Rating: 4 Opened: 1980 Pitmaster: Bert Bunte, age 54 (since 1984) Method: Post oak; indirect-heat pit Pro tip: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday they offer pork butt, which is tender and yielding.
Only a few folks were eating lunch when we arrived in this small, well-lit room decorated with mounted deer, but since we had seen the massive pits outside and the piles of post oak, we speculated that a good meal was ahead. We were right. The fat on the brisket wasn’t as rendered as it could have been, but the thick cuts had a quarter-inch smoke ring and a rich flavor and didn’t require a fork. Sadly, the same couldn’t be said for the lean cuts, but we didn’t mourn them for long, as the beautiful pork ribs were next. Thick, meaty, pink, and rubbed with pepper, there wasn’t a bad bite on the entire bone. We dipped a piece in the thin sauce, which offered a light tang. The chicken, which was beautiful, with glistening peppery skin, looked a little better than it tasted (about average), but the sausage was a winner: homemade all-beef links with chunks of pepper and no filler. Zimmerhanzel’s is co-owned by husband and wife Bert and Dee Bunte (it’s her maiden name up there on the sign). They opened the place right before Dee Dee graduated from high school, and it’s still going strong. Bert doesn’t let anyone else cook for him: every day he stuffs the sausage, seasons and smokes the meat, and makes the beans and sauce. Oddly, he told us that he quit putting bacon in his beans because the vegetarians complained. Which raises the question: What is a vegetarian doing in a place like this?