If you have heard of a barbecue spot in Oakland, it was most likely either Everett & Jones or Phat Matt’s so those were my two stops on the east side of the bay.
Dorothy Everett grew up in Alabama, but her barbecue life began in Oakland. Opening the first Everett & Jones location in 1973, the brand is a relatively old name for a barbecue restaurant on the West Coast. The multiple restaurants open today, I was told, are all a bit different as they are run by separate parts of the family now.
The signature items at Everett & Jones are the house made sausage and the line of sauces. The variety in the sauces consists of heat, not style, as one is given the choice of mild, medium or hot.
Phat Matt’s is another barbecue restaurant with the story of layoffs and competition barbecue. Featured on TV for it’s crazy bacon creations, Phat Matt’s has become a glutton’s destination. While the usual barbecue offerings are available every day, it’s the 52 rotating daily specials that make Phatt Matt’s stand out. As Matt told me, “We just go overboard”. Yes, sir, you do indeed.
Montana isn’t known for barbecue, but, like just about anywhere in America, you can find some these days. Bozeman’s best known spot (and only real alternative to Famous Dave’s) is Bar 3 Bar-B-Q where I found burnt ends unlike any I’ve seen on my travels.
First, Bar 3 smokes their brisket for 7 hours. They then take off the point and smoke it for an additional 12 hours. This heavily smoked end is then wrapped and cooled. In preparing my burnt end sandwich, they sliced a steak like cut of the point and threw it on the grill. It was flipped two or three times with barbecue sauce added to it between each flip. The sauce created a heavily caramelized char and after about 5 minutes on the grill, the whole thing was pulled. The result was a heavily blackened, but dry pile of meat. I’ve had worse things, but this wasn’t my favorite. The house made pickles, on the other hand, were excellent and the grits were also quite good.
One of the great things about the Barbecue Rankings Tour is that I get to explore much of America while I’m eating my way around the country. After Bar 3, I headed to Yellowstone for geysers, buffalo and hoards of tourists!
After Yellowstone, I stopped in at Buckaroo Bill’s Ice Cream Parlour and BBQ.
The food was forgettable, but the branded bun was unique.
Dog House Grill is a fun place to go with friends to have a beer and chow down during the big game. Despite it being a Tuesday night when I stopped in, Dog House Grill was packed and still had a line out the door at 9PM when I left. Being across the street from Fresno State University, serving beer with a number of TV’s doesn’t hurt, but nearly everyone at Dog House seemed to be eating - it isn’t just a bar.
The absolute best thing at Dog House has to be their thick and sticky sweet barbecue sauce. I’m normally not a sweet sauce kind of guy, but Dog House’s was addictive. I found myself wanting to slather everything with it. The beans had a well balanced flavor profile and the inclusion of tri-tip gave them a hearty, almost chili-like consistency. I’m still not a huge fan of tri-tip, but I did enjoy the tri-tip sandwich at Dog House.
Brought to you by Texas Monthly magazine, TMBBQ is a multiplatform community of people all over the world who love barbecue. TMBBQ not only helps you find great joints, it serves up news, interviews, and feature stories about barbecue; brings you high-quality barbecue events; and gives you a forum to talk about your favoriteâand least favoriteâspots and hear what others have to say too. TMBBQ is basically Christmas every day for barbecue-lovers. Merry Christmas.
Thanks to Daniel Vaughn and Texas Monthly for the write up!
Bravo Farms Smokehouse caught my eye since it is a modern, slightly upscale kind of place that combines classic barbecue dishes with steakhouse favorites. It’s style reminded me of Chicago Q, a white table cloth kind of place that I really enjoyed in downtown Chicago. Interestingly enough, I learned that Chicago Q it one of the restaurants Bravo Farms Smokehouse drew inspiration from for the food, feel and experience.
While dinner is full service, lunch consists of a sandwich, wrap and salad line. I was all too happy to sample the tri-tip on a bed of greens.
