Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque – Alexandria, VA

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Name
: Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque
Date: 3/31/18
Address: 220 N Lee St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Order: Speedy: 3 meat plate (brisket, pork, sausage, fried, collards); the Bro: 2 meat plate (pork, pork belly, collards, baked beans) (link to menu)
Price: $24 (3 meat) / $19 (2 meat)

Speedy: Recently, I was in DC visiting my (literal) Bro, and while his wife and kids were out running errands we snuck away for a meal. As the Bro and S-I-L are changing their diet to eat less meat, naturally, I suggested to the Bro that we find a local ‘cue joint. A quick Google search pulled up a name I recognized – Myron Mixon. Well, after great experiences at Aaron Franklin’s and Tuffy Stone’s joints, it was time to round out the BBQ Pitmasters trifecta and check it out.

Monk: Congratulations, Speedy! Turn in your punch card on your next visit and the next meal’s on us. But for real, I’m curious to see how his place actually stacks up.

Speedy: Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque is a little different than the other two, as it’s a sit down joint with a wait staff, but it still had a nice, rustic feel and a great (but expensive – this is DC) beer list. The Bro and I were seated immediately and wasted no time ordering – pulled pork and pork belly for him, and pulled pork, brisket, and sausage links for me.

The food arrived fairly quickly, and the portions were quite large. Frankly, we could have split a three meat place between the two of us, but that’s not the Barbecue Bro way. The meats all looked great, and I could tell I was in for a treat.

Monk: Not the Barbecue Bro way…unless one of those bros happens to include Monk and his tiny stomach.

Speedy: I first dug in to the brisket. Not living in Texas, I am used to very mediocre brisket and nothing I’ve had outside of Texas has even come close to what I’ve had in the state. However, this was pretty good. I definitely got the fatty part of the brisket, and could have used a little more bark, but it was not overdone and had good flavor. A solid effort.

While I was trying the brisket, the Bro dug into his pork belly. Upon the first bite, his eyes rolled back into his head and it was clearly an out-of-body experience. I think he could’ve died right there and been OK. Naturally I reached my fork across the table to see what the fuss was about, and oh my – that pork belly was really, really good. Perfectly smoky with a little crispiness, it’s salty flavor was perfect. Definitely the highlight of the meal.

The sausage was my second favorite meat. It had great smoke and snap, and just a really solid flavor. I did use a little of the provided mustard sauce fo the sausage, and it was a great compliment. This is another meat I would order again.

Monk: Any idea if its made in house or imported from somewhere in Texas?

Speedy: I don’t know, Monk, and I didn’t ask. My (hot) gut would say it was imported, only because the casing was so perfect.

Monk: I see what you did there…

Speedy: The pulled pork was also solid. It had good bark and was nice and tender. I did feel the need to add a little vinegar sauce to it, but it was still enjoyable.

The sides were above average – particularly the collards, but with so much meat, I honestly didn’t eat too many of them there.

Overall, this was a very solid barbecue meal. The Bro says it’s the best ‘cue he’s had in the DC area (though I don’t think that’s a high bar), and I was not disappointed at all. In terms of the BBQ Pitmasters trifecta – I think Aaron Franklin’s and Tuffy Stone’s places are a little better, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Pork Belly – 4.5 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Pulled Pork – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs
Myron Mixon's Pitmaster Barbecue  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Franklin Barbecue – Austin, TX (RE-REVIEW)

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Name
: Franklin Barbecue
Date: 7/21/17
Address: 900 E 11th, Austin, TX
Order: 2 pounds brisket, 1 pound ribs, 1 pound ribs, 1 pound sausage (link to menu)
Price: $120-ish

Speedy: Less than 24 hours after my excellent visit to La Barbecue, I was ready to get back at it, this time to the legendary Franklin Barbecue. Rudy dropped me off at 6 AM to get in line and went to take care of some things at work, re-joining me about 8. Getting there that early, I expected to be first in line, but in reality, there were three groups and about 12 people in front of me. Fortunately, I was still there in plenty of time to be shaded for my entire wait, which was hugely clutch. I spent most of the time sitting in a tailgate chair and sipping Lone Stars, so all-in-all, it was a pretty good morning.

Rudy: The shade part was the best by far. I don’t know how the people in the 2nd half of the line made it, I guess just more Lone Stars.  

Speedy: Around 9:00, someone came around to ask what we were ordering, in order to get a good idea when food was going to run out. You weren’t bound by the order, but it was a good way to understand how far the food would go.

Around 10:30 am, I went inside to hit the bathroom (which they opened up around 9:30), and I saw the Godfather himself – Aaron Franklin. I was a little bummed he didn’t recognize me as a Barbecue Bro (AARON – ARE YOU EVEN READING??), but it was pretty cool he was there.

