Kevin's BBQ Joints

Kevin's BBQ Joints Blog

J. C. Reid – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 24

Chris (J. C.) Reid is just a cool guy. Plain and simple. If you don’t believe me, read some of his work (or read his tweets). I’ve known him for a couple of years now and have always respected not only his opinion, but his writing style and the angle he takes on a specific story. I especially love the fact that he incorporates killer photos of food (and locations) into his pieces. So it’s with great pleasure to have him participate in this weeks “My Favorite BBQ Joints”.


Photo by Paul Sedillo

Here are Chris’s favorite BBQ joint in his own words:

Patillo’s Bar-B-Q – Beaumont TX

“Growing up in Beaumont, Patillo’s is the first BBQ joint I ever went to. It celebrates its 100th year in continuous business this year. I went to high school just down the street on 11th St, and came here a lot in high school. Even brought a couple of dates here. The 11th St. location closed last year after the owners sold the property to Jack in the Box. It reopened in a previous location on Washington Blvd that had been around since the 1950s but closed after a hurricane a few years ago. It’s been remodeled and brought up to code. There’s a certain time-capsule quality about the barbecue here – this is by all accounts the same barbecue that’s been cooked by this family at least for the last few decades, if not the last century. And that’s a good thing in my opinion. The barbecue is unique and personal in a way. Brisket is sliced thin soaked in a throwback sauce that is neither tomato, vinegar or mustard-based. It has a watery consistency, with a base that’s vaguely of beef stock, with plenty of fat floating throughout, and spiked with black pepper, chile powder and possibly some cumin.

It’s a fascinating recipe, certainly different, but it works. For me the quintessential dish here is the East TX juicy link, which is made up of left over beef bits and traditionally seasoned with chile and paprika and big chunks of garlic. These are the most authentic juicy links I’ve ever found, thanks to the fat content. A lot of barbecue joints in East TX have cut back on the fat content of their links for health reasons. Not Patillo’s. It literally explodes with liquid fat that’s the color, consistency and flavor of the fat you scrape off the top of a pot of Texas red chili. This is the way they used to make juicy links in East TX.


Photo of East TX juicy link

Lenox Barbecue – Houston TX

When you open the door to Lenox, you walk into a kitchen. You’re not sure if you’re supposed to be there. Employees, some who look like they’ve been there for decades, wave you in. You walk past them as they make sides and trim briskets. You place your order in the back, next to wood-paneled offices that look like they haven’t changed since the 1970s. This is technically a takeout joint, so you stand around in a narrow hallway waiting for your order.

You’ll probably be standing next to construction workers or policemen. Lenox has been around for more than 60 years. In 2009, the property was condemned to allow a light-rail line to run though here. Lenox had a big closing party to mourn the tearing down of the building. But owner Erik Mrok got a great idea. He just tore down the front half of the building which was the dining room. The kitchen and smokers were in the back half of the building, so he kept that, and now the front door is what used to be the kitchen door. The smokers here are more than 40 years old and are the original prototypes of the all-wood rotisserie smokers made famous by the Oyler Co. The smoke room here is like nothing else I’ve seen in Texas – big, steel, hot, loud, sooty smokers in a tiny room. My friend Fulmer says it’s like being in the engine room of a World War II German U-boat. Mrok considered disassembling and moving his smokers elsewhere, but when the Oyler people came to look at them they said if they tried to take them apart and move them, they’d just fall apart. So the kitchen and smokers stayed. The barbecue here can be hit-or-miss, but mostly hit in my experience. Only open for lunch, 11-2 weekdays.

Snow’s BBQ – Lexington TX

A lot has changed in the world of Texas barbecue since Snow’s BBQ was the surprise #1 pick in the Texas Monthly Barbecue issue of June 2008. Bobby Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue would pass away unexpectedly a few months later. Lance Kirkpatrick, longtime LM employee, now has his own worthy joint in Austin – Stiles Switch. Son John Mueller, once the presumptive heir to the LM dynasty, has opened his own place in Austin. Older son Wayne has taken over the reins at LM and has made it better than ever. Aaron Franklin came out of nowhere to be the new king of Texas barbecue. National media is spreading the gospel of Texas barbecue far and wide. Food personalities like Anthony Bourdain and Guy Fieri make their pilgrimages, trailed by entourages and camera crews and hordes of dedicated viewers, leaving in their wake some quiet grumbling by the Texas barbecue faithful.

