516 Main St.
Dude Factor: 10, or Billy Joe Shaver, on a scale of 1 (Beth Toben) to 10.
On a recent weekend trip to College Station to visit my fiance's parents, I found myself with a few free hours on a Saturday while my lady and her mother shopped for wedding dresses. Needless to say, I needed to do something as manly as possible to restore balance to the universe, so I decided to wake up early and make the hour long drive to Lexington, Texas, home of Texas Monthly's number one BBQ joint in the state -- Snow's BBQ.
Unfortunately, I didn't wake up as early as planned thanks to a late night spent watching Possessed By Paul James slay a small crowd in nearby Bryan. Nevertheless, I was on the road by 9 a.m., practically unheard of for this dude on a Saturday.
I had called ahead earlier in the week for a whole brisket to take back to College Station, but since I had hours to kill, I figured I'd enjoy a little bbq breakfast and sample some more of their meats. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at 10:20 a.m., Snow's was already out of chicken, sausage and ribs, the sad reality passing through the long line like a cruel rumor. By the time I finally made it to the counter at 10:55 a.m., my options were brisket, pork loin, bread and pickles --t here were even out of sides.
I purchased a few slices of both and headed outside to the picnic tables, which are situated behind the building, surrounded by the giant smoking pits. Honestly, I had originally found the prospect of so much brisket before noon somewhat daunting, but by the time I sat down the aromas swirling in the air had my stomach growling like an angry bobcat.
I can't say it was the best brisket I've ever had, but it was definitely up there, with ample smoke flavor and plenty of well-rendered fat, which melted in my mouth like a smoky version of the maple candy my grandparents always gave me as a kid. Surprisingly, the pork loin was even better, pairing nicely with a couple dabs of the vinegary sauce, though it certainly didn't need the sauce as a flavor crutch.
A heavily bearded local found his way to my table and pulled out a giant bottle of Rudy's sauce before striking up a conversation, explaining that while he found Snow's sauce "OK," he preferred something with a little more kick. He then proceeded to offer me some free marital advice, adding that he had finally found a good wife "after a few tries." (Later that day I was startled by someone yelling "Whattya doing boy?!" as I snapped some some photos on the town square, only to turn around and see said local laughing at me behind the wheel of his pick-up truck.)
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I finished eating, shook my new friend's hand and went to pick up my to-go brisket, which gave me the opportunity to meet Snow's legendary pit master, Tootsie. Seeing that I had bought a T-shirt, she told me the story of another dude who asked her to hang his new Snow's shirt over the pits, because he was going to a dance that night and wanted to smell good. Only in Texas, right?
I spent the rest of the day driving through the country with my brisket in a cooler, shooting wildflower pics and watching numerous flocks of black vultures circle over the road -- I think they were after the BBQ. By the time I got home and shared the fruits of my pilgrimage with my future bride and in-laws -- some 6 or 7 hours later -- the brisket was still good, bros. Damn good.