City Market (Schulenburg)
2011: During lunch, you can not only pick your meat directly out of the pit, but also give instructions to the deft pitmasters on how you want yours cut. We ordered sliced brisket from the middle, so we could get some flat and point. We then added ribs and a house-made hot dog to top it off. Orders are then taken to the counter inside to settle the bill. Tender slices of brisket were heavy with black pepper. The oak smoke penetrated every layer of the moist meat, and the nearly quarter-inch-thick smoke ring was one of the thickest I’ve seen. Intensely smoky ribs had the same heavy black pepper rub. The meat was moist and perfectly tender and came from the bone with the greatest of ease, every bite was bursting with bold barbecue flavor. 2009: Advertising itself as “The Best Little Meat Market in Texas,” this small meat market just south of I-10 also churns out some good ’cue. Buffalo steaks, sausage, and their famous wieners fill the case that nearly runs the length of the store. Unfortunately, the ’cue is not on display, so I had to order blindly at the register. The smoked turkey was one of the best meats we had all day. It was tender and moist, which is hard to do with this incredibly lean meat. The crust and the meat were smoky and succulent. The sausage was a solid effort with a semi-fine grind, high fat content, and a bit of casing snap. None of the flavors provided much of a kick, but this was a solid link. The brisket, while smoky and flavorful, needed some more time in the smoker. Its tough and dry texture told me that it may have been cooked with too little patience, but the fat was well rendered, and the black pepper in the crust provided a nice flavor dimension.
If I had it my way, City Market in Schulenburg would have a warning sign on their barbecue menu: “Pit in use only on Saturday, microwaves the rest of the week.” You see, first and foremost this is a meat …