Bryan, Texas is a long way to drive for BBQ. However, my commitment to finding the best is unyielding. That’s exactly why, at the suggestion of the popular Daniel Vaughn, I decided to take the drive to Fargo’s. Vaughn rated Fargo’s as “6 stars”, a rating reserved for the likes of Franklin Barbecue and Louie Mueller. Will Fargo’s stack up to the hype?
The “new” location is a stand alone building that used to be a wholesale electrical parts distributor. The interior, though clean, felt incredibly sterile and somewhat lifeless. Thankfully, I don’t really care too much about environment. What matters to me is the meat.
One thing I did like about the interior is that there is a nice glass case showing off some of the aforementioned meat. Being greeted by meat is always the right thing.
As always, I placed my standard order. However, they wouldn’t sell me brisket by the slice nor would they sell me a single pork rib. That was fine, but I hate to have to toss food. And when I’m on a trip and eating at 5+ joints in a day it just isn’t possible for me to eat 1lb of food at every stop.
Nevertheless, I got my lean and moist brisket (which I had to specifically ask for as they apparently just cut whatever), sausage and pork ribs. Sadly, I had to pass on the rib tips, which are a special on Saturdays. There was a huge bucket of them staring back at me. Alas, it wasn’t in the cards.
Once you place your order, you’re handed a ticket and…you wait. It took about 10 minutes for me to get my food. That was a bit confusing because there was basically no line when I walked in.
When the meat arrived, it was neatly packed into two small styrofoam take out boxes. I found that unusual because most meats I’ve had would have to be mutilated in order to fit in such a small package. My suspicions were heightened. Was this going to be the “6 star” joint Vaughn fawned over?
As usual, I started with the brisket. It had a very nice texture and moisture content, but definitely needed more smoke. It also lacked a textural difference in the bark. That’s an important thing to remember and I’ll tell you why later on.
Generally speaking, I would call that brisket average for Central Texas. Served in other less discerning parts of the Republic of Texas it would be heralded. Call me spoiled, I suppose.
The sausage was…on my plate. It lacked any noteworthy characteristic. The casing, spice, texture and smoke just weren’t near the high quality I had just experienced at Zimmerhanzel’s. The shadow cast by my experiences earlier that day proved difficult to escape.
The pork rib, however, immediately stole the show. The bark was superb and the texture was nearly perfect. The meat separated from the bone easily but didn’t “disintegrate” when I held the rib by the end. With perhaps a bit more smoke, it would have been one of the best ribs of my trip. Unfortunately, that smoke factor kept it off my Top BBQ list.
When I had finished eating, I went and asked to check out the pit. I was met with the only “no” on my whole trip.
Y’all are gonna learn something about me in this post. I do not like being told “no”. And I especially don’t like being told I can’t see a pit. What are they attempting to hide? Or are they hiding anything at all? Perhaps they just like to seem mysterious.
Whatever the case, “no” wasn’t going to stop me. So, as I walked out to my car I accidentally snapped a pic of the back area that was being guarded by blue tarps.
What I found was quite odd. There was a single, two door pit out there. Now perhaps I’m completely wrong, but there’s no way in hell that small travel/competition pit could possibly produce enough meat to supply that restaurant. Maybe they do far less business than I think.
What am I getting at with this? If I were going to guess, I’d say that Fargo’s probably uses a gas smoker. I personally don’t care if they use one or not. In fact, I’ve had some very good BBQ produced from gas.
Then I thought back to the brisket. Generally, brisket I’ve had from gas smokers lacks a defined crust. They also don’t have the density of smoke flavor you get from traditional pits. Basically, the brisket I had here seemed like it was cooked with gas. I suppose we’ll never really know, though.
I think that Fargo’s is certainly a place that everyone on the BBQ Trail should consider. However, I also strongly believe that there are many other joints I would visit first.
As for Daniel’s “6 star” rating…I have to vehemently disagree.