Monk: Zagat travels from New York to Lockhart, Texas to understand why post oak is so instrumental to that style of barbecue. Post oak – so named because it grows straight enough to make fence posts – is native to central Texas and in this video is referred to as “wholesomely sweet” and the “terroir of Texas barbecue.” The host even spends time with the hardworking laborers who have cut down and split it for Kreuz Market since 1975 before treating them to a meal there (a nice touch).
Description: Texas’ Hill Country is known as the center of American barbecue culture thanks to an abundance of amazing local ingredients. And while most people recognize cattle as the secret to the state’s legendary cuisine, it’s Texas Post Oak that helps put everything in motion. The wood is so popular that restaurants like New York City’s Hill Country Barbecue Market won’t use anything else, even if it means having it shipped over 1,700 miles every week. Zagat traveled to Texas’ famed Kreuz Market in Lockhart to discover what makes this regional wood a favorite amongst pitmasters – and why making that beloved brisket is a lot more dangerous than we think.
Name: The Cheef Order: Brisket wrap, sausage wrap (link to menu) Pricing: $$
Monk: After a day hiking or tubing on the river in the mountains of NC, a wood smoked barbecue food trailer parked outside the local outfitter is quite a welcome site. On a recent trip to Brevard , The Cheef was that welcome site parked outside of Headwaters Outfitters on the North Fork French Broad River.
The Cheef serves Tex-Mex barbecue from a food truck that makes the rounds in the town of Brevard and nearby Rosman. I actually spotted it twice on Fourth of July weekend, once here and the very next day at The HUB Pisgah Tavern at the doorstep of the Pisgah National Forest.
Actually, “food truck” would be a little misleading, as the meat is smoked on a reverse flow offset Lang Smoker mounted in the bed of the heavy duty pickup truck that also hauls a food trailer. Based on Instagram posts, the menu seems to regularly consist of a variety of smoked meats including smoked pork, sausages, brisket, and chuck roast. Though I didn’t have it that day, chuck roast is smart as its a cheaper cut of beef than brisket that I can personally attest makes great tacos. Well played, The Cheef (or is it just Cheef?).
Other than the El Guapo (a pork taco topped with roasted tomatillo salsa, onions, and cilantro) or the loaded baked potato, the menu is largely made of smoked meats presented simply with either Texas toast or a large flour tortilla. I opted for brisket and smoked sausage at $13 and $6 respectively.
The brisket looked to be moist and perfectly smoked, and that was mostly the case. My only minor complaint was that it could have used a little more flavor, though that was ultimately achieved by pouring some of the sauce that came on the side over the brisket before folding it in the tortilla as a wrap. It proved to be a pretty satisfying mid-afternoon snack, even though it was a little pricey for what you get.
The smoked sausage was a little less successful for me, with the kielbasa-style sausage plenty smokey but not exactly what I was looking for in my order. Admittedly, I was hoping for more of a Texas-style link such as a the ever-present jalapeno cheddar. However, at $6 it was less than half the price of the brisket and offers a good beef alternative at a much lower price point.
A Tex-Mex barbecue truck is a bit of a rarity for North Carolina, much less in the mountains. Not to mention one smoking with a legit smoker such as a Lang. When in the Brevard area, definitely be on the look out for The Cheef while having a beer after your outdoor adventures.
Monk: You may recall we previously featured a video from The Adventures of A+K on their east vs west NC barbecue tour, and in this video they visit Lewis Barbecue as part of their Charleston vlog and try a Texas tray of brisket, hot guts, and ribs with a side of the awesome green chili corn pudding. That starts at 4:54.
Description: We ventured 2 hours up the road from Savannah, GA to Charleston, SC, another beautiful and charming southern city. We spent our first time in Charleston exploring the city a bit, but more importantly, eating tons of Southern food.
Monk: BBQ&A host Robby stops by The Bar-B-Q Shop, a Memphis barbecue institution, to meet pitmaster Eric Vernon (as well as his dad Frank) for spare ribs, a Texas Toast barbecue sandwich, and barbecue spaghetti.
Description: Eric Vernon at Memphis’s The Bar-B-Q Shop is a second generation Pitmaster. He was nice enough to give us a tour of the restaurant, shares it’s history and introduces us to his legendary dad, Frank Vernon. Eric and Robby talk dry, wet, and glaze ribs and eat the #1 ribs in America (maybe the world). They top it of with the Original Texas Toast BBQ Sandwich, Smoked Bologna Steaks and Bar-B-Q Spaghetti. Check out the Bar-B-Q Shop: https://thebar-b-qshop.com/