Even if the meat at Cowpoke’s were terrible, the joint would be jam-packed at all hours, since it’s located on the edge of the booming Eagle Ford Shale formation. But luckily for the patrons jawing about oil prices in the tidy dining room, the barbecue here is exceptional, certainly among the best in South Texas. The fatty brisket—which is cooked for fourteen hours, stored in a cooler overnight, and then finished in the cooker for a few more hours—is a particular standout, with its thick crust and perfectly rendered fat. The lean brisket is also moist and delectable, even in the late afternoon after a few hours under a heat lamp. We found the mesquite-smoked ribs to be a little tough, but they had a nice dark crust and a rich flavor. The building, which was rebuilt after a fire in 1993, the year Cowpoke’s first opened, is shaped like a giant red barn and adorned inside with horseshoes, a few mounted deer heads, and an autographed photo of a very mustachioed Tom Selleck. If you can tear yourself away from his portrait, go back to the counter for some homemade pie.
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