Thursday, December 1, 2011

Leatha's (Hattiesburg, Ms)

tr.v. o·ver·hyped, o·ver·hyp·ing, o·ver·hypes Slang
To promote or publicize to excess: People grossly overhyped Leatha's BBQ.

I gave this place a second chance due to it's hype. Both times I have been let down. I don't get it, I just don't get it.

The food is fall off the bone greasy and flavorless with a sauce so sweet that the only thing you'll be getting early for Christmas is diabetes. Don't let the pictures of celebrities on the wall fool you.

If you're in Hattiesburg and want BBQ...make it to Tango's at The Shell Station...

I don't care who likes Leatha's BBQ, that place is no good. I'll stand by that till the day I die.

Leatha's BBQ will be receiving a 1.5 out of 5 stars.

Leatha's Bar-B-Que Inn on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Big Bib (San Antonio, Tx)

I knew I was not in New Orleans when I saw a smile from the cash register and an owner that wanted to please his customers. The place is designed for to-go orders but they awkwardly have a few places to sit. Don't be worried or skeered, they'll will make you feel right at home.

We ordered the Brisket, Ribs, Sausage, Macaroni and Cheese, and Baked Beans. It was all incredible.

As we sat with our meal, the owner came and let us sample the peach cobbler. It was incredible.

Then went up and got a banana pudding. It was incredible.

This place was incredible. However, there was a sense of magic missing. Don't get me wrong it was a slice of heaven...but delivered by one of the 2nd tier Saints like Saint Abdas of Susa instead from the St. Peter or the Big JC himself.

The best BBQ I've ever had in San Antonio has been The Big Bib. Period.

The Big Bib will be receiving a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Big Bib on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Iron Works BBQ (Austin, Tx)

"Eating awful BBQ in Texas makes me mad"
This place wasn't even on my radar. But when I showed up to Franklin's BBQ all late, I had no plan B. So some Austin locals gave me two "great" substitutions - Stubb's BBQ (No Thank You-Pass) and Iron Works. I told myself "what the hell, it's only a mile or two away." Well let me tell you what, this was not a great substitution to Franklin. You know the slogan "Keep Austin Weird?" Well these locals that suggested this place were trying to "Keep Austin Awful."

It is always a bad omen when the smoker is of stainless steel. They got the decour right, the pricing right (by the pound, not any of these "McDonalds style" meal plans), the customer service right, etc... Everything was right but the meat. *Sigh* It was great getting beef ribs but next time I'll pass and smoke my own. The meat was dry and boring. I'm surprised that this place has lasted as long as it has. There is not much left to say. I'm quite surprised that a place like this can survive in Austin amongst great BBQ establishments.

Side note...Austin is on its way of getting annexed to it's own non-Texan Texas city to join the ranks of Dallas, Houston, and East Texas. Establishments like Ironworks show me that these decor restaurants do nothing more than appease the "Texas aesthetic" that the hipster scene thrives off of and yet does nothing to appease the taste of great BBQ.

Don't get me wrong, there is hope for this place. Just how the New Orleans Saints had to fire Jim Haslett for Sean Payton, Ironworks will need to change Pitmasters to get a good turn around for Championship BBQ.

Iron Works BBQ will be receiving a 2 out of 5 stars.

Iron Works Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Franklin Barbecue (Austin, Tx)

Hands down - The best BBQ you will find in Austin.

The real question is if it's worth waiting in a line for an hour and a half?

Answer: Yes

One of Austin's latest hipster trend is the Trailer Park food scene. It's basically a collective of Food Trucks that get together and sell food out of their Trailers. Some of the worlds best chefs work out of these trucks. This is how Franklin BBQ started. This husband & wife trailer became so popular that they moved to a permanent location on 900 E. 11st in Austin. Aaron Franklin is a super nice guy and has a charming way of making you enjoy the BBQ before you even it. However, he does not need that southern charm for him to get the praise he deserves.