And through it all, Snow’s BBQ has remained the same. Showing up at 10am on a Saturday, there’s rarely a long line anymore (they’re all at Franklin’s I guess) and if there is, regulars and locals know to go around to the pits where Tootsie or Kerry will ring you up with a pound of this or that – no waiting. Wanna show cousin Marty from up north the pits? Hershel Tomanetz, Tootsie’s son, is always eager to give you a tour. The best experience in Texas barbecue is still getting up early on a crisp, cool, sunny Saturday morning in October, driving the 2 hours to Lexington, ordering a steaming pile of fatty brisket and eating a barbecue breakfast at Snow’s.”

Here’s a little bit about Chris I’ve lifted from his “about” section on his website. “I inevitably find that the most interesting people I meet are lovers of good food and drink. The friends I’ve accumulated over the years — that is to say those friends I have chosen to keep in touch with even though our lives have diverged — are usually linked to a shared experience of food or eating. Whether it’s cooking improvised dinners in a tiny New York apartment or traveling hundreds of miles in a single day to sample the best barbecue in Texas, food and drink becomes a vehicle for creating friendships, memories and, yes, stories.

It’s not like I’m reinventing the wheel here. People in every corner of the world have been getting together to eat, drink, laugh and tell stories since the beginning of civilization. In that way, I’m just like everyone else. But I like to think I bring my own quirks, eccentricities and insights to the (dinner) table, and hopefully that comes through in my writing.”

Read more about Chris HERE
Check out the Houston Barbecue Project HERE
Follow Chris on Twitter HERE

Wes Hagen – Clos Pepe Vineyards – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 23

This week’s “My Favorite BBQ Joints” comes from Wes Hagen, the Vineyard Manager/Winemaker at Clos Pepe Vineyards which is nestled in the heart of the Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County, California. Since the day I met Wes about 4 years ago at his vineyard for a semi-private tour I knew I was speaking to a man who not only had a deep knowledge and passion for wine, grape growing, and wine-making, but also a like passion for food and the way food pairs with wine. Because Clos Pepe is hands down my favorite producer of Pinot Noir (and if you tried one of their’s you’d be hooked instantly) I am especially honored that Wes accepted my invitation to participate.

Since Wes lives in an area of California that deems BBQ to be what many across the rest of the country would call ‘grilling’, he has stuck to his roots and provided places that serve up the best of ‘California BBQ’. Here are his favorite BBQ (grilling) joints in his words:

Hitching Post 2 – Buellton CA Even though I am a sauce, smoke and slow-cooking BBQ guy, I have to grow comfortable that the ‘BBQ’ on the Central Coast of California is *really* grilling. Now that we have that out of the way, I will say that hot-fire grilling over coastal red oak produces some of the best grilled meats in the world. I took a break from the HP2 after Sideways when the madness was still at a fevered pitch. But I have been returning at least once a month (I used to dine 2x a week) to the Hitching Post 2, and I do believe that Jesus (one of the main grill chefs) is the best griller in Santa Barbara County. He can do medium rare on a prime pork chop within a 1% level of perfection each time. Hard to get the center of that thick chop just barely opaque. Other faves include dry rubbed spare ribs, the grilled duck, the mushroom appetizer, and of course the filet mignon and the New York. For the trencherman, try the Rib-Eye medium rare. The chefs cook on the rare side, which is good, because the meat is so good you could eat it raw. Make sure to do a full lineup/tasting of the Hitching Post Pinot Noirs–a staple of SBC wine!


