Reviews

Longhorn Cattle Company Barbecue and Steak Restaurant

Even though the back room is the size of a barn, it has character: rough timber walls and Longhorn skulls. A cup of charro bean soup arrived gratis the minute we sat down, easing our wait for the all-around-good-quality mesquite-smoked meats (chicken and ribs were the best, brisket close behind). A bonus: real china plates and metal utensils.

The Smokehouse

This modest spot with vinyl tablecloths and a TV mounted on the wall is brought to life by the old players handling the forty-foot indoor pit. We encountered laborers, families, and professional types all enjoying crunchy-on-the-outside, flavorful-and-moist-on-the-inside 24-hour brisket along with juicy pork ribs and not-too-greasy sausage, all smoked over mesquite. The homemade sauce (with a touch of honey?) is mighty fine.

Hashknife on the Chisholm

Like a mirage in the desert, the Hashknife springs up out of nowhere at an otherwise unremarkable intersection just north of Mineral Wells. Pitmaster Jim McLennan and his wife, Lesa, have been in business here only since 2006, but Jim’s been serving up ’cue for oil field workers and nearby ranches since he was sixteen. We could taste the experience: His pecan-and-oak-smoked ribs were juicy and his vinegar slaw unparalleled.

Cowpoke’s

The brisket fell into delectable shards while remaining moist, even after sixteen hours in the smoker. We missed the ribs, but the porcine portion of the barbecue family was well represented by two kinds of sausage, plain and spicy. Darn-good sides rounded out the offerings. The thick, sweet, tomato-tart sauce had bite. A few branding irons carry out the squeaky-clean dining room’s cowboy theme.

Luling Bar-B-Q

Locals were in cheerful abundance: law enforcement, men in blue jumpsuits, kids lingering by the cooler of sweet tea. One taste of the juicy mesquite-and-post-oak-smoked brisket and ribs and we understood why. The potato salad and coleslaw each set the gold standard, and the red sauce was so rich and smoky that one diner committed his entire ration of white bread to it.

Scholl Bros. Bar-B-Que

When we asked a resident Parisian to impress us, he whisked us away to Scholl Bros. The ribs are prepared in the region’s signature style, using a sweet mustard rub, in a pecan-fed gas smoker. The thirteen-hour brisket wasn’t as good, but the sauce, a concoction flavored with brown sugar, gave the beef a much-needed boost.

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