausage, pork, and ribs. I thought I would never say this about a moist piece of brisket, but it was a little too fatty. All of the fat was well rendered, but the brisket was lacking the good meaty flavor. Still so much better that anything I am able to get within Dallas city limits. Sausage was good, if not a little over cooked. Ribs were average and dried out. Pork stole the show, extremely moist and flavorful.

Prause Meat Market – La Grange
Full, some pain. This stop could not have come at a better time for me, because I was beginning to reach the limit of what my stomach could hold. By the time we had arrived at the front of the line they had run out of everything except the sausage. Luckily Barbeque Jesus (Jacob) noticed some scrapes of brisket and pork that meat cutters handed over to us for free. Unfortunately I decided to try the pork first. Remember, this was not meat that they would sell us and only after describing our journey in detail were we able to get this meat. This piece of pork was so tough and had so much un-rendered fat that I almost lost my lunch, all of them. From the painfully memory I could tell that it had a lot of potential in the flavor department and I am going to be back, much earlier, to try everything fresh. Couldn’t even attempt the brisket after the pork (it looked to be in worse shape). The sausage had serious potential. I was just in pretty bad shape so any review beyond this must be taken with a grain of salt.

Austin Barbeque & Catering – Eagle Lake
Uncomfortable. Thankfully we had a long drive between La Grange and Eagle Lake. Unfortunately, it was not long enough. When Jacob opened Styrofoam container that contained BBQ meal (Reminded me of an east Texas BBQ joint) I was fully prepared to be disappointed. What I did not expect was some descent BBQ. Brisket was sliced pretty thin. I think this was to disguise the fact that it could have used more time in the smoker, but there was some good flavor. Not enough bark and the fat had not completely rendered. The star of this meal was the sausage, good flavor smoked just right.

Vincek’s Smokehouse – East Bernard
Meat coma. At this point in our journey I was swearing off red meat. After walking in to Vincek’s I was more interested in the selection of backed goods they had than any of the meat. Only after a little peer pressure and 2 chocolate chip cookies (very good) did I try some brisket and sausage. As everywhere we went the sausage was great (the one exception is the store about stuff at Saltlick). Brisket had a great flavor, but needed a couple more hours to smoke. It was downright tough.

Jacob & friends MAN UP.

A few weeks ago, Jacob and 4 friends hit up 7 BBQ joints in a 24-hour span (8, if you count the lunch just before the whole group got together). Four of the 5 wrote reviews, which I will post throughout today (11a, 1p, & 3p), along with pics. Jacob spearheaded this BBQ extravaganza, so he'll kick us off:

I once believed there was no such thing as “too much” BBQ. I was right. In a 24 hour span I ate somewhere in the neighborhood 3.5 lbs of some of the greatest meats in all of Texas, and honestly I would do it all again tomorrow if I could just get the crowd to accompany me along.

My journey started innocently enough. My brother was coming through Austin and wanted to stop for lunch. I knew that if I only had one meal to eat in Austin, it would be Franklin's brisket and ribs. I have eaten here some many times by now that even the way to long wait has become second nature to me and expected. It was still what I have come to know and love, and visit 13 was just as good as the first time I went back in January. Aaron Franklin does more than just cook his meat perfectly, he seasons it perfectly also in a very unique, keep Austin weird, type of way. My brother enjoyed his first trip and both he and his girlfriend felt firmly that this could be the best they have had. I also grabbed a few links of sausage and a pound of brisket as a welcome gift for my friends coming into Austin later.

They wanted to go somewhere big and exciting in the BBQ world for dinner that night. They have all been to Lamberts before, and as hard as I tried it was too late for me to get in at Cele Store, so I finally broke down and agreed to go where they wanted to, Salt Lick in Driftwood. When I first moved to Austin, Salt Lick was the first “big name” Austin area establishment I visited. I liked it a lot. Now at almost 2 years and about 40 different BBQ joints later, I cannot honestly recommend Salt Lick to anyone wanting to experience the best BBQ Texas has to offer. My brisket was dry and tough, the sausage tasted no better than what I have made from store bought brands, and the ribs were a bit too fatty and bit to skimpy on the meat. The worst part is that they may have some of the best BBQ sauces in Texas, and the atmosphere is truly a unique experience, but the food has become a mass producing over blown factor.

