Adrian goes Texas!
WarPigs sent Adrian the new head chef on a BBQ mission to Texas and with him Theis Mortensen to film some video clips about it. Theis’ friend from the States signed on as driver and interpreter (he speaks Texan). The purpose of the trip was to try some authentic Texas BBQ, both from established BBQ joints and new ones, meet the pit masters of those places and have first experience in what BBQ means in Texas:
The first stop in Houston was the highly recommended Killens in Pearland. Good smoky juicy brisket and ribs including the massive beef rib. They had the best side dishes and desserts on the trip. They sell their beef brisket to Papa John’s down the street to put on their pizza and pasta.
Next was Gatlins in Houston. They had a large varied menu and were wonderful hosts, showing us the pits and kitchens. They started as many places have. Good backyard barbecue then a food truck or hole in the wall joint and then a fancy restaurant.
Next day we were off to Austin but driving through Giddings and saw the City Meat Market. It was the funkiest place on the trip. We tried the homemade sausage which was great but were saving up for the next place. City Meat Market is an example of how many of the old-time barbeque places started- a meat market that smoked their leftover meats and sold it to the migrant workers who came through.
We traveled on to Taylor to eat at the legendary Louie Mueller barbeque. We got there at 10:30 and the line was already a half hour wait. When we ordered they learned why we were there and called Wayne Mueller, the grandson of the founder. After we ate the black pepper crusted brisket, we tackled one of their famous beef ribs. It costs $ 25.00 and feeds at least 3 people. Everything was excellent. When Wayne arrived, he gave us a tour and lecture about meat, masonry, fire, thermodynamics, history, mythology, marketing and everything that makes people stand in line for hours to eat his food. He is a learned barbeque scholar and a fine human being
Arriving in Austin we were saturated with smoke and we just could not take another meal of barbeque , so ordered a pizza. The next morning, we had breakfast at the ubiquitous Rudy’s chain of roadside barbeque joints. Although they had brisket breakfast burritos we opted for plain eggs and bacon.
We were then on to the Vatican of Texas barbeque- Franklins. Arron started in his backyard and then to a south Austin food truck and is a self-taught barbeque scientist. He is a multiple award winner and proclaimed as the best pitmaster in the U.S. When we arrived at 10:30 AM on a Thursday morning there were people who had been waiting in line since 4:30 AM .
Theis videoed Aaron giving us a tour of the four gigantic wood burning propane tank pits and the technology surrounding them.
We then ate a sampling of everything they sell and it met all expectations. The meats were perfectly smoked, tender and juicy. The sides simple but perfect.
Our last Austin stop was Valentines, a Mexican food truck south of town. Mexican barbeque is different but good. It makes wonderful tacos.
We then moved on to Lockhart, the home of three legendary pits. We bypassed the Kreuz market but we were not too impressed.
Our last stop on the tour was to the holy of holies in Texas barbeque- Smitty’s. It is the parent of a complicated family breakup that spawned two other places. It was on the city square in a nondescript storefront with a small sign. Entering through a rickety screen door we entered a long dark smoky hall with a bench down one side. At least the line could wait in comfort. At the end of the hall was a brick pit with an open fire in front of it. The place was dark and mysterious and wonderful!
We tried the sausage which was good. They served the meat on butcher paper and in the old days they provided no forks. You had to eat it with your fingers, but each table had a knife chained to it.
Our last stop was at Mill Scale metal works, two brothers who make pits for customers all over the world.
So, our tour ended there. We started at a fancy urban restaurant and ended up in an old country icon. What they all had in common was a love for carefully slow cooked meats. As Wayne Mueller told us, man’s first food experience was meat, fire and smoke. It is still in our racial memory and thank goodness Texas has some of the best!