This spot out in the country, 10 miles east of Temple, was recommended by long-time friends Karen and Jay. One of those places you say, “one of these days we’re gonna visit” and we finally did.  It was larger than I expected, about 15-20 tables or booths, and through a doorway, a butcher shop selling all sorts of beef, chicken, pork, etc.  All of their meats are cut, prepared, and cooked on site)

 

We shared two fried Boudin pieces, which for you non-cajun types, is a sort of mixture of chicken, sausage, rice and spices then rolled up and deep fried.  Hot and tasty.  There are a million ways to make Boudin, frequently with seafood or crawfish.  We then shared their famous “sausage burger” which is a large pork sausage patty on a thin hamburger bun with mustard, pickles and onions.  Very different, but pretty good.  We also shared a sliced brisket sandwich.  The beef was tender, flavorful and had a delicious, but unusual sauce on it. BBQ sauces generally run in one of two types, ketchup/molasses based, which is typically thicker, heavier and robust, and vinegar based which is thinner and not as strong, but can have a kick.  This sauce was a mash-up of the two, with the tang of the vinegar mixing with the ketchup/molasses.  It was very well done.  The sides were a vinegar based cole slaw, crispy and fresh, and onion rings hot out of the fryer.  The wait staff was friendly but busy.

 

We then wandered into the next room to peruse the market.  We bought some pepper bacon, sliced thick while we watched, along with some chicken breakfast sausages, a loaf of home made wheat bread,  a half-dozen kolaches (very good) and some salsa made there. Next visit we will get some steaks for the grill, and some local cheeses, along with a bottle of their BBQ sauce.

 

 

Scores:

 

Boudin, sausage and brisket:  B+

Sides: B+

Ambiance: A

 

……The BBQ road goes ever on!

 

–The BBQ (and stuff) Guy

 

From the BBQ Guy of Low Budget Reviews…..

While reviewing BBQ places far and wide along the BBQ Road, it is always interesting to hit a local spot to see if they have changed over the years.  So I was looking forward to the recent visit to “Pok-E-Jo’s BBQ” in Round Rock. This 5-store local chain has been serving the Austin area since 1979, when several guys, after an evening of beer and not-so-good BBQ at a local joint decided they could do better.   The Round Rock location is their second-oldest, opened in 1992 and is the hub of their catering business.  They have the sign from the original store.

 

Walking through the heavy wooden doors, the smell of smoking meats washes over you like high tide on the beach.  There are 3 actual BBQ pits in the restaurant and they are going 24-7.  The décor is standard Texas BBQ with mounted deer heads, license plates, old metal logos from gas stations and soda pop.  Even an post office sign from somewhere in New Mexico.  The serving line is close to the carving stations where a large, but difficult to read sign posts the offerings, and specials of the day.  The staff is young, competent, very friendly and quick.  Instead of the usual 2-meat plate, I opt for the 3-meat plate instead, adding ribs to the brisket and sausage and 2 sides with Texas Toast on my plate.  The sides offered are extensive, unusual for a BBQ place, including baked spuds, jalapeno corn bread casserole, fried okra, and others along with the usual suspects.  My companion opted for the coleslaw and green bean casserole while I stayed with coleslaw and potato salad.

So how was it?  Well the sides had a mixed response.  The coleslaw was obviously freshly prepared, unusual in that the cabbage was sliced in large strips.  It made for an appealing dish, but was very bland.  The potato salad had a little kick, extra dill pickle perhaps, and was very chunky, but could have used additional mustard.  I won’t say bland, but perhaps just OK-not-quite great.  The green bean casserole was delicious, hot, smooth, crispy.  Very well done.

The sweet tea tasted commercial brand and was a disappointment.

 

The brisket was thoroughly cooked, but was not particularly tender. There was no evidence of a smoke ring.  The sausage was cut into thin slices and looked prepared on-site.  It was very coarse ground, not greasy at all, with what appeared to be black pepper and some other seasonings not often tasted elsewhere.  The ribs were small, not tender, average in meat content, but good smoky taste.  You are given the option of sauce or no sauce and there is a table in the middle of the place for more sauce if’n ya need it.   There are two types of sauce, once is spicier than the other.

 

Grade?  The sides get a solid “B” for wide selection, but need some work.  The Brisket gets a “C”, just average.  The sausage gets an “A” and the ribs a “C”.  Overall, I give a “B-“ (B-minus).  I believe that when restaurants get into the catering business, they learn to deal with economies of scale, finding ways of preparing foods economically, quickly, and intentionally bland food tastes downward so they can be all things to all customers.  While this may make for good restaurant business, it doesn’t make for great BBQ.    Pok-E-Jo’s—you could do better!  The portions are large, especially the sides.  The prices are average-to-above-average. The 3-meat plate and sides were $10.79.

 

We will see you down the Barbecue Road!


