Monday, July 24, 2017

Stiles Switch

A week after the 2017 Texas Monthly Top 50 came out, my family and I planned a trip to Austin to knock out some on the list.  I book ended the trip with two joints I had not been to before and that would be Freedmen’s, you can see that recap here, and Stiles Switch.  I had sampled their beef ribs at Reddirt BBQ and Music Festival (which were great), but had never actually gone to their place.  We arrived shortly after 11 and were shocked there was no line.  We walked straight to the counter, ordered the Trinity (brisket, ribs and sausage) and a brisket Frito Pie.

Stiles Switch
Texas Trinity


The brisket was good, standard hill country pepper profile, and a good amount of smoke.  The sausage was fantastic, not too greasy and nicely peppered. The ribs were phenomenal with the perfect amount of heat and sweet.  As for sides, I got french fries which were awesome and i wish more joints had them and mac and cheese which was approved my my 5 year old.  The standout for me was the brisket Frito pie.  I’m so happy we decided to get this as the corn chips, chopped brisket, bbq sauce, queso and jalapeno was a total flavor explosion.  This is a dish I will for sure have again.  If you are stopping by here on your own BBQ Passport journey and want something a little different, I cannot suggest this dish enough.

Stiles Switch
Frito Pie


After my meal, Pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick gave me a tour of the pitroom and talked to me about their process.  I had met lance a year prior at the Reddirt festival and he was super nice then and super nice on this visit.  It really is amazing how many great people you meet in the bbq world.



Stiles Switch
6610 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78757

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Freedmen's Bar

Freedmen’s has been on my BBQ Bucket List for a long time for two reasons:

11.       It’s housed in a building constructed in 1869 by a freed slave named George Franklin
22.       They serve BBQ Benedict on Sunday.

We arrived shortly before opening and were 4th in line.  As the doors opened, people were greeted by a hostess which is something not too common at a BBQ joint.  We were seated in their bar right under an AC vent which was awesome.  I knew exactly what I wanted and ordered the Brisket Biscuit Benedict and The Holy Trinity Plate (brisket, ribs and sausage).  Once my order was in I took a self-guided tour of the historic building.  I loved everything about it and took a quick (literally) video so y’all can get a quick glimpse.



The food arrived as soon as I was done with my tour and it looked AMAZING.  I’ve been anxious for so long to try the benedict, so that is where I started.  I punctured the perfectly cooked poached egg and dove in.  It was love at first bite.  The smoky brisket, fluffy biscuit, and hollandaise sauce mixed in with the egg yolk was indescribable.  It is easily one of my favorite BBQ dishes I’ve ever had.  Reluctantly, I let me wife have the second one (they come in pairs) but the good news is I still had the holy trinity plate.  The brisket was just as good by itself as it was with the benedict. It had nice smoke, fantastic peppered bark and was a top ten brisket in my opinion.  The excellence didn’t stop there as the ribs were just as good. They had a perfectly smoked, peppered bite and again a top ten meat.  As for the sausage, it was flavorful but just a bit too greasy for me.  Freedmen’s has had a rotation of pitmasters come in since Evan LeRoy left to start his own trailer. I can’t say if quality has dipped, but I can’t imagine so considering how fantastic everything was.

Freedmen's BBQ
Brisket Benedict

Freedmen's BBQ
Holy Trinity



All in all this has been one of my favorite new places to try (I know, I’m behind) and I can no longer imagine a trip to Austin without stopping here for Sunday brunch.  If you stop by here for the Yeti Texas BBQ Passport you would be doing yourself a disservice for only going for the sticker.  Make Freedmen’s food the priority and the sticker secondary, you’ll be glad you did.

Freedmen’s Bar
2402 San Gabriel Street
Austin, TX 78705

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Texas Monthly Top 50

Snow's BBQ
Snow's BBQ


So the Texas Monthly Top 50 came out Monday morning and like many out there, I have some thoughts.

