At the Tejas Chocolate Craftory, a sign touting the French onion brisket soup was right in front of me at the order counter.
That dish was also the first thing on the menu that caught my eye during a recent visit of the Posse to the Tomball joint, ranked one of the best in Texas.
“Gotta order that,” I told my Posse mates earlier, as we reviewed all the offerings.
But despite my resolve — and the sign right in front of me — I still forgot the soup when I got to the head of the line.
I was probably distracted by another special, brisket burnt ends, which I did order, along with moist brisket, pork ribs and turkey.
Only after paying, getting my receipt and moving to another room to wait while the barbecue was cut and served, did I realize my oversight.
I wanted the soup, too. What do I do? Get back in a line that was about 40 people long?
Fortunately, there was a friendly server nearby with solid advice.
“Go to the chocolate checkout,” he said.
The Tejas Chocolate Craftory, as its name implies, specializes in chocolate as well as barbecue. The line for chocolate is much, much shorter than the line for barbecue.
I explained my situation to the friendly chocolate clerk, blaming my predicament on a senior moment. She took the order and payment, and said the soup would be delivered with the rest of the order.
It was. Disaster averted. The food was terrific. The Tejas Chocolate Craftory is, indeed, one of the top barbecue spots around.
While I loved the soup, which we included in an earlier story about side dishes at Texas joints, Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins raved about the burnt ends, eaten with the tiniest drop of mole sauce. It was the highlight of his meal.
“It’s something I absolutely never experienced before,” Wilkins said. “If you told me I’d ever put something chocolate on a piece of brisket I never would have believed it.”
“For us,” Craftory boss Scott Moore explained later, “the chocolate and the barbecue meet at the mole sauce.”
Chocolate came first for Moore and his partners.
“I got myself knee deep into making chocolate and then had to figure out how to supplement that,” he explained.
The answer was barbecue. The current Craftory opened in 2015 and was named the sixth best barbecue joint in the state last year by Texas Monthly.
“Holy f—-,” Moore said, recalling his initial reaction to the news. “Now we have expectations. We have to be good every day.”
There was no problem meeting expectations on our visit. The turkey was a bit dry, but good. The brisket and ribs were excellent, as well as a variety of side dishes, cornbread, pinto beans, the soup, green beans with pork fatback, and carrot souffle. Yes. Carrot souffle.
“That’s out of this world,” Wilkins said of the souffle. “It’s like a cloud or something.”
“These are the most diverse and best sides I’ve had,” said Robert Seale, a commercial photographer who joined us. Though he lives just a short distance away, this was his first visit to the place.
“The ribs are outstanding,” Seale said. “I can’t believe I haven’t been here before.”
We ate outside under the covered porch. At a table next to us were two other smiling diners, a bottle of wine chilling in a small bucket. Kinda classy for a barbecue joint.
When we left the Tejas Chocolate Craftory about 1 p.m., there were still about 40 people in the barbecue line. We stopped at the short chocolate checkout again and got a sampling of sweets for the road, including a pecan praline, a raspberry flutter and hand-rolled chocolate truffles.
Chocolate and barbecue — or barbecue and chocolate if you prefer — is a hard combination to beat.
Tejas Chocolate Craftory, 200 N Elm St, Tomball, (281) 892-1700. Open Tues-Sat 11am-until the meat runs out. Website: tejaschocolate.com