|Pitmaster John Sanford works the cutting board at BBQ on the Brazos. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)|
Too bad Posse member Bruce Tomaso didn’t make our tour last weekend. We could have renewed our recent wood-versus-gas debate when our first stop, BBQ on the Brazos in Cresson, got rave reviews from everyone present.
BBQ on the Brazos uses a gas-fired Ole Hickory smoker.
“How many of our tours have started off with barbecue better than this?” said Posse member Phil Lamb.
Technically, it was a question. But like all good attorneys, Lamb knew the answer before he asked: Very, very few.
“It’s not impossible that this is a Top 10 joint in Texas,” Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins said. Our group, 8 strong, declared the pork ribs and brisket outstanding, and the banana pudding divine.
Afterward, as Wilkins and I reviewed the tours we’ve taken over the past five years, we could only think of a couple that started stronger. One at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington and another at Franklin Barbecue (the original trailer) in Austin. That’s pretty stout company.
Bud Kennedy at the Star-Telegram and Daniel Vaughn at Texas Monthly also think highly of BBQ on the Brazos.
On our South of DFW Tour Saturday, we visited four places — the other three were Lazy S&M BBQ in Joshua, Jambo’s BBQ Shack in Rendon, and Pit Stop BBQ in Waxahachie — and covered about 160 miles in 8 hours.
Several of the joints were started by accomplished competition pit masters. Our itinerary, in part, came about because of Vanessa Graham, the wife of Steve Graham, pit master at the Pit Stop. Wilkins recently asked the Posse’s Facebook followers to suggest future tour stops and Vanessa responded with several leads.
|The ribs & brisket at BBQ on the Brazos are tremendous. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins)|
An hour from Dallas, we arrived at BBQ on the Brazos just before 10 a.m. It’s located in the same building as a Texaco gas station and adjacent to the MotorSport Ranch. If you’re lucky, you might get to watch some cars speeding around the circuits while you eat.
Pit master John Sanford, who said he has been cooking professionally for more than three decades, said he opened the joint with his brother-in-law, Michael Warren, about a year ago. Sanford’s wife, Kathryn, also helps run the place and makes side dishes, including the wonderful banana pudding.
In addition to the ribs and brisket, we ordered turkey (it was good) and sausage (o.k.). Sanford said he cooks about 1,000 pounds of brisket a week on his Ole Hickory, which is mounted on a trailer. While it’s gas-fired, Sanford said he stuffs the firebox with oak so he can get plenty of smoke on the meat.
He said he has an old wood smoker that he can “cook magic” with, but it requires too much attention to use for regular production.
“I’m sorry if that makes me a bad person,” he said. “I’m just not going to do it.”
Some, like Tomaso, think great Texas barbecue can’t be cooked with gas.
BBQ on the Brazos and Jambo’s are strong evidence to the contrary.
Sanford said he’s looking to open a second place, this one in Fort Worth. We asked if he thought he could maintain the same quality. He answered yes.
“That’s the benefit of having a two-man operation,” he said, referring to Warren.
In future posts, we’ll cover the other joints we visited on this tour.
The South of DFW BBQ Tour
9am: Leave Dallas.
10am: BBQ on the Brazos, 9001 E Hwy 377, Cresson, TX. Open Mon-Fri 6:30am-3pm, Sat 9am-3pm. www.bbqonthebrazos.com
11:45am: Lazy S&M BBQ, 2008 Conveyer Drive, Joshua, 817-475-5687. Open Tues-Wed 6am-4pm, Thurs-Fri 6am-7pm, Sat 10:30am-3pm.
1pm: Jambo’s BBQ Shack, 5460 E FM 1187, Rendon, 817-478.2277. Open Tues-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 11am-3pm. http://jambosbbqshack.com
2:30pm: Pit Stop BBQ, 3921 S Highway 287, Waxahachie, 972-923-8921. Open Mon-Tue 11am-9pm, Wed 11am-10pm, Thurs 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-9pm. http://www.pitstopbbq.net
4pm: Back in Dallas.
|BBQ on the Brzos is located in a Texaco Plaza in Cresson. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)|
|The restaurant also bottles their own BBQ sauce. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)|
|Customers wait to order at BBQ on the Brazos. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)|