Monday, April 30, 2012

BBQ bus #1 is in the books!

I'm so excited about how well our bus trip went Saturday that I don't know where to stop. Let's see...the food at all 3 stops (Snow's, City Meat Market, & Louie Mueller) was fantastic. The service at all 3 places was incredible (e.g. giving us door prizes unexpectedly, coming on the bus to speak to the group before we drove off, personally cutting out meats, answering questions from the group, table checks and more table checks). We stayed on schedule, but it wasn't rushed. We had cold drinks from Big Red and Honest Tea. We had 3 kinds of cupcakes from Sugar Mama's. We had the one and only Chet "The Daytripper" Garner on board. We had a private beer tasting at Hops & Grain Brewery. It was simply awesome. Our riders were wonderful, and unless they were just faking it so that I wouldn't have a meltdown and fall into a deep depression, they seemed to be having a great time. One of our riders even put together a picture recap via YouTube, by using the pictures that were tweeted with our official trip hashtag (#manupbbqbus). We made videos, took pictures, I talked about how awesome Alabama football is. You know, the usual. I can't thank our sponsors enough for their generosity. And, of course, our sincere thanks to Snow's, City Meat Market, & Louie Mueller, for making this first trip such a success. You guys were, to say the least, a hit. We all left fatter & happier. Bookoos of pics are on the way, as are a few videos. In the meantime, 1 pic from each stop (from top to bottom: Snow's, City Meat Market, Louie Mueller, Hops & Grain):

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

BBQ bus or bust!

I'm up and at 'em, packing up for today's BBQ bus trip to Lexington, Giddings, & Taylor. If you're not lucky enough to be on the bus, then follow the trip via Twitter. I'll update in real time throughout the trip!

Friday, April 27, 2012

BBQ. Wine. Bourbon. Need I say more? Fine. Fried chicken & live music.

Our first BBQ bus trip is TOMORROW, but we're ready to announce the details of our 2nd trip (Visit website for info on future tours.). First off, it's Saturday, June 16. That's the day before Father's Day, so this is a primo gift for all the dads out there. Kids, trust me, your dad will love this. So, snag one of his credit cards and take the plunge. He won't ground you.

Back to the trip. It's an all-day affair (approx. 12 hours - 8am to 8pm). WARNING: If you don't like BBQ and/or WINE and/or BOURBON and/or FRIED CHICKEN and/or, well, FUN, do not come on this trip. For the rest of you, awesome people, here's what's on tap:

Wine tasting (including souvenir glass) at Becker Vineyards (Stonewall)
Lunch at Cranky Frank's Barbeque Company (Fredericksburg)
Wine tasting at Texas Hills Vineyard (Johnson City) 
Party (bourbon, fried chicken, & live music) at Garrison Bros. Distillery (Johnson City)
Dinner at Sisterdale Smokehouse (Sisterdale)
Coffee from Fara Cafe (Austin)
Drinks from Big Red & Honest Tea
Desserts from Sugar Mama's Bakeshop
The Q Card ($10 value)
Swag, discounts, & more!

Tickets are $125 a pop. No refunds. Must be 21 or older, to purchase.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Miller's Smokehouse (Belton, TX)

This past Saturday, I drove an hour north to Belton for my first meal at Miller's Smokehouse, which sits a stone's throw from the town square, adjacent to the offices of the town's newspaper, The Belton Journal. I like BBQ better at lunch than dinner, but their Saturday hours are 4-9pm, so dinner it was. They were serving pork ribs that day, and I didn't pass on the chance to try them. Good call on my part. They were excellent. Maybe the biggest pork ribs I've had anywhere. Not tough, not dry. Peppery rub on the outside, moist, and nice smoke flavor. I did serious work on some paper towels. Also got a side of brisket. Tougher and not as moist, but in their defense, I asked for outside cuts that weren't too fatty. Smoke came through even more on the brisket, much more pronounced than at most places. Throughly enjoyed both sides: potato salad & buttered potatoes. Excellent service & very friendly, from owner to pitmaster to waitstaff. Only negatives are the odd hours & the fact that their iced tea is from a soda machine, not brewed fresh. I'll go back, for sure.

