Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BBQ Tavern - Mesquite

It can sometimes be a challenge to find a BBQ Joint open on a Sunday.  It's downright hazardous to search for one that is open on a Sunday night.  I honestly typically avoid the dinner hour to give a joint a fair shake.  However, this was a place I would not visit otherwise and I needed a break so I took a shot.

I was fully aware what the outcome of this latest gamble would be.  I knew exactly what to expect from a joint open until 2AM on Sunday.  I even knew before I read the warning embedded into their slogan "We put the BAR into Bar B Que."  I knew but I rolled the dice anyway.


I ordered a "Sampler Plate" which contained 4 meats of my choice.  Surprisingly beef ribs were not excluded from this platter so I selected them along with brisket, pork ribs, and the house sausage.  The bill came up to $22.68.

Beef Ribs, Pork Ribs, Sausage, Brisket at BBQ Tavern

The brisket was mangled at the hands of the man who sliced it.  It was a dry, shaved mess.  The brisket had the slightest smoke flavor but was so very dry from sitting out for who knows how long.  There were traces of unrendered fat throughout as well.

The pork ribs were overcooked and almost had the consistency of stewed pork.  The meat fell apart and the rub came off in clumps.  The beef ribs were tasteless and the storebought sausage was mush.

If this is what they were serving at 7PM, I'd hate to see what they'd be serving at 2AM.  Hopefully it would be accompanied by plenty of alcohol.


Even the sides were overcooked.  The corn and green beans were mush themselves.

Outside, the building looked very modern.  Inside was a different story.  It was a loud, cavernous hall with a cafeteria style serving line and indifferent employees.

BBQ Tavern is a rather nice, modern building
Though I think it is important to be able to serve quality meats during the hours you are open, I will sometimes give a slight pass to joints I visit for dinner.  There was very little evidence that this place would be that much better during the lunchtime sweet spot. 

Address: 19089 Lyndon B Johnson Fwy, Mesquite, TX 75150
Phone: 972-681-1585
Hours: Everyday: 11AM - 2AM

Sunday, July 27, 2014

BBQ Godfather - Spring

Note: This original review was written prior to BBQ Godfather relocating to "Bernie's Backyard" Food Truck Park

My first exposure to BBQ Godfather was when I sought out their mobile trailer at B-52 Brewing in Conroe.  Their mobile menu simply consisted of sandwiches which was disappointing to me since their full service location is basically a trailer itself.  Still, the taste of those sandwiches gave me enough reason to go visit the full service location down on Rayford.


I opted for a the three meat plate and selected brisket, a pork rib, and pulled pork.  The plate came with two sides and I added a sweet tea which brought it to a total of $18.23.

I unbundled the tightly wrapped butcher paper to reveal the three meats.

Brisket, Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork from BBQ Godfather

The brisket looked decent with a dark black crust and a narrow smoke ring.  Biting into the first slice revealed good smoke but a chewy product.  This meat could have benefited from a little bit more time in the pit.  The rub had a slight spiciness to it, a theme that would continue with the other meats, but the bark was not well formed.  The spicy flavor was interesting, and quite unexpected from traditional Texas BBQ standpoint.

The rib had great tug to it.  The meat pulled away from the bone with appropriate effort but the meat itself carried little flavor aside from a lingering spice from the red pepper rub.

The pulled pork was good.  It carried that slight spice as well.  The special chipotle BBQ sauce actually provided a great companion for this pork.


Godfather's BBQ sits in a small lot with some permanent stands along with other mobile trailers.  The dining area consists of a few covered picnic tables in the lot.

BBQ Godfather sits in a lot with other trailers

The sides were better than you may typically expect.  The sweet potato casserole was a pleasant surprise and actually served as a sweet dessert after I finished my meats.


The flavors were good but this definitely isn't your typical Texas BBQ.  The meats were all satisfying, especially if you like a little lingering spice in your 'cue.  Nothing was outstanding but the meats were all pretty well prepared and my palate welcomed the change in flavor.

