Monday, June 15, 2015

A Texas BBQ Odyssey, The World's Best BBQ Brisket, Southern Fried Chicken, and Other Matters.

For the purposes of scoring I have used the Kansas City BBQ Society method: Appearance, Taste, Texture (in this order). Scoring 1 out of 10, 10 being best.

Pecan Lodge, Dallas, Texas

 The kitchen.

 The menu.

The spread: Beef ribs on the left; sausage top right; pork spare ribs and sliced brisket bottom right.

 Fried chicken and cole slaw.

My sample plate, from the left:  lean brisket, beef rib, pork burnt end, "moist" brisket and pork spare rib. I was very disappointed in the fried chicken. Although the chicken was moist, the batter was too thick and did not stick to the chicken. The pork ribs had very good flavour but were a bit tough and dry. The brisket had reasonably good flavour but the texture was too mushy. The beef rib had very good flavour and texture, but unfortunately had a slight petrol taint. Overall, not a great experience. I was rather disappointed from all of the positive things I had heard about Pecan Lodge. But, Pecan Lodge's Quarters were originally in food truck and now they have a big place with seating for over 100. Perhaps, in their expansion, something was lost in attention to detail, quality control and the increase in sale of the products.

Final scores:

Brisket A7; T6; T6 noted a slight petrol taste and texture a bit mushy.
Ribs A7; T7.5; T7 noted a slight petrol taste, a bit dry and came of the bone too easily.
Sausage A7; T7; T7.
Beef rib A8; T8; T8 but noticed a slight petrol taste.
Beans good.

Bubbas, Dallas

Bubbas came very highly recommended from 2 well regarded locals, for their fried  chicken and mashed potatoes. 

The menu. 

 The fried chicken.

My sample plate: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, beans, a small side of "gravy" and a coke. From all of the local hype i was very disappointed. The chicken, although moist, lacked inherent chicken flavour and the batter lacked crispy texture. The mashed potatoes were not made with a ricer and were processed so the texture was a bit pasty. The "gravy" was a flavourless floury concoction.

Franklin BBQ, Austin

Franklin BBQ is the winner of every major barbecue award there is.

Franklin is considered the #1 BBQ place for smoked brisket, in the United States. The lineup started at 6:45am and stretched around the block, with over 150 people by 10:45. People comfortably ensconce themselves for the wait with chairs, umbrellas, coolers with snacks and drinks, etc. Many more people who had been in line as well, earlier, left, because, the Franklin staff go down the line to see what everyone intends to order. The staff then compare that number with what they have on hand and do a cut off where they tell people near the end of the line that there will probably be nothing left for them if they were to wait and make it to the order position.

As the sign says, 11:00 am till they sell out.

The front of the line. Just before 11am. people are folding up their umbrellas and chairs and getting ready to go in and order.

At the front of the line, the Toronto 4-some, Nota Bene (and formerly Carbon Bar) chef David lee, writer, Jacob Richler, financial trader, globe trotting gourmet "Munchin Moez" Kaasam, and yours truly.

 The line follows the room inside to around the block.

Cutting the pork ribs. 

Slicing the turkey breast.

The whole shebang: sliced smoked brisket (upper left), Pork ribs (upper right), sliced smoked turkey, bottom right and smoked sausages (lower left). 

The table of "stuff" which on the left, included a very good cole slaw and very good, well flavoured pinto beans. There were 3 sauces, one sweet, one made with coffee (that did not appeal) and a vinegared one (that did not appeal).

My sampling plate, form the left: sliced dill pickles and onions, lean brisket, fatty ("moist") brisket, Pork spare rib and sliced turkey breast. The lean brisket was moist, tender and beautifully flavoured with smoke to just the right degree; The moist brisket was very slightly mushy and perhaps a tad overcooked or "held" too long in foil(?), but still beautifully moist with a wonderful smokey flavour that did not overwhelm; the pork will was well flavoured and very moist but perhaps a touch cooked too long or held too long; the smoked turkey was perfection, the best you could ever eat, perfectly moist and tender with great flavour. The majority of places that prepare smoked turkey, over brine it, overcook it and use a bland commercial turkey with no flavour.


Brisket A9; T9; T8 slightly mushy.
Ribs A8; T8; T8.5 meat came off the bone a bit too easily.
Turkey A9; T10; T10. this turkey was sublime perfection in every way.
Sausage A9; T9; T8 a bit too oily/fatty.
Beans very good.

 The smokers.

J Mueller BBQ, Austin

 The outdoor patio and the small building for ordering, to the right.

 The menu (they were already out of prime rib, by 12:30pm!).

 Writer Jacob Richler and chef David Lee.

 Where the orders are placed.

The sample platter, left to right: BBQ sauce, pork spare ribs, pinto beans, beef rib and smoked sausage. The sauce was poor tasting in our opinion, the ribs were perfectly cooked, moist and flavourful, the beans were not good and far too spicy, the beef rib was very good with great flavour and texture, the only short point was that the bark was overcooked and was probably too close to the flame as it had a granular texture.


