Imagine this: you had just been to a barbecue joint considered to be one of the Top 5 in all of Texas. You left somewhat disappointed. Then, on the way home you see a sign (a very well done one at that) advertising Southside Market as the place that started barbecue in Texas.
Mmmhmm. Started bbq in Texas? We’ll see about that, fellas. And I’ll be the judge.
Britt (my wife) and I had just been to Snow’s BBQ over in Lexington, TX where we had a wonderful experience but only mediocre ‘cue. I’m still convinced that we experienced a fluke, but that’s not what this is about. You see, I was harboring a bit of disappointment in my soul. The kind that only brisket, post oak and butcher paper can cure. So after seeing a sign that proclaimed Southside Market the place that birthed barbecue in Texas, I knew where I was heading next.
After a couple missed turns we finally got into the parking lot. Something stuck out to me right away: this place was freaking huge. HUGE. No seriously, it dwarfs all other joints I’ve ever seen.
Since I’m not a native Texan, I’m not familiar with the sausage from Elgin, TX. And apparently, it is some legendary sausage.
There are two places in Elgin: Meyers and Southside Market. They’re basically right down the road from each other, so choosing could be difficult. However, it was easy for me: one was open and one wasn’t (also the whole “started Texas barbecue” thing had my interest).
Britt and I walked in at about 10am and as you can imagine, there weren’t many people. I suppose most sane people don’t require an early morning brisket fix.
There were two massive seating areas that could seat many hundreds of people, two lines to order food and, for the real go-getters, a massive butcher shop where one could purchase any and all of the meat served in the restaurant. Southside Market is basically a barbecue enthusiast’s amusement park, full of everything that will make a grown man obsessed with barbecue squeal.
Enough buildup, let’s talk about the bbq.
During this trip I chose a very limited tasting. I picked up a couple of slices of both lean and moist along with a 4 inch section of their famous sausage.
The brisket was freaking fantastic! It had an absolutely beautiful smoke ring, perfect moisture content, the bark was crisp and it was exploding with that incredible post oak flavor that I adore. As soon as that brisket hit my mouth, I knew it instantly made its way on to my top bbq list. I really loved this brisket.
Now, the sausage was a new experience. It. Was. Amazing. It had a nice, snappy casing, massive beefy flavor and was almost an inch and a half in diameter. I really, really liked liked the Southside Market sausage.
I should also mention that I tasted the sauce, but I didn’t like it at all. It was very sweet and just tasted like sugar. However, I also tasted the hot sauce and it was flat out awesome. It was spicy, vinegary and downright delicious.
If you can believe it, I haven’t even come to the best part of the story.
After tasting such excellent barbecue, I had to check out the operation. So, I went up and asked to see where all the magic went down.
I was greeted by the manager, Tom, and he gave me a tour of the smoke room. And friends, it was devine.
Since it was early on Saturday there was a lot of preparation going on and I got to see it all.
First, let me give you some stats about Southside Market:
- On a typical Saturday, Southside Market goes through 120 briskets, nearly 1500lbs of sausage and about 1,500 guest checks, which means about 3,000 people.
- In one weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) Southside Market goes though over 4,000lbs of sausage.
- Southside Market has a portable smoking unit that is capable of producing about 50% of what they can make at the restaurant.
- Southside Market produces (in the manufacturing facility behind the restaurant) over 2,000,000lbs of sausage each year.
Southside Market is no joke.
Tom was an awesome tour guide. He opened the pits and showed off the ribs, chicken and pork steaks. The briskets were bathing in post oak within the dark, cavernous high volume smokers.
The sausage, he explained, only takes about 40 minutes to smoke, so they were sitting in their containers on the sausage side of the room. Yes, you heard me right. There are four pits dedicated to smoking sausage. And, in fact, one employee’s job is devoted almost entirely to smoking sausage day in and day out. God bless that man.
Then I saw the mobile rig. Wow. It was basically a highly customized trailer that folded out to reveal all sorts of different smoking areas. And actually, to accomodate weekend demand, they were using part of that trailer.
Southside Market is an absolute must for the barbecue lover. The fact that Southside Market isn’t on the Texas Monthly Top 50 is a mockery. Southside is, without a doubt, one of the top bbq joints in Texas.
I will be back for more. Southside Market: you are now on my top bbq list.