There are a half dozen BBQ Joints on this strip of Rayford/Sawdust and BBQ Godfather does well enough to be second best on this road.  Unfortunately it will take a lot of work to match Corkscrew just down the street. 

Godfather's might not be an "Offer you can't refuse," but it's certainly an option with a shorter line.

Address: 22314 I-45 N, Spring, Texas 77383 (Located at "Bernie's Backyard")
Phone: 713-828-5960
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 11:00 - 7:00

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ribmasters - Whitehouse

BBQ is hit or miss in East Texas but I was hopeful when I came upon this promising local chain in the Tyler area.  Ribmasters originally started in a trailer in 2004 and has now expanded to three locations in the area.  I visited the original brick and mortar location in Whitehouse for an 11:00 lunch.                          


I went in with ribs on my mind but was still surprised to see a Beef Rib option.  I ordered a two meat plate with pork ribs and brisket then tacked on a beef rib (the perfect side-order at a Texas BBQ Joint).  The price was a bit steep at $26.28 (before tip).

Ribmasters ribs and brisket

Ribs clearly take the center stage here, both of the pork and beef variety.  The pork ribs had a sweet, candy glaze on them.  They had a decent tug and any smoke they had was overpowered by the sugary sweet glaze.  There was a slight spice to the ribs, which I attributed to the rub, that provided a nice subtle compliment to the glaze.  Though not my preferred style of ribs, they had an interesting flavor and were actually pretty good.

The beef ribs were the star of the day.  The beef was moist with well rendered fat and good smoke.  The ribs had a strong black pepper rub that formed a nice crust around the juicy meat.  The rib was smaller than some of the monsters you see around the state, weighing in at about half a pound.  It was not a perfect beef rib, but easily one of the best I’ve found in the region.

I do not walk into a joint called Ribmasters expecting a strong showing from the brisket (especially when said joint is located in East Texas).  Meeting expectations, the brisket I was served was poor.  It came out completely trimmed (duh, East Texas) with a scarcely noticeable smoke ring and no noticeable flavor.   It had a decent consistency and was not dry.  It was clearly Texas brisket, it just wasn’t good. It’s obvious that the brisket is the step-child of this establishment, which is a shame as it is the king of Texas BBQ.


There were two sauces on the table, one labelled for beef and one labelled for pork.  The beef sauce was smoky but still did not aid the brisket’s flavor.  The pork sauce was a little more tangy, but unnecessary as the ribs held their own.

The marquee outside advertised “All You Can Eat Ribs” which originally caused me concern.  I had flashes of heat lamps and buffet lines.  That was not the case as the interior was simple, sit-down service.  Still, the all you can eat option was not that appealing to me.  Besides, with the sweetness of the ribs, I think the three I got as part of my plate was just about all I needed.  Service was prompt and East Texas friendly.  


Overall it was an enjoyable stop.  Maybe not worth a trip on its own but clearly a welcome option for locals or those passing through.  Just be sure to skip the brisket and go for the ribs as the name suggests.

Address: 803A State Hwy 110N, Whitehouse, TX 75791 
Phone: 903-839-0530 
Hours: Monday - Thursday 11:00 - 8:30; Friday - Saturday 11:00 - 9:00 

*All Grades Are Based Solely on the Quality of Texas BBQ Offered at the Joint. We Aren't Looking for Burgers or Catfish!

My Grading Scale:

A = This is some of the finest BBQ you'll find anywhere. It is worth a roadtrip in itself along with any required wait.
B = This is very good BBQ, even if it is over an hour away, consider making the drive.
C = This is just average BBQ but it's worth a stop in a pinch.
D = This is a poor example of Texas BBQ. Even if it's the only place around, skip it. Apologize to any non-Texans that have eaten here.
F = This is not only a bad Texas BBQ, it is probably not suitable for human consumption.

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