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Kent Wang

The best Texas barbecue

263 posts in this topic

There is too much "cutting slack" for restaurants in this state (especially the Austin area) as it is.

I'm really curious what people's opinions are of what "slack-cutting" means.

Does it mean that they are not held to a standard of most other restaurants? Are Q places somehow deified?

Does it mean that a smoky, poorly lit, uncomfortable place is going to have all that overlooked if it has good Q, or does that just not fit into the equation? Just as it doesn't seem to affect the rating if a Q place has few choices of food on the menu? Is it like comparing apples to oranges?

What kind of slack are we talking about?


Banished from Chowhound; I like it just fine on eGullet!

If you`re not big enough to lose, you`re not big enough to win! Try this jalapeno, son. It ain't hot...

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There is too much "cutting slack" for restaurants in this state (especially the Austin area) as it is.

I'm really curious what people's opinions are of what "slack-cutting" means.

Does it mean that they are not held to a standard of most other restaurants? Are Q places somehow deified?

Does it mean that a smoky, poorly lit, uncomfortable place is going to have all that overlooked if it has good Q, or does that just not fit into the equation? Just as it doesn't seem to affect the rating if a Q place has few choices of food on the menu? Is it like comparing apples to oranges?

What kind of slack are we talking about?

HA! Awesome question...

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There is too much "cutting slack" for restaurants in this state (especially the Austin area) as it is.

I'm really curious what people's opinions are of what "slack-cutting" means.

Does it mean that they are not held to a standard of most other restaurants? Are Q places somehow deified?

Does it mean that a smoky, poorly lit, uncomfortable place is going to have all that overlooked if it has good Q, or does that just not fit into the equation? Just as it doesn't seem to affect the rating if a Q place has few choices of food on the menu? Is it like comparing apples to oranges?

What kind of slack are we talking about?

HA! Awesome question...

And I find it ironic that this "insight" was posted in the barbecue thread. Austin has many barbecue restaurants. Despite the accusation that Texas restaurants, in particular Austin restaurants, are given "too much slack," I don't think I've ever seen a single Austin barbecue joint listed on anybody's statewide top ten lists.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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See my post on Piersons in Houston for what at first glance seems to be some great bbq in the Texas Food Trail thread..

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See my post on Piersons in Houston for what at first glance seems to be some great bbq in the Texas Food Trail thread..

FYI, the houston chowhounds had a bbq smackdown this past weekend. in which we blind tasted and judged 6 local bbq joints. they included: pierson & co, luling city market, goode co., burn's, swinging door in richmond, and kozy kitchen which just reopened.

pierson won first place for brisket and second place for ribs. burns (in the tx monthly top 50) won second for brisket and 3rd for ribs. goode came in close to last in both categories.

we attempted to get 'cue from virgie's but they were closed that day. thelma was too mean to deal with.

write-ups can be found on my blog and the houstonist.


"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks."

-Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living, 1937

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There is too much "cutting slack" for restaurants in this state (especially the Austin area) as it is.

I'm really curious what people's opinions are of what "slack-cutting" means.

Does it mean that they are not held to a standard of most other restaurants? Are Q places somehow deified?

Does it mean that a smoky, poorly lit, uncomfortable place is going to have all that overlooked if it has good Q, or does that just not fit into the equation? Just as it doesn't seem to affect the rating if a Q place has few choices of food on the menu? Is it like comparing apples to oranges?

What kind of slack are we talking about?

Good question. I'll clarify my agreement above. I can't speak for Amy, and I can't speak for Austin restaurants. I'll only talk about San Antonio, as that's the city I've called home for 15 years. My agreement with Amy's statement is based on my assumption that the other large cities in TX aren't all that different from my own.

I can't count the number of SA restaurants that would be considered anything more than "good for what they are" if they were transplanted into a serious restaurant area of this country (NYC, SF Bay Area, Chicago, New Orleans, etc.) on one finger -- Le Reve. Yet if you read the San Antonio Express-News, you might get the sense the city has undergone some sort of huge facelift in the past several years. San Antonio is the most touristed city in TX, but I doubt anyone would call it a great food city. I think we (I mean the residents of SA) are not being honest with ourselves if we think otherwise. Local media take it far too easy on a huge number of restaurants that frankly aren't very good, basically giving them an A for effort.

Now I don't think this "slack-cutting" extends to TX barbecue joints. If anything, barbecue restaurants are held to a much higher standard. Regardless of the steps big-city barbecue restaurants take to strive for quality, authenticity, etc, there will still be many nay-sayers (myself among them) who think that those smoky, uncomfortable, poorly lit places with great 'cue can't be replicated by anyone who gives a damn about restaurant ambience, service, etc.

