Monday, January 19, 2015

Naaman's Championship BBQ - Texarkana

We all know that Texas is home to some of the greatest Pit Masters in the world.  Barbecue outside of this state’s borders can get pretty dicey.  I was told that Naaman’s Championship BBQ had the best barbecue in Bowie County.  However, I was understandably nervous about dining at a former Arkansas food truck still within literal spitting distance of Arkansas (I am not advocating spitting on the lovely state of Arkansas).

Naaman’s transitioned from the world of competitive barbecue (as the name suggests) to a food truck in Ashdown, Arkansas before finally moving to this permanent building on the Texas side of State Line Avenue in September 2013.  The orders are placed inside the building, but the very large food truck is still the center of operations.  The meat is cut and orders are prepared behind the scenes then delivered to your table.  

THE MEATS

After learning that Naaman’s had no sausage today, I chose the pulled pork to accompany my order of brisket and pork ribs.

Spread of meats at Naaman's: Brisket, Pork, Ribs

Naaman’s has a clearly posted ban on chopping their brisket, showing their pride in the star meat.  The brisket came out with a sampling of both lean and fatty cuts.  This fact alone already had endeared Naaman’s to me.  Both cuts looked great with a thin black crust and a sliver of a smoke ring. A thin layer of fat still clung to the edge of the lean pieces of meat.  The fatty cut was a thick slice featuring veins of perfectly juicy, well rendered fat.  Though cut thick, the meat was perfectly moist and soft against my teeth.  The lean cuts were also moist and neither lacked flavor.  The brisket featured a heavier rub than you generally expect with plenty of salt.  A wealth of smoke pushed through the flavor of the rub, delighting my taste buds.  The slices held firmly together on the plate, but surrendered to my teeth with no effort.  This was some delightfully prepared beef.

Like the brisket, the ribs had a wonderful texture.  The meat held well to the bone but yielded a delightfully juicy and tender bite.  Unlike the brisket, the heavy rub distracted me from the natural flavor of the meat.  These ribs featured a heavy amount of spices, extending beyond simple salt and pepper.  The rub had a trace amount of heat along with a slight sweetness that together, overpowered the flavor of the meat.  The ribs were not bad, they were just unremarkable.

The pulled pork was a juicy heap on my plate.  The meat was tender, succulent and overall, just really good.  The pork had flecks of black pepper throughout and the crust was worth seeking out with its  smoky flavor.  The preparation was very straightforward but was quite heavy on the salt, which had me refilling my tea glass.

THE REST

Naaman's building is very clearly an old gas station, but renovations have created an inviting dining area.  If you prefer to eat outside, Naaman’s also has a few picnic tables for you under an awning out front.  Orders are placed at the front counter, but a friendly staff delivers the meat to your table and makes sure you have everything you need throughout the meal.

Naaman's old BBQ truck is still central in their new operation

 Thick sauce is served in a bottle on the side and comes out in a bright red laser-like stream.  The flavor harmonizes the intense hue of the sauce with an intense amount of sweetness.  This sauce was just too sweet for me.  Besides, the meat didn’t need the stuff.

The homemade beans match the unnatural color of the sauce and contain the same sweetness.  However, the flavor was well balanced by a nice spiciness and a generous amount of brisket.  That spiciness lingered and grew with each bite.  It had me, once again refilling my tea, but did not slow me down.

The interior of the old gas station is a quaint spot for some BBQ

THE VERDICT

Naaman's has earned that Championship moniker with some exceptional barbecue.  The brisket and pork have secured Naaman's the Texarkana barbecue crown and are also some of the best meats I've had east of Dallas.  The ribs need some work but it is hard to pick at a place that does so much right, from the meats to the sides to the atmosphere.  It is fortuitous for us that Naaman's has setup shop on the Texas side of the border because the area's best Texas BBQ belongs in Texas.


Address: 5309 North State Line Avenue, Texarkana, TX 75503
Phone: 903-826-2827
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 11AM - 8PM

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Introducing The Texas BBQ Adventures Roadmap

You may have noticed that the Texas BBQ Map icon to the right is no longer just a placeholder.  It is an actual functioning linked image.  Go ahead and click on it, that's why I put it there.

As I stated in my introduction, my intent in starting this site was to share my experiences on the BBQ Trail.  This site would provide me the venue to do two things: 1. Help you locate barbecue wherever you might be in Texas; 2. Set your expectations for these restaurants.

Now that my Texas BBQ Adventures Roadmap is live, my primary vision of helping you seek out good BBQ has also been brought to life. 

I assembled the map in a way that I think would create a simple but effective user-experience.
  • The markers are color coded, providing an easy way to visually scan the state looking for my favorite joints.  
  • The markers are grouped together on the list on the left panel based simply on color.   Beyond that, the organization within each color is random.  For example: If Terry Black's is the top joint listed in the orange group, it does not necessarily mean I think it's the best joint in that group.
  • Clicking on each joint will provide the specific grade that I have assigned to that joint along with a link for more information, which could be my full review or just my quick notes on the restaurant.
  • Clicking the Frame icon at the top right of the map will launch the full GoogleMaps version of the map and give you more on-screen real estate to work with.
  • If you are looking in a specific area, be sure to zoom in.  There is some BBQ congestion in parts of the state (Austin, Lockhart, etc) and you may notice one marker actually splits into two when you zoom a little closer.

There are Two Important Things that you should keep in mind:

1. These ratings and reviews are based solely on my experiences with the BBQ Items at the restaurants (This is not a catfish or burger map);

2. This is not the final product.  This map will live and change as my trips expand.  This will be an ongoing work for me.  I will add new joints that I visit, remove the ones that close, and determine if ratings need to be readjusted after return visits.



Looking at this map is a bit autobiographical for me.  It is heavily influenced by where I live, where I work and where my family and friends live.  Hint: None of those include the South Plains or Panhandle.  There are regions that I just do not get to enough and am working on adding more pins to (San Antonio) and those that might take a while before I get to (Lubbock).

I really hope you find this map beneficial in your travels and BBQ Adventures.  If your favorite place is not on here, please let me know.  I might even share my own To Do List with y'all at some point.  It's enormous...



*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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