10.  Truth Barbecue, Brenham, TX.  I have yet to try Truth, but have heard nothing but good things since Texas BBQ Treasure Hunt pretty much introduced them to the world. It's on my BBQ Bucket List for sure.

9.  Evie Mae’s, Wolfforth, TX.  As I have mentioned several times, they are my personal #1 as each menu item is some of the best I’ve ever had. I’m thrilled they are top 10, but shocked they are not top 5.

8.  Micklethwait Craft Meats, Austin, TX.  Located just down the road from Franklin Barbecue, this place gets a lot of traffic from folks who didn’t get in line before Franklin sold out.  While it is good barbecue, this one is a head scratcher for me as it is one of my least favorites out of all the Top 50 I have tried.

7.  Corkscrew BBQ, Spring, TX.  Another joint I have yet to try, sadly my dislike for Houston traffic is keeping me away from some great BBQ.

6.  Tejas Chocolate Craftory, Tomball, TX.  Like #7, I just haven’t visited many Houston places yet.

5.  Louie Mueller, Taylor, TX.  The fantastic beef ribs and brisket are something you will dream about.  This place has great food and is exactly what a Texas BBQ joint should be.  It’s a must visit.

4.  Bodacious BBQ, Longview, TX.  Twitter is on fire with folks wondering why a chain like Bodacious made the list, but the Longview Mobberly location is on another level from the other locations.   I really enjoyed them at the Reddirt BBQ Fest in Tyler last year and can’t wait to visit them in Longview.

3.  Cattleack Barbecue, Dallas, TX. This place is only open for lunch on Thursday and Friday as well as the first Saturday of the month and was a place I used to be able to go to on my lunch break (probably not anymore).  The brisket ribs and house made sausage is some of the best you’ll find, but I also love their Todd Father sandwich and non-traditional BBQ items such as their Que T Pies (brisket stuffed pastries).

2.  Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX.  Franklin is the brisket master, not a single joint can compare to them for brisket and I’m always in awe when I taste it.  As for the other menu items, they are top 5 for me in each category but sausage.  Shocked they aren’t #1 again.

1.  Snows, Lexington, TX.  This place is just awesome from the food, to Tootsie, to the opening at 8 AM.  It is one of my favorites for sure and i need to get back soon.


So many have debated on social media if lists like this are good or bad for BBQ restaurant owners (mainly for those not on the list).  I personally think they are good as they open debate and you learn about places not on the list that you might not have heard of before.  I understand at the end of the day most BBQ joints are just people trying to make a living and that is why if I don’t like a joint I don’t blog about it.  These people devote unimaginable hours trying to earn a buck and I just write about BBQ because I love it and it is a hobby I can enjoy with my family.


So what are your thoughts on the list?  What place are you shocked made it and what place are you shocked didn’t?  Let me know in the comments below or on social media.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Polite Pig

The Polite Pig

The family and I spent a fun filled (though very hot) week at Walt Disney World and like all other vacations I had to find some local BBQ.  In addition to the 4 theme parks Disney also has a mixed use development called Disney Springs which boasts many shops and dining options that aren’t “Disney Themed.”  The newest restaurant is a “Modern BBQ” concept called the Polite Pig.  Walking into the joint you immediately see a J&R smoker which is used by many fantastic joints here in Texas as well as around the World so my hopes were high as I know these can put out some great BBQ.  The menu was pretty extensive with offerings of Brisket, Pulled Pork, Spare Ribs, Chicken Wings and Salmon.  Even with an extensive menu like that I heard a couple say “They really don’t have much to offer.”  I have no clue what else they would want from a bbq menu, but oh well them getting out of line helped speed things up for me.  You place your order and the food is brought to you with a table finder similar to those used at 1050 in Richardson.

