Reviews

Meshack’s Bar-B-Que

Meshack’s takes the concept of a barbecue joint and reduces it to its most basic element: the meat and nothing else. There are no tables at which to sit and enjoy your food, no whimsical décor, really no ambience at all. Just a cinder-block shack crudely painted with images of ribs and sandwiches, a couple of stumps to sit on while you’re waiting, and a weedy parking lot on a street lined with second-hand auto…

City Meat Market

A welcome landmark on U.S. 290 between Austin and Houston is the boxy brick building of City Meat Market, in Giddings. The red painted sign reads “Bar-B-Q and Sausage”—sausage being one of their specialties. Walk through the main room, with its high ceilings, two rows of tables covered in plastic Christmas tablecloths (we last visited in late January), and aged cream-colored walls, and into the sooty back room, where you can order the famous links (80…

Bartley’s Bar-B-Q

We walked through the doors of this thoroughly nondescript suburban strip center spot and were greeted by the heavenly incense of smoked meat—which carried us to the counter in a happy daze. Next, came an unsolicited, excruciatingly upbeat testimonial from a fellow patron, waiting and antsy for service: “Best barbecue around!” he blurted out. Finally, we ordered, and the sensory experience we’d been waiting for unfolded: The brisket was ringed in deep maroon, and walloped…

Bob’s Bar-B-Que

Owner and pitmaster Bob Allen is just as guarded as he is hospitable, so don’t expect a pit tour here. But though we could not see the equipment, we were assured that no gas was used in the preparation of the meat. The menu is simple, but it does include a few items of note. The spicy boudin was outstanding, with a casing taut and crisp enough to be eaten and a filling that was…

Gatlin’s BBQ & Catering

Greg Gatlin is in charge of the smoker, but he also bustles around taking orders and tidying up. So does his mom, who is responsible for the fine bread pudding and other sweets. After a wait—which is often lengthy—you’ll receive plates neatly stacked with precisely sliced meat. In case you’ve ever wondered what the deal is with different ribs, you’re in luck: Gatlin’s has two kinds. Side by side, you’ll see that the baby backs…

Virgie’s Bar-B-Que

The brawny pork ribs that emerge from the big metal smoker set a standard for the genre. They are massive, pink, and delicious, their meat lightly clinging to the bone until you grab a bite with your teeth and give a light tug. A heavy, salty-peppery crust, without a trace of sweetness, lends depth of flavor to each piggy bite. There is no way to be genteel when consuming these monsters, so pile up some…

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