Photo of the Hitching Post II courtesy of Serious Eats

Jocko’s – Nipomo, CA Another grilling joint that we call BBQ, one of the oldest in the County. The menu describes a time, in the 40′s/50′s when a monkey used to serve drinks in the bar. It’s another place, like the HP2, where the décor is not nearly as important as the quality and thickness of the steaks. The portions are mammoth size–most of the meals could feed a small family. The grill chefs get it just right, and the prices are a little lower than the HP2. Jocko’s, though, is a Central Coast tradition worth a visit. My only issue is with their 3 oz Libby wine glasses. I’m a low-maintenance wine snob, but I do bring my own stems to Jocko’s. Great cocktails and the baseball cut Top Sirloin is a great choice.


Photo of Jocko’s courtesy of BBQ Guam

Here’s some more info on Clos Pepe:
Clos Pepe is a family-owned vineyard and winery set in the heart of the Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County, California. Of the 29 acres planted in vines, 25 acres are planted in Pinot Noir, and 4 acres in Chardonnay. Pinot Noir is our passion. They make about 800 cases of Estate Pinot Noir each year, 100 cases of Chablis-style Chardonnay that is aged without the use of any new oak, and a few hundred cases of ‘Barrel Fermented’ Chardonnay using only older, ‘neutra;’ French oak barrels. ‘Clos’ (pronounced with a long ‘o’ and with no ‘s’, like ‘Klo’) is a French word that literally means ‘wall’. It describes the ancient stone walls that surround small, meticulously farmed (usually) Burgundian vineyards,rarely you will see a ‘Clos’ in other regions of France, such as Alsace, the Rhone, or Bordeaux. The term ‘Clos’ also denotes a winery in the same way as the words ‘Domaine’ or ‘Chateau’. So the name ‘Clos Pepe’ means Pepe’s Winery, or, more specifically ‘The Burgundian-style vineyard of a guy named Pepe’. Steve Pepe (pronounced ‘peppy’ like someone with a lot of energy) is our Vigneron – he oversees operations and tastes barrels and aging bottles to assure they live up to his strict quality standards.

Our current list of prodcuers, as of Harvest 2011, include Clos Pepe Estate, Arcadian, Ken Brown, Siduri, Loring Wine Company, AP Vin, Hall Wines and Roessler . All of these wineries vineyard designate their Clos Pepe wines.

You can purchase their wines as well as some merchandise HERE

You can follow them on Twitter HERE
You can check them out on facebook HERE

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Jim Shahin – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 22

I am really excited about this week’s contributor to “My Favorite BBQ Joints”. I’ve been following Jim Shahin’s pieces on barbecue at the Washington Post for a long time now. He’s always insightful, honest, extremely passionate, and above all makes me hungry to visit the locations he writes about. I am honored that he took the time out of his busy schedule to write such a strong piece.

Jim Shahin writes the Smoke Signals barbecue column for the Washington Post. It appears every Tuesday morning on the Post’s website in the Food section’s “All You Can Eat” blog. A monthly article, published in the print version and usually with recipes, is also available online.

My Favorite BBQ Joints
By Jim Shahin

“Choosing a favorite barbecue joint is almost as mysterious as the process of making barbecue. Why does one place become a fave and not another? The food, of course. But often something else, as well.

A joint’s sense of history. Your personal relationship with the place. The joint’s meaning to the community. I have chosen only a few of my favorites, each for its own reason, sometimes having little to do with the food itself.

None of my recommendations are in the Washington, D.C., area. As the barbecue columnist for the Washington Post, I think it’s probably a bad idea to play favorites among locals.

The paradox about determining your favorites is that you start out searching for the best and find that there are many bests. Indeed, one of the greatest moments in a barbecue hound’s quest is when he stumbles upon a fabulous surprise. I happened upon a couple of those on family trips and go back every chance I get.

One is Eli’s Famous Bar-B-Que, a ramshackle take-out joint alongside a winding road on the outskirts of the small, beat-up Rust Belt town of Warren, Ohio (home, by the way, to Nirvana drummer and the Foo Fighters guitarist Dave Grohl, who merits an alleyway mural). Its meaty, flame-charred,charcoal-grilled pork ribs dripping in red sauce could give anyplace in America a run for its money.