One thing that inspires me about his skills is his low and slow technique. I've been finding that my favorite briskets in Texas have been smoked on a high heat. I was even debating experimenting with the high heat technique myself and switching over in my own BBQ. Franklin does an 18 hour smoke at 250. Learning this info has renewed my faith in our low and slow tradition and convinced me to let the Lockhart guys stick with the high heat. I also read somewhere that he uses Angus Beef from Montana. I'm sure his high quality meat makes a huge difference.

Now, I've always been uber critical of the ribs that I've had in Texas. Ribs in Texas have never been up to par in my book. While Franklin didn't make THE BEST Ribs I've ever had, they did make the best ribs I've ever had in Texas. This says a lot. Everything else was also amazing, a little over salted but amazing none the less. Brisket, pulled pork, sausage, ribs, potato salad, etc...amazing. Some places make a good brisket and mediocre ribs. Others are vice versa. Others (like in New Orleans) have great sides and and mediocre meats. Franklin is consistent across the board. Everything out of that smoker/kitchen will be some of the best BBQ you will eat..

They open at 11 am and usually sell out of meat around 1pm. Be prepared to wait in line for at least an hour. It's worth the trip and the wait.

Franklin BBQ will be receiving a 5 out of 5 stars.

Franklin Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Brick Pit (Mobile, Al)

Once upon a time I watched this video...

It looked good...looked real good.

So one magical afternoon I happened to be in Alabama and decided to pull into this little shindig. Let me start by saying that this was some of the best pulled pork I've put into my mouth. It was moist, there was no fat, great texture,...but...NO FLAVOR. Bill Armbrecht (Pitmaster) even said in the featured video that they add no seasoning...and let me tell you tasted like it too. I talked to him for a minute while I was there, it took a moment before he started warming up, but when he did, he was a real nice guy.

I find it amazing that he can smoke a pork butt for 24-30 hours and it come out that perfect. The Ribs were also amazing...but again, lacked flavor. I assume they rely on their bbq sauce for flavor. Not a smart move if you're serving Texan James Westfall. The sides were boring but I've come to expect that now a days.

I feel like if Sir Bill Armbrecht would only find a good seasoning to apply to the meat, he would have one hell of an establishment. He's got everything else perfected (except for the sides). But I tell you what...flavor is kind of a big thing when you judge food. Just sayin...

The Brick Pit will be receiving a 4 out of 5 stars.

Brick Pit on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bad to the Bone (Slidell, La)

I hope this place goes out of business soon. However, this is Louisiana where mediocrity prevails.

This picture doesn't make the BBQ look half bad...Caution: Do Not Be Deceived.

Macaroni and cheese was dry like burnt toast (and not cheesy)

Brisket was dry and burnt...I thought they were serving me the hickory wood!

Ribs were alright...thanks to the sauce.

Beans were beans.

This place is called Bad to the Bone. "Bad" as in Vanilla Ice Bad (Beachwood Ave. style), not Michael Jackson "Bad".

Bad to the Bone will be receiving a score of 1 out of 5 stars.

Bad To The Bone Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 18, 2011

12 Mile Limit - Shortall's BBQ (New Orleans, La)

This place is a bit confusing. No, it's not a haunted house. It's not a BBQ establishment. What it is is a really awesome bar located in Mid-City. They have really great cocktails, beer, cupcakes, and some BBQ...!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Once upon a night I decided to fight through my daily dose of crackheads to get over to Mid-MID-City and try some BBQ over there. I was told that the Pitmaster hails from Texas and smokes on a webber grill...I've never seen or heard of that, so I reserved the right to make a judgment on that information. It was nice to see fellow Texans pop into the joint such as Rex Gregory and Mike Girardo. But native Texan's within proximity of BBQ will not help out a score on this blog. Shortall's is the last name of the Pitmaster. That is how BBQ (or any product) should be. Putting your name on your product. A lot of people put out shitty products knowingly and hide behind the product under another name cowardly. Who want's to put their name on something shitty? Taking pride in one's work is a lost art in America. So I respect that. When I open my BBQ business it will bore the Westfall Logo. Shortall is a man without an ounce of Bullshit in his body...a True Texan.

