One of the first things you notice when you approach Black's is the enormous lot next to the restaurant devoted to the storage of smoking wood, most notably red oak. I was a bit surprised as I always thought in Texas mesquite would be the wood of choice, but so far everybody is using red oak. Given the amount of business these BBQs do on a weekly basis the sheer size of this area should probably not be surprising.
Once inside the narrow hallway leads you past the dining area and to the serving line. This is a 'serve yourself' type of deal. First you pick up your paper plate or 'to go box' (later) and then decide on your choice of sides and there are plenty! Barb got mac n cheese and coleslaw and I decided on some potato salad and green beans. Then you arrive at the Butcher Block Counter. There appears to be only a single pit but 2 blocks at Blacks. The butcher will pull out an assortment of meats for you to choose from. You decide on the cut and portions and then it is weighed and you are charged accordingly.
Barb chose the sausage link and a VERY LARGE beef rib and I went with the sliced brisket and a couple of baby back ribs. I decided portions on what I thought was enough, but the price tag brought me back to reality pretty quickly. With drinks dinner came to $43.59!
The entire facility is much smaller than we expected. The dining area had communal tables, but it was kind of homey. Barb loved her coleslaw and we both loved the LARGE (9" and 1 1/2 pounds) beef rib, very tasty. The smoked sausage is 90% beef and 10% pork and fairly tasty. Once again I thought the brisket was very moist and tender, but with only a small hint of smoke taste. It is covered with a very nice thick black crust that has a definitely deeper smoky crunch to it. The baby back ribs were good. Finally, the BBQ sauce was vinegar based and fairly watery. I longed for my own. I inquired as to the brisket smoking methodology and was surprised to learn that the briskets are cooked for 8 hours on a rotisserie using only wood and then stored for a couple days in a cooler, then smoked for 4 more hours in the old brick pits. It still makes for an incredibly moist meat. I only wished for a bit more smoke. Service was once again excellent; someone even taking away our empty trash and fetching us a 'to go' box for the inevitable pile of leftovers. Maybe my eyes being bigger than my stomach added to the $$$$ price tag?
Black's BBQ is a very nice place with good food and very good service. However, feeding a large family could be a bit pricey. I am still looking for a bit more smoke and zest, but maybe Texas BBQ over oak is what this is all about. Texas Monthly rated Black's 4.2 on a scale from 1 to 5. I would rate it somewhere around 3.7.
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