Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fargo’s Pit BBQ – Bryan

Bryan, Texas is not known as a traditional barbecue destination, but it may be on its way with the recent opening of Kreuz in Bryan and lesser-known spots like Blue Moon and Toodie’s within a short drive.  It was Fargo’s Pit BBQ, however, that originally put Bryan on the map for barbecue seekers.

Fargo’s Pit BBQ has been serving Bryan/College Station since 2000, when it was a small cash-only operation without a dining room.  In the early years, their accolades came from posts on local forums such as TexAgs, which were printed and proudly displayed on the wall near the cash register.  In 2010, respected (but small-time) barbecue blogger Daniel Vaughn “discovered” Fargo’s and later gave them a rare six-star review on his old “Full Custom Gospel BBQ” blog.  Just a few years later, Fargo’s was named one of the “Top 50 BBQ Joints in the World” by Texas Monthly and new barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn.

Even before the Top 50 nod, Fargo’s accolades grew as more notable articles replaced forum posts on their wall of praise.  Shortly before Texas Monthly’s Top 50 list was released, Fargo’s found it necessary to move into a larger building, one that had an in-house dining room.  As one of the most famous joints in the region, lines still form at opening time for Fargo’s. 

THE MEATS

The meats at Fargo’s are consistent and I know exactly what to expect with each order.  On my most recent visit, I ordered ribs, brisket and chicken.  And since it was Saturday, I ordered a quart of the popular Rib Tips (available Tuesday & Saturday).  The sausage is the other item that finds its way to my tray from time to time.

Fargo's brisket, ribs, chicken and rib tips.

Whenever I introduce someone to Fargo’s, they are typically quick to take my opinion that the pork ribs are some of the best in the entire state.  These picturesque and meaty spare ribs once again hit their own lofty mark.  Gorgeous deep hues of crust sit atop the pink layer of well-smoked meat.  The seasoning on the ribs is simple and the salt and pepper play well with the generous amount of smoke bestowed upon the meat.  The meat is juicy and the fat is perfectly rendered.  The ribs hold the perfect texture you look for in a rib, holding together just firmly enough for each juicy taste to leave a bite shape in the meat.

Fargo’s plated cuts from the flat and the fatty point separately for me.  Both cuts display the dark well-established crust and the thick slices that I have come to expect from Fargo’s.  The lean cuts approach the same smoke content that I found on the ribs and suggest the slightest seasoning of salt and pepper.  Each slice has a thin layer of well-rendered fat that barely hangs on with its buttery texture.  The meat itself is a little dry and the thick slices are more firm than you’d like.  On the other hand, the moist cuts of brisket are overly-soft with well-rendered fat throughout each bite.  Some slices proved hard to eat as the delicate meat fell to pieces at the touch of my fingers.

I do not always order chicken on my barbecue stops, but Fargo’s gives enough reason to make an exception for their bird.  Biting through the crisp skin yields a smoky and satisfying taste of meat.  It’s well seasoned and well smoked though it was not perfectly moist.  Still, this chicken is smokier and tastier than most.

The rib tips are wildly popular with the locals.  Anyone that has been to Fargo’s knows that Tuesdays and Saturdays are rib tip days.  The rib tips come smothered in sauce within a pint sized container.  These rib tips are just little smoke bombs.  A slight spice comes from the thick sauce, but smoke prevails as the flavor pours from the meat.  The tips have a bit of chew to them, but a little effort delivers plenty of satisfaction.  The rib tips are a nice change of pace so I will typically order a quart as a “side” for the table.  What better side is there than a tub of meat?

Fargo’s sausage is a peppery link that I’ve always found well prepared with evident smoke.  It comes pre-sliced and is a good but rather standard sausage.

The sausage at Fargo's Pit BBQ

THE REST

I’m a fan of Fargo’s sauce despite the fact that it’s mostly unnecessary for their well smoked products.  It’s a thick Aggie-maroon sauce that thrills the locals.  It features just a slight sweetness and a slight bite of cayenne heat.  Earlier this year, the sauce was featured as one of HEB’s selections in their “Go Local” Texas Barbecue sauce campaign.

I will admit that despite my many visits to Fargo’s, I cannot remember ordering a side (unless you count the aforementioned Rib Tips).  I know that they do offer the standard options of baked beans and potato salad.  Do what you will with that information.  I just can’t seem to get beyond the meat here.  Lemonade and sweet tea are the drink specials and both are sweetened with a heavy hand.

Fargo’s new location carried over the old, distinct blue colored facade.  Despite having in-house dining, you will still see a lot of business of the “To Go” variety.  The new venue is not very large and is quick to fill up during busy periods.  Another welcome upgrade to Fargo’s is the recent addition of a Square reader allowing this former cash-only business to accept credit cards.

Service at Fargo’s is always friendly, but generally hectic.  It may be a little overwhelming for a first time visitor during a lunch rush.  Several employees behind the glass display case at the front of the restaurant simultaneously take orders from the parade of patrons.  You are given a number, you pay, and then you wait until your number is called to retrieve your order.  The system is actually a lot more efficient than it seems as meats come out pretty quickly.

Alan Caldwell serves as pitmaster for Fargo’s and has become one of the heavyweights in the field.  Still, during each visit I typically see Caldwell engaged in all capacities of the business: taking orders, cleaning tables, and chatting with customers.  It’s impressive to see the dedication he has to making a good product and ensuring the customers are taken care of.

THE VERDICT

Fargo’s is the barbecue jewel of the Brazos Valley and now, deservingly, they are known throughout the State for their meats.  The pork ribs are not only the best meat at Fargo’s, it could be argued they’re also the best ribs in the state.  The brisket has minor issues, but along with the sausage and chicken, helps round out a staunch barbecue ensemble.  And as for side-orders, you can’t do much better than a cup of smoky rib tips.



Address: 720 N. Texas Avenue, Bryan, TX 77803
Phone: 979-778-3662
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 11AM – 7PM
(Rib Tips on Tuesday & Saturday)

1 comment:

  1. Despite being popular for ribs, it’s great to know that they have other things to offer. Anyway, the meat looks very delicious, and I’m glad that you’ve been introducing people to that particular restaurant. Thanks for sharing, and have a great day!


    Hector Keller @ Shorty Small’s

    ReplyDelete



*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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