Day 3 - Texas BBQ redemption
Six Flags Over Texas Arlington TX
Railhead Smokehouse Fort Worth TX
Day 4 – My new favorite place!
Taylor Café Taylor TX
Louie Mueller Barbecue Taylor TX
Southside Market Elgin, TX
Texas State Capitol Building Austin TX
Day 3 -
Texas BBQ redemptionAsk me about Texas and I’ll tell you its a big place that's not small on great food flavors, especially when it come to BBQ & Mexican food.
In my mind, when I planned this trip, Texas was going to be what I considered to be the real “meat” of the vacation (pun intended).
So I was happy to be pulling into the Dallas-Ft Worth area, and get going on few sightseeing items before the good eating could begin.
We started out with a visit to Deely plaza; the area where JFK was assassinated. We spent some time looking at the two “X” marks on Elm street where JFK was shot, and looked up at the nearby 6th floor window of the Texas School book depository where Lee Harvey Oswald hid. The whole visit seemed a bit surreal, since very little has changed in that section of town since1963.
Afterwards, we took the kids to Six Flags over Texas. With temperatures hitting a humid 100+ degrees, it wasn't really great amusement park riding weather, which seemed to keep the big crowds away. Meaning, the kids got a lot of rides on most of the parks attractions.
For dinner, Railhead Smokehouse BBQ in Ft. Worth was on the agenda.
I’m calling this part of the vacation the Texas BBQ redemption because of the disaster and let down in Memphis. Today this is where the serious BBQ eating starts, here at Railhead Smokehouse BBQ. Texas this is your moment to shine, and to REDEEM the validity of the BBQ trail.
The first thing that hit me as I walked in the door of Railhead was the sweet scent of post oak smoke. In fact, the whole place had a soft smoky overcast, created from the gentile wafts of Texas post oak being burned in an indoor BBQ pit. And oh how I LOVE THAT SMELL!!
The look of most Texas BBQ places is pretty much the same. You walk up to the order counter, and you order your meat (s) by the pound. The sides are usually pre packaged or readied after they start to custom slice and weigh your meat order and Railhead was no different in this regard.
It’s just like going to a butcher shop or deli. The reason being that most BBQ places in Texas started out as butcher shops or meat markets, so it only stands to reason that the ordering methods would remain the same.
It was all excellent! The brisket was tender, moist and had a great peppery caramelized bark. The other meats were all equally as moist and and well seasoned, of in the Texas tradition, the meat never served with sauce on top to cover up the perfectly smoked meat and bold flavors. The family & I demolished everything!
I had a nagging thought in the back of my head; was Railhead really this great, or was it just that Texas kicks Memphis’ ass without even trying?
I decided that Railhead BBQ was really good, in fact, it was damn good, and the family concurred.
What great way to wrap up a busy day.
Day 4 – My new favorite BBQ place!I once heard a Texas pit man being interviewed on TV saying that Texas BBQ needs no cover up like sauce. And that a real man is willing to bare his soul and show his skill at the pit by serving his Q naked. This philosophy has been apparently lost on the BBQ denizens of Kansas City & Memphis.
Now that the horrid aftertaste of Memphis had been washed away by the Railhead Smokehouse, I was ready to dive in deep into Texas hill country, going along on the BBQ trail to Taylor, TX. Home of Taylor Cafe & Louie Mueller's BBQ.
What I love about Texas BBQ is how simple, uncomplicated and in a way, open it is. Its the kind of BBQ that leaves itself open to full viewing, with nothing to hide. Not even the preparation. The pits are maintained right there in front of you, the wood kept in piles right near the pit & by the door, and right before your eyes, meat gets pulled fresh from the pit, and sliced and wrapped. If you ask how they do it, they are always glad to tell what makes their place special and what they do in great detail, my next two stops epitomize the openness of which I speak.
Today I met a master pit man and BBQ legend. If there is someone alive who is bigger, I cant think of who that would be. The man I met today was Vincel Mares, and the place to find him since 1948 is called the Taylor cafe.
Vincel Mares is to Taylor Texas BBQ what the caveman who invented starting fire and cooking meat on it, is to mankind. He’s been around since the beginning, when he & Louie Mueller Sr. started their BBQ businesses shortly after the war.
After placing my order, I wandered towards the back by the pit, and in the back is Vincel’s small office where he was catching a short break. I introduced myself and we talked for a short spell. He gets around on a walker and has arthritis.
Vincel told me how he had been doing this business for over 60 years and how he's surprised to see folks coming to his little place from as far as Argentina & Russia! I’m glad I had the chance to meet him, he's a really nice guy.
My wife and kids texted my phone: “where are you? The food is here”. So it was time to say goodbye to Vincel, and do some BBQ tasting.
The food was excellent! It was gently seasoned, meaning not peppery, spicy or overbearing. It was also light on the smoke too, you could taste the smoke, but it was very soft. Each meat was perfectly cooked and the flavors of each meat stood on it’s own.
Overall it was an awesome experience to meet one of the old guards of BBQ, and it was even better to taste his cooking.
This is the BEST BBQ I’ve ever had, PERIOD.
And with that being said, where should I start? Should I expound on how perfectly smoked the meats were? The peppery brisket so tender and moist that it melted in my mouth? Or perhaps I should talk about perfect hot links that I was told were hastily thrown together that morning but still tasted out of this world great? How about the best smoked turkey I’ve ever tasted? Anywhere?
Fact is, this is the best. There is no starting point and there aren't enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe just how good the food is at Louie Mueller Barbecue. So I wont even try, just take a look at the pictures, drool, imagine the sweet scents of post oak smoke and perfectly smoked meat in front of you. That's right, either imagine it, or find a way to get down to Taylor Texas for the best BBQ in Texas, and therefore the world.
About 15 miles south of Taylor is Elgin, the sausage capital of Texas. And the place to go is Southside Market. We drove straight into downtown Elgin, and went to the old original location first by mistake. Not knowing yet that they had moved out to a bigger and better location on the outskirts of town.
As we left town and headed east towards Austin, there it was, a new gigantic place, standing there at the crossroads plain as day. This was the biggest BBQ restaurant that I had seen on the trip yet. I cant tell you exactly how many seat this place had, but it looked like there was room for 500-700 easy.
I walked in and saw the counters, one double sided set of order counters was for ordering BBQ. While to the left was the meat market counter for getting fresh meats & sausage.
I got a pound of sausage. The smoked sausage is made fresh made from the adjoining factory right next door.
It was indescribably delicious. Literally, it’s the best BBQ sausage I've ever tasted.
This days trip was really beginning to amaze me and the family! I now had a new favorite hot link, and I can say, nothing I tasted before has ever been better.
Although it was hard to fathom eating anything after the pounds of incredible BBQ we had eaten this day. There was one thing I wanted the clan to experience before leaving Austin; Tacos Al Pastor.
Over the years, on my many trips to Austin, I have developed a deep respect for the makers of this meat in this town, and I contend that the best versions of Al Pastor tacos can be found here. And place that I enjoy it the most from is El Tacorrido.
I only bought two tacos, jut enough for tasting and scientific research purposes! And El Tacoriddo delivered as promised. The meat was spicy, flavorful and moist all at the same time; its the perfect Al Pastor taco.
Time to digest and sleep, tomorrow is going to be another full day of eating and driving.