Mac and Cheese - Honestly, I've made kraft in a microwave that tasted better.
Cole Slaw - Perfection (and I'm not a fan of coleslaw)
Potato Salad - Pretty Good (but not house, so you can't hold that against him)

and now the Brisket...
The brisket was a little dry with a microwaved texture and fell apart in little tiny pieces. But, the bartender told me he microwaved it.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches.
Look, Cattle is King. Pork is for the children in Carolina. But I've made exceptions to that rule. Some "people" (The "Yankee" Southerners in The Carolinas) put coleslaw on their pulled pork sandwiches. I've had that a few times and was unimpressed. Call me a Muggle but I've always thought that was pretty stupid. But, I decided to push my pride to the side and eat the pork sandwich with the coleslaw on it anyway. Low and behold, it was one of the better pulled pork sandwiches I've had in my day.

Look yall, I've had god awful BBQ in New Orleans and this doesn't deserve to be ranked among them. However, I don't think this ranks among the top tier in Central Texas. New Orleans is lucky to have a place like this.

12 Mile Limit/Shortall's BBQ will be receiving a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Twelve Mile Limit on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 10, 2011

RUB BBQ (New York, NY)

I know what you're saying "Why the hell would you eat BBQ in NY?" I asked my self that same question. While I was waiting for my food at RUB BBQ, I thought I was committing THE cardinal sin...Eating BBQ in NY. Everything about the place was typical NY fashion. No State flags, no arouma of hickory wood, and no southern style cokes like Big Red, RC Cola, etc... That's fine...I guess...not really...but whatever.

As I look at their menu I found a "FAQ" printed on the back: It was a little BBQ 101 education moment for New Yorkers. It was casually hilarious...

Why is my food pink?

Why isn't my food hot?

Why don't you make more if you see you're running out?

How come ______ is sold out?

Ok ok, that was cute and all. It's a way to help all the Woody Allens that might rome in there who might be scared to eat any BBQ that wasn't cooked on a gas grill.

On another note, I can't get a good idea of who is running the show and manning the Pit. Their website says that Rub BBQ was started by a guy named Andrew Fischel who is an ex student of Chef Paul Kirk (award winning Pitmaster) and now partner. Check it out I'll pull a quote from their website:

The original RUB BBQ opened in New York in 2005 by Andrew Fischel, an ex-student and now partner of Executive Chef Paul Kirk.

I don't understand, partners in RUB, or do they mean "rubbing" partners?

Anyway, after their long-winded bio of Chef Paul Kirk, it then reads "Pitmaster - Scott Smith". So now I'm all kinds of confused. Who the hell is Scott Smith and what do these other 2 guys have to do with anything?

All that being said, whomever was working in the back mildly knew a thing or two.

Of coarse they ran out of Brisket when I arrived so I was forced to settle for the Ribs...which were more than half-way decent. How bout' that? I'm amazed that I've eaten better BBQ prepared by a bunch Yankees in NY than I have had prepared for me by New Orleanians.

While I would never go back, I also wouldn't turn my nose in disgust next time I walked by the joint. I'd probably say..."Look, how cute. BBQ in NY that's super average". I would also never go back there because there are a few new places in New York that came highly Hill Country...already sounds good!

RUB BBQ will be receiving a 3 out of 5 stars.

Rub BBQ on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thelma's BBQ (Houston, Tx)


This place came under the recommendation of a BBQ Documentary I watched called "Barbecue: A Texas Love Story". I took this recommendation in good faith because it was a great documentary. I'm going to have to rethink my product review on that documentary now. Thelma's BBQ was also voted in Texas Monthly's Top 50 BBQ in Texas. I'm also going to have to rethink my feelings on Texas Monthly magazine. Thelma's BBQ is also a BBQ staple in Houston. Again, I will be questioning the character of Houston and their BBQ from this day forward.

Thelma's was horrible. The sauce was a diabetic nightmare which tasted like Sweet and Sour Sauce from a Chinese restaurant. They just dump the sauce right on it. Imagine a red soup and you have to fish bbq out of. That my friends was my experience at Thelma's BBQ. There was more sauce than meat (and there was plenty of meat mind you).I'm a no sauce/no bullshit kind of guy when it comes to bbq. I like to taste the meat, texture, and enjoy the moistness of a good rib/brisket. I read a sign that said "Sauce on Side - $2". Yea...F* That.