Rudy: I’ll chalk it up to him just being intimidated by your presence. I am sure he scampered to the back to make sure everything was up to snuff. In all seriousness, I think it is great that they open the building early to people that need to use the bathroom or want to purchase drinks or merchandise. I feel like many places would keep the doors closed until they open for food. That was a nice touch.

Speedy: Eventually, the restaurant opened, and Rudy and I were to the front of the line pretty quickly. Like at La Barbecue, we were given a bit of brisket to much on, and it was every bit as good as the previous day, only this time I was expecting it. No matter – we placed our order, got our meat, and found a table to sit at and dig in.

I’ll start with the brisket since that’s what it’s known for and my God, it is incredible. The peppery bark was perfect, the meat was tender and flavorful, and it was simply divine. The previous day I had claimed I had eaten the best brisket I’d ever tasted, but this was every bit its equal. Just absolutely phenomenal.

Rudy: I agree, if barbecue places in Texas are judged primarily on brisket, you have to hit it out of the park to be listed as the best, and Franklin’s did. The bark was amazing, but the flavors ran all the way through the meat, so no matter what bite you got, it was great. We got moist brisket, and the fat was perfectly rendered as opposed to many other places where you end up with a huge glob of fat with drier meat around it.

Speedy: Rudy had been raving about the ribs, so they were what I tried next. I’ve eaten lots of awesome ribs in my day, but these ribs stacked right up there with the best of them. They were perfectly cooked – giving a clean bite every time. The flavor was amazing – with just the right amount of rub that had a touch of sweetness. The ribs were glazed, so neither wet nor dry, which worked perfectly. These may not have been the best ribs I’ve ever had, but I’d say they’re in the top 5. Overall, you’d be remiss to skip out on these at Franklin.

Rudy: Top 5?!?! I need to eat some of the places you’ve been eating! I love them because of the flavor, the fact that they are tender and moist without being wet ribs. They are my favorite by far.

Speedy: The pork was also a great showing. Tender and a little vinegary, it was everything you’d expect from a good pulled pork. In a normal setting, I’d write more to rave about the pork, but it was a distant third in this offering. Not to say it wasn’t very good, but brisket and ribs were the co-headliners.

The sausage was good – considerably better than La Barbecue, but I wouldn’t order it again. Stomach room at Franklin is too precious to waste on just an above average meat. At many barbecue places this would be the top offering, but at Franklin, the brisket and ribs rose to the top.

Rudy: The pork was a pleasant surprise for me because I had not had it before. What I’ve had other places is usually a peppery pulled pork (which this included) but the difference here was the slight taste of vinegar that you don’t get with most other Texas pulled pork. That gave it a distinct flavor compared to the other meats and also made it closer to NC pulled pork, which was a welcome bit of home for me. As far as the sausage, I agree, it was good but I could have done without it in lieu of more of the other 3 meats.

Speedy: The question that came up often after the trip was whether Franklin Barbecue was worth the 5 hour wait. It’s not something I’d do every weekend, but I think it was absolutely worth it. Overall, the wait was a rather enjoyable experience, and if I wasn’t already obsessed with barbecue, I’d call the meat life-changing. I can’t wait for my next trip to Franklin’s!

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Ribs – 5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – N/A
Overall – 5 hogs
Franklin Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 6/21/17

– Rodney Scott surprisingly smoked ribs instead of whole hog at this year’s Big Apple

– The Washington Post’s Jim Shahin has a list of favorite barbecue books this season, and it includes Elliott Moss’s “Buxton Hall BBQ Book of Smoke”

– I couldn’t disagree more but Charlotte Agenda refers to Bubba’s Barbecue as a “hidden gem”

– Whole hog in the most unlikeliest of places? Gravy’s got the scoop

– NC barbecue in Virginia at Willard’s BBQ in Reston

– The Houston Chronicle has an article on barbecue camps, focusing on the one at Texas A&M but with a passing mention of a few in NC (though it mistakenly mentions that the NC State Barbecue Camp only started this year; this was its second third year)

– The Smoking Ho has some nice barbecue photos from his quick trip to LA

– What else would you expect from an Alabaman?

Linkdown: 11/12/14

– The Guardian: “Pulled Pork: why we’re pigging out on US barbecue food”

As punters went wild for barbecue in general, and pulled pork in particular, restaurant chains and supermarkets jumped on the porcine bandwagon. There has been a 35% increase in the amount of US barbecue dishes served in UK restaurants since 2010, according to thefoodpeople, and a rash of smokehouses and diner pastiches have opened in London, Manchester, Leeds, Brighton and beyond. “We are in the midst of a meat-centric tsunami,” says Richard Turner, the director at Pitt Cue Co and the co-founder of rare-breed butchers Turner and George.

