Sunday, July 24, 2016

Big D Barbecue

Courtesy of Big D's Facebook Page

One of the coolest things about tweeting and blogging about BBQ is sometimes BBQ finds you.  I got a notification of a BBQ joint by the name of Big D Barbecue.   It caught my attention immediately as they are located in Mansfield, TX.  I grew up not far away and worked in Mansfield while in high school.  I casually followed them and thought I would check them out one day, but was honestly in no hurry due to some pictures on social media.  This BBQ joint’s social media pictures reminded me a lot of the old Seinfeld episode where Jerry dated the girl with “two faces”. Some days the BBQ photos looked amazing, the next day, not so much.  It wasn’t until a friend of mine started checking in often and raving about it that I decided to check it out, so on a recent trip to visit my parents I decided to forgo Mom’s cooking for a trip to Big D Barbecue.

I have not been to Mansfield, TX in years and the growth can rival that of Frisco and Allen.  I was in amazement as what used to be farm land and “the sticks” was now covered in doctor’s offices and chain restaurants.  When the GPS guided me into the parking lot of Big D I was glad to see it was a shopping center that I used to frequent growing up due to the Movie rental store there (if memory serves, it was the same suite as Big D).  The menu has the traditional BBQ and sides, but two items caught my eye and that was the country style pork ribs and skillet potatoes.  I ordered my normal trinity of brisket, ribs and sausage, but also got a sampling of the country style ribs as honestly I’ve never seen them on a menu, nor do I remember ever actually eating them before.  In addition to the meat and potatoes at the recommendation of the meat slicer, I also got an off menu side of their sausage mac and cheese.  Normally I would try the brisket first, but the country style rib had my attention.  The meat was tender, a strong smoke flavor, but not overwhelming. It was a bit dry, but I attribute this to there not being much fat in the cut.  I dipped the rib into their spicy sauce and it was heavenly.  I really dug this and wish more places served it.  My next bite was the brisket. It was very moist, extremely tender, but very light smoke. It almost tasted like it was cooked in the oven with no smoke.  I’m not sure what caused this as mentioned before the country style ribs had plenty of smoke.  Next up was the sausage.  Big D has two different styles:  a pepper blend and the common jalapeno cheddar.  As I was dining that day with my 4 year old daughter, I opted for the less spicy pepper blend.  The sausage was fantastic, in fact some of the best I’ve had all year.  I REALLY enjoyed combining bites of the sausage with the skillet potatoes that were cooked perfectly with a crisp exterior and fluffy interior.  I could have made that combo a meal within itself.  I then moved onto the ribs.  Big D changes things up a bit and serves baby backs vs spares.  As mentioned before I prefer a meaty baby back over a spare rib, but unfortunately today the baby backs were not meaty and a little dry.  Not the worst rib I’ve had, but not the best either.  Lucky for me they have some of the best sauce I've ever had so I still cleaned the bones.  As for the mac and cheese  it was devoured by my daughter and I didn’t get a chance to try it.

Most liked photo on my Instagram

Overall, I enjoyed my visit, it was a good meal, and glad I didn't judge them on social media pictures alone.  I will be back for sure especially for the sausage and potatoes.  I will save my next visit for a Saturday evening as Big D does have a stage for live music and a newly renovated bar only featuring craft beers, (I know the ears of Texas Brew and BBQ just perked up).  Owner Jordy Jordan says their beer lineup is always changing and you can check out their website and social media for the beer and music lineup.

Big D Barbecue
226 Walnut Creek
Mansfield, TX 76063
(469) 251-2443

Monday, July 18, 2016

Texas BBQ Bloggers Spotlight - Texas BBQ Adventures

Continuing with my short series on getting to know other bbq bloggers, this week’s quick five questions are answered by Chris of Texas BBQ Adventures.

What made you decide to start blogging about bbq?
My job has me constantly travelling around the state of Texas. I shun chain restaurants when I travel and enjoy sampling the local cuisine.  As a hobby while I was on the road, I began to seek out the local barbecue joints and taking notes on them in a spreadsheet.  There were a couple of barbecue blogs I'd use to make my to-do list (I remember stumbling upon FCG in 2008 or 2009 which was a revelation) but none with maps that made it easy to find stops along the way. At the same time, friends would ask me advice when they were on the road in Texas so I began sharing my barbecue notes with them. 

At some point, I decided I should just publish my notes online and create a map to help any barbecue travelers out there like me. My friends now use that in lieu of asking me directly (I had a friend as recently as yesterday tell me they used my map). The downside of that is that I'm now pigeon-holed as "barbecue guy" - I have plenty of opinions on other things!  

Do you smoke bbq at home?  If so what what kind of cooker to do you have?  Favorite thing to smoke?
I have an Old Country Wrangler from Academy but it doesn't get as much use as I'd like. On the rare occasion that I am home for a weekend, it is so much easier to wake up late and critique someone else's cooking. I really want to get good at brisket and I've promised myself that I'm going to put in some time this summer working on that (and my patience).