The other is Q L Barbecue in Muncie, Indiana, where you call your order into a squawk box at a drive-up window in a decrepit house surrounded by fields across from a river. The weedy ruralness conjures up images of the Old South. So, commendably, do the serious sauce-slathered ribs and the smokey chicken.

Another type of surprise is how a barbecue joint can say something about the place where it resides, even though it is relatively new. Take, for example, Slows Bar B Q in Detroit. In 2005, the owners took a risk and opened Slows in a blighted stretch of road, which helped turn around a rundown neighborhood and, in turn, showed the resilience of a city that keeps finding ways to get back up after being repeatedly knocked down.


Photo of Slow’s BBQ courtesy of Sylvia Rector/DFP

For a different reason but a similar sense-of-placeness, I like Fette Sau in New York City because its impassioned pursuit of excellence honors tradition while at the same time recreates it in the image of that city’s tastes, turning out, for instance, a delicious house-cured pastrami.


Photo of Fette Sau courtesy of Yeah Manh
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Chet Garner – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 21

I finally got a chance to meet Chet Garner from The Daytripper a couple of weeks back. We’ve been friends for a while now, but only through twitter, facebook, and each other’s websites. He came in to JMueller BBQ to have lunch and like most people in the world of BBQ, he was just as nice in person as he is online.

I am honored that he wanted to participate in the first week of’My Favorite BBQ Joints‘ for 2012. Here are his favorite BBQ joints in his words:

“Let me start by saying that I don’t play favorites. I eat BBQ anywhere and everywhere and almost always enjoy it. Sometimes I eat it without sauce. Sometimes I drench it in sauce. Sometimes it’s meat only. Sometimes I order sides. What amazes me more than the meat is the countless hours pit bosses and their crews spend standing over smoldering logs to cook meat this tedious and painstakingly long way. And as long as folks are eating BBQ somewhere in Texas, then my job is done. That being said – if I only had one meal left on earth, it would probably be at one of these places (in alphabetical order nonetheless).

Black’s Barbecue – Lockhart, TX
As cheesy as it sounds, in Texas, BBQ is about more than just meat. It is about heritage, tradition, and family. Black’s has been family owned and operated since 1932, making it the oldest BBQ joint in Texas continuously run by the same family. And whether you see seasoned pit boss Edgar, his son Kent, or his grandson Barrett tending the coals, it always make me feel good to pull up a seat and dig into a big, honking plate of their family recipes, which always includes Norma’s homemade sauce.

Franklin Barbecue – Austin, TX
This little spot started in a trailer a few short years ago but has now rightfully claimed a spot among the best in Texas. The brisket is as good as brisket could ever be, and everything else on the menu is spot on. The only thing stopping me from eating here every day is the 2 hour line to get your food. But that is the consequence of being called “Best BBQ in America” by Bon Appetit Magazine.

Photo of Franklin Barbecue courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ

Luling City Market – Luling, TX
This is the place where I first realized there was more to BBQ than just meat and sauce. Call it my BBQ awakening. I’m a native Texan, so I grew up eating BBQ, and could even tell the difference between good and bad BBQ. However it wasn’t until I tasted Luling City Market for the first time, that I truly began to see BBQ as the craft of passionate people rather than just a tasty meal. This place only makes three kinds of meat (brisket, sausage, and ribs), and they do all three to near perfection. You gotta admire a place that sticks to its guns. And you gotta love the free “meat cologne” that you wear the second you step in the door.

Photo of City Market (Luling) courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ

Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q – Everywhere, TX
Yes, Rudy’s is a chain. But only because they are so good. Somehow Rudy’s has figured out a way to cook hundreds of briskets a day without losing the signature flavor that grew out of its first hole-in-the-wall location in Leon Springs, TX. The Bar-B-Q at Rudy’s is always really good, and sometimes absolutely great. I’ve had brisket at Rudy’s that ranks up there with the best brisket I’ve ever eaten in Texas. When folks come to Texas and want real Texas BBQ, I will inevitably point them to Rudy’s. It is my day-to-day BBQ that never disappoints.