I also tried the ribs, pork and chicken. The slightly sweet, moist pulled pork was my favorite and the slaw tasted like the cabbage had been picked that morning.
From Visalia, I headed into the mountains to Sequoia National Park to visit the biggest tree on earth!
First 5 stops in Cali…and first bites of tri-tip. It’s not easily found in Arizona, but as soon as you cross the border, it’s everywhere. Also, these Californians have a novel idea…salad as an accompaniment to barbecue!?! Weird, huh?
After an unexpected overnight stay/confinement in Benson, Arizona (a town with no barbecue), I made it to Phoenix with limited time. Bobby-Q was the stop and this was the place I had identified as the must-visit barbecue spot in Phoenix. It’s a huge, bustling roadhouse that provides an excellent atmosphere with a slightly more polished barbecue experience.
I only had the chance to hit one more barbecue spot in Phoenix as I tried to get back on schedule. For this stop, I chose Honey Bear’s BBQ. Honey Bear’s appealed to me for a few reasons. It looked somewhat unique, has been around for a little while and is the kind of place some might consider an eyesore in the otherwise flashy downtown Phoenix. I’m pretty sure it was an old IHOP as the flags of various nations are etched on the glass separating the booths. I don’t think this would be natural interior decorating for the folks at Honey Bear’s.
Playing catch up here: These stops included Big Boys, Big Tex, Smokey’s Pit Stop, Hog Pit BBQ and Brushfire in a few random spots between Dallas and Tucson. Some good…some not quite as good.
I made three barbecue stops in Albuquerque with Rudy’s being the first. Rudy’s is one of America’s biggest barbecue chains, but they try hard to not let it feel like a chain. I had plenty of other barbecue options during my time in Texas, but with limited options in Albuquerque, I thought it was worth a visit.
Rudy’s was bustling, loud and crowded during the lunch rush and full of law enforcement and government employees. I sampled a few different things and found it all to be OK. My favorite was the mysterious “Chopped Meat” that made for a tasty (if greasy) sandwich on a slice of bread. Rudy’s isn’t really up to the standards of the best in America, but it is one of the better major chain options.
My second stop was at a place called The Cube. I went with the recommendation of an employee of The Cube and ordered a smoked chicken sandwich, mac n cheese and mashed sweet potatoes. Expecting a pulled chicken sandwich, I was surprised to find a huge, dry chuck of chicken on a bun.
Finally, I tried a couple of things from a local barbecue trailer…and wasn’t that impressed.
So what to do if you find yourself in Albuquerque and looking for barbecue? I suggest buying a smoker and trying your own hand at it!
I hustled out of Dallas early one morning to make the long, flat drive across Texas. Pecos is an oil town on the western side of the state and Pody’s BBQ is only open for lunch. On a side note, does anyone else think the cowboy in the Pecos sign looks like Abraham Lincoln?
I made it and was glad I did. Pody’s is truly a family run place with Israel and his mother, sister, aunt and wife making up the entire Pody’s team. Israel said it’s really the ladies who run the place and I believe him.
Pody’s smokes with pecan, cherry or peach woods for ribs and generally uses post oak for the brisket. All of this wood has to be transported to Pecos as you and I are taller than the vast majority of foliage in the dry and dusty area.
I had a sampler plate and started, as I always do, with the brisket. Pody’s brisket is some of the smokiest you will find anywhere. The chili cheese hominy was an interesting and different side that I enjoyed. The ribs were very good. The pinto beans were not my thing, but only because I’m a baked beans kind of guy. I was warned about the ghost pepper hot sauce and, while I used it sparingly, still ended up gulping down a couple glasses of water afterwards. The last thing I worked my way to ended up being the highlight. Everything at Pody’s was solid, but I was really impressed with, of all things, the pork. Like all of Pody’s meats, the pork has a definitive blackened outside that gives it an excellent charred flavor. The inside was moist, smokey and perfectly pulled. While I expect the quality of pork to deteriorate as I go west, Pody’s has some of the best pork I’ve had in Texas and is right there with the best pork you can find anywhere.