At the start of 2018, every barbecue joint on our Top 50 list was going strong. By August, we’d lost two of them, as Freedmen’s Bar closed and BBQ on the Brazos left their spot inside the Texaco station in Cresson in July. Good news came last week after pitmaster John Sanford found a suitable location for BBQ on the Brazos, so close to the old Texaco spot that you can see the smoke rising from their smoker while pumping gas.
I stopped in on their first day back to taste Sanford’s brisket after their three-month hiatus. Two trailers, one for serving and one for cooking, are pulled up alongside a building on the MotorSport Ranch property. “We just pulled the trailers in here, went and got a grocery delivery, fired it up, and starting cooking,” Sanford, who was eager to reopen, told me. Tables are set up inside, but all the orders are taken from the trailer window. They’ve cut the menu down a bit to get things started. Fans of their breakfast will have to wait, and they don’t have the room to make tortillas for their incredible barbecue tacos just yet. I tried a platter of their stalwarts. The brisket was as good as ever, and I forgot how much I liked their sweet-rubbed ribs. It’s certainly still Top 50 worthy, even on day one at the new location.
Sanford said to keep an eye on their social media channels for menu updates. “We’ll chip away at it,” he said, promising to get bologna back in the smokers and maybe even open on Sundays.
There was one new addition to the menu that will prove to be one of the most unique barbecue meals available in Texas. It’s called the “Lambo Combo,” and for $239 you get a barbecue sandwich, a side, and a drink—plus four laps around a racetrack in the driver’s seat of a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 with a top speed of 220 miles per hour.
If you’ve been to the old location of BBQ on the Brazos and dined on the balcony, you may have seen cars racing around the MotorSport Ranch track in the distance. The new location is closer to the track, and they’ve partnered with race car driving experience company DrivExotic to take advantage of that proximity. Six supercars in the DrivExotic fleet are parked just a short walk from the barbecue trailer. Along with the Lamborghini, you can choose from an Audi R8, Dodge Viper SRT, Ferrari F430, McLaren 570S, Porche 911 Turbo, and a Nissan GTR for your laps. Josh Hough, who runs DrivExotic, said amateurs often get the best lap times in the least sexy of the options, the Nissan GTR, thanks to its traction control. “It has what we would call aggressive driver assist functions,” he said. Basically, it fixes a lot of your mistakes for you.
I was planning to leave after snapping a few photos of the cars, but Hough stopped me and asked if I wanted to take the Lamborghini for a few laps. I basically ran to the rack of helmets to pick out my size. After an eighteen-minute instructional video and some paperwork, I was behind the wheel of a 552-horsepower engine. “We want to show the reality of track racing,” Hough said, which is why an instructor rides along telling drivers when to brake and accelerate and how to maneuver the turns. My instructor Ryan guided me through the curvy track for the first lap, then it was time to open it up for the next three. The acceleration was like nothing I’ve ever experienced, which also meant those four laps went by quickly.
Normally, four laps in the McLaren goes as high as $305, so the BBQ on the Brazos Lambo Combo is a pretty good deal at $239. There are some potential scheduling difficulties if you want to drive and eat during the same trip to Cresson. Driver groups often rent out the track, so weekdays can be hit-or-miss, which means you may go home with a gift certificate for those four laps to be taken on a later date. If you want to guarantee that you can get on the track and eat on the same day, check the event calendar on the DrivExotic website. Any date that shows up under 2018 or 2019 “Weekend Dates” is available, and once BBQ on the Brazos adds Sunday hours, the possible weekend dates will double. And learn from my timing mistakes: Drive then eat, rather than polishing off a three-meat plate just before getting behind the wheel.