I think it this is a large reason that, at least in my experience, the larger cities in TX (and certainly the cities I mentioned before...NY, SF, Chicago, etc) don't really have great barbecue.

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FYI, the houston chowhounds had a bbq smackdown this past weekend.  in which we blind tasted and judged 6 local bbq joints.  they included: pierson & co, luling city market, goode co., burn's, swinging door in richmond, and kozy kitchen which just reopened.

pierson won first place for brisket and second place for ribs.  burns (in the tx monthly top 50) won second for brisket and 3rd for ribs.  goode came in close to last in both categories.

Moderator's note: We split off a topic on Pierson & Co BBQ here.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Many Texas barbecue fans will be saddened to hear that Bobby Mueller of Louie Mueller's in Taylor passed away over the weekend, unexpectedly.

Here's a news link which also includes a link to The Austin American-Statesman story and a link to a video interview with Mueller recently.


Edited by brucesw (log)

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I am deeply saddened by his passing.

I took a photo of him at work back in 2005.

55051326_8d968f2ba2.jpg

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The New Yorker has a long article about Snow's, mostly geared towards non-Texans. It actually says very little about the food but I found this interesting:

In the weeks after the Texas Monthly feature was published, Snow’s went from serving three hundred pounds of meat every Saturday to serving more than a thousand pounds. At eight in the morning—six or seven hours after Miss Tootsie had arrived to begin tending the pits—there was already a line of customers, some of whom had left home before dawn. Bexley said that one Saturday morning, when there were ninety people waiting outside, a local resident asked permission to gather signatures along the line for a petition, only to return a few minutes later with the information that there wasn’t one person there from Lee County. Some locals expressed irritation at being shut out of their own barbecue joint. At times, Bexley and Miss Tootsie felt overwhelmed. There were moments, they say, when they wished that the tasters from Texas Monthly had never shown up. Then Bexley added three brisket pits, Miss Tootsie got some help, Snow’s for a time quit taking pre-orders by phone except for locals, and the amount of meat prepared every Saturday levelled off to about eight hundred pounds.

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My Snow's Review

I hit Snow's recently...during my hurricane evacuation from NOLA, as a matter of fact. I certainly enjoyed it, although the line at 8 AM was already appalling. There are few simpler (or better) pleasures in life then eating some fine beef brisket at 8 in the morning off a slab of butcher paper. I would advise focusing on the brisket, though...the other meats were only decent and not totally transcendent. Especially miss the sausage. The ribs and pork steak are pretty good but nothing you might slap your momma for.

I will add I am a total Texas BBQ novice, but Snow's brisket may turn me into a convert yet. Mm, that little kept-on layer of fat...glorious.

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I hit Snow's this weekend and have to say I was surprised by how good it was. The brisket was excellent and so was the pork. Free beans are a big plus also. Line was 15 minutes and I was worried that they might run out because everyone was ordering 3 pounds of this and 4 pounds of that. Big orders, all I wanted was a little taste because lunch was already planned for that day.

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I hit Snow's this weekend and have to say I was surprised by how good it was. The brisket was excellent and so was the pork. Free beans are a big plus also. Line was 15 minutes and I was worried that they might run out because everyone was ordering 3 pounds of this and 4 pounds of that. Big orders, all I wanted was a little taste because lunch was already planned for that day.

What time did you get there?


Frank in Austin

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I think it was about 9:30.

As a side note...They have a lot of smokers out back for a saturday only operation?

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my favorite barbecue in Texas is Mikeska's. The meat is mouth watering and goes great with the sauce. THe chopped beef sandwiches are always a favorite. I actually planned out a BBQ trip through most of Texas finidng the best barbecue, I used the map on Texas Best Barbecue to find some visitor favorites. i gained a lot of weight around that time too! :biggrin:

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I've mentioned this many times over the years, but the spouse's family is from Lockhart, and when we tried to rehab the ancestral home several years ago, a big highlight of the day was guessing where lunch came from based on the color of butcher paper in which it was wrapped.

I have always said previously that for fatty and lean you must stand in line at Kreuz's, but for chops, rings and the best prime rib it is better to go back to the fire at Smitty's.

NOW, after having a holiday brisket from Luling City Market, I have to reconsider my opinion and say for the record that you should only have lean or fatty from those good folks there.  I tip my winter felt to anyone that can make me and mine step away from the Lockhart BBQ and know the real winner.  Can meat be so, ambrosia-ish, or am I too far gone in the carnivore way?  tsk! C'est la guerre.. :smile: ...

Just wanted to check myself before weighing in, and have not revised this opinion one whit. Have fun out there, kiddos.....