Atmosphere was horrible. Granted it's in the middle of the hood, but I don't like watching talk shows and listening to AC window units in the background while I try to enjoy my food.

My advice. Skip the BBQ at Thelmas and go down the block to Frenchies which is closer to U of's like a home cooked menu from Popeye's.

Also, I stepped in horse shit on the way out. That's never helped anyone.

Thelma's will be receiving a 2 out of 5 stars.

Thelma's Bar B Que on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Goode Company (Houston, Tx)

I was drunk yall. However, in my drunken state I found it to be Goode, just not Greate.

I recall the brisket being a little dry with very little flavor and the jambalaya being a Texas-sized joke. However there were some highlights. Thumbs up on the Jalapeno Cheese Bread and green beans.

The best part was...Drum roll...without a doubt...The Pecan Pie. Oh yes, I might of been drunk but I remember being all up in that.

Here is a blogpost recipe from that is supposedly the closest recipe found that imitates The Goode Co. Pecan Pie.

Pecan Pie

for the crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
10 tablespoons cold butter
1 tbl sugar
1/4 cup ice water
for the filling:
4 eggs
1 cup dark corn syrup (like Karo)
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
4 tbl unsalted butter, melted
1 tbl lemon juice or bourbon
1 teaspoon mild vinegar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup whole pecans

equipment: a 9 inch pie pan, preferably deep dish ceramic

1. Prepare the crust: Place the flour and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and rub with your finger tips until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Sprinkle in the cold water until the mixture comes together, form the dough into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 12 inch circle. Transfer to your pie pan and trim the edges. Place in the freezer to chill until ready to use.
3. Make pie: Set an oven rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, beat the eggs with brown sugar until combined and thick. Add the dark corn syrup, melted butter, lemon juice and vinegar. Add the chopped pecans to combine. Get the pie crust out and scrape in the filling. Put the whole pecans in the bowl that had held the filling, and toss them around to coat with the remains of the corn syrup (they won’t be completely covered, but it’s a nice gesture). Arrange the pecan halves over the filling. Bake the pie for about 50 minutes, until the filling is set and only jiggles slightly in the middle. You will probably have to cover the pie with foil in the last 15 minutes of cooking to prevent the top from burning, keep an eye on it. Uncover and cool to room temperature.

Recipe Notes:
1. In my opinion, there's no real substitute for dark Karo, however, if you live somewhere where it is unavailable, golden syrup(like Lyle's) or treacle are good alternatives. I'd also like to point out that while it is corn syrup, it is made by a different process than high fructose cornsyrup.
2. I skip blind baking the crust and simply bake the pie in the lower third of the oven, and I find no harm is done. If you are using a metal pie pan you should keep an eye that the bottom doesn't burn.
3. If buying the pecans by weight, you'll need about 8 oz pecans total.
4. If you are the kind of person who really likes the custardy layer underneath the pecans (I know who you are), then you can omit the chopped pecans or reduce them to a half cup. If you are the kind of person who likes your pie to be full of pecans, leave it as written, and if you think pecan pie should really be more like a pecan tart or a pecan bar you can even increase the chopped pecans to 1 1/2 cups. Personally, I think it’s just right as written.

But if you want the real thing and you're not driving distance to Houston, you might want to order it from their website. Here's the link.

As far as the BBQ goes....ehhhhhhh. Had better. If you live around the corner from this place, it's not a bad stop. If you are on a BBQ roadtrip, you might as well keep on driving to Luling.

Goode Co. will be recieving a score of 3.5 out of 5 stars.

UPDATE: 9/23/2011

I was just in Houston and Burns BBQ was closed. I figured I'd take my friends out to what I thought was the 2nd best BBQ in Houston. DISGUSTING! their BBQ Sauce tasted like Marinara. Everything was Super Underwhelming. I love BBQ. I also love many other styles of food to a little lesser of an extant. I vow that I will never go back. Their score has officially dropped from a 3.5 out of 5 to a new score of...