The plan was to wake up early the next day and the two cars to meet in Elgin and kick off our day trip at Southside Market. My plan turned out to be, sleep in late, than speed to Lexington to try and catch up with the other car. I had been talking Snows BBQ up to everyone I know not lucky enough to have ever visited. I didn’t disappoint a soul here. Even though we made it at just after 10:00AM, ribs were sold out. We still loaded up on moist brisket, sausage, and pork butt. Honestly I was a bit disappointed with the pork today. It was a bit dry and had a slight burnt crunchiness to it. There was still a good flavor on the bark of the pork but the insides was lacking. Sausage also tasted just a tad over cooked and dried out, but still had the perfect smoke flavor all the way through. Brisket was the show stealer however, and reminds me why I always mention this place in my top 5. Perfectly moist and falling apart. Smoke emanated in every bite and the salty rub was the perfect amount for full flavor.

Next stop also happens to be my current “favorite that you haven’t been to yet” spot. Well known, but not enough to get a regular following from all around Texas, or even form Austin for that matter. City Meat Market in Giddings, Texas should be on your list of places to try. The old building was filled with delicious smelling smoke and packed with locals. Even at 11:00 they had a long line and had already gone through a few briskets and rack of ribs. We go for the sausage, brisket, ribs, and pork. I’m a big fan of their sausage, and isn’t very dense is almost crumbled into the casing, but still sticks together well. Casing has a great snap to it and the meat is full of all kinds of flavor. Ribs also were cooked well with a perfect bark and lots of salt and pepper. Any other trip I would have said the brisket here was the best, but it was just too tough to follow up on Snows, and while everything was great with the brisket it was still missing the fall apart moistness, the fat rendered until it is like butter, or the burst of perfect smoke and flavor in each and every bite. It was still a very moist, perfectly seasoned brisket that hardly required chewing. The real surprise here was the pork however. So moist you would never believe it was pig, and juicy all the way through. The seasoning had a great kick too it while still locking in the flavor, smoke, and juices of the pig. Second best meat on the whole trip.

By this point it was almost noon and each of had eaten around 1.25 lbs of meat. The meat sweats were starting to come on, and any second someone could have easily slipped into a meat coma, but we trudged on. Next stop was Prause Meat Market in La Grange, Texas. This place had been on my list for a long time, and it will have to stay on it for now as when we pulled up they were out of everything but sausage links. We order up a pair of those, and then I talked the butcher into throwing in the burnt ends of brisket and pork that were left on the cutting table for free. While not the best example, they were still good samples. What we had of those were tender and good flavor. The sausage however was one of the best yet. Perfect casing and snap with right amount of smoke and small hint of sweetness to balance with the saltiness and heat. The next two stops lead us to getting smaller and smaller portions as we were now regulated to trying samples only. Austin's BBQ & Catering in Eagle Lake provided another good homemade sausage, but nothing special in the brisket and one of the worst sauces I have ever tasted. Final stop in East Bernard at Vincek's had a similar experience. The store itself there is worth the trip, and the sausage held up strong with a subtle spiciness and lots of heat. Brisket was about what you expect from a well made cut, but just a tad too tough. Sauce, while nice, was forgettable. The real treat here is the meat market and bakery. Jerky here was fantastic, and they have about a dozen homemade sausages you can buy.

It was a great memorials day trip. A lot of driving through some beautiful parts of Texas, good friends, and great food. Luckily I already have my mapped marked out for the Labor Day trip.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Big day for Old School BBQ & Grill

Just got a call from my buddy Dan Parrott, over at Old School BBQ & Grill here in Austin. He was already having a good day, as he read the latest issue (July/August 2010) of Men's Health magazine, which names his school-bus BBQ joint as one of the 10 best street eats in America (p.149). But looking up from his magazine to see Anthony Bourdain stopping by for a meal...well, it kinda made the day even better. Congrats, Dan and everyone at Old School.

Reader Review: Chisholm Trail Lockhart Bar-B-Q & Hot Sausage (Lockhart, Texas)

Reviewed by: David McDonald (Giddings, TX)

Chisholm Trail Barbeque in Lockhart is the ultimate barbeque afterthought.I have been driving by for years and finally a business lunch took me there. The big question is, how do you make it in the same town as the lockhart Holy Trinity. I got some answers in the form of lots of sides, catfish, chicken fried steak and reasonable prices. Now about the barbeque. I got a brisket and sausage plate and the brisket is legitimate stuff which would be top shelf in lesser markets although a bit dry. I am going to assume the sausage I got was an accident. It was either a smoked sausage cooked on the pit or just a very over cooked fresh link. In other words the casing was a candidate for Tony Lama. All things considered I would probably stop here again if I went through Lockhart often, didnt have time to stand in line or was not looking for Que.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Let's get it on!

