Things did not work out as planned, but even a day with not the best Q is better than a day with no Q at all.
Had a couple of business stops, both of which ran late. I'm leaving my first heading south on Research Blvd (the stretch under the raised freeway part) and I see the signs for Mann's BBQ. My cuz-in-law had been talking about this place at our brunch at Fonda San Miguel (report coming soon). It's lunchtime and I'm automatically turning in the parking lot.
Great joint for starters. Strong smoke smell before I ever reached the door. Lots of homey stuff hanging on the wall. Free BBQ offers for daily trivia and whatnot. Lots of happy customer pics. Menu is huge, with daily specials, and the staff is terrific. I went with the usual for me, brisket/sausage plate. I chose Mac N' Cheese and Potato Salad for my 2 sides, and chose a cornbread stick for my bread. Brisket was not bad. Texture was excellent, nice bark, but only faint smoke taste.
Sausage was quite good. Elgin-style, i.e. denser/firmer compared to Lockhart/Luling style. Sauce was fine, but not a standout. Sides were most excellent. The tater salad was whipped style with a fair amont of small chunks. Fair amount of dill relish. Very close to the divine version offered by the dear-departed Solly's. Mac N' Cheese was just as good. Nice crusty cheesey top, with a creamy interior with bits of spaghetti showing up amongst the elbow macaroni. Cornbread was pretty good, with bits of kernel, but it was a bit crumbly for my liking. Ice cold Dr. Pepper in the little teeny bottle made for a perfect beverage complement.
After my second stop on South Lamar I had to get online to file my reports. My offline Wifi finder showed Green Mesquite as having free WiFi. Sold. 1st time in, and it's your typical
meat shack. Not the same smoke smell as Mann's. Ordered a brisket poboy and a Dos Equis draft lager. Sandwich came sloppily assembled, the shards of meat accompanied by rings of raw onion and dill pickle chips. The sauce splashed haphazardly on the unmemorable bread roll. The meat had a good texture, and was maybe slightly smokier than Mann's. Sauce about the same, nothing more than serviceable. But presentation definitely knocked things down a few points. The draft Dos Equis were fine, and the Wifi was free and easy. Maybe I'll stick to those next time.
Once I was done online a check of the time showed a window to get to Lockhart for a couple of purchases, but nothing more. I cut over Riverside to 183 and off I went. First stop Black's and I asked the order gal about buying a whole brisket. She referred me to the pit guy who brought out a couple of samples. I chose a 3.5 lb baby that looked like it would fit my backpack well.
When I asked for a deal on an untrimmed brisket he referred me to the owner. No deal he said. Did I want it? Heck yeah.
Next stop was Smitty's. The plan was to get 1/4 lb of fat beef for a comparison tasting with the lovely Denise when I returned home. But primary focus was prime rib and cold sausage rings. Went back into the pit and placed my order.
"We're out of prime rib"
Bummer! Upped the fat beef to a pound and ordered 6 rings. Packed up with the Black's bounty and into my back pack that was only mildly uncomfortable to schlep on the 2 flights home.
Just finished a side-by-side brisket plate and it is no contest. Black's is most definitely worth the extra couple of bucks per pound. It's almost as if they are using a different grade of beef entirely. Reheated (wrapped in foil in a toaster over) it came out juicy, buttery in places, with the absolute best smoke ever. The Smitty's shards were good, but much coarser and a bit drier in texture. Their sausage rings just may be my favorite though. Sliced one into coins this moring and fried them up with scrambled eggs and cheese and it rocked.