Friday, February 24, 2012

Texas Pride Barbecue: Adkins, Texas

We decided to spend the long President's Day weekend in Texas and high on my list was Texas barbecue. I've since learned that there are actually several regional styles of barbecue in Texas.  In Central Texas, the customer traditionally takes a tray and a staff member carves the meat, sold by the pound, and serves it on red butcher paper. The meat typically includes beef ribs, brisket, chicken, pork ribs and sausage. The meats were traditionally the better cuts, so the emphasis was on the quality of the meat. Sauce, if used, was on the side. The meat is rubbed in spices and cooked over indirect heat generated from pecan or oak wood. In West Texas, which also features a dry rub, the meat is cooked over more of a direct heat using mesquite wood, which gives the meat a slightly bitter taste. In East Texas, the meat is marinated in a sweet, tomato-based sauce and cooked over hickory wood, very slowly until it is falling off the bone. In South Texas, the meat is cooked in thick sauces that keep the meat very moist.

One of my goals on this trip was to try a lot of the barbecue and from several different places. First on my list was Texas Pride Barbecue, located at 2980 East Loop 1604 in Adkins, Texas 78101 (phone: 210-649-3730), about 17 miles east of San Antonio. 
I saw it featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Texas Pride is a true "dive" and a fun visit, no matter what you think of the food. The drive from San Antonio gave us our first view of the Texas countryside. A mile or two before Texas Pride, with miles of open country, we saw our first longhorn cattle, with two impressive large horns protruding out of each head. Texas Pride is a massive compound, 
what looks like an old converted gas station and garage, fronted by a large dirt parking lot. Up close, Sinclair signs and gas pumps were more prominent than any signs of barbecue. 
We entered and walked down a long, tacky, hallway, with a picture of Guy Fieri of Triple D at the end. 
We were told to pick up a large plastic tray, the kind that could hold several dozen small milk cartons for school lunches. Judy and I each ordered a four meat dinner, which weighed a pound and contained sliced brisket (brisket is the breast or lower chest of a cow), pork sausage, pork tenderloin and pork ribs. Another option was turkey. A large piece of white butcher paper was laid on the counter and the brisket and three small pork ribs were sliced on to it. Then, added to it, was a hand full of pork tenderloin and a sausage. 
The butcher paper was then sealed with a label. We each got coleslaw and potato salad as sides in small styrofoam containers. 
We were early for dinner and so not many people were there. We had a choice of large picnic tables or several booths and we grabbed a booth. 
The eating area had cement floors, a small bar, and a condiment bar with regular and spicy barbecue sauce, sliced onions, pickles, and plastic utensils. Country music was appropriately playing in the background. We were offered slices of bread which I declined. The butcher paper, soaking up the fat, reminded us that this was no low calorie dinner. 
It appears that this is more of a West Texas style barbecue because mesquite wood is used and the meat appears to have been cooked directly over the coals.
We were both disappointed in the pork loin. 
It was quite dry and was only rescued by the barbecue sauce which was a little sweet and slightly tangy. I interchanged between the regular and hot, which was not very hot. I didn't notice any more pork loin at other joints, but if I had, would have stayed away from it. The brisket was the best part of the meal for both of us. 
We asked for it "moist," so we got well marbled pieces that were very juicy and tender. If I were to go again, it would be the focal point of my meal. The pork ribs were overdone for me, although one rib, in particular, which was a little more fatty, was very good. I had to slather the barbecue sauce on the others. The pork sausage had a very nice taste, but was overcooked. 
Mine was kind of leathery. Judy was not a big fan of it, and I had most of hers. Hers was less cooked, which made it more moist and much better. I would get the sausage again, but would ask for a link that was less cooked. Our sides of cheesey potatoes were very good
and the coleslaw, which was kind of sweet, was pretty good.
 Finally, this area of Texas is known for its pecans, so we shared a pecan cobbler with ice cream. 
We were stuffed, so happy we could share one. The ice cream was ordinary, but the pecan was very good. Overall, we were a little disappointed. The atmosphere was very fun, but for the most part, we were not wowed by the food. It was another Triple D disappointment, but mostly because my expectations coming in were so high. I think if I could get the meat before it was cooked so long that I would enjoy it a lot more. I was happy we ate early as this meal rested in my belly and wouldn't go away. My eyes were bigger than my stomach and I was uncomfortable the rest of the evening, even after spending time that evening doing the River Walk in San Antonio. 

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