Millers on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Texas BBQ Wannabes: 71-72

A friend sent me a picture via Twitter this morning of a Texas BBQ place in Nha Trang, Vietnam. A buddy of his took the pic while traveling in Vietnam. Said a guy from Fort Worth owns the place. Seems like a good time to update my list of Texas BBQ Wannabes. (As always, insert disclaimer about how this is simply a list of BBQ joints outside of Texas named after Texas, not to be taken literally.)

71. Texas BBQ & Steaks (Nha Trang, Vietnam)

72. Texas BBQ (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

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 (CA)
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 CA 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 WA 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 CO 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 OR locations)
24. Howard's Texas Barbecue Service (Portland, OR)
25. Bennett's BBQ (CO, TN, & NC)
26. Kin Folks Texas Style BBQ (Altoona, IA)
27. Cecil's Texas Style Bar-B-Q (2 FL locations)
28. Shaw's Texas Style BBQ (Hercules, CA)
29. Backwoods BBQ (Corona, CA)
30. Cedar River Smoke House (Renton, WA)
31. Big Al's Texas BBQ (Lehi, UT)
32. East Texas BBQ, LLC (Huntsville, AL)
33. Bonehead's Texas BBQ (San Francisco, CA)
34. Texas Pride Barbecue (Huntsville, UT)
35. Bart's Texas Style BBQ (Traverse City, MI)
36. Roland's Bar-B-Que Company (Hot Springs, AR)
37. Ralphies Texas Style BBQ & Ribs (Fairmont, WV)
38. Taste of Texas Bar-B-Q (Spencerport, NY)
39. Danny's Little Taste of Texas (South Windsor, CT)
40. Taste of Texas BBQ (McCook, NE)
41. Lockhart's BBQ (Royal Oak, MI)
42. Big John's Texas BBQ (Flagstaff, AZ)
43. Big Star Texas Barbeque (Flagstaff, AZ)
44. Big Mouth BBQ (Great Falls, MT)
45. Bull Durham’s Texas BBQ and Steakhouse (West Chester, PA)
46. Texas Ribs and BBQ (Clinton, MD)
47. The Silver Spur Texas Smokehouse BBQ (Elm Grove, WI)
48. Elmer's Authentic Texas BBQ (Battle Lake, MN)
49. Doc's Texas BBQ & Burgers (Sonora, CA)
50. Dixie's Smokehouse Texas BBQ & Rotisserie (Kings Park, NY)
51. Bob's BBQ & Mexican Grill (Pattaya, Thailand)
52. Bob's Texas BBQ (Boise, ID)
53. Hickory River Smokehouse (6 locations in OH & IL)
54. Texas Tony's BBQ Shack (Naples, FL)
55. Roosters Texas Style BBQ & Steakhouse (Nashville, TN)
56. Lee's Texas Style Bar-B-Q (Detroit, MI)
57. Texas Smokehouse Bar-B-Q (Woodinville, WA)
58. Austin BBQ (Wheaton, IL)
59. Alamo BBQ (Richmond, VA)
60. Austin's BBQ (Mountain View, CA)
61. 4C BBQ (Ponce De Leon, FL)
62. Rotuno's Texas Style Barbeque (Elyria, OH)
63. Smoke City Market (Sherman Oaks, CA)
64. The Ranger Texas Barbecue (Manhattan)
65. 4Rivers Smokehouse (2 FL locations)
66. Podnah's Pit Barbecue (Portland, OR)
67. Taste of Texas BBQ (Keystone, NE)
68. Bubba's Barbecue (Jakarta, Indonesia)

69. Molly's Smokehouse Texas BBQ (Wahiawa, HI)
70. Smokin' J's BBQ - Real Texas Barbeque (Gulfport, FL)
71. Texas BBQ & Steaks (Nha Trang, Vietnam)
72. Texas BBQ (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's that time again: The annual BBQ issue of Taste of the South magazine!!!

Last year, I had the honor of writing an article for the annual BBQ issue of Taste of the South magazine. This year, for reasons unknown, they came back to me for more! The issue hits newsstands May 1. My piece this time is on BBQ road trips from Austin (page 60). Want a teaser? Click here. But, wait, there's more! The issue also includes a writeup on last year's Gettin' Sauced! festival (page 49), as well as a full-page ad for this year's event (page 15)! Snag a copy. I'll be more than happy to sign it. What's that? You couldn't care less about my signature? Oh, I know. I was totally kidding. (You leave, I sob uncontrollably, aaaaaaaand scene.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

BBQ bracket begins!!!

