Old Smokehouse

                                        

6/22/14 11:31am - Thirty years in the same location is a testimony of mesquite smokey greatness.  One of the two spin offs from local legend Bob's Smokehouse, it eventually changed hands and renamed Old Smokehouse.  This 'que was so good, I did not snap a foodie pic until halfway through lunch.

I scored Old Smokehouse 89 out of 100.  This is Reserve Grand Champion Texas BBQ.

                                                                                          

Smoke:  Mesquite.  A long brick pit built along the side wall of a strip center with outside firebox on one end and cinder block chimney at the other end.  For their sake I hope they own the property. Even though mesquite is not my favorite, it does remind me of home back in West Texas.  It requires a bit more skill to use than oak or hickory, but when done right its flavor is phenomenal.  Old Smokehouse does mesquite right.

                                            

Brisket:  Excellent.  A 1/4 in smoke ring beneath a thick black crunchy smokey bark.  First in line, i got the burnt end.  I nearly swooned with first bite.  I got slices from the flat and watch them crumble a little under the pressure of the knife.  The slices pulled apart with ease and were moist at first but did dry out little towards the end.  They pulled this brisket off the pit at the nick-of-time.   No knife needed tenderness.  Dominate flavor was the mesquite smoke.  Full intense smoke flavor throughout meat and well rendered fat.  No sauce needed for this masterpiece.

Ribs:  Very Good.  A meaty spare rib.  They cut the tips off separate which I like.  It was fall off the bone past tender.  No matter, with smoke and rub seasoning I inhaled them.  They were voted best rib in 2008 by San Antonio Express.  No sauce needed for this local favorite.

Sausage:  Good.  My hopes of 5 star Grand Champion were dashed with first bite of sausage.  It was course ground pork link with too bold salt flavor masking the traditional spice.  Aftertaste was OK along with mild smoke.  Use the sauce.

Sauce:  Very Good.  A thick tangy sweet sauce with a bit of spiciness.  It worked well with ribs and sausage.

PS: Try the pork shoulder.  Mesquite smokey goodness!
                                                                             


 
 
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Hungry Farmer Bar-B-Q



5/24/14 11:39am - I am a big fan of Hungry Farmer.  I love their Crosstimbers location so naturally I wanted to sample their S Postoak restaurant. I like the whole vibe of Hungry Farmer.  Lets start with the clever name that is a play on the idiom "Eat like a farmer".  The name has a cartoon sound to it and fun to say out loud.  It makes me smile. The decor is late 1970's urban cowboy/truck stop/hunting lodge. The biggest kick are the horrible pictures of the food and plate dinners.  These drab yellowish pictures look like something out of a 1970's cookbook your grandmother owns.  The pictures are as appetizing as a school lunch.  They are wretched.  How Hungry Farmer has escaped becoming a Houston landmark baffles me.  They have been around since 1973 serving great BBQ in some of the worst locations.  So much better than the other Houston BBQ grandpas.

I scored the S. Postoak Hungry Farmer an 84 out 100.  Reserve Grand Champion BBQ.  Not as good as the Crosstimbers location.  See my earlier post.


Smoke:  Hickory.  There is a large smoke stack in the back and a large stack of wood.  They use wood fired Olyers at the original, I assume they have the same here.


Brisket:  Good.  A sad slice compared to Crosstimbers.  A 1/8in smoke ring beneath a thin bark.  They got the tenderness nearly perfect.  Flavor was just beef and mild smoke.  Use the sauce.

Ribs:  Very Good.  A big meaty Memphis style spare rib.  Smoked slow and then thrown on a hot grill. A nice red smoke ring beneath a bronze bark with grill marks.  The smokey porky rib meat was moist and tender.  No sauce needed for these babies.

Sausage:  Excellent.  A medium ground pork link with bold traditional spice and nice peppery aftertaste. It was moist and a little greasy and had a mild smoke flavor.  No sauce needed.

Sauce:  Fair.  Wow this was bad.  A dark brown stew thick tangy spicy sauce.  It was bitter and the sauce developed a skin, eweh!  It made everything taste worse.  Skip all together.
(see the skin below?)

Beef Rib:  Good.  The best thing about this beef rib was the price.  $4.50!!  I think they messed up but I wont't tell (just did).  It was knife tough and dry.  You get what you pay for.  Use the sauce.


The school lunch pictures on along the counter.

There is a truck stop missing all its booths.

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Son-of-a-Brisket Bar-B-Que


5/22/14 11:51 am - In my endless search for new BBQ joints, I stumbled across this one.  The name alone was worth the drive.  Three adorable senior citizens were operating the lunch crowd.  Website indicates they may have been the parents of the owner and a family friend.  The service was very friendly.  It is located in a lease space next to a gas station/convenience store.