– A NC-born chef in Seattle is converting Western Washingtoners to vinegar-based pulled pork at his restaurant Bourbon and Bones

– Marie, Let’s Eat! finds some pork ladled in a “thick, mildly sweet sauce” at Hwy 58 BBQ in Chattanooga

– Speaking of whom, Grant took a badass barbecue roadtrip through SC and eastern NC last weekend, which will no doubt lead to a multi-week series of posts on his blog that I can’t wait to check out

– And finally, a “blogger spotlight” on Grant by Urbanspoon where he answered a question on his favorite barbecue

6. Barbecue seems to be one of your favorite cuisines, considering you have a very detailed section reserved for it on your blog. What are your favorite barbecue dishes and where do you go to get them?

That’s a big, fun question! We’ve written about more than 300 barbecue joints and really enjoyed a big majority of them. I like the burnt ends at Southern Soul on St Simons Island a lot, and the mustard slaw at Brooks Barbeque in Muscle Shoals AL, and the chopped pork and red slaw tray at Bar-B-Q Center in Lexington NC. I like the Brunswick stew at Turn-Around in Tallapoosa GA, and the chicken mull at Butt Hutt in Athens. Overall, my favorite barbecue is either at Old Clinton in Gray GA, or Scott’s in Hemingway SC, but that could change around the next corner.

– “North Carolina” makes Steve Raichlen’s Top 10 Meat Cities in the US (via)

North Carolina: OK—it’s not one city, but a whole state gone hog wild for pulled pork at such landmark barbecue joints as Lexington Barbecue in Lexington, Wilber’s in Goldsboro, the Skylight Inn in Ayden, the Pit in Raleigh, and the new Ed Mitchell’s in Durham.

– Mark Avalos of SLAB (Slow, Low, and Bangin’) describes his barbecue as “Memphis meets Carolina meets Texas.” (via)

– A short blog and photos about Arrogant Swine

Elwood’s BBQ is hosting a beer dinner with new-ish Charlotte brewery Sugar Creek Brewing on November 19

– Well damn, this looks like it was amazing:

Linkdown: 8/20/14

– Wayne Monk, Sam Jones, and other “old-school pitmasters” weigh in on how the barbecue industry is changing

“To cook pork shoulders the way we do it, it’s a 10-hour process. It’s hard these days to find young men to learn a trade like this that they’re proud of, that have 10-hour days. People take shortcuts, like gas cookers. But the more gas cookers there are, the better my business gets.” – Rick Monk, Lexington Barbecue (Lexington, NC)

– You may remember this bill from a few months back due to its dubious claim to South Carolina being “birthplace of barbecue,” but in any case its finally official: barbecue is South Carolina’s “southern picnic cuisine”

– Speaking of South Carolina, would the Senator Frank Underwood from House of Cards really be eating ribs instead of pulled pork?

– Registration for the 2014 Q City Charlotte BBQ Championship is now live until slots fill up; also, it is now a NC BBQ Association event rather than a Memphis BBQ Network one as it had been in years past

– According to Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor of Texas Monthly, “[t]he brisket I’ve had in New York lately is better than a lot of places in Texas”

– Vote for best barbecue (as well as other cuisines) in Creative Loafing Charlotte’s Best of 2014 survey

– On September 7, five Louisville chefs will compete in a whole hog challenge to determine who will be crowned the “BBQ King or Queen” (via)

At the stand-up tasting reception, they’ll serve six dishes that illustrate entire animal usage, scored on utilization, presentation, barbecue influences and flavor. The perfect plate spotlights the whole pig and can ultimately inspire restaurant owners to greater support of local agriculture, according to event founder Brady Lowe.

– This Eater guide to the best pulled pork in Austin features a couple of the usual suspects plus a few I hadn’t heard of before (via)

– Marie, Let’s Eat! visits Papa Joe’s BBQ Pit and Cook Out in a review from last week

– This month’s Carolina ‘Cue feature from Our State is Big Mike’s Barbecue, a food truck out of the Raleigh area

At this writing, there is but one place you can find Big Mike’s Barbecue: It’s indeterminate, location at present unknown, its setting determined by demand, a roving outlet for the conveyance of pork in its various guises. Big Mike calls it the Red Barn. You would, too, if you saw it, because that’s exactly what it appears to be. No room for towering bales of hay or horse stalls or tractors, though, just big enough for a sink and a counter and a little smoker toward the back, on what looks like a screened-in porch, and small enough to be pulled behind a GMC Sierra 2500HD. You order through one of the barn windows. On the window is a drawing of a pig holding a fork and knife, a pig with a big smile on his face, as if he’s happy to be eating himself. And, on any given day, the Red Barn could be in the parking lot of the building where you work, near a bar you frequent, or at a party where you’re the guest of honor.