Man Up has entered the Shadybrook Farms/Honeysuckle White Take On Turkey Challenge. Brad and I recorded our video entry last week and now need to edit and submit it. 17 bloggers are vying for the prizes, including our good buddy Daniel, over at Full Custom Gospel BBQ. We hung out with Daniel in Houston this weekened at the Houston BBQ Smackdown, and he told us what his recipe is. Take it easy on us, Daniel.

Coming up...

We keep rolling out Brad's pics from the Memphis in May BBQ competition

Recap of this weekend's Houston BBQ Smackdown

Reader Review of Chisholm Trail Barbecue (Lockhart)

Our first Fredericksburg BBQ trip

A Saturday well spent in Llano

Bo tells us about his first visit to Mr. Bones BBQ (Austin) publishes an article of mine re: Central Texas BBQ

*REMINDER: All Q Cards purchased in June are 25% off!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Texas BBQ Wannabes: 21-24

Abbey's Real Texas Bar-B-Q (San Diego, California)

Jake's Authentic Texan Bar B-Q (Rensselaer, New York)

Buster's Texas Style Barbecue (3 Oregon locations)

Howard's Texas Barbecue Service (Portland, Oregon)

Updated list:

1. Texas Smokehouse (Decatur, AL)
2. Hill Country Barbecue (Manhattan)
3. Dallas BBQ (Manhattan)
4. Tim's Texas Bar-B-Q (Beijing)
5. Capital Q (Washington, DC)
6. Little Texas (Iasi, Romania)
7. Back Forty Texas BBQ (California)
8. West Texas Barbeque Co. (Jackson, MI)
9. Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ (Van Nuys, CA)
10. Barn Burner Texas Barbeque (Pasadena, CA)
11. JR’s Texas Bar-B-Que (Sacramento, CA)
12. Texas West BBQ (3 California locations)
13. Tootie’s Texas Barbeque (Cathedral City, CA)
14. Armadillo Willy’s Real Texas BBQ (Los Altos, CA)
15. The Original Texas Barbecue King (Los Angeles)
16. Longhorn Barbecue (3 Washington locations)
17. Bubb's Big Texas Style BBQ (Big Bend, WI)
18. The Texas BBQ Company (Northborough, MA)
19. DJ's Texas Style BBQ (Lewiston, ME)
20. Serious Texas BBQ (3 Colorado locations)
21. Abbey's Real Texas Bar-B-Q (San Diego, California)
22. Jake's Authentic Texan Bar B-Q (Rensselaer, NY)
23. Buster's Texas Style Barbecue (3 Oregon locations)
24. Howard's Bar-B-Q Service (Portland, OR)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Event Announcement: QueFest 2010 (Rowlett, Texas)

QueFest 2010

What: Charity fundraiser, sponsored by the Rowlett Exchange Club. BBQ, live music, carnival rides, children's area, fireworks, and more.
When: July 2, 3, and 4
Where: Elgin B. Robertson Park on Lake Ray Hubbard (Rowlett, TX)
Entertainment: Cory Morrow, Charlie Robison, Joan Jett, and more
How much: VIP Tickets: $95; Gen. Admission: $8 (Adults), $6 (Children under 12); Onsite Parking: $7; Remote Parking: $5. BUY TICKETS.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Texas BBQ Rising Stars

Who are the up-and-coming Texas BBQ pitmasters? The tried-and-true BBQ joints that have been around for generations get due respect and due press. But what newcomers are onto something? There are so many places we haven't hit up, so I know there are rising stars out there that I don't know about. Who are they?

Memphis in May: Brad's first round of pics

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Turkey time

About to head to the store to get some things for a turkey concoction (that I came up with in my head - SCARY) I'll be preparing tonight for an online, turkey-recipe video contest. The video can be no more than 5 minutes, and the recipe must be one that takes no more than 1 hour (cooking time). Yours truly will be the 1 in front of camera acting like he has any idea what he's doing, while B-rad will be behind our never-before-used Flip camera. Details and pics, thoughts and reactions (and possibly recipe regrets) to come.

The rest from Buzzie's

Monday, June 21, 2010

Man Up joins the Frifecta

I had the pleasure last Thursday evening of being a guest on When In Austin's Frifecta radio show. Run by T Grier, When In Austin is an internet-radio station that is all about Austin and the myriad ways to spend your time in A-Town. (Follow on Twitter.) We did a second recording for his Tuesday show, but here's the Frifecta. Special thanks to The Shed BBQ's Rolling Joint, for hosting. And here are some pics (first picture courtesy of When In Austin):