I scored Son-of-a-Brisket a 76 out 100.  Regional Texas BBQ.

Smoke:  Oak/Red Oak.  Another Southern Pride gasser.  A brand new shiny gasser behind French doors.  At least you know what your getting.

Brisket:  Fair. A dark standard 1/8in smoke ring beneath paper thin bark.  Tested tough of tender.  Slices pulled apart with no resistance.  Slightly overcooked and on the dry side.  Smoke flavor was good.  Not much else.  Use the sauce.

Ribs:  Very Good.  Baby Backs were near perfect tender and moist.  Nice pink smoke ring beneath bronze bark.  They had a good rub seasoning and smoke flavor.  A porky good rib.  No sauce needed.

Sausage:  Very Good.  At first bite, I knew this was hand made.  Website indicates this is family recipe dating back to 1800's.  Is was a 3/4in medium ground pork link with mild traditional spice.  Packed very tight inside a snappy casing.  Aftertaste and smoke were very mild.  However, it was very fresh and delicious.  No sauce needed.

Sauce:  Excellent.  This sauce had the "Wow" factor at first taste.  It was a thick dark brown sweet and tangy sauce.  It was good by the spoonful but very overpowering on the meats.  A little goes a long way.
They also served a yellow mustard base sauce.  They called it a North Carolina style sauce.  It looked like yellow mustard and tasted like yellow mustard.  Save this stuff for the 99 cent hot dogs next door.


 

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Meat Candy Time

                                       

5/4/14 Wife is out of town and the weather is perfect.  Time to fire up the pit.  I am ready for some meat candy ribs (See previous post Meat Candy)

                             

I have decided to abandon the meat thermometer and just monitor the smoker temperature.  A meat thermometer is pointless.  A slab has thick and thin areas and the bones heat up different than the meat.  A meat thermometer is not reliable to determine when they are done.  Instead I am using time and technique to decide when to pull off some super tender juicy ribs.

After 5 hours i will start checking for tenderness by using the bend test.  When I lift the thick end of the rack i will see if the skin splits and meat cracks.  I am looking for a 1/4in or larger crack as a sign to pull the ribs off the pit.

Also, I will no longer do the wet seasoning on the pit.  What's the point.  I wrap the ribs in foil for an hour and braise them in fruit juices.  I can easily do this in the oven.  Benefit, it provides a perfect intermission to clean the built up ashes out of the fire box.

                               

Score 28.25:  Very Good.  Beneath a soft jerky candy bark was rosy juicy tender rib meat.  I nailed it on tenderness (finally).  So much flavor!  First the bark was sweet, salty and smokey. It had a soft jerky texture. The rub was in full force adding flavor to every bite.  Pork flavor was excellent. Takeaways:  cut back on salt in rub.  Maybe remove the brown sugar from rub and apply at end.  Cut back on smoke to bring out the wet seasoning flavor.  Also will help in the bark color.  I am looking for bronze not black.

Taste Wood's Bar-B-Que

                            

12:00pm 5/3/14 - There is a very good reason folks are double parked in front of Taste Wood's.  They know Glen Woods is serving up Top 50 quality barbecue.  The question is when will Texas Monthly discover Taste Wood's.  This is one of those place where the patrons are as excited as children in an ice cream parlor to place their order.

I scored Taste Wood's a 90 out 100.  Grand Champion Texas BBQ

                            

Smoke:  The pile in the back had pecan, mesquite, and oak.  Your guess is as good as mine.  A steel barrel pit in the side garage does the day to day cooking.  A trailer mounted pit handles the catering demands.
                            

Brisket:  Very Good.  A dark red 1/8in smoke ring beneath a thick black bark.  Meat is brown in color (injection?). Near perfect tender with one push to separate with fork.  A thick slice starts out moist but drys a little before you finish.  Full smoke flavor in every bite.  A nice rub adds a little seasoning and salt.  Fat is a nice smokey treat.  No sauce needed.

Ribs:  Very Good.  A bronze crust over tan interior (brine?).  Near perfect tender with clean bite and clean bone.  Like the beef starts out moist but drys a bit after sliced.  Full smoke enhances the great pork flavor.  A nice rub adds to the experience. No sauce needed.

Sausage:  Good.  A course ground beef and pork link with mild traditional spice.  A faint after taste and faint smoke.  Use the sauce.

Sauce:  Excellent.  This sauce was unique and exciting.  I have never had anything like it.  It was a thin very sweet sauce with honey brown sugar and drippings flavors.  It was thin enough to penetrate everything you dipped in it.  It transformed every bite into smokey BBQ candy.  A benchmark sauce for this meathead.