Brisket A8; T8; T7 a bit dry.
Beef rib A8; t8; T8.5 the bark was a bit too granular.
Sausage A8; T8; T7
beans poor

Terry Black's, Austin

It was pure chance that took us to Terry Black's. The day before we were to go to Lockhart, i posted our experience at Franklin BBQ and got lots of likes and few comments. One commentator raved about Terry Black's and said it was a good as Franklin!

Sausage and beef rib. You could't tell much of the beef rib from this first glance. The sausage was good.

Pork spare ribs and sliced brisket.

The bark of the beef rib was perfection.

The beef rib was incredibly well favoured and the smoke did not overwhelm the rich beefy flavour of the meat. It was also incredibly tender and juicy. This was beef rib perfection as agreed by all present and the Best beef rib we experienced this trip.

The pork rib, just a bit over as the meat did not peel/pull of the bone, it fell off the bone. The flavour was very good and the meat was juicy. The brisket was a was very good, good flavour and texture. I liked it slightly better than Franklin.


Beef rib A10; T10; T10 this beef rib was sublime perfection.
Brisket A9; T9; T10
Sausage A8; T8; T7.5
Turkey A8; T6; T6.5

The smokers. Notice the fire is at one end. the air circulates from the fire side to the other end where the meats are smoking.

Smitty's, Lockhart 

There is a lineup at Smitty's that snakes right into the building and around to the order are. what you see was a 25 minute wait.

The menu.

Won Best ribs and sausage locally, in 2014.

The fire pit and ovens. Note the fire on one end only. No fire under the meats. This whole room was intensely hot, about 100 degrees!

This was not fire under the meat, but just light on it.

Cutting the meats to order.

The air conditioned dining area.

The spread, left to right: pork ribs, turkey, brisket, prime rib and sausage. The pork ribs were a bit dry and over cooked; the turkey was over salty, bland and a bit dry; the brisket was too fatty, the meat stringy and slightly tough, but had good flavour; the prime rib was good, but merely a slightly smokey prime rib; the sausage was good and had very good texture.


Brisket A6; T8; T6
Roast beef prime rib A8; T7; T7.5
Pork ribs A6.5; T6.5; T5 ribs were dry and fell off bone.
Turkey A5; T4; T5 dry, bland and tasteless.
sausage A8; T7; T8.

Kreuz Market, Lockhart

The menu. They take cash only. No forks are supplied.

The smokers and the carving area.

View in the smoker.

Carving the meats to oder.

A sausage order. Kreuz Market is particularly well known for their sausages.

The spread, left to right: brisket, pork ribs and sausage. The beans were noteworthy here and very good, perhaps one of the 2 best bean experiences I enjoyed this trip. The brisket had a pleasant flavour, but was dry and uninteresting. The pork ribs literally fell off the bone and were somewhat dry and over cooked. The sausage was very good.


Brisket A3; T4; T4
Sausage A8 T8.5; T8
Ribs A7; T6.5; T5 dry
Turkey A5; T5; T4 bland, dry and tasteless.

Black's, Lockhart

The spread, just like how it was presented to us, a dog's breakfast. Notice the black colour of the pork spare ribs, on one side, a sign the mean has been too close to the fire. Also, there was a slight petrol taste in the pork ribs and beef. The brisket was too dry, the turkey, too dry, to salty and flavourless and the pork ribs completely dried out and hard/flakey in parts. This was an abominable meal presented by people who obviously could care less! We all took small tastes of everything but essentially chucked the whole thing out and left.


Brisket A2; T4; T2 very dry
Ribs A3; T2; T1 completely dried out
Sausage A6; T6; T4.

Snow's BBQ, Lexington, Texas.

Snow's is only open only on Saturdays, beginning at 8am and stays open till sells out, often by 1 or 2pm. Snow's is a 50 minute pilgrimage south of Austin. Snow's is considered one of the 2 best BBQ places in Texas.

The proprietors are Tootsie Tomanetz and Kerry Bexley. Tootsie man's the cooking and Kerry is the BBQ oven artisan maker and helps with the smoking, etc.

The line forms before 8am and extends both inside and outside.

The outdoor eating area (there is an air conditioned indoor area too).

Tootsie manning the smokers.

The smoking pork shoulder.

The brisket is smoked for about 6 hours then wrapped and held around 160-180 degrees.

The sausages smoking.

The pork ribs.

"Moist" brisket. This brisket was a masterpiece.

Slightly leaner brisket.

Lean brisket. Notice the amazing bark.

Regular and jalapeno sausages.

The sliced pork shoulder.

Close up of the sausages and turkey. The turkey may have been over brined. It was not particularly tasty and was rather dry.

The big picture.

Close up. The brisket was divine. 2 people felt that Snow's brisket was better than Franklin and 2 felt that Franklin was better than Snow's . All 4 of us felt that Snow's brisket was exceptional.

Brisket: Appearance 10; Taste 10; Texture 10
Pork ribs: Appearance 8; Taste 8.5; Texture 7 (overbrined?? overcooked??)

Pork shoulder: Appearance 9; Taste 9: Texture 9
Turkey: Appearance 8; Taste 6; Texture 5
Sausages: Appearance 9; Taste 8; Texture 9
Beans very good.

Our last "pit stop", left to right: Jake Richler, Moez Kassam, Kerry, Tootsie, Chef David Lee and Yours Truly.

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