Billy's Old Fashion BBQ has been on my To Do list for quite a while but it is that type of place that would require a special trip to check out. Once they were named to Texas Monthly's Top 50, I knew a special trip would be justified.
We were off to a bad, but in retrospect, a completely predictable start. The dark sauce was very thick and carried a strong, sweet and smoky flavor profile that I did not like. The thick sauce completely engulfed most of the meat and there was not a piece that was spared from the stuff.
You could tell that the ribs were prepared well but they were marred by the sticky sweet sauce. Even if you like this sauce, or sauce in general, I think that the ribs would have stood well on their own.
I fished some brisket from the sludge in the bottom of the container. The brisket had a good texture but had soaked up the sauce to the point where no other flavor was detectable. It basically tasted like BBQ sauce disguised as meat.
The homemade link was probably the highlight for me, maybe simply because there was meat inside the casing that was spared from the sauce. This link was most similar to boudin. It did not have the snap you expect from Texas Sausage, but rather the soft squeeze you'd equate to eating boudin. There was a bit of spice to the peppery link, but not enough to warrant a disclaimer from the proprietor.
There were two jars of brightly colored liquids underneath signs advertising "Kool-Aid Pickles" to accompany your meal. Unfortunately the jars contained no pickles during our visit so I went home without a sample.
It really is a shame that a place so highly regarded with such likeable owners would spoil their meat with a sickening amount of syrupy sauce. You cannot ever let your guard down in East Texas, no matter how highly rated a joint is.
I saw nothing at Billy's to warrant another special trip just to try the meat sauce-free. Therefore my memories of the meat are going to be stuck in that thick sauce.