                                                                           


                                                                                                   


                                                                           

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Guy's Meat Market


4/22/14 12:00pm – There is a serious lack of love for this meat market.  Guy’s has been running a thriving meat market with a lunch counter since 1938 right here in Houston of all places! The BBQ smoked hamburger is nationally known for over 20 years.  They have been selling their own rub seasoning since 1952 (Guys Seasoning). The meat counter is no slouch either with specialty items like boudin stuff pork chops and homemade sausages. The only time Guy’s entered the HLSR barbecue cook-off, they won it! (1975). Allright, the BBQ today is ok but so what. This is a Houston landmark if there ever was one.  Guy’s can’t even get an honorable mention in Texas Monthly.  In my library of BBQ books, not one mention of Guy’s.  What do the blogs right about? Hamburgers.  I guess if you’re a successful 76 year old meat market located within Houston city limits and your last name is Dickens instead Dinceks or Dreuz; you get no love!

I scored Guy’s a 79 out of 100.  Regional Texas BBQ.


Smoke: Hickory.  I was encouraged by the smoke stack, serious bark and intense smoke flavor but they use a Southern Pride gasser.  If they would switch to an Oyler maybe they could get some much-deserved respect. (JR Manufacturing 972-285-4855 hint hint)


Brisket:  Good.  A beautiful slice with 1/4in smoke ring beneath a big black bark.  Alas, it tested tough of tender and a knife was needed (sigh).  Smoke flavor was intense and the 62-year-old rub recipe was still working its magic.  Its good with out the sauce but you will need it before you finish to offset the dryness.

Ribs:  Good.  The medium size spare ribs were a little tough.   Again the rub seasoning came through along with full smoke flavor.  A little dry but very good.  No sauce needed.

Sausage:  Excellent.  A homemade large 1 1/4in thick course ground pork link with bold spice and with a little red peppery heat.  After taste is long lasting.  A good amount of smoke flavor and you will fall in love.  No sauce needed.

Sauce:  Excellent.  A thin tomato base sauce that is not too sweet or too tangy.  Taste good by the spoon full and the flavor is not overwhelming.  A nice little dipping sauce for your three-meat plate.  Get it on the side.


History: Brad "Guy" Dickens opened the original Guy's Meat Market on Almeda in 1938. In 1958 he moved to the current location on OST. When Guy retired in 1970, his son, Brad Dickens took over the store. Brad started the smoked hamburger in 1988.









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Zimmerhanzel's Bar-B-Que


4/18/14 11:30am – This was my second trip back because they keep running out!  I barely got the last two ribs this time at 11:30!?!  I finally had the Texas Holy Trinity.  This is a straight up no thrills Texas BBQ restaurant inside an orange metal building.  Texas Monthly listed them in the Top 50 in 2013 and Honorable Mention for 2008 & 2003.  They been smoking great barbecue since 1980.  Its makes you wonder what it takes to crack the Top 50. 

I scored Zimmerhanzel’s a 94 out of 100.  This is Grand Champion Tx BBQ.

Smoke:  Post Oak.  Beneath a gia-normous oak tree are three behemoth steel barrel cookers surrounded by cords of seasoned split oak.  Pretty primal but these pits are the reserves!  The main workhorse, however, is inside which I was unaware of and have not picture.  From blogger’s pictures it’s a steel box offset cooker much like brick pits. Apparently they do not fire up the outside pits except for busy Saturday’s and catering demands.





Brisket:  Superior Excellent!  Wow! It’s been a long time since I have had a slice this good.  I got both lean and moist.  An impressive 5/16in smoke ring beneath a substantial black bark and salty rub.  Both the lean and moist were near perfect maximum tenderness.  Moist and silky and never dry out.  A near magical intense smoke flavor and aroma.  This is hall of fame brisket. No sauce needed!  Don’t do it!

Ribs:  Excellent.  Well its no wonder these spare ribs run out.  I got the last 2 scrawny ones at the end of the rack.  Usually the toughest of the bunch, but not these!  Near perfect tender with the same silky moist tenderness.  Not a dry bite.  Rosy red with intense smoke flavor and nice rub.  No sauce needed.  Get here early so you don’t miss out.

Sausage:  Very Good.  My first thought was I just ate this same link 30 minutes ago in La Grange.  But they are handmade right here.  A course ground beef link with mild traditional spice and mild peppery aftertaste.  Very moist and casing was snappy and smoky.  No sauce needed.

Sauce:  Good.  A thin red tomato vinegar based sauce.  Mild flavor that does not overpower the incredible smoke meats.  If you like sauce use it.  If you forget because nothing here needs sauce, don’t sweat it.





                                                 


 
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