This was the eighth annual bbqpalooza and in light of the distinct Tex-Mex flavor, plus our first trip to San Antonio it was nicknamed "The Ocho". We made six stops in two days. Not our heftiest itinerary, but we have become older and wiser in recent years. The first two stops were legit pig out meals, so rest assured we are all on 200 calorie a day diets as of Monday. The itinerary was up in the air till the last minute (Truth vacations, Hays Co. building, and Sundays being extremely limited in San Antonio all made impacts), and we even made changes on the fly (Leroy and Lewis sold out? Hello Valentina's tacos and Kerlin ribs!), but in the end some old favorites and new revelations made this version of bbqpalooza as memorable as usual.
Our first stop was supposed to be bbqpalooza fav Truth BBQ. Alas, days before we set out Leonard and the gang announced they would be taking a much needed break. I'd be lying if I didn't say we were disappointed, but we quickly rebounded by agreeing to revisit TMBBQ #6 spot Tejas Chocolate! We were honored to be joined there by Andrew and Bryan from bbqpalooza's favorite podcast Tales from the Pits pod. Bryan was able to get us a pit tour (yes....I saw the legend "The Dude" at work) and some great bbq small talk with the always cordial and down to earth pitmaster Scott. Our slight disappointment was quickly turned to good fortune when the food hit the table. Tejas has vastly improved since our last visit (and that was right before being named #6). Some joints can crumble a bit under the pressure of a top 10 ranking, but we all felt Scott and company have accepted the challenge and continued to get better! The brisket was excellent, the burnt ends were a treat, and while I am still a huge fan of their green sauce...several bbqpalooza members were in love with the mole. The belle of the ball though was the ridiculously tasty pork belly which disappeared faster than anything on the table. Seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed every visit to Tejas, but I can honestly say I fully understood their top 10 ranking after this year's meal. Thanks for a fantastic kickoff meal!
We had an excellent meal as always and I can't wait to get back to this new location again.
After Valentina's we decided we would go by oft overlooked and highly underrated Kerlin BBQ. It was actually right after their normal closing time, we had to fight through the sxsw crowd with a rousing game of "Hipster or Hobo", and apparently the x games were going on right behind the food truck while some sort of "music" wailed at 9000 decibels.....and still we were blown away by the ribs. Kerlin's had a little food left and luckily for us a few of their juicy, succulent pork ribs. This spot is an excellent option for bbq in Austin and should not be overlooked. We have been a couple of times and I can assure you you'd have a hard time finding a better pork rib even in the tmbbq top 10! Check them out next time you are in Austin.
Now it was time to head to San Antonio for the first time. We planned this trip around 2m on Sunday morning, but decided to double dip with reservations at The Granary Saturday night. While the dinner BBQ board offered a little to be desired compared to the fare we had that morning at Tejas, the rest of the eclectic menu was a delicious end to a smoky day. The Maitake mushrooms and fried quail were big winners here, and the Texas toast with what they call BBQ butter (as amazing as it sounds) was a personal favorite (I could have downed 20 slices alone). The desserts were much appreciated too....especially a savory chess pie! I can't say the brisket we ate was comparable with our top joints, but I could easily recommend coming here and partaking in some extremely tasty off the radar menu items that you will definitely not find on any other bbq joints menus.
I would be remiss and under duress from bbqpalooza captain Chris Hicks @theoaktxbbq if I did not mention the food that our host for the night, Alan Esguerra, had ready when we arrived. The man had reverse seared steaks that he personally dry aged for 30 days! Exactly what you need after eating BBQ all day right?.....actually Chris swore it was the best meat he'd had all day. After an unbelievable surprise fifth dinner from Alan it was time to rest up for the next morning.......
If Valentina's is Tex-Mex heaven......then 2m is Tex-Mex Nirvana. What an absolutely AMAZING tray of Tex-Mex goodness! First, the trinity.... for those anxious traditionalists.....is LEGIT top 10. Excellent bark and fat rendering for a well better than average brisket. Ribs were right there with Tejas and Kerlin, and the sausage......the SAUSAGE! The pork sausage with serrano and Oaxaca was possibly my favorite item on the trip! If that doesn't do it for you let me drop our sides list: Chicharoni macaroni, borracho beans, pico de gallo, and pickled nopales!!!!!! SHUT. IT. DOWN. BBQ fans.....this was a top 3 sides spot for me. Add in homemade tortillas and I could seriously eat this meal EVERY day for the rest of my life....no complaints. (As seen on TV voice) But wait! We're not done! Because 2M follows that up with a top 3 dessert as well. Think Micklethwait moon pies or Truth cake. These guys crank out daily tres leches specials! We got to sample peanut butter and red velvet tres leches and it was as savory as the meal. Several very happy glances were exchanged across the table and the feeling I had post meal at 2M was probably the best I've felt since the Astros won the World Series.....that good friends. If you are in San Antonio....or within 200 miles of it I highly recommend sampling 2m soon. Get there early, because the Sunday we were there they sold out in 2 hours....and it is easy to see why!
We were ready to head back to the homeland and close out the weekend for the second year in a row at a personal favorite Pinkerton's. Grant is one of the best dudes in BBQ, super friendly, welcoming (it is literally his HOUSE), and he was really involved in the Harvey recovery efforts. Sunday he was out at the rodeo (he's also a big supporter of the FFA community) so we missed him, but his terrific staff he's put together had the Q on point as always! My love of Pinkerton's has been well documented (even my wife and daughter are always begging me to take them back), and this plate was no different. We ate some of Grant's now World Famous "candy painted" ribs (soon to be the most popular shirt on the BBQ market). We had some brisket and burnt ends.....several members said it was their favorite brisket even as the last. Sausage was on point as well, but the last few visits I have been blown away by Pinkerton's smoked turkey! It is not to be skipped on. I especially like it with a little of the homemade BBQ sauce that is supplied in a tub for you. So....so...good....like any BBQ lover I search out that brisket (Pinkerton's is top tier), but I could definitely eat a whole meal of that turkey and not feel cheated at all. Of course, what would any Pinkerton's meal be without a side of duck jambalaya?
So we cherished that last meal, purchased a few to go orders for family and friends and closed the book on bbqpalooza "the ocho". All in all it was another tremendous weekend of Q, friends, and gluttony. Tejas started it off by setting the bar extremely high. 2M was an absolute REVELATION. Pinkerton's sent us all home full and happy. In between we visited old favorites like Valentina's and Kerlin's, and had a very eclectic BBQ meal at The Granary.....oh and don't forget that 30 day dry aged steak (I know The Oak won't). Thanks to all the spots that hosted us and friends who tagged along on the way! See you guys out on the BBQ trail!