– Brooks Sandwich House, home of Charlotte’s best burger, has barbecue available seasonally and it is back; I’m not sure what to expect from it but when I try it I’ll at least get a burger as well

– A preview of things to come from Buxton Hall?

Linkdown: 3/27/14

Bonus linkdown? Bonus linkdown!

You have until Friday to eat at the original Clyde Cooper’s location in Raleigh before it moves a few blocks away onto Wilmington Street the second week in April (via bbqboard)

Colbert Pulled Pork Rant Pulled Too Hard, says Esquire’s Eat Like a Man Blog:

This seems a bit much. On the one hand, I applaud Colbert for taking on a sacred cow, or rather a sacred pig. They can’t say the guy doesn’t have balls. And he’s right in a way. It’s true that a lot of Carolina barbecue, not just in North Carolina but also in Colbert’s home state of South Carolina, is mediocre at best, and sometimes almost as bad as he makes it out to be. But the best of it is transporting, unique, and irreplaceable. No barbecue tradition in America varies so much from good to bad. I just came back from Raleigh and Durham and experienced both. At Cooper’s, I had a finely chopped barbecue sandwich that was simultaneously soft and somehow also firm, tightly packed but giving up every bite without resistance. It was porky, and a little smoky, and its vinegar just set off its fat. It was basically perfect. Later in the day I went to The Pit, one of the state’s best barbecue restaurants, and it was even better. The barbecue was fresher, and even when coarsely chopped, was still tender. Moreover, the vinegar was judiciously spiked with hot pepper, so you got three things on your palate at once: fat, acid, and heat — a kind of holy trinity of American meat.

– By the looks of this tweet, it appears Our State Magazine has hired a new barbecue writer

– As of 9:24am this morning, The Great NC BBQ Map Kickstarter has been fully funded! Congrats to them!

North Carolina
Pulled pork
Like Missouri’s barbecue ribs, pulled pork is cooked slowly on a grill. Like New Mexico’s carne adovada, pulled pork is fork-tender pork shoulder. Unlike either of those, North Carolina pulled pork is shredded by hand, doused with a vinegary sauce, and served with coleslaw. Pulled pork barbecue is an American treasure.

Now, I am aware that South Carolina also serves pulled pork. But South Carolina’s pulled pork is a mustard-based concoction, which pales in a side-by-side comparison with tangy, bracing North Carolina barbecue sauce.

You know I love a good barbecue/meat-themed map. Find the interactive version of the map on Slate.

-Monk

JJR’s BBQ Shack – Charlotte, NC

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Name: JJR’s BBQ Shack
Date: 12/22/13
Address: Bank of America Stadium, 800 S Mint St, Charlotte, NC 28202
Order: Pulled pork sandwich
Price: $8

Monk: Speedy and I are in the second year of being Carolina Panthers season ticket holders, so I figured we should at least check out the lone barbecue option at the stadium even if expectations weren’t very high going in. So for the last home game of the regular season, we decided to finally check out JJR’s BBQ Shack, named in honor of Jerry Richardson, founder/owner of the Carolina Panthers. And it came out about as expected. The pork, while it did have a good texture to it, lacked moisture and smoke, even in the bark. It absolutely required additional sauce from the condiments area of the concourse, which I neglected to add before heading to my seat. Speedy, I know you don’t have much more to add, but what say you?

Speedy: For my order, I initially asked what the “double stack” was, assuming it was a combo brisket-pork sandwich. I was told by the guy up front just to order it, only to find out that it was really just a pulled pork sandwich with extra pork, bacon, and nacho cheese. Due to my intolerance of dairy, my desire to avoid cardiac arrest, and the fact that it looked disgusting, I quickly backtracked from the order and switched to the normal pulled pork sandwich. Monk’s description above is spot on – there’s not much more to say about it. I did have a bite of Papa Speedy’s brisket sandwich, which I thought was slightly better. It came sliced and lightly sauced, which I think was the difference. Still though, I won’t be rushing back to try it again.

In fact, I think for the PLAYOFFS…

Monk: PLAYOFFS?!?!

Speedy: …Monk and I might just have to make our own ‘cue. Until then, keep pounding!

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – N/A
Pork – 2 hogs
Sides – N/A
Overall – 2 Hogs

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