After many days of nominations and tiebreak voting, our pool-of-64 BBQ bracket is complete (printable bracket). Now, nothin' left to do but start voting, so we can see which city people think is the best BBQ city in the country. Round 1 starts at midnight (Eastern) Tuesday. Each round lasts 2 weeks. So, let's do this! The Round 1 matchups are:

Austin, TX
Sisterdale, TX
Belton, TX
Santa Maria, CA
Atlanta, GA
Kyle, TX
Tuscaloosa, AL
Fredericksburg, TX
Dallas, TX
Hot Springs, AR
St. Louis, MO
Seguin, TX
Houston, TX
Blytheville, AR
Nashville, TN
Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill...
Luling, TX
Red Oak, TX
Lubbock, TX
Abilene, TX
Lexington, TX
Boston, MA
New Orleans, LA
Los Angeles, CA
Memphis, TN
Smithville, TX
Gonzales, TX
Oklahoma City, OK
Elgin, TX
Charleston, SC
Spicewood, TX
Richmond, TX
Lockhart, TX
Denton, TX
Decatur, AL
Washington, DC
Northport, AL
Salado, TX
Lexington, NC
Giddings, TX
Llano, TX
Norfolk, VA
Owensboro, KY
Tyler, TX
Taylor, TX
Cleveland, OH
Fort Worth, TX
Amarillo, TX
Tulsa, OK
Victoria, TX
Driftwood, TX
Chicago, IL
San Antonio, TX
Huntsville, AL
San Marcos, TX
Gastonia, NC
Kansas City, MO
Columbus, TX
Waco, TX
College Station, TX
Birmingham, AL
Orlando, FL
New York City, NY
Bryan, TX

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Don't wanna wait in line for BBQ? Just get a homeless guy to do it for you. (Wait, what???)

At 9:15 Friday morning, a buddy texted me from the line at Franklin Barbecue. (For those who've been living in a remote cave with no forms of communication, Franklin is kinda popular and the line to get in forms well before the door opens at 11. See picture below.) He said a man had just pulled up and dropped off a homeless man to wait in line for him. One person in line said the man in the car paid the homeless man to wait, and another person said he heard the man in the car tell the homeless man that he would feed him. Hearsay, but for purposes of discussion, let's just say both of those are true. (Matter of fact, to be fair to the man in the car, let's just assume the whole situation is true, instead of stating it as fact. Man in the car: If the "homeless" man was actually just your unemployed roommate, let us know, and we'll set the record straight. On the contrary, if the story is true, then you are really dumb. Paying the man ahead of time? Amateur.) So, what do we think about this? Troublesome? Is this out of "line?" Though there is no written rule at Franklin that says "No line holding" or "Those who bring homeless people to wait in line so that they can go back to work will not be fed" or the like, is it unethical? Though it doesn't violate the letter of the law, does it violate the spirit? Is this gaming the system (of waiting in line)? I had all 3 of my classes at UT discuss this (It wasn't off topic, as part of the course involves debating ethics.), and the general pulse of the students was that there's no problem with this. He paid the man, said he'd feed the man, and (we assume) didn't force the man to wait in line for him. Oh, about that, the man waited in line for 50 minutes & then left!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Alabama & a HUGE beef rib: What's not to love?

Reader & fellow Crimson Tide fan Matt Pittman (Waxahachie, TX) sent me this picture, taken yesterday at Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor, TX) - 1 of the many stops on his $300 day of BBQ! (Stay tuned, b/c Matt's gonna do a writeup for the blog, complete with pics from his trip.) Obviously, this pic is awesome for at least 2 reasons: (1) Alabama hat. Roll. Tide. (2) The gigantic shut-your-mouth-and-show-some-respect beef rib. (pausing for a moment of silence) Aaaaaand I'm back. Thanks for the pic, Matt!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Final 15 spots in BBQ bracket up for grabs!

