Monday, September 12, 2011


From what I've heard, Texas is all about two things. 1)Barbecue, 2)Not being messed with. So, being uncertain about my ability to do the second one of those things, I came to Texas with two goals in mind. One, as usual, was to find and sample local beer. The other, which has taken precedence, to eat authentic Texas Barbecue. So imagine my pleasure, upon arriving at the hotel, to see this right next to where we'll be staying.
Two neon pigs playing guitars? How can it NOT be good?!
Here, I thought, surely here I will find real Texas Barbecue (yes, in Texas, the B is always capitalized in Barbecue. It's the law.). I will find someone from Texas who can explain to me, with the passion I've been lead to believe all Texans have for the subject, why Texas Barbecue is the best in the world... what special trick or treat they have that makes their smoked and fire cooked meat better than any other. I will be able to know, first-hand, the alleged wonder of the Lone Star State's official form of cooking. And, who knows? I might even find some delicious local beer in the process.

This did not seem like an insurmountable task, and indeed still doesn't, considering that my coworker was actually born in Houston, where his father still lives.

We went to Red Hot & Blue and sat at the bar. I immediately noticed a lack of Armadillo's in cowboy hats, Cactus' wearing sun-glasses, and cow skulls on the wall, and thought there was something not quite right. The jazz posters and brass instruments adorning the place made it feel more like Tennessee or Louisiana. The waiter pointed out the specials. Ribs, pulled pork, cornbread, pulled chicken... Memphis style. This is not Texas Barbecue. It's Memphis barbecue, in Texas. I wish I had taken a picture of the disappointment on my face so you could all share in it. However, being too lazy to find somewhere else to eat, we stayed. The waiter suggested a beer called "Zinger Bock", which he said was made by the same people as Shiner Bock, from Shiner Texas. I thought, if I can't get real Texas Barbecue, I should at least get real Texas beer.

I also ordered some Bacon Cheese Fries.
I even intentionally ate one or two of those chives.

The beer was a basic brown ale. Nothing particularly notable about it, other than it's blandness... which would have been a big problem if not for the fact that my meal was kind of bland too. Also, a search of the Spoetzl website has not yielded anything called Zinger Bock... so I'm not sure what I was drinking exactly.

Chopped beef brisket with mojo mild sauce, Grandma's potato salad, and cole slaw.
I find that there is an idea, among unskilled meat-smiths, that barbecue is all about the sauce. The theory behind it being that low quality meat can be compensated for by a generous helping of sauce. I, on the other hand, believe that meat is not a vessel by which the sauce is carried, but that well barbecued meat is flavorful enough that any use of sauce is purely optional. Maybe my taste-buds were over-loaded by the bacon cheddar french fries with ranch, or maybe this was purely mediocre barbecue... but if I can't tell whether I'm eating beef, pork, or chicken, there is a problem somewhere in the line. I was tempted to add some of their "Sufferin' Sweet" sauce, but was determined to actually taste the meat somewhere in my sandwich. Despite my determination, I was unsuccessful. However, since I still have Dallas, Killeen, Austin, and perhaps Houston to visit, there is still hope that I will taste the glory of Texas at some point during my time here. I pray to John Deere that I do.