Taste of Texas
is an outdoor joint working out of a former hot dog truck sheltered by a barn-like hangar with an open front. Even if the tall stacks of wood at the rear left of the shed weren't visible, you'd know they're cooking with smoke, because you'll smell it as soon as you get out of your car. The smokers? A pair of small offset Brinkmans you'd find at the local hardware store, but whatever gets the job done. There's a single communal picnic table (more on the way, they promise) and a white plastic round table with chairs for onsite dining. The owner is a Texas transplant. Be aware that the hours do not include dinner, unless your dinner is before 4:00PM.
The menu runs deep for a roadside food truck operation. At first the
brisket and pulled pork sandwiches (in two different sizes) were the
mainstays, but pork ribs are now an option as well. There's a burger,
chili (but alas, with beans, Texas moniker be damned) and several daily
I stopped by for a Saturday lunch with a barbecue friend who's no stranger to cooking and judging barbecue.
Chili is the appetizer I would have tried, but this was our second stop of the day, so we focused on the three meats instead.
Brisket sandwich: We split a small sandwich ($3.50 a la carte), which comes on a potato roll—Pepperidge Farm, not my beloved Martin's, but very close for softness, freshness and that hint of sweetness—that's ever so lightly buttered. The brisket had more than an insignificant amount of fat along the edges, but it worked okay within the sandwich format. More troubling was the lack of bark, or at least crispy bark, along the edges. Smoke was there, but disappointingly stingy compared to the aroma of the joint. Tenderness was just about perfect. Moistness came through, but it was more steamy than juicy. Flavor was pleasant enough but not strong enough; whatever forces eroded the bark during holding eroded flavor too. Neither salt nor pepper made a noticeable appearance. This was a lot closer to pot roast, albeit smoked, than smoked brisket, but the quantity, speed and that always forgiving potato roll made it a semi-enjoyable one anyway. If you upgrade to the full size sandwich, it'll be a bulkie roll.
Pulled pork: Very similar to the brisket, the smaller size version of the pulled pork sandwich ($3.50 a la carte) packed a potato roll with a good amount of very tender meat that was light on smoke, bark and flavor. Here it was more fresh and less steamy, but it might as well have been chicken. The potato roll and a little sauce helped it along.
Ribs: You can get these by the rack ($25) or by the bone ($2.50). The individual rib option was perfect as an add-on to the sandwiches. My gigantic bone actually had no bone at all; it must have fallen off during service (and no, that's not what she said). So you can guess what the doneness and texture of the meat were: very done and very soft, which can be very good or very bad depending on your perspective. Ditto the smoke, which burst forth with
enough intensity to make up the brisket and pork deficiencies and them some. Fat was completely rendered into a juiciness that fully lubricated every bite and supplied the only flavor to harmonize with the smoke. Unconventional ribs to say the least, these would be perfect for the lover of very done, very smoky, not too rubby. I wish I could take credit for the brilliant idea my lunch companion came up with: the best possible meal here would be to order one of these massive ribs, remove the meat from the bone (if it hasn't fallen off already) and put it on the potato roll.
A single sauce is available: a tangy tomato and vinegar number that comes across as thicker than Tabasco but thinner than ketchup.
Cole slaw: A simple rendition had store bought written all over it, but the inclusion of onion added some personality. Mostly mayo with just a hint of tang.
Beans: Another simple affair, probably out of a can, but the slight firmness of the beans and the gentle kick beyond the standard flavors made it doable whether canned or not.
The Bottom Line
Not destination barbecue but a convenient, communal stop for affordable, filling food in an interesting environment.
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