Seeds 1 through 12 have been confirmed, and 1 (Kyle, TX) of the four #13 seeds is locked up. That leaves 3 of the four #13 seeds and all of the 14-16 seeds still up for grabs. Based on your nominations, 20 cities are still tied for these final 15 spots in the bracket. So, through Sunday, tiebreak voting to see which 15 emerge to complete the bracket. Vote for as few as 1 or as many as 15. Email me your votes, leave them as a comment below this post, or vote via Twitter or Facebook. The 20 in contention are:

Blytheville, AR
Columbus, TX
Denton, TX
Galveston, TX
Garland, TX
Hot Springs, AR
Huntsville, AL
Huntsville, TX
Junction, TX
Manor, TX
Norfolf, VA
Red Oak, TX
Salado, TX
Sisterdale, TX
Smithville, TX
Victoria, TX

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

#12 seeds in our BBQ bracket

We had 5 cities (Los Angeles, Gastonia NC, Kyle TX, Giddings TX, & Fredericksburg TX) tied for the four #12 spots, and your tiebreak voting left no doubt which one wouldn't make the cut. I'm keeping an eye on this batch, b/c the #12 seeds in the NCAA basketball tournament often cause trouble for their #5-seed opponent. Our #12 seeds are Los Angeles, Gastonia (NC), Giddings (TX), & Fredericksburg (TX).

Monday, April 16, 2012

#9, #10, and #11 seeds in our BBQ bracket

Following your tiebreak voting, we have the 9-11 seeds:

#9: Chicago, Washington DC, Abilene (TX), Santa Maria (CA)
#10: Oklahoma City, College Station (TX), Seguin (TX), Tyler (TX)
#11: Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill (NC), Amarillo (TX), Richmond (TX), Bryan (TX)

As for the #12 seeds, we have 5 cities tied for the 4 spots: Los Angeles, Gastonia (NC), Kyle (TX), Giddings (TX), & Fredericksburg (TX). So, one of them's gotta go. VOTE!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

QOTD: Are chicken & turkey BBQ?

A Man Upper once commented to me, "Bird ain't BBQ." I apparently didn't get the memo, b/c I order chicken everywhere I go. Turkey most times, too. But does this count as BBQ (whatever you take that term to mean)? Or is "BBQ" just beef and pork?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

30 minutes 'til opening at Franklin Barbecue

Reader Chase Hanna snapped these pics a few minutes ago outside Franklin Barbecue (Austin, TX). Pics were taken at 10:30. Franklin's doors open at 11. Many thanks, Chase, for allowing me to post your pictures. Speaking of Franklin, owner/pitmaster Aaron Franklin joined Twitter. Follow him at @bbqfranklin.

#7 and #8 seeds in our BBQ bracket

After yesterday's tiebreak voting, we have the four #7 seeds for our BBQ bracket: St. Louis, Gonzales (TX), Owensboro (KY), & Waco (TX). We also have the 8 spots: Decatur (AL), Belton (TX), Lubbock (TX), & Driftwood (TX). As for the #9 seeds, we have 11 cities in a tie:

Tyler (TX)
Seguin (TX)
Santa Maria (CA)
Richmond (TX)
Oklahoma City
Washington, DC
College Station (TX)
Bryan (TX)
Abilene (TX)
Amarillo (TX)

Obviously, your votes will settle the #9, #10, and three of the four #11 seeds. Tiebreak voting lasts today & tomorrow.

Friday, April 13, 2012

#5 and #6 seeds in our BBQ bracket

After 2 days of tiebreak voting, we have our four #5 seeds: Tuscaloosa (AL), Lexington (NC), San Marcos (TX), & New Orleans. Right behind them are our #6 seeds: New York City, Spicewood (TX), Nashville, & Fort Worth. As for the #7 seeds, we need you to break a tie among the following: Decatur (AL), Driftwood (TX), Gonzales (TX), Lubbock (TX), Waco (TX), Owensboro (KY), & St. Louis. Vote for up to 4 of these 7 cities. Voting period is TODAY ONLY.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

#3 and #4 seeds in our BBQ bracket

Texas continues to rack up the high seeds. (See #1 and #2 seeds.) The four cities that land #3 seeds are Houston (TX), Taylor (TX), Elgin (TX), & Birmingham (AL). So, for those keeping score, 8 of the top 12 seeds are from Texas. Thoughts on that? Moving on: Our #4 seeds are Atlanta, Northport (AL), San Antonio, & Lexington (TX). Ten of the top 16 from Texas. We have 7 cities tied for #5 seeds: Tuscaloosa (AL), Spicewood (TX), New York City, Fort Worth, New Orleans, Lexington (NC), & San Marcos (TX). So, we need you to break the tie. Which one(s) of these should snag a 5 spot? To vote (anytime today or tomorrow), comment below this post, email me, or vote via Twitter.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

