About 25 miles east of I-35, smack in the middle of Waco and Temple, sits a small, unassuming barbecue joint called Whup’s Boomerand Bar-B-Q. Whup’s is situated in a very small “country” neighborhood, just off a main road. If there was no sign in the front you’d probably miss it altogether.
The pit boss and owner, Ben Washington, grew up the son of a railroad worker and has been around barbecue all of his life. When he was young, his father routinely cooked cabrito (baby goat) in a 50 gallon drum smoker. His uncle, who greatly influenced Washington’s cooking, was a chef for decades.
Washington worked as a sales/delivery man for Pepsi for 25 years. In 1991, he opened a BBQ joint in Marlin that ultimately failed 4 years later. However, in 1999 Washington left Pepsi after 25 years of service and opened Whup’s.
Pepsi’s consistency and dedicated to quality control was an inspiration for Washington. “When you open a Pepsi, it tastes the same every time. That’s how I want my product to be.” That kind of mentality is the sign of a dedicated, mature pit master.
Since Whup’s is off the beaten path, I decided to order basically everything off the menu. I got a sausage, hot link, pork ribs, moist and lean brisket, chicken leg and thigh, baked beans and potato salad.
The brisket, which cooks for 12-15 hours over mesquite, oak and sometimes pecan wood, had a great smoke flavor and, aside from a bit of dryness in the lean, was very tasty. The moist piece in particular was excellent and sported an almost crisp piece of fat that melted in my mouth.
The sausage and hot link both had a nice flavor and good smoke level, but were a bit overshadowed by the brisket.
The pork rib, however, was nice and smokey and gently separated form the bone, but didn’t “fall off”. The meat was soft and the salinity was generally well balanced.
The chicken thigh was as soft as butter and absolutely delicious. The skin, though not as crisp as I dream about, was still very good and I consumed it with vigor.
Finally, the beans and potato salad were fairly average, but still complemented the meat very well. Particularly the coolness of the potato salad.
Whup’s isn’t really near much of anything, so it is definitely a destination spot for fellow barbecue travelers. However, I definitely recommend a visit. If anything, you’ll enjoy eating very solid barbecue in a country setting.