So coming back from Red River, NM we decided to go 30 minutes out of the way and stay the night in Lubbock, TX. My wife and I both went to school at Texas Tech (oddly at the same time, but didn’t meet until after graduation) so we both enjoy visiting the city as well as campus. Lubbock is a chain restaurant mecca, but also has a lot of nice local spots we always hit up while in town such as One Guy from Italy (best Calzones on the planet) and Spanky’s Hamburgers (get the fried cheese). With so many dining options, and being in Texas, I always thought it was odd Lubbock never had great BBQ except for Tom and Bingos BBQ.
Tom and Bingos is one of the oldest family owned restaurant in Lubbock and has even made the Texas Monthly Top 50 before, but it is not what I would consider traditional TX BBQ as they only serve brisket sandwiches and smoked burgers. They are located not far from campus on 34th Street and the building is tiny with little seating in old school desks. You can order your sandwich sliced or chopped and I decided on the chopped.
The beef is moist and of course tender since it has been demolished by a knife, and comes on a toasted bun. There is a condiment bar with pickles, onions and sauce and the only sides are chips. Great BBQ option when you are wanting something lighter that won’t put you in a meat coma. Not really sure why I didn’t eat here more often when living in Lubbock, but glad I paid them another visit.
Famous Texas Tech Alums love Tom and Bingos
Stop #2 on my BBQ crawl is a spot that opened long after my college days were over called The Shack BBQ. The Shack is located just outside of town not far from the intersection of 4th and Frankford. I use to live in this part of town and wish The Shack was there back then. To me the shack is what a BBQ joint should look like. From the outside it looks like the name implies, but once you go in, its interior seems to go on forever. You order your meat up front, then take a number and find yourself a seat. There is a bar in the back of the dining room so you can get yourself a beer to go along with the BBQ.
To be completely honest, The Shack was almost removed from my itinerary because I was saving up stomach space for the Calzone mentioned above, but decided to go ahead and pay them a visit. When I went to order I asked for the Texas Trinity (Brisket, ribs and sausage) but they were already sold out of sausage so I opted for some moist brisket and one rib. Total was less than $5 and after looking at the amount of meat I had in front of me I knew this was a bargain regardless of taste. The brisket caught my attention as it had a beautiful bark and overall nice color after being sliced and the beauty of the rib matched the brisket. My first bite of brisket reminded me of competition style BBQ, not sure if they inject or what that was, but I still enjoyed it. It had great smoke flavor and was perfectly seasoned so the meat stands out. The shack has four difference sauces (Regular, Spicy, Extreme and Sweet) and this paired well with the spicy. Now onto the rib. The rib was cooked as a rib should be cooked, tender, but not falling off the bone. My only complaint was the rub was on a little thick. When biting into the rib the first taste I had was very bitter. I paired this with their sweet sauce to finish it off and that helped a lot.
Awesome for $5
Saturday morning before leaving town I got up and drove right outside of town to Wolfforth, TX to try Evie Mae’s BBQ. Located in a warehouse district, Evie Mae’s has set up their BBQ trailer in front of a warehouse and is was easy to spot from the road for me, but I know others have had issues finding them.
Evie Mae’s opened in February of this year by husband and wife Arnis and Mallory and they are still very much hands on. You order your food directly at the trailer from Mallory and then Arnis does all the slicing. This was my only food destination of the day so I went all out. I ordered brisket, ribs, sausage, pulled pork, turkey and a side of beans. My food came out beautifully arranged as if it were posing for Instagram and Twitter.
Once you have your food, you take your meal inside an air conditioned warehouse to eat at picnic tables covered in butcher paper. They had just opened for the day and didn’t have a crowd so Mallory came out to make sure I had everything I needed.
While talking I took my first bite of pulled pork and tried my best to contain my excitement until it was my turn to talk, but couldn’t. This was damn good BBQ and I let her know it. With a smile she went to check on Arnis and let me enjoy my meal. With the burnt ends staring me down they had to be my next bite. It was exactly what a burnt end should be, a perfect punch of seasoning and smoke. The only drawback was a little fat on the outside that wasn’t either trimmed down enough or didn’t render down as expected, but easily removable and didn’t take away from my enjoyment. Next up was the sliced brisket. Easily on par with Austin heavyweights LaBarbecue and Franklin. Oak smoked (normally oak and apple, but Arnis was currently out of apple) with a nice salt and pepper based rub that was a little easier on the pepper than most Central Texas BBQ places which actually made it more enjoyable to me. The turkey was my next victim. I normally don’t order turkey, but after reading BBQ Snobs’s review I had to give it a try. Just as he stated it’s some of the best I’ve ever had, juicy and flavorful bite after bite. Even the leftovers for dinner held its moisture.
I knew the sausage would be leftovers, but I still wanted to grab a bite while it was fresh and warm. Their sausage is made for them and consists of green chile. After spending the week in NM you kinda get on a green chile kick so this was perfect timing. Great flavor, not overpowered by the chile and had enough juiciness to make your tongue happy and your cardiologist sad. Finally, I get to the ribs!! The ribs were good, but were probably the least enjoyable of the meats I had that day. Nice color, good amount of smoke and rub, but a little dry. Even though the ribs were the downside of my meal they are still better than 90% of the ribs I’ve tried over the years and I ate every bite of them. By reading the Texas Monthly review I think this was just an off day (which in BBQ happens to the best of them) and I can’t wait to try them again.
Evie Mae’s BBQ is worth the trip to Lubbock alone, and if you travel up there for football games you owe it to yourself to stop by before heading to The Jones! Seriously who needs to tailgate when you have Evie Mae’s? Lubbock is very fortunate to have such great BBQ and is honestly the best I’ve had outside of Austin, TX. Not only is it fantastic food, but ran by fantastic folks who care about quality and customer satisfaction. Mallory and Arnis are some of the nicest people I’ve met in BBQ and I can’t wait to visit again. Evie Mae’s has easily made it into my top 3 BBQ spots and as of now I’d probably put them in at #2 just above Franklin but it is pretty much a tie. That alone is unbelievable for a place less than a year old. To break the tie I’ll be going back to Franklin later this month because you can’t knock a James Beard award winner out of their spot without giving them another shot.
Lubbock shocked me as they are a BBQ wasteland no more. I always joked with my wife that if I were to open a BBQ restaurant I’d do it in Lubbock as I’ve dreamed of moving back and, outside of Tom and Bingos, Lubbock didn’t have good BBQ. Luckily for my wife, The Shack and Evie Mae’s have killed that dream.