Monday, September 24, 2012

Texas Monthly BBQ Festival 2012

sampled 9/23/12 
Another wonderful meat extravaganza down and (mostly) done.  This was their third festival and the second one I was able to attend.  Having learned our lesson on year one, I had my buddy Dave waiting online to score us V.I.P. tickets the moment they went on sale.  We showed up a full hour before V.I.P. entry and ended up about 30th in line.   The rumor going down the line was that they sold 500 V.I.P. tickets this year and it definitely seemed like the V.I.P. crowd was almost double what it was last year.

As usual I prepared by fasting the previous day and kept to small samples from each booth.  We managed to try all 21 participants in about 2 and a half hours.
 We were joined by Dave's buddy Bill who made the rookie mistake of filling up early.  However he was helped by our game plan which meant we scheduled some of the best joints right at the start.  Our first 3 targets were Franklin, Snow's, and Pecan Lodge.  The one to one comparison of Snow's and Franklin last year was an easy win for Franklin.  Not so this year.  Snow's brisket had perfectly rendered fat and a nice smoke flavor.  The sausage was average.
I had been looking forward to trying Pecan Lodge.  I have heard nothing but good things, yet have never managed to find myself in downtown Dallas for lunch on the days they were open.  That might have to change and soon.  They knocked it out of the park on brisket, beef ribs and pork ribs.  All were exceptional.  In fact, they were so exceptional, both Dave and Bill went back later and got more!  Yes, it was that good. I heard many people in the crowd, throughout the day, talking about Pecan Lodge's quality meats.  Too bad there was no voting for people's choice this year.  Franklin's, I hate to say, was a disappointment.  Maybe it was because we hit them early, maybe it was because they were serving just lean brisket when we were there, I don't know.  It just came across as tender roast beef. 

After our top 3, we ran from stand to stand, usually gathering 3 or 4 to take back to our table to sample.  This year we found a spot under one of the tents and just kind of camped out there.  When Bill filled up on food early, he stayed and guarded our spots so we always had a seat to try our food at.  It was a good system and served us well.

I have to say overall, the food was a bit better than it was last year.  I had at least 6 good smoky pieces of brisket including Baker's, Snow's, City Market, Goode Company, and Lambert's.  I marked down Lambert's as number 2 to Pecan Lodge.  I think we had more good ribs last year but I noted Baby J's, Stanley's, Vincek's, with Baby J's being number 2 to Pecan Lodge.  I thought Opie's beef rib was superior, but my co-conspiriters  raved on Pecan Lodge.  I guess I just got a bad rib. I never found any really good sausage.  Probably the best flavor was from Smitty's, but their super thick and chewy casing just ruins it for me.

There were all kinds of famous folks milling about.  I saw Daniel the BBQ snob and Drew from Man Up but never got to visit with them.  Aaron Franklin was signing autographs.  However for me the real BBQ royalty was seated over at the Taylor Cafe booth.  Mr. Vencil Mares was there in person this year and anyone who can operate a BBQ joint for over 60 years is BBQ royalty in my book.
You might have noticed I said "mostly" done when I started this post.  As usual, I brought along some ziploc bags for taking home leftovers.  When I sampled each stop, I just took a bite or two, then consigned what was left to the bag.  A few didn't qualify, but by the time I was finished I had around 5 pounds of smoked meat to take home in the cooler.  That should make for some nice dinners this week, even if some of it will need sauce.  I can't wait for TMBBQ Fest number 4 next year!!
Two more posts follow with just food and booth pictures.


  1. Sorry I missed you there Don O. It looks like you had a meaty day.

    1. I bet you did, too! I hope they bring back the people's choice voting next year. See ya at the next one!