When you hit the Texas BBQ trail, there are often more disappointments than pleasant surprises. How can a place that looks so cool from the outside have such tasteless meat inside? How can a perennial BBQ people's choice winner be so bad? We've seen and learned a lot over the past two and a half years as we travel around the state searching for the best smoked meats.
Our recent Speedtrap BBQ Tour is a perfect example. Snow's BBQ and City Meat Market in Giddings were off-the-charts good, just like they've always been when we go there. The next couple of stops looked really intriguing from the outside but didn't rise to the top of our evolving list of favorite joints.
However, our last stop of the day was the game changer. We first heard of Fargo's Pit BBQ in Bryan when BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn gave it five stars after his first visit in 2010, one of only 17 five-stars Daniel had recognized in the country. We had high hopes but are accustomed to disappointment on the BBQ trail.
We drove north up Hwy. 6 from Navasota and headed west at the MLK St. exit in Bryan, then north on Texas Ave. until we saw the blue facade of Fargo's on the left. We applied our criteria for a great joint: Cool looking building - check. Handmade signs - check. You smell smoke as you approach the driveway - check. Cash-only sign - extra points. Fargo's was looking good indeed.
Owner Alan Caldwell greeted us at the counter, working the joint with his wife and son. We told him this was our last of five stops that day. He said Fargo's should have been our first stop and he was right. The meats, priced at $10 a pound, were displayed in a glass-enclosed warmer and looked amazing. And they tasted as good as they looked.
Just as he had done with the BBQ Snob, Alan declined to show us the pit or tell us what kind of wood he uses. I guess it's a trade secret and he understands how good his product is. Just a hunch, but I suspect when the Texas Monthly Top BBQ 50 list comes out in 2013, this place will be a busier than ever.
We headed north toward Dallas after eating every last morsel of meat we ordered from Fargo's. One of the Posse members, who will remain unnamed, even ate a small chunk of brisket that had fallen on the bumper after we had eaten on the tailgate of Marshall Cooper's Tahoe. Since Fargo's doesn't have seating, you have to get creative if you want to eat onsite. Like Meshack's BBQ in Garland, another Posse favorite.
We must have debated for the next hour about what we had just experienced at Fargo's. We've learned to be cautious in our assessments, but someone declared Fargo's to be the best stop of the day. A day that included Snow's and Giddings.
I'm not prepared to make such a bold statement yet, after only one visit. However, we'll be back there in March at the top of our Houston BBQ Tour. The first stop of the day. Daniel Vaughn has seen enough though. Late last week, he named Fargo's as his second six-star joint ever. Franklin BBQ was the first he named in September 2011. That's pretty lofty territory the little blue BBQ joint on Texas Ave. in Bryan.
Fargo’s Pit BBQ, 1220 N. Texas Ave., Bryan TX 77803. Phone: 979-778-3662. Hours: Tue-Sat, 11 am-7 pm.
Photos by Bruce Tomaso, Jim Rossman & Chris Wilkins