Smitty’s Market – Lockhart, TX
Lockhart owns the title “Bar-B-Q capital of Texas” and that has a lot to do with this place or should I say – this building. For over 75 years, a joint called Kreuz Market inhabited the building, but after a family feud sent Kreuz Market down the street to a new location, the sibling left with the old building opened up “Smitty’s Market” Decades of smoke are crusted onto the walls which only helps flavor the meat. And you can’t beat waiting in line only a foot or two from the open flames cooking your lunch. And no matter how much I eat, I always seem to find room for a $1 cone of Blue Bell Ice Cream.

NOTE: Chet said that “JMueller BBQ isn’t on the list yet because I’ve only eaten it once. But if the second time is as good as the first, then you better believe it will be on the top of my list”.

Watch The Daytripper on your local PBS station. Details at www.thedaytripper.com

Here’s more info on The Daytripper: “It’s no secret that Texas is big. Alright, more than big. Texas is HUGE!! And exploring Texas ain’t no small vacation, it’s a lifetime endeavor. But what if you only have one day? Well that’s where we come in. From the well-known landmarks to the completely obscure dives and hideaways – and all within a day’s reach. We created The Daytripper to inspire folks to get out and explore the Lone Star State. Sure, national travel shows are entertaining, but that’s where they stop. The Daytripper is all about destinations in Texas for Texans, which means you can visit whenever you want. So, I’ll see you on the road.This is THE DAYTRIPPER!”

Follow Chet on facebook HERE
Follow Chet on twitter HERE

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Larry Gaian – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 20

If memory serves me correctly Larry Gaian was one of the very first people I met when I first joined the wonderful world of twitter. At that time he was already deeply entrenched in the world of social media and had quite a following.

Larry loves to write about food, especially when it’s cooked outdoors on one of his 13 barbecues or grills. He spends most of his time developing recipes and BBQ tips for his blog The BBQ Grail. His recipes and cooking tips regularly appear on popular blogs, websites, newspapers and several popular cookbooks in the United States and Canada. Larry is currently the editor of Pork, Knife and Spoon the official blog of the National Pork Board

I’m honored that Larry would participate in this week’s ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints‘. Here are his favorites in his words:

Dinosaur BBQ in Rochester, New York is the BBQ restaurant I judge all other BBQ restaurants by. I had been using Dinosaur BBQ’s rubs with wonderful success, long before I had a chance to visit there a few years ago while on a business trip. I knew, almost immediately, I was going to love this place. With very few exceptions if there are several BBQ pits and pile of wood visible when you walk up you in for a great meal. And Dinosaur proved this, hands down. The food was exceptional, the service top notch. Chef John Stage has created a first rate dining experience without loosing the real down home BBQ feel that is necessary for a real BBQ restaurant.


Photo of Dinosaur BBQ courtesy of urbanblitz’s posterous

Phat Matt’s BBQ in Oakland, California is my favorite BBQ joint in the whole wide world. Phat Matt’s BBQ has everything a BBQ joint should have. A real wood smoker, great food and the friendliest and most awesome owners is what makes this my favorite place. Matt and Charlotte Gonzales have created the perfect place to enjoy good food with good friends. The only negative for me is that I have to drive 90 minutes to eat there. The brisket is always fresh, moist and has an amazing bark that you can’t get in most places. And if sodium intake is a concern for you, they use their own “salt free” rubs. Make sure you save room from pecan pie and peach cobbler.


Photo of Phat Matt’s brisket
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Charlie McKenna – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 19

I’m really excited about this week’s participant in ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints‘. Chef Charlie McKenna from Lillie’s Q in Chicago, IL. He has won numerous awards on the competition barbeque circuit including the top prize at Memphis In May. Charlie brings this competition style barbeque to Lillie’s Q (named after both his maternal grandmother Lillie, who taught Charlie the art of southern cooking as a young boy at her home in Greenville, SC and for his father, Quito, who is an award-winning barbecue pit master).