Longest distance traveled just to eat bbq?  Was it worth it?
I can usually combine barbecue stops in remote parts of the state with some sort of business trip, so normally barbecue isn't the sole purpose of my journey (it's just the best part). I've definitely taken some ~100 mile detours just to mark a place off of my list. I went to NYC in January and #1 on my to do list was to eat at Hometown Barbecue in Brooklyn. I also attended the grand opening of Big Smoke in Vienna a few summers ago. Neither of those trips were specifically for barbecue, but I managed to fit barbecue in - even 5,500 miles away.

If we are looking specifically at barbecue-centric trips, our multi-stop weekend trips (which we refer to as "Barbecue Adventures") are all about barbecue and a Houston to Austin day trip is a pretty typical itinerary - so that's 300+ miles roundtrip just for barbecue - Totally Worth it.

Favorite cut of meat?
“Brisket. A moist cut from the point with some peppery bark - you can't beat that.”

Favorite joint not on the most recent Tx Monthly Top 50 list?

“Without hesitation, my answer is Heim in Fort Worth. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon them before they really started buzzing. Terrific food, terrific people - they deserve all of the success they are experiencing. I can't wait for the new location to open.”

Be sure to follow Chris on Social Twitter and visit his blog.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Evie Mae's Grand Opening

Back in November, I made my second trip to Evie Mae’s and mentioned they would be opening a brick and mortar restaurant in 2016 and that time has come.  After about 2 months in the new building, owners Arnis and Mallory Robbins wanted to throw a big grand opening party to make it official.  The festivities were spread out over two nights, with night one as a private function and night two was for the general public.

Evie Mae's
Prime Rib Dinner

I was fortunate enough to be invited to night one on Friday night.  The evening began with a speech from Mallory and Arnis Robbins thanking those in the room for their support as they launched their dream, and a quick rundown of the menu.  Arnis decided to have some fun and went with a prime rib, which is not typically on the menu, with sides including twice baked potatoes, broccoli salad and a spinach soufflĂ©.  The Prime Rib was fantastic, moderately seasoned with the perfect kiss of smoke.  The twice baked potatoes were perfectly cooked and had the texture of a creamy baked potato.  The spinach was my favorite, creamy and paired really well with the beef.  In all honestly, not a huge broccoli fan other than steamed, but I did try a small bite and it was pleasant.  For dessert we had the option of pecan pie, chocolate pecan pie and banana pudding.  I personally had the pecan pie and loved it.  I’m new to the dessert game so my experience with pie is limited, but unlike the one other piece of pecan pie I’ve ever had , I enjoyed this one the most as it had a pecan in every bite, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by it.

Evie Mae's
Whole Hog Prep

 The rest of the night was spent socializing with the other guest. I had the opportunity to get to know The Smoking Ho and his lovely wife a little better, as well as photographer Robert Lerma.  Arnis invited us to watch him prepare the whole hogs for Saturday’s dinner.  Four hogs were lathered in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper before hitting the smoke a little before 8 PM.  With the hogs on, I departed a little early as I was exhausted from the drive in from DFW.

Evie Mae's
I got to photograph the photographer

For night two my original plan was to go solo, but my family enjoyed Friday night and decided they wanted to be a part of night #2 as well.  This is a first for us as my family is good for BBQ only once per trip so I was very happy they decided to come.  Like the night before, Mallory and Arnis made a speech thanking their customers and announced the menu.  Saturday’s menu included pulled whole hog, brisket, sausage, green chile cheese grits, pinto beans and coleslaw.  

Evie Mae's
Dinner Plate

The brisket was the best I’ve had at Evie Mae’s yet which says a lot.  Their brisket was already one of my favorites and keeps climbing.  Honestly theirs now is only behind that of Brisket King, Aaron Franklin, and the gap is narrowing.  The whole hog was very moist and flavorful and while good on its own, also went nicely with the house sauce.  The sausage was good as I enjoy the course grind, but I didn’t eat much because I focused on the pork and brisket.  The grits were phenomenal as always and the coleslaw was crisp and refreshing.  Unfortunately, I did not get to try the beans as my four year old daughter stole them from me!  To finish off the night I had chocolate cake and it was easily some of the best I’ve ever had.  Evie Mae’s desserts are now equal with those at Millers Smokehouse, which makes my heart and stomach happy.  After dinner we finished the night dancing to the music of Dave Martinez and Ronnie Eaton and the Cold Hard Truth. 

Evie Mae's

After four total trips to Evie Mae’s I can now say they are my overall favorite BBQ joint I’ve had so far.  The amount of work this couple puts into what they serve can be tasted in every bite.  There will be times you show up to eat and they will not have all menu items, other times you will show up and they will be completely sold out.  This is not a result of poor planning or what one Yelp reviewer said was “no way to run a restaurant”, this is because no short cuts are taken here and they take great pride in what they feed their customers. Evie Mae’s value quality over quantity and to me, as a paying customer, this is EXACTLY how you want to run a restaurant.  Like Franklin BBQ in Austin, and Snows BBQ in Lexington, Evie Mae’s is destination barbecue and it’s worth making plans to go.  Be sure to follow them on social media as they are fantastic about letting their customers know if they are sold out or not.  When visiting in addition to great food you will meet one of the nicest couples in BBQ  Texas.

Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue
217 Hwy 62
Wolfforth, TX
(806) 782-2281