I’m in Houston for work. When you’re a visitor to a town on a working trip, it’s nice to get away from the hotel scene and hit one of the local joints and, if possible, enjoy some true regional cuisine — like authentic, wood-smoked barbecue.
Last night I hit the mark when the Tattooed Cyclist and his lovely wife took me to Gatlin’s BBQ, one of their favorite hangouts. There we feasted on ribs with an excellent bark, venison sausage, spicy sausage, and some succulent brisket. I added to that a few heaping spoonfuls of mac and cheese and, at the insistence of Mrs. Tattooed Cyclist, some fried okra. Me, eating fried okra! It was good, and proved that pretty much anything fried is palatable. And, of course, when you’re attacking a platter of BBQ, a local brew is essential.
Some people argue about which kind of barbecue is best — Texas, Memphis, Kansas City, Carolina, or wherever your favorite may be found. I think that’s pointless, really. It’s like debating whether Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Renoir, or Jackson Pollack is the best artist. Each should be appreciated for their mastery of their own styles and the masterpieces they produced. When it comes to BBQ, I’ll gladly sample the different offerings of anybody who treats the production of smoked meats as an artistic endeavor, and consume their creative output with relish.
We’re down in Austin to visit with family and see a performance by the Austin Symphony. And if I’m in Austin, for any reason at all, I’ve got to stop by Stubb’s to have a little world class barbecue, liberally doused with Stubb’s equally world class sauce, and listen to some live music.
Last night we stopped by Stubb’s in the midst of a rambling pub crawl — which is a pretty good time to visit the establishment, incidentally — and I got the small combo plate with sausage, brisket, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. It was excellent, of course, with just the right amount of smoky bark on the brisket and the creamiest mac ‘n cheese you can get anywhere. It all went perfectly with a local brew. Then, it was on to Sixth Street.
Nashville boasts having the best barbecue in the world. Today for lunch Kish and I went to Edley’s Barbecue, a local landmark, to test that claim.
Edley’s one of those places that is crowded even at 1:30 p.m., where you stand in line for 15 minutes to place your order but don’t mind because the place smells so good. After you order, you take a number, find a table, clear away any debris left by prior diners, and wait with lip-smacking anticipation for a server to find you with your grub.
I got the “pork platter,” which included a mound of moist, tender barbecued pork, a grilled slab of cornbread, and mac and cheese and grits casserole for sides. It left me spluttering and speechless.
I don’t know whether Nashville is the BBQ capital of the world, but it’s in the competition.