On a chilly Saturday morning in January, I begrudgingly woke up at 6:30am to begin a morning trip to Snow’s. I was meeting Chris (my cousin and co-worker) and a bunch of other people there to eat ‘cue and generally socialize. Britt (my wife) was not terribly happy about waking up at the crack of dawn to go eat barbecue, but that turned around after I poured a cup of coffee down her throat.
For those of you who don’t know about Snow’s, it is only open on Saturdays from 8am to about 12pm. You heard me right: 4 hours per week. That’s all the time you have to enjoy this mystical barbecue. Snow’s was also ranked in the Top 5 over at Texas Monthly and was declared “Best BBQ in Texas” in 2008.
Snow’s is in Lexington, TX (about 55 miles from me) and it takes about an hour +/- 15 minutes to get there. Fortunately, you have to drive through Elgin, Texas home of the “hot gut” which is, in fact, a sausage and not a form of diarrhea.
Excreta aside, the trip out to Snow’s was pretty cool. We got on the road at 7am (we were supposed to leave at 6:30 but my alarm got set for 5:45pm). The sun was just beginning to show over the eastern horizon as we pulled on to the highway and the small, colored bits of light seeped out from the sky and painted the frosted grass.
Snow’s is the kind of place that time will never infringe upon. You can’t see it on Google street view and the satellite picture just looks like a barn. The restaurant building is half a dozen picnic tables stuffed in an old red building, just up the street from the Lexington Livestock Commission (which was lively while we were there). The employees inside were just a few older ladies and a cute college age girl.
Outside was where the action happened: 4 or 5 pits, 2 big smokers and stack upon stack of post oak. Only three people run that operation, tending to sausage, pork ribs, chicken and (of course) brisket. They’ll watch over their beloved barbecue for 16-18 hours without taking a break and watch as person after person just smiles while they shove as much ‘cue down their gullet as they can while still seeming remotely civilized.
Ok, by now you know the story. But how was the ‘cue? Did it stack up?
First let’s talk about the brisket. It had a decent bark, excellent smoke ring, very sweet smoke flavor and was tender. I’m not sure if it was just the brisket that I received my piece from, but the fat was not rendered and the meat had dried out a fair bit. This brisket was only ok in my opinion, more along the lines of my experience at City Market. Well, no it was definitely better than City Market.
I also happened to pick up some pork ribs. They definitely had that great post oak flavor I want. They happen to cut me an end piece (which I DEARLY love) that had some nice hardened bits for me to crunch on. The meat was tender and easily came off the bone. Again though, I wasn’t blown away or anything. They were good but not great. Kind of left me shrugging…
Finally I tasted the jalapeno sausage. YES! Now this was great! Awesome kick to it, wonderful casing that snapped as I crunched into it. Excellent smokiness and texture. Oh YES! I am a glutton for heat (go figure) and this was nice and spicy. So much so that Britt couldn’t even eat her bite. So I did. And everyone else was forced to volunteer their bites to me, also.
Overall, my favorite thing by far was the jalapeno sausage. The brisket that I tasted honestly didn’t even begin to touch my favorite over at JMueller.
However, the experience that you get at Snow’s is unparalleled. They let us get up into the pit area and snap a ton of pictures. In fact, I’m sure that I’ll be adding more as time goes on and my friends send me the pics they took.
The question you may now be asking is: Will I return? Yes. I will. I want to give it another shot. I want to go out to the pit and say “listen, slice me off a fresh piece of the best brisket you have. Blow my mind.” I believe that Snow’s probably has better brisket than I tasted. Maybe they don’t and the emotion of it all just wants that to be the case.
No matter what, this whole experience should be proof positive that I am the right person to decide who has the best brisket on earth. No matter what happens, no matter how emotional of an experience I have at a bbq joint, I will always be completely objective about the quality and taste of the meats.