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Charlie went on to some of the top restaurants in the United States, doing stints in Miami, New York and Chicago. He honed his culinary craft along the way while keeping an eye on his ultimate goal, opening Lillie’s Q. In July 2010, Charlie fired up his smokers in Bucktown, and has been smoking 24 hours a day since. Returning to his barbeque roots, Charlie is slow smoking pork shoulder, tri-tip, baby back ribs and chicken in custom-built smokers over peach wood and charcoal that go perfectly with his award-winning homemade rubs and sauces.

Here are Charlie’s Favorite BBQ Joints in his words:

10 Bones BBQ – Southaven, MS
They’re our buddies on the competition BBQ circuit. Really love their attention to detail they put into their smoking. Their whole hog and ribs
are excellent.


Photo of 10 Bones BBQ

Smoque BBQ – Chicago, IL
Barry and crew helped put North Side of Chicago BBQ on the map. They make the best brisket I’ve ever had in my life. I also really like their hot link. Barry’s also one of the nicest guys around.


Photo of Smoque BBQ courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ

Honky Tonk BBQ – Chicago, IL
I love the atmosphere here, the live music, and their candy bacon is ridiculously good. Willy’s a good friend from Chicago and the competition BBQ circuit: that guy knows how to party.


Photo of Honky Tonk BBQ courtesy of Justin B. – Yelp

Three Little Pigs BBQ – Taylors, SC
This place reminds me of my childhood. It’s the first place that I really got into eating BBQ as a kid while visiting my grandparents. Their mustard sauce is one of my favorites.

Lillie’s Q – Destin, FL
This is the BBQ shack I helped open with my parents back in 2008. My dad runs the show here: everyone calls him The Mayor. He BBQs on an open pit there — old school style. They just did a great remodel of the space, so it’s not a complete shit hole anymore. I love the corn salad, potato salad, and smoked chicken salad there.

If you want to learn a bit more about Chef McKenna check out these 20 Questions posed to him by the Chicago Food Snob HERE

“My Favorite BBQ Joints” – List of 17

After last week’s contribution by Josh Ozersky to ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints’ we now have 17 posts from people from all walks of life. Here are ALL of the contributors so far in the order they were posted (just click on their name to see their favorite BBQ Joints):

Amy Mills – 17th Street Bar & Grill
Chris Phillips – Squirrel Nut Zippers
John T. Edge – Southern Foodways Alliance
Drew Robinson – Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q
Heath Hall – Pork Barrel BBQ
Kevin Pang – The Chicago Tribune
Jamie Deen – The Deen Brothers
Albert Nurick – H Town Chow Down
Rod Gray – Pellet Envy
Danielle Dimovski – Diva Q
James Boo – The Eaten Path
Dave Anderson – Famous Dave’s Barbecue
Ray Lampe – Dr. BBQ
Simon Majumdar – Dos Hermanos
Daniel Vaughn – Full Custom Gospel BBQ
Clare Grant – Team Unicorn
Josh Ozersky – OzerskyTV

Check back in as I have some really incredible ones coming up. Thanks again to everyone that participated so far and if there is anyone you’d like to see contribute their favorite BBQ joints let me know and I’ll search them out.

Josh Ozersky – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 18

When I originally came up with the idea for my weekly feature ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints‘ I had always hoped I’d have Josh Ozersky provide his list. If you don’t know Josh, he is the executive producer and host of Ozersky.TV (you seriously have to check the videos out here, but don’t blame me if you fall behind on anything else you have to do for the day). He also writes the “Taste of America” column for Time Magazine and is the author of The Hamburger: A History and Meet Me In Manhattan: A Carnivore’s Guide to New York City. He’s a winner of the James Beard Award for food writing, was formerly the editor of New York Magazine‘s food blog, Grub Street, and the National Restaurant Editor of Citysearch. If that wasn’t enough, he writes a cooking column for Rachael Ray.com. His next book, Colonel Sanders and The American Dream, will be published next year.