Another addition from our portly purveyor of Texas BBQ:

Today’s journey takes us to Chappell Hill, about 8 miles east on Highway 290 from Brenham ,TX.    We have passed the Chappell Hill Bakery and Smokehouse numerous times over the years and kept saying, “one of these days….”.  As we were in the area for the Chappell Hill Bluebonnet Festival, we left the festival tired and hungry and decided, this was going to be that day.  Walking in, you are faced with two entry doors.  The first, on the right, leads to the Bakery side and the left leads to the restaurant side.  There is only one large room inside , filled with tables and a few booths, with very little decoration outside of some old photos of the area from many years past.   Heading over to the restaurant side we were immediately dismayed at the long line we found ourselves in.  The line snaked past the cafeteria style servers carving BBQ meats and placing side orders on plates.  But the line moved steadily, and the wait gave us the chance to read the chalk menu board with the options and daily specials.  It also gave us time to look at the orders of folks walking past the cashier’s area, plates filled with food.

As usual at a new BBQ place, we ordered the two-meat special, with brisket, sausage, and two sides.  Then came our first big decision-what kind of sausage?  They offer 3 types, regular, jalapeno, and garlic.  We chose the garlic as it was not as spicy, and very unusual option on the BBQ Road.  The sides offered were plentiful, from Mac-n-cheese, to mustard greens, and several types of beans, but we chose the traditional potato salad and Cole slaw.  We got pickles on the side, no onions.  Sauce came on the side as well, which is a great choice for most people, who are usually on one side or the other on the great BBQ Sauce or non-BBQ-Sauce debate.  We were asked if we wanted bread, and said yes.  We received two large thick-sliced made-in-the-store slabs of warm bread, fresh from the oven.  Wonderful!

The sides were good, not great.  The mustard potato salad had a large dill pickle contribution, which made the salad tangy and crunchy.  The Cole slaw was fresh, but a little soupy.   The BBQ sauce was thin, molasses/ketchup based, with not much else going for it.   How was the meat?   The brisket had a very pronounced smoke ring, but little smoke flavor.  It was not particularly tender.  The sausage was outstanding, sliced thin and piled high, the garlic flavor very present but not overpowering.


 

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Many times along the day we stumble into a restaurant that is off the beaten path. Our review today is of Old Fashioned Barbecue.It is just that sort of restaurant. Located in North East Waco largely in a neighborhood, it is an updated convenience store turned into a barbecue restaurant. It’s a rather small operation in a fairly large space. Decorated with antique knickknacks throughout the store, the environment is very clean, very light, with about 10 tables in the main dining area. Against the back wall is a cooler unit left over from the days of when this was a convenience store. The pit master started this business on a roadside truck on Waco Drive. He carried on at that location until a point when he decided that he would like to house a permanent restaurant. He moved the operation to a building on Franklin Avenue, in downtown Waco, which is seeing a Renaissance. Sure that the business would be good at this location he set forth and invested in the location. However shortly thereafter the landlord did not keep commitments and the business was forced to seek another location. Enter this closed convenience store in North East Waco. Entering the restaurant, you are greeted by a very friendly staff. There is usually music playing in the background that is uplifting of nature. The service is friendly, prompt, and the people are great. I went in this evening seeking a sandwich on the way home, so this review does not include the normal multi-plate meal that we tend to order when reviewing a barbecue restaurant. Being a startup and building the business, I was very interested in supporting them in their endeavors. I ordered a chopped beef sandwich to go. But as I sat down to wait for my sandwich, I looked around the restaurant and talked with the friendly staff there. The young lady was brought in from Ohio, a relative of the family, to run the restaurant so the pit master could concentrate on his cooking. This particular pit master wakes up at 4 AM every morning and smokes his brisket in ribs and sausage and chicken in the back large pit using primarily pecan wood. I decided at that point to stay and eat the sandwich location since the people were so pleasant. The sandwich was served, not on a bun but on white bread. It was pure fresh joy of white bread. The chopped beef was truly chopped, meaning that in many cases of chopped beef sandwiches it looks more like shredded beef with barbecue sauce mixed in. As good barbecue restaurants will do, they asked if I wanted the sauce on the side or in the sandwich. Since I did not intend this to be a review to begin with, I just ordered it on the sandwich. The chopped beef was pieces of beautiful brisket well marbled and super ,super tender. Even through the sauce I could taste a very succinct smoky flavor. While I could not analyze the ring on the brisket since it had been chopped up, I just had to go on pure taste and quality of meat, and tenderness of the meat. All passed with flying colors. In fact if you try to do the same as I did; meaning ordering a chopped sandwich to go, think again. I ended up having to eat the sandwich on the fork between the fresh bread and the most tender barbecue brisket chopped up on the sandwich. The sauce was tangy semi-sweet and smoky flavor. I ordered the chopped beef sandwich special which is $7.49 consisting of the chopped beef sandwich a bag of chips in a can of soda. There is no soda fountain in this restaurant so any sodas will be ordered in cans or bottles. No re-free refills. However, iced tea is brewed there as well and does have free refills. I post this review as an introduction to this restaurant as I fully intend to return to do the proper review. I wanted to give them a “heads up” review since the chopped beef sandwich was so good. Prices are reasonable. Their sides include potato salad beans coleslaw green beans and macaroni and cheese. They also have menu items suitable for kids, as this is a family restaurant. Mostly attended by locals the business is slowly building.

For my initial review, I give this restaurant in 8 on a scale of 10. I will return to try the meat plates and do a more full review consistent with what this website normally does for restaurant reviews. But in the meantime if you’re ever in the area, stop by. I believe you will be glad that you did.

IAJ