Saturday, October 15, 2016

Tejas Chocolate Craftory - Tomball

Tejas Chocolate Craftory is an unlikely moniker for a top flight barbecue joint. But even though “chocolate” is in their name, they’ve really built a name in the barbecue world.  

Prior to serving barbecue in Tomball, Tejas owners Scott Moore Jr. and Michelle Holland were solely focused on making world class chocolate from Holland’s home.  Their chocolate was a hit and their success grew their operation until they ultimately landed in Tomball.  With the larger venue, the duo decided to expand their offerings and try their hand at barbecue.  

On October 14, Tejas celebrated the 1-year anniversary of their Tomball location and nowadays the lines that form at lunchtime in this old house in Tomball are definitely there for the barbecue.

THE MEATS

Tejas has all of the typical Texas Barbecue options available on the menu, but also features daily specials and limited run items.

A spread of Tejas Chocolate Craftory's Meats
The spread at Tejas featuring brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, sausage and
the specials of the day: beef short ribs and burnt ends
Tejas has all of the typical Texas Barbecue options available on the menu, but also features daily specials and limited run items.

Two items that often pop up on Saturday’s lunch menu are burnt ends and short ribs.  Both items are in short supply as there are typically just 10-15 orders of each available.  It is definitely worth it to show up a bit before 11am to ensure that you can sample both items as they represent the best meats on the entire menu.  

The burnt ends are simply delicious.  The hefty crust conceals a moist, melty morsel of meat. The smoky meat is as decadent as any of the chocolates Tejas has on display.  

The beef short ribs are much smaller than the monsters that appear on many Texas barbecue menus.  The smaller, half-pound size is more manageable to eat and also offers more delicious, smoky crust and better consistency throughout.

Pork belly, which pops up on the menu with less frequency, is another good specialty offering from Tejas.  The strips offer a duality of firmness and softness – the meat holds together but easily yields when bitten. The nice mix of fat and meat is elevated with an interesting cumin heavy rub.

A serving of barbecue from Tejas Chocolate Craftory
Brisket, ribs, pork belly and burnt ends
The brisket is a standout among the “usual suspects” with its simple salt & pepper rub. The crust is not as significant as you’ll find at some other places. It is a straightforward formula, but the guys at Tejas have figured out how to use the smoke to render this meat into a delicious entrée.  The lean cuts have a thin quarter inch cap of fat.  The slices hold together firmly but are easy to chew – they display a perfect texture.  I actually prefer the lean cuts at Tejas to the slices from the point.  They generally seem to hold a little more smoke and flavor than the moist cuts at Tejas, though any slice from their brisket is going to be outstanding.

Cuts of brisket from Tejas Chocolate Craftory
A couple of slices of the good stuff
The pork ribs, with their cumin rub, fit well into the Texas identity that Tejas embraces.  The cumin offers a little bit of a different flavor than you typically encounter in Texas barbecue and it works.  Over the course of a few months, I have found that the ribs tend to differ from visit to visit.  The texture is usually spot on, but the flavor changes a bit and the rub can overpower the smoke.  

The pulled pork is a bit different as well.  It’s quite good and is very moist, though there is not a lot of smoke on the meat.  The flavor is what is striking. I cannot put my finger on the exact flavors, but if I had to draw a comparison, it would be to pinto bean seasoning.  That might sound bad, but it’s not. This pulled pork really is quite good and would make a delicious sandwich.

Turkey really does not get the respect it deserves on this website, but it would be criminal to not mention this top notch bird.  Tejas’ turkey is one of my favorites.  The turkey is both juicy and smoky and the flavor is punctuated by a heavy amount of black pepper and some more of that familiar cumin.

Tejas Chocolate Craftory's meats
Brisket, pulled pork, turkey and beef short ribs with green beans & carrot souffle
The sausage on the menu is not housemade, but it is very good.  The links are packed with garlicy flavor and the pitmasters take them to the next level with a nice dose of smoke while crisping the casing.