Disney Springs


Since chicken wings were the only meat they would sell ala carte and they don’t have a 2 or 3 meat plate  I opted for the brisket plate and an order of wings.  Wings were fantastically oak smoked and topped with their version of Alabama White Sauce (they call it BBQ Ranch).  I was three wings in before I even went for the brisket.  The brisket didn’t look good, it appeared to have been reheated (this was 2 PM) and was cut about a half an inch thick.  The brisket was plentiful and if I had to guess it was easily a half a pound worth.  My first bite reminded me of the pot roast I had the night before at the 50’s cafĂ© in Hollywood Studios.  Overall not bad, but not what you want in bbq, it reminded me of the very first brisket I ever cooked.  I will say the brisket was moist and tasted better than it looked. The Mac and Cheese and slaw were not the best and I didn’t take more than two bites.

Disney Springs


Since the place is new I’ll give them another shot on our next visit, hopefully by then they have everything working as it should, I really do think this place has potential.

The Polite Pig Disney Springs
1536 Buena Vista Drive, B-19 Suite 101, Orlando, FL 32830
www.politepig.com

Sunday, April 9, 2017

BBQ on the Brazos

For a few years I’ve been hearing about a place not far outside of Fort Worth called BBQ on the Brazos.  I had a Monday off from work back in March of 2016 and according to their website they were open.  I drove 65 miles to their place to see a sign that said they were closed on Monday.  I get most BBQ joints are closed on Mondays, but update your website.  I tweeted them my frustration and got an apology and assured the website would be updated immediately.  Still mad, I blew it off and thought I would never venture out that way again.

Ugh!!!


Later that year I attended Red Dirt BBQ Festival in Tyler, TX and while talking to Matt Pittman of Meat Church he introduced me to BBQ on the Brazos Pitmaster and owner John Sanford.  Once again John apologized for the error and let me sample his menu for the day.  Between Red Dirt BBQ festival and visiting with John on my first visit to BBQ on the Brazos, John lives up to his Twitter slogan “Blowing Smoke” as he is a great story teller.  He reminds me of the men in my hometown and that’s a good thing.  John gave me the impression that he was truly sorry for my 130 mile round trip that ended in no BBQ and that he didn’t really care either and I like that, ha!

BBQ on the Brazos
Beautiful isn't it?


Now onto the Que.  I arrived a little after 9:30 AM and had just missed breakfast.  I got the Texas Trinity and a side of pulled pork, potato salad, mac and cheese and tortillas.  Yes you read tortillas!  No carb in my opinion goes better with BBQ than a flour tortilla (I wish this would replace white bread) so bonus points right away.  The brisket had a nice pepper bite, great oak smoke flavor and plenty of moisture.  The ribs were the highlight of the trip.  Texas Monthly mentioned in their review that the ribs were sweet and compared well to competition ribs and I couldn’t agree more.  They were sweet, but not too sweet and great by themselves or with their sauce.  The pulled pork had great smoke flavor, I didn’t get too much of the seasoning in my order, but it was still good.  As for the sausage, it was my least favorite meat. It was good, but nothing that really knocked my socks off.  The potato salad was fantastic, creamy and sweet.  John said he sometimes makes a potato salad sandwich for vegetarians and I think I wouldn’t mind that as a full on meat eater.  Finally the mac and cheese was creamy and well above average than most joints.


I’m glad I finally made it out, BBQ on the Brazos is for sure one of the better joints in DFW.  One of the shirts they sell says “BBQ to drive For” and I agree so get yourself to Cresson!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Uncommon Ramen Featuring Aaron Franklin


Franklin BBQ
The Lineup




My first real BBQ crawl started at Franklin BBQ back in 2014 where I waited in line for nearly 4 hours to taste the best brisket I’ve ever had.  As I enjoyed my lunch, owner and Pitmaster Aaron Franklin sat down and gave me advice on his favorite places in Austin.  One of the places he mentioned was Uchi.  Not long after my trip, Uchi opened in Dallas along with a sibling restaurant, Top Knot. When I heard Top Knot was having an event featuring Aaron I knew I wanted to attend.


