|Legendary Snow's BBQ pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/fotobia.com)|
The Posse took it's long overdue 5th anniversary barbecue tour Saturday.
Dubbed the Central Texas Legends Tour by Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins, it came 5 years and 5 months after our very first trip in November 2009.
It was a one-day roundtrip dash from Dallas, covering 390 miles in about 13 hours. We ate at 3 joints and stopped at a fourth to pay homage to one of the state's cooking legends.
A lot has changed since the Posse first started touring. And some things haven't. One of those is the experience -- both food and atmosphere -- at Snow's BBQ in Lexington, our first stop.
Seated outside near the pits, watching owner Kerry Bexley and pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz work, we ate what has become our standard brisket breakfast there, a slice of moist beef with just a couple drops of sauce, surrounded by a slice of folded white bread.
Nothing against Franklin Barbecue in Austin or Pecan Lodge in Dallas, but several of the 8 Posse members on the trip agreed that if they were forced to pick only one joint in the state to recommend for the complete Texas barbecue experience, it would be Snow's.
The cows mooing at the nearby auction yard, the small-town feel, including the old, rusted storage tank across the street, help make Snow's unique.
To photograph some people, Posse member Daniel Goncalves set up his portable lights in front of the tank.
What attracted him to that backdrop?
"The rust. The texture. The rivets. Everything," he said. "It just goes with barbecue."
|Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/fotobia.com)|
From Lexington, we drove about 40 miles to Taylor and Louie Mueller Barbecue.
Louie's grandson, Wayne, runs the place now. He talked about the changing dynamic of Texas barbecue. As joints in urban areas get better, that puts more pressure on out-of-the-way places like his to continually improve.
"People aren't going to come out here for just O.K. barbecue," he said.
Among the items we ordered was the giant beef rib. For some of us, it was the single best bite of barbecue we had all day.
Making his first trip with the Posse, Robert Sullivan thought so. He didn't hesitate when Wilkins asked him to pose with the bone in his mouth.
Later, Posse member Mark Vamos took the same bone home for his dog, Henry, who also posed with the bone.
Man and dog. Dog and man. Sometimes, as you can see from the accompanying photos, it's hard to tell the difference.
|Robert Sullivan & Henry the Dog show their appreciation for a delicious Louie Mueller beef rib bone.
(Photos @Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse, left, and Mark Vamos)
After Mueller's, we drove a couple blocks to the Taylor Cafe, run by Vencil Mares. In his 91st year of life, most of them spent cooking barbecue, Mares was seated in his usual spot near the end of one counter. Goncalves interviewed him while the rest of us had a drink.
Our last stop was Miller's Smokehouse in Belton. Wilkins and Marshall Cooper discovered this joint for the Posse in 2012. Every time we've stopped since, there seem to be more and more smokers operating. And we learned on this trip that the joint's largest smoker yet is under construction.
Miller's only serves ribs on Fridays and Saturdays so we made sure we ordered some. Several of us thought these were the best pork ribs -- nice and savory, not too sweet -- we ate all day. And there was tough competition.
A sad note: On this trip, we learned that Snow's pitmaster Hershel Tomanetz, Tootsie's son, recently underwent surgery for a brain tumor. More treatment is ahead.
Get well, Hershel.
Central Texas Legends BBQ Tour 2015
Snow’s BBQ, 516 Main St, Lexington, 979-773-4640. Open Sat. 8am–12pm or until the meat runs out. Website: www.snowsbbq.com
Louie Mueller Barbecue, 206 W Second St, Taylor, (512) 352-6206. Open Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 10am-6pm. Website: http://www.louiemuellerbarbecue.com
Drop in & say hi to BBQ legend Vencil Mares, 90, at Taylor Cafe, 101 N Main St., Taylor, 512-352-8475. Open daily 9am-10pm.
Miller’s Smokehouse, 208 N Penelope, Belton, 254-939-5500. Open Tues-Thurs 10:30am-6:30pm, Fri and Sat 10:30am-9pm or until the meat runs out. Website: www.wildmillers.com