#2 seeds in our BBQ bracket

These towns didn't get as many nominations as Austin, Lockhart, Tulsa, & Luling, but they got more than any all the rest. The #2 seeds for our BBQ bracket are: Memphis, Kansas City, Dallas, & Llano (TX). To announce the #3 seeds, I need some help with a tiebreak. Two of the #3 seeds are locked up. The other two #3 seeds are up for grabs, with a 3-city tie: Birmingham (AL), Elgin (TX), and Lexington (TX). (Not trying to influence the vote here or anything, but if you've been to B'ham, you know that even a #3 seed does not do it justice. Just sayin'.) TODAY ONLY, via comments to this post and via Twitter, take part in tiebreak voting. Pick 1 or 2 of the 3 (Birmingham AL, Elgin TX, Lexington TX).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Final spots in our BBQ bracket up for grabs

40 cities are tied for the final 21 spots in our BBQ bracket, so we need to vote. Through Saturday, vote for as many of these as you want. To vote, leave a comment below, email me, or vote via Facebook or Twitter. The top 21 vote-getters will round out our bracket.

Beaumont, TX
Big Spring, TX
Blytheville, AR
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, TX
Cullman, AL
Denton, TX
Fredericksburg, TX
Galveston, TX
Garland, TX
Gastonia, NC
Giddings, TX
Hot Springs, AR
Huntsville, AL
Huntsville, TX
Junction, TX
Kyle, TX
Los Angeles
La Grange, TX
Lakeland, FL
Manor, TX
Montgomery, AL
Muleshoe, TX
Nacogdoches, TX
Norfolf, VA
Ocean Springs, MS
Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
Red Oak, TX
Ruidoso, NM
Salado, TX
Sherman, TX
Sisterdale, TX
Smithville, TX
Sweetwater, TX
Tomball, TX
Victoria, TX

Sunday, April 8, 2012

#1 seeds for our BBQ bracket

I haven't analyzed the 259 nominations I received for our BBQ bracket, but I did tally up our four #1 seeds. In order of nominations received, beginning with the most, the top seeds for our pool-of-64 bracket are Austin (TX), Lockhart (TX), Tulsa (OK), & Luling (TX). Luling edged out Memphis & Kansas City by 1 nomination. Obviously, KC & Memphis will land #2 seeds. When I've combed through the results, I'll fill in the 64 seeds and get the bracket posted. Thanks to everyone who sent nominations!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What drinks would you serve at your Texas BBQ joint?

It's been a while since I posted an installment of Build Your Own Texas BBQ Joint, so we're due. We've discussed what meats and sides you'd serve. What about drinks? (For me, regardless of what else I'm pouring for customers, I'd have STRONG, DARK, fresh-brewed iced tea. Quite possibly double brewed. With fresh-cut lemons, of course.)

Friday, April 6, 2012

QOTD: Pork ribs or beef ribs?

Which do you prefer? I'm curious to know what you think, based on taste and on value. Feel free to change your answer, based on particular BBQ joints. As for me, I like both, but as a general rule, I think ribs are bad value bets, since you're paying for the bone, not just the meat.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

QOTD: What's the Best BBQ in Waco?

In honor of the Baylor Lady Bears, who capped an undefeated season last night with a national championship, we turn our attention to Waco. [Side note, and no offense here, ladies, but who ya got in a game between the 40-0 Baylor women's team and the Baylor University men's intramural champions?] Waco has a few options for smoked meats. Which one is the best?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Brisket at Hays Co. Bar-B-Que (San Marcos, TX)

After my recent meal at Hays Co. Bar-B-Que (San Marcos, TX), I had an outside slice of brisket for dessert:

Monday, April 2, 2012

San Antonio BBQ joint calls out Urbanspoon reviews.

Ever wonder if the restaurant review you're reading on a review site is legit? Or whether it's a smear post from a rival proprietor? Well, the owner of Big Lou's Burgers & BBQ (San Antonio, TX) BBQ joint smelled the latter and did something about it. Check it out (See March 25, 2012, comment from wbcloverleaf.).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Rippin' Ribs judging

This past fall, at the American Royal BBQ competition in Kansas City, Brad and I had the pleasure of being 2 of the 3 judges for the finals of Gnarly Head Wine's Rippin' Ribs competition. Some pics of us at the judges' table: