Here are highlights of my BBQ Journey – pictures of me at the Top 10 BBQ restaurants in ascending order.
10. Truth BBQ – Brenham
It was challenging to reach Truth BBQ. My first attempt to eat there was on a circuitous route from Dallas to Austin to make a Texas Medical Association Leadership College conference. I needed full BBQ strength to walk around the state capitol and lobby legislators for patient safety initiatives in the coming days.
When I arrived at Truth in Brenham on March 2nd this year – CLOSED! I committed a rookie mistake even though I was already deep into this. Always call ahead. Thankfully, I had already visited two other BBQ spots on my list (Blue Moon in Hearne and Fargo’s in Bryan) so it wasn’t a total loss. Since Truth is a revered Top 10 unlike the aforementioned other two – it stung.
However, my father in law (partner in BBQ crime) had a crazy idea. Taylor, TX is on the way from Brenham to our final destination in Austin (loosely) and is home to Louie Mueller BBQ. The Mueller Family is perhaps the most important line of pit masters in the history of Texas BBQ. They have trained pit masters who have established classic Texas-style BBQ all over the world, including the Aaron Franklin.
Needless to say, trading a meal at Truth for one at Louie Mueller is in no way a step down. As a teaser, here is a picture of the baby back ribs I had that day at Louie Mueller. Easily one of the most memorable bites of Q I’ve ever had:
Wait! This was about Truth in Brenham!
Sorry, I got carried away with that unplanned fling to Louie Mueller. Nearly two months later on April 28th, I went back to Truth BBQ. Having closed in 2018 around the holidays to open a new restaurant in the trendy Heights area of Houston, they had just recently re-opened their original Brenham location.
This place is right off highway 290, so if you’re driving between Houston and Austin you can’t miss it.
When my father in law and I got there it was just past 11AM when they open. Already, a line of 20 people had formed. This is a good sign. Since this trip was purely to eat BBQ, and it was nearly 4 hours in each direction, this was the farthest we had ever driven* to get BBQ.
*yes we’ve flown to a few that are further out – as noted below
The spread at Truth BBQ
We reached the front and ordered “the trinity” – Brisket, Sausage, and Ribs.
Their brisket was easily the best thing. Fantastic bark, tender, good rendering/texture. It did lack a little smoke flavor however so not the top 1% I’ve had, but top 10% easily.
The pork ribs had a tasty rub, but ate very greasy for some reason.
The sausage was so-so. Admittedly I’m not a big sausage fan so it takes something amazing to get me interested.
Side-note – the sides (oh man, that’s a pun) were fairly mediocre. One of the defining features of a Top 10 BBQ place are the sides. Ranking at #10 on the list, Truth is probably right where it should be, on the cusp.
9. Evie Mae’s BBQ – Wolfforth
Coming in at #9, Evie Mae’s was difficult to get to. It’s 10 minutes south of Lubbock, and part of three restaurants in the “West Texas” zone not close to anything. This required a flight out of DFW to Midland airport. In order to capture all the West Texas places we first drove immediately from the airport in Midland to Pecos, an hour and a half or so away.
The place in Pecos is called Pody’s. It’s a real notch on the belt of any BBQ connoisseur simply due to its isolation. I called the pit master Israel a month or two before the trip to make sure they would be open, and then from the airport the day of our visit to confirm.
When we arrived to Pody’s, it was a hot day on October 4th 2018. The place had a few people inside but nothing like the big city spots we were accustomed to. Much like everything else out there, it was a slower pace. Upon ordering, the woman at the register told us they were out of brisket – my benchmark for how good a place is. Had I traveled 450 miles to the middle of nowhere to miss out on brisket?
No, friends. This is West Texas. Where people wave at you while driving by. The woman at the register said she saved us some since we called ahead (without asking) and our trip was saved!
The BBQ at Pody’s was decent but not the Top 10 we were after. Their overwhelming hospitality more than made up for it, and I would be happy to eat there again.
Back to Evie Mae’s
After having a late lunch in Pecos, we drove a few hours north to Wolfforth and bedded down at a hotel one exit away from Evie Mae’s. Having read reviews I knew this place was super popular and getting there before they opened was a must. Once we got there, one or two people were waiting inside their cars but no line had formed, so my father in law and I decided to poke around the place. As soon as we rounded a corner and saw their huge pit area, the owner herself Mallory greeted us. We told her about our quest and she was very supportive and kind. She’s plugged in to the whole Texas BBQ scene, and it’s definitely a tightly knit community. Any time I get a recommendation from a pit-master on a new place to try, I do! As you would expect, she’s a wealth of knowledge. Per Mallory, Leroy and Lewis BBQ in Austin is turning out some of the best brisket these days. I have yet to try it, but it’s on my list.
Here is what the place looked like when we first got in…
This is what it was like when we left an hour or so later…
This is a plate of Top 10 BBQ, no doubt. Every aspect of it was great, including sides. I forgot to get a good shot of the brisket which is hiding under the juicy peppery smoked turkey, but believe me when I say it was fantastic.
Their pork ribs were perfectly smoked – not too mushy, they have an awesome rub with that crispy caramelized top skin that’s so mouth watering.
As I’ve mentioned before I’m not a sausage person. This is some of the best sausage I’ve ever had. Coarsely ground, casing with a brisk “pop” upon sinking in one’s teeth, super flavorful and not overly spicy. In my opinion, their sausage is what makes this place a Top 10. Texans expect a great bite of brisket and ribs, but far too often we are lenient on the sausage as an after-thought. If you nail sausage in addition to brisket and ribs, you are a top performer. I wanted to stay all afternoon and hang out with Mallory and her team including Nate (shown above) who was responsible for bringing A+ sausage to Evie Mae’s, but we had to drive north to Amarillo for our last West Texas restaurant.
The above shown is Tyler’s BBQ in Amarillo. While their brisket had decent bark, unfortunately it was dry. They do have really cool bumper stickers though.
Thanks for reading about my visit to the #10 and #9 spots on the Top 50 list. I will write about higher ranked ones when I have time!