Here are Josh’s favorite BBQ joints in his words:

Shorty’s BBQ – Miami FL
Shorty’s lacks all credibility as a BBQ; partially owing to its generally mediocre meat and partially to the fact that it is two blocks from Dadeland, the consummate soulless Florida mall. But it was here that I first encountered barbecue — and when Shorty’s caught on fire in 1972, learned the fear and contingency that underlay the smoky arts. I was just five years old; and I cried as it burned. The warm, peppery, tobacco-like sauce that sits in tubs of warm water still brings me pleasure when I encounter it, and I had a jar of Shorty’s sauce on my writing desk for many years.

Photo of Shorty’s BBQ courtesy of Inside Fort Lauderdale

The Pit Bar-B-Q – Miami FL
The Pit, on the other hand, was the place were I first encountered great barbecue. I can’t speak to its quality now, having not eaten there for many years; but the sauceless pungency of its sliced — not pulled — pork sandwich made me unspeakably happy. The unbearably long and featureless drive down the Tamiami Trail was almost more than my infant mind could bear, but the giddy expectation took the edge off the boredom, and the ride back was stultfied by a woozy, blissfull satiation.

Photo of the exterior of The Pit Bar-B-Q

RUB – New York, NY
I was fully formed as a barbecuer and judge when RUB opened, and thought I knew it all. Moreover, given the fact that its owner, Andrew Fishchel, was like myself a nerdy, bombastic Jewish wiseass, I was sure it would be the latest gallant but flawed effort at urban barbecue. But Andrew and his pitmaster, Scotty Smith, created something truly inventive there, and continue to make the place a workshop of all that is best and creative in barbecue. Yes, they can still make flawless KCBS style ribs. But it’s the pastrami burnt ends, the smoked pork confit, the world-class bacon, triple smoked and flash-fried in lard, that keep me intrigued and excited after lo these many years of gluttony.

Photo of RUB BBQ

Hill Country Barbecue Market – New York, NY
I was likewise present at the creation of Hill Country, and in fact my best friend was the pitmaster. I had my happiest hours of my thirties, wandering in at random, going right into the back, and taking choice little bites of salt-and-pepper brisket and plump, explosive jalapeno sausage, and even the occasional rib steak. Robbie Richter, the pitmaster, did a magnificent job running the pits on imported Texas post oak and I washed down all the magnificent fat and salt with the sweetest imaginable exlir – a “Hill Country Cooler” of Tito’s vodka, triple sec, and Tang. Good Times!

Photo of Hill Country Barbecue Market courtesy of Eater

Scott’s BBQ – Hemingway SC
My life in barbecue continues to grow and shift, and I keep learning more all the time, reminded forcefully again and again just how petty and poor my self-satisfaction is. I think I know it all — as I did at the Pit, as I did at RUB — and then I find out how little I know. I thought Carolina barbecue was a hoax until I met Rodney Scott, and tasted the meltingly tender, peppery, piquant, whole hog that he cooks in his fabled pits — and then bit the supremely crisp skin of the pigs, and then put the two together, rolled them in white bread, and washed them down with strawberry soda. I was hot and happy and glad to have been so dumb; because the surprise was almost as good as the barbecue.

Photo of Scott’s BBQ courtesy of Peter Frank Edwards / The New York Times / Redux

You can check out Josh on twitter HERE
Check out Ozersky.TV on facebook HERE

Clare Grant – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 17

For this week’s ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints‘ I am lucky to have Clare Grant participate. She is a Memphis-born actress who grew up very involved in the local theater and film scene. Upon graduation from the University of Memphis for Theater Performance, she had a short modeling career overseas before she began acting professionally. Her first role was a small but pivotal one in Walk the Line. Shortly after, she moved to LA to pursue acting full time.

While in Memphis, Clare met local director, Craig Brewer, who cast her in several independent films before casting her in his first studio film, Black Snake Moan, and later as the lead in his MTV series, $5 Cover. After that, Clare immediately found luck in LA, booking a leading role in the Emmy award-winning Showtime series Masters of Horror, as well as several other film and television guest and starring roles in shows such as CSI: Miami, Robot Chicken, Warren the Ape and The Graves. Living in Memphis gave her a strong grounding in what real deal BBQ is all about.

Here is her short and sweet (actually more savory) list in her words:

The Bar-B-Q Shop – Memphis, TN
My favorite BBQ place in Memphis is called The Bar-B-Q Shop. It is in Mid-Town Memphis on Madison Ave. It’s the first place I head to when I fly in to town. They have the best ribs and hands down the best pork shoulder sandwich ever. On Texas Toast. It’s amazing.

Photo of The Bar-B-Q Shop courtesy of The Eaten Path

Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous – Memphis, TN
Also in Memphis, I love the Rendezvous. It’s classic Memphis style BBQ in downtown Memphis.

Photo of Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous courtesy of Roadfood.com

J.R.’s BBQ – Los Angeles, CA
In Los Angeles, I make the trek to J.R.’s BBQ on South LaCienega. It’s the only BBQ in LA that meets my BBQ standards.

Photo of J.R.’s BBQ courtesy of Stve W. – Yelp

Here is some additional information about Clare:
As a producer, Clare has focused on pop-culture geek related projects. With Rileah Vanderbilt, she created & starred in the short film Saber, which won two awards (Audience Choice & Best Action) at the LucasFilm Star Wars Fan Film Awards. With her creative partners in Team Unicorn, she has helped to create and produce the viral sensations: G33K & G4M3R Girls, A Very Zombie Holiday and superHarmony.

Daniel Vaughn – My Favorite BBQ Joints (Outside of Texas) – Volume 16

If there’s a BBQ Joint in Texas that I’m wondering about there’s ONLY one person out there that I know has been there and can give me his honest opinion of it. His name is Daniel Vaughn (aka BBQ Snob) and his website is Full Custom Gospel BBQ. He’s a BBQ Joint visiting machine and if you care about BBQ (and BBQ Joints) you should be following him via twitter, facebook, and of course his blog. Although we haven’t met (we will in August though at the Gettin’ Sauced event) I am happy to call him a friend and honored that he decided to participate in my weekly feature ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints‘. I really appreciate the time and effort he put into each entry below and I know you’ll be putting many (if not all) of these on your BBQ Joint bucket list.


Photo of Daniel courtesy of Texas BBQ Posse

Here is Daniel’s list in his own words(and all photos are from Full Custom Gospel BBQ):

All of my BBQ exploits are well known if you read my blog Full Custom Gospel BBQ, and my favorites in Texas are pretty obvious from the star rating system. I thought I’d share a few of my favorites from around the country outside of Texas. While I feel like an incomplete BBQ aficionado of the US not having done a true Carolina trip or made a visit to Owensboro, Kentucky, my opinions cannot be contained by the Lone Star State lines.

Bob’s Omahoma BBQ – Wooster, Ohio
I’ll start with a joint in my hometown. This wasn’t around when I was growing up, but I was happy to find a real Texas Style BBQ joint on a visit back home. This joint has better brisket than some of the joints I’ve eaten at in Dallas. They also have Zapp’s chips from where I went to school in Louisiana and Head Country BBQ sauce from my wife’s home state of Oklahoma.

Smokin’ Joe’s Rib Ranch & RV Park – Davis, Oklahoma
This joint in a small town smokes up some huge flavors. Not only are the ribs and brisket stellar, other less popular items like thick cut pork tenderloin and spicy smoked chicken wings are done quite well. It’s on the way to the in-laws place in Oklahoma City, so I try to stop whenever I can.

The Original Van’s Pig Stand – Shawnee, Okalahoma
They’ve been serving BBQ out of this building since 1935. You can just feel the age of those bricks when you walk in, and the food is great to boot. Grab a pig sandwich and a Van-ized potato and savor the history.

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