My reservations were at the very beginning at 5 PM, but I showed up a little early hoping to see a little bit of the behind the scenes action, and boy did I ever.  Aaron and the entire Top Knot staff were generous enough to allow me and all those interested access to the cutting board and seeing the bowls come together.  Like the artist he is, Aaron sliced brisket like the knife was an extension of his body.  Each bowl of Ramen consisted of both fatty and lean brisket in addition to pho broth, sprouts, herbs, pickled chili and of course noodles.  The brisket was actually cooked at the restaurant in Austin, and then transported to Dallas in coolers giving the brisket plenty of time to “rest” and taste just as good 200 miles away as it would in the restaurant.  Each time I eat Franklin brisket I’m always amazed how consistently good it is, it really is worth the hype.  Now for the Ramen, this was the first time I had any that didn’t come from a 49 cent package and of course I’ll never go back.  The broth was beefy and spicy and the handmade noodles were the perfect texture.  I’m a meat eater (obviously) and soups have never been my thing, but even without the brisket this is a meal I would eat all the time.
Franklin BBQ
Smoked Brisket Ramen


In addition to the smoked brisket ramen, there were two other special menu items.  The Bacon Pimento Cheese dog included creamy pimento cheese and smoked sausage with pickles and onions.  I normally don’t like pimento cheese, but this was amazing and paired well with the sausage. To wash it down I had the beer of the night which was called Figlet. Figlet comes from Jester King Brewery and is a Farmhouse Ale brewed with figs that were cold smoked at Franklin Barbecue.  The beer was very sweet, not smoky and very refreshing.  Had I not driven I could have easily had more than one.

Bacon Pimento Cheese Dog


I love events like this as it exposed me to a restaurant I would have never really considered going to, but now I cannot wait to get back and try their extensive menu.  The staff at Top Knot was fantastic from the hostess to the bartenders.  In addition to opening my eyes to something new, the event is also
providing a portion of the proceeds to No Kid Hungry.

Top Knot
2817 Maple Ave
Dallas, TX
www.topknotdallas.com


Sunday, February 5, 2017

407 BBQ



For those that know me, I’m a walking, talking Texas clichĂ©.  I love my BBQ, Dr Pepper and Dallas Cowboys, so the fact I’m a hunter too should come as no surprise.  In addition to numerous BBQ and Texas Tech related forums, I also spend a lot of time at www.texashuntingforum.com.  For the past few months there has been a buzz on there of a new BBQ trailer just north of Texas Motor Speedway called 407 BBQ that was opened up by a forum member and I finally got the chance to head that way and try it out.

Finding the place is easy as it’s right of I-35 W and 407 next to Paradise Grocery which is a must stop for my brother and I every race weekend.  Pitmaster Bryan McLarty started in October with just the trailer, but last week he installed a cabin kit to give dinners a place to get out of the elements and it was much appreciated as temps were in the mid-forties.  The trailer opens up into the dining room where you order and pay and then your food is brought out to your table.  The menu has your staples of brisket ribs and sausage, but they also have pulled pork as well.  Like normal I went with the Texas Trinity.


Since my daughter was with me I went with the more mild black peppered sausage which was very flavorful and not overpowered by the pepper.  While the sausage was very good, I thought it could use a little more smoke, but my daughter devoured all but the two bites I got.  Next I went with the brisket which had an ink like bark and smoke ring, but sliced VERY thin.  I thought this might have been because it wasn’t done enough, but it was not as bad as I thought it would be, but it was a bit dry.  I loved the amount of hickory smoke and seasoning and despite the dryness it was still a very flavorful piece of meat and the spicy sauce paired well.  Finally to the highlight of the meal, and that was the ribs.  Nice salty rub, perfect smoke and a good tug.  These ribs are worth the drive out west alone.  As for sides, the baked beans were pretty standard; the potato salad was well above average and went fantastic with the ribs.


For a place that has only been open for about four months now, I’m impressed and looking forward to what the future holds. Bryan says he plans on opening a brick in mortar in the next twelve months, but I will for sure make my way out to the trailer again before then for race weekend or when my daughter begs for a Buc-ees fix.

Also be sure to check out their segment this past week on WFAA in Dallas.


407 BBQ
1213 FM 407
Argyle, TX