2 out of 5 stars

Goode Company Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Joint (New Orleans, La)

No place has more hype than the Joint. I've been holding off doing a review on this "Joint" for a long while because of it. Let me start by telling you what I love about the Joint.

I love the fact that it is less than a mile from my house. I love that they smoke their BBQ using Pecan Wood. I love the people that work there. I love that they serve awesome tea. I love the bright yellow colors everywhere. I love the pictures of musicians on the wall. I love that they serve their BBQ at most festivals in the city. I love that they are one of few places in New Orleans that serve brisket.

I've been eating at the joint bi/tri-annually for the last five years. I have seen a progress in their BBQ, every year it gets a little bit better. I've always thought that they were over-hyped due to the fact that they are a staple in the most over-hyped neighborhood, The Bywater. A lot of the overhype is also due to their feature on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. They've always been "pretty OK" and by New Orleanian standards that means "pretty awesome." I obviously choose to not give BBQ places the "New Orleans handicap." So one night I decide to head down there to do an official review and order myself an "everything type of plate". Let me say it was damn good. Out of the 20 plus times or so that I've been there, I wasn't expecting them to bring it like that on this particular night of all nights.

The night reminded me of 1999's St. Louis Cardinals' Jose Jimenez. Jimenez was a mediocre pitcher who threw a no-hitter on a special night and continued his career as a mediocre pitcher. The Joint can also be compared to Pittsburgh Pirates Bill Mazeroski. Mazeroski was a great defensive player but mediocre at the plate. In the 1960 World Series, Mazeroski won the title for Pittsburgh in Game 7 with a game-winning home run off New York Yankees pitcher Ralph Terry in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Yankees had rallied with two runs to tie the game, 9-9, in the top of the inning, setting up Mazeroski's heroics. Game 7 bottom of the ninth was my "night to review", Bill Mazeroski was the Joint, the loser "NY Yankees" (who will always be losers in my book) will be this blog post.

So now I have a moral I pull a Pat Sajak and rig the Wheel of Fortune with a foot pedal? Or should I let the wheel spin and land on what it deserved at that moment?

The Joint will be receiving (begrudgingly) a 4 out of 5 stars.

The Joint on Urbanspoon

P.S. True Story. One day (4 months ago)I decided on a whim that I'd like to work at a BBQ place for a few hours a week, maybe one day a week, just for fun. I gave The Joint my BBQ resume explaining how I know shit. Never got a call back and I knew they were looking for people. I guess I was "over qualified". Oh well, perfection is not for everyone.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Smokehouse (Greenville, Al)

There are a lot of illiterate people that enjoy BBQ. There are also a lot of literate people that just don't like to read. There are a lot of grown ass men that would prefer to read a picture book. This blog post is for everyone.

"Hi, I'm James"

This is where I ate one day.

This is me excited before I tried the BBQ.

This is my reaction after I saw the waitress take a plate of BBQ out of the microwave.

Look at the "Beautiful Southern Decor."

"Ribs" - does that look good to you?
(answer = no)

My overall impression...

I paid $18 for 1 meat and 2 sides.

I will be giving this "establishment" a generous score of 0 out of 5 stars.

Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Walker's Southern Style BBQ (New Orleans, La)

I really wanted to like this place. I really really did. But I did not.

The ribs had a great taste, an ok texture (despite the fact that they left the membrane on), and yet they SMELLED awful.

They ran out out of the brisket so maybe I'm not being fair. However, I'm just going off what I was served.

Not much left to say. The women that ran it were really sweet and there wasn't an ounce of that presumptuous attitude that lurks many New Orleans establishments.

Walker's BBQ will be receiving a 2 out of 5 stars.

p.s. I'd like to say that maybe I'll try it again someday but I'd rather smoke my own BBQ than give second chances. I will also put a disclaimer up, Walkers is known for their couchon du lait po boys. I didn't get it because this is not a po boy blog.

Walker's Southern Style Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon