I Ate the Choomongous and I'm Still Alive Today

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Gavin Cleaver
Yes, the picture is in portrait. No, I'm not very good.

Every year, the Rangers roll out a whole bunch of stuff designed specifically to clog your arteries. It's their public service, as a socially-minded ballclub, to cut down on the population explosion in DFW by culling those stupid enough to eat a two-foot sandwich.

I am one of those people. Yet somehow, I live. This is the story of my folly.

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Off-Site Kitchen's Brisket Sandwich Is a Gold Medal Sandwich

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Gavin Cleaver

A surprising number of business people have business lunches at Off-Site Kitchen. You might think, being business people, in suits and ties, discussing contracts (all business people ever discuss is contracts) and tapping away on their Blackberries like it's 2004 might shy away from a place as earthy as Off-Site. Yet, here they are, on a Monday afternoon, sitting out in the sunshine five yards from a table football table and three yards from a large trash receptacle.

Why would they choose a place that serves ginormous sandwiches for not much money over a place that serves them a $50 steak that can be accompanied with strong alcohol?

Here's why. Off-Site Kitchen is delicious.

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I Ate the Lamb Brisket at Tim Love's Woodshed Smokehouse and Now Everything's OK

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Gavin Cleaver
Beef *and* lamb briskets.
Woodshed Smokehouse's menu has been teasing me for months. With all those exotic items (smoked mozarella! Bizarre sausage! AN ENTIRE GODDAMN SHIN OF BEEF! Smoked rutabaga, which is called "swede" back home because "rutabaga" is literally impossible to say in a British accent), I had actually spent what might be hours of my life lining up my ideal Woodshed Smokehouse meal, and then realizing that I couldn't afford such a spread without auctioning off at least one of my limbs.

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I Tried Smoking My First Brisket and It Was Terrible

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Gavin Cleaver
The smoker of dreams.
Looking back, I think I had been scared to try smoking a brisket. Having never seen chunks of meat that size back home, it's a scary commitment for two reasons. One, you can't eat a brisket by yourself. That means you have to invite people round for brisket. This has to be done in advance, and that means the promise of edible brisket. What you've done there is set yourself up for a fall when, actually, the brisket turns out to be terrible. Your guests will go hungry, probably destroy your property in a fit of rage, and eat anything they can find, even that expensive cheese you were keeping for an occasion more special than your house being ransacked by former friends.

See Also: An Englishman in BBQ Sauce Archives

Two, it takes so long to do it right that you need to block off two days of your time. In this busy merry-go-round world we all live in, where demands on our time are everywhere and anywhere, who can actually spend sixteen hours or so doing one thing? Unless that thing is video games, obviously. No one's relying on you to complete Fallout 3, though.

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Five Texas Barbecue Events to Put on Your Meat Calendar

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Catherine Downes
What with the announcement of this year's Meat Fight date (more on that in a minute), and the sad fact that said date is way off toward the end of the year, we thought it might be time to have a quick poke around the internet to see what we could see. And what we saw was a bounty of barbecue events.

See Also: DFW's 10 Best Barbecue Joints

Barbecue events are, of course, a delicious excuse to both be outside and to eventually slip into a meat coma, slumped on the floor, back pressed up against the vegetarian friend or relative you persuaded to come along and be designated meat-free driver. Also, you could probably use a reminder that the weather won't be like this for long, and the endless Texas summer will soon make us all wish for thundersleet. We've tried to stick with ones near the DFW area, but there are a few worth driving for, no doubt.

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Your First Look at Lockhart Smokehouse Plano, the Suburbs' Newest Barbecue Mecca

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Rachael Cleaver
The Whole Enchilada. Not pictured -- an enchilada.
The new Lockhart Smokehouse, right on Plano's main square, is up and running, and the crowds are already forming. Tuesday afternoon, your peak-time lunch wait would have been a good 40 minutes or so, which is cruel given that you can smell Plano's barbecue mecca from more than a block away.

After its attempts to subtly open last week by way of inviting locals over on Twitter to try a few things out, the Morning News burst the dam of smoked meat during the soft opening, and now the barbecue cat is out of the grease-soaked paper.

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To The Glory of Vietnamese Coffee

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Gavin Cleaver
I took this with a real camera.

One thing I have discovered since moving to America, besides that pile of barbecue I consumed last year, is just how amazing Vietnamese coffee is. The one above is from Pho Bistro in Carrollton, at 3052 Old Denton Rd, but they're the same all over. It's basically one of the most delicious things imaginable. So strong, and yet so sweet, it's like Hulk Hogan asking to take you out for a lovely dinner at your favorite restaurant. While dressed in a tutu. Hulk Hogan, not you. This has come off the rails. Let's try again.


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The Original Sonny Bryan's versus Mike Anderson's in a Brisket Showdown

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Gavin Cleaver
You'll be pleased to know I have not spent my downtime improving my photography skills
In honor of Sunday's sold-out Meat Fight, we're celebrating smoked animal flesh all week long in our inaugural Meat Week, in which we celebrate the procuring, cooking and face-stuffing of dead-animal flesh.

An oft-overlooked brisket is the lunchtime variety, guaranteed to make your afternoon at work a slow and lazy one. Two lunchtime establishments just north of downtown have been around for eons now, and are about fifty feet from each other. I like to imagine the owners peer at each other's buildings from the windows of their restaurants, possibly using binoculars, to see what the other one is up to. If there isn't some sort of rivalry there, I'd at least like to pretend there is one, okay?

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Texas Barbecue Made Me (Sort Of) American

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Lori Bandi
In honor of Sunday's sold-out Meat Fight, we're celebrating smoked animal flesh all week long in our inaugural Meat Week, in which we celebrate the procuring, cooking and face-stuffing of dead-animal flesh.

When I first came to America I was a man adrift. Sure, I had a family I loved, but we lived, car-less, in an apartment near a strip club and a Humperdink's. We didn't even have any furniture, assuming as we did that American apartments came furnished like the ones back home. Requiring two buses and one train to get anywhere even approaching civilization, we lived in a city we had no connection with. One we'd been dropped in on almost by accident -- a job offer to my wife (at that time just my girlfriend) and here we were, two people in their late 20s from a small city in rural Britain 5,000 miles from home, in some sort of concrete metropolis we had neither the tools nor the desire to navigate.

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Dallas-Fort Worth's 10 Best Barbecue Joints

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Stephen Masker
Texas barbecue: You and I know it's the best. More importantly, it's a food where, if you leave the state, you'll notice other states do barbecue in strange and terrifying ways that make you feel wrong. Once I went to Oklahoma (this is how all great stories start, I know), ordered brisket and was served what amounted to wafer-thin lunch meat. Was it smoked? I don't know. I was too scared.

Dallas has been undergoing something of a barbecue revolution. Where once there was Dickey's and Sonny Bryan's, now there are independents with fancy cooking methods and no desire for a mass market. Even better, thanks to the nature of the beast, they're charging the same prices. Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, the same few barbecue restaurants have been plugging away at high-quality barbecue for decades.

See also: An Englishman In BBQ Sauce Archives

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