I have not sampled the whole chickens that are a staple of the Tejas menu.  You will also see additional daily specials pop up including Thursday’s smoked pastrami which they use to make a specialty Reuben sandwich.

THE REST

There are other items on the menu in the form of sandwiches, tacos and salads – yes, salads.  I’ve seen these salads around the dining room and my two thoughts are “Who the heck orders a salad at a barbecue joint?” and “Wow, that salad looks good.”  There’s no iceberg lettuce here.  Both salads are romaine wedges, one featuring brisket and blue cheese, the other with smoked turkey and cilantro buttermilk dressing.  

On Saturdays, Tejas also gets into the breakfast game, serving tacos stuffed with eggs, sausage and pulled pork from 8:30 until 10:30.

The sides are not an afterthought at Tejas.  The green beans and pinto beans are worthy, but all of the sides are overshadowed by the carrot soufflé.  The soufflé is creamy with a buttermilk sweetness.  I think it’s more dessert than veggie, but it’s an item that I’m ordering every time.

There are few different sauce options at the Tejas sauce bar.  You’ve got the regular sauce which fits Tejas well with cumin featured over a tangy base with a slight bite.  They have a green tomatillo sauce with a fresh flavor that is probably more fit for their turkey tacos.  Then you get to the most fitting sauce of the bunch – the mole sauce.  What could be more perfect for a “chocolate craftory?”  The mole sauce is good and aptly name, but the subdued nutty flavor is also better suited for sandwiches (namely the pork) than as a stand-alone sauce.

And yes, of course there are chocolates.  These handcrafted chocolates began as the focus of Tejas and now, while they aren’t necessarily an afterthought, they have become more of a dessert.  The variety is ever changing and features some standard 70% single origin chocolates as well as less traditional flavors like margarita and old fashioned.  The chocolates are rich and fittingly close out an indulgent meal.

Chocolate from Tejas Chocolate Craftory
A sample of the decadent chocolate truffles available at Tejas.
The third “craft” item advertised on Tejas’ exterior is the craft beer.  The options include your typical Houston area cans like Saint Arnold and Karbach.

Tejas Chocolate Craftory's choice chocolate
The selection from the chocolate display case.
The 1907 home that houses Tejas Chocolate Craftory is a great place to dine.  The house has been well restored with an inviting interior.  If the weather beckons, there is also adequate seating on the front lawn or on the back porch with views of the smoker.

Tejas Chocolate Craftory's smoker
The large smoker fills the smokehouse out back
The service at Tejas Chocolate Craftory is excellent. If you arrive early, which I have already encouraged for Saturdays (gotta get those special items), you will be met with friendly conversation as service switches from breakfast to lunch.  Dining at Tejas guarantees good food and friendly service in an inviting setting.

Tejas Chocolate Craftory in Tomball, Texas
Tejas is a quaint spot to enjoy some good food
THE VERDICT

With a year in the books, I am excited to see what Tejas can achieve in year two as they continue to perfect their craft and experiment with new projects.  From the meats to the chocolates to the sides, everything that Tejas creates is done with skill and care.  Every item sampled from this menu is impressive and the beef items are spectacular (especially Saturday’s burnt ends and beef short ribs). 

Tejas Chocolate Craftory became an instant hit in Tomball and their following will continue to grow as people learn of this destination barbecue restaurant.  Tejas will be making their first appearance at the 2nd Annual Houston BBQ Throwdown and their unique style is sure to be a standout, even among the biggest names in Houston Barbecue.


Address: 200 N Elm St, Tomball, TX 77375
Phone: 281-892-1700
Hours: Wednesday - Thursday: 11AM - 6PM; Friday: 11AM - 7PM; Saturday: 11AM - 5PM 
(Saturday Breakfast8:30AM - 10:30AM)
http://tejaschocolate.com/



*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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