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I visited Snow's again 27 Dec 2008.

gallery_36558_3077_114258.jpg

I asked for my brisket moist (which I always do) and the guy grabbed a fresh, uncut brisket and gave me a cut right from the tip. He did this for me twice, once when I got my dine-in order, and another to go. He said he recognized me from my previous visit. All the people in front of me in line got very dry looking pieces from the middle. It was great, certainly, but not as smoky as what I've had at Louie Mueller, Cooper's, etc. But definitely Top 5-level quality.

Chicken this time was pretty dry.

Sausage was decent, but is all beef and naturally quite dry. They don't make the sausage themselves, they get it from City Meat Market in Giddings.

I didn't notice they have pork loin last time. It was very good, best I've ever had. It's not as smoky as the brisket, but I imagine it's not possible to have it come out both smoky and moist, and with pork loin I'll take moist over smoky.

gallery_36558_3077_146754.jpg

On the way to the rest room I noticed these jugs of pre-made barbecue sauce. The ingredients list include high fructose corn syrup and a variety of artificial junk. All the more reason to not besmirch your barbecue with sauce. I wonder how many other barbecue restaurants also use this stuff.

More photos on my Flickr

Snow's BBQ review on Fearless Critic partially written by me

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I'm bringing the staff down again in April for another barbecue trip. We will hit all the usual spots surrounding Austin but I'm curious about what is going on in Austin proper right now. Who is cooking in an all wood pit these days? Or, if not that, what is the best in the city?

Thanks for any tips

Rodney

Podnah's Pit Barbecue

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While this (best Q in Austin), may be so, I would point out that the place is kinda scary. This may not mean a lot to a seasoned, manly Q hunter.

I was reminded of Steve's BBQ Pit in Denton, TX when I walked into Sam's; it's just bigger. Wall to wall tobacco brown and smelly. Beyond no frills; run down at the heels. But unlike o'l friendly Steve and his tiny shack, Sam's has people hanging out outside, watchin' you, like you're fresh meat. Panhandlers and drug dealings at night. Dangerous alleys.

While I wern't scairt, my young (25 YO), son and my SO were... They refused to eat there. This was for lunch...

Why doesn't anyone talk about that side of Sam's? Are some going to be shocked, or worse, when they go there (especially at night), if this is not mentioned?


Banished from Chowhound; I like it just fine on eGullet!

If you`re not big enough to lose, you`re not big enough to win! Try this jalapeno, son. It ain't hot...

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Probably the scariest (good) restaurant in Austin.

I've eaten on the porch during lunch and had an old drugged-out-looking lady come up to me and asked if she could have some food. I declined.

Then there was the one time at night a crackhead stumbled inside and the staff shouted angrily and kicked him out.

So, yeah, be aware of that.

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I'm bringing the staff down again in April for another barbecue trip.  We will hit all the usual spots surrounding Austin but I'm curious about what is going on in Austin proper right now.  Who is cooking in an all wood pit these days?  Or, if not that, what is the best in the city?

Thanks for any tips

Rodney

Podnah's Pit Barbecue

If your driving, stop off in Tulsa and I will take you up to Sperry for BBQ at Buffalo's. He was first place overall in the KCBS standings for 2008 and it isn't all that far. I will let him know your coming. Donny can smoke some meat, let me tell ya.


Edited by joiei (log)

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.

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I used to live close to Sam's and would frequent it late at night. One time I was standing in line and there was an argument going on between a customer and a hooker in line behind me. He was wanting to give her some business and she was on break. When it was my turn to order they both decided to cut in front of me and say they were next.

The lady taking orders put them both in their place and told them to "Leave the white boy alone and let him order his food"

We didn't make it there last year but definitely will this year. Good Idea

Rodney

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Some things happen way too late in life, like lunch today. Had my first Texas barbecue from a Texas barbecue place. Louie Mueller Barbecue. Brisket and a sausage. Side of beans.

Just one question, did I start of with the best or is this going to be one of those times where each Austin area barbecue place i hit is going to be better than the last? I can't see the brisket getting better than what I had a couple of hours ago.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Some things happen way too late in life, like lunch today.  Had my first Texas barbecue from a Texas barbecue place.  Louie Mueller Barbecue.  Brisket and a sausage.  Side of beans. 

Just one question, did I start of with the best or is this going to be one of those times where each Austin area barbecue place i hit is going to be better than the last?  I can't see the brisket getting better than what I had a couple of hours ago.

There is always going to be considerable argument over which brisket is "best." Only fools will tell you there is any such thing. Wise folks divide the various BBQ joints into tiers, and Louie Mueller is definitely top tier. It's almost always in everybody's Top Five.

So you did indeed start at the top of the list. But from there on, it's all subjective. And it's a wonderful and revelatory trip.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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