Friday, July 6, 2007

Of Smoked Meat, Dead Presidents and Famous Gangsters

What a day! Last night we crashed watching American Chopper. Lots of yelling, cool bikes, but ultimately not enough to keep us awake to see the new bikes they were building.

We woke this morning, and I wisely headed down to the gym and spent some quality time with the Stairmaster. A couple cups of coffee later our metabolisms were in high rev and it was off to Jim Bob's for breakfast tacos. What to say about Jim Bobs, hmm.......

Well, first the tacos were pretty good. The place, nothing more than a hole in the wall is a little hard to spot from the road due to construction, but once in we were ready to go. Interesting fact about this tour so far; everywhere we go, we're charged by the amount of stuff we get. For example all the que places charge by weight, number of meats number of sides, etc. and Jim Bob's was no different. You want a taco with one filling you pay X. Two fillings is X + Y and so on.

I went with Chorizo, Brisket Cheese and Onions. PD1 went with Eggs, Cheese, Ham and Peppers. A few moments later are tacos were ready. This is when we encountered the "sighers". As we moved over to the benches there was a couple behind who were quite...well lets just say they were rustics. Most folks in place were enjoying breakfast on their own, but not the rustics. Oh no. These two were quite the active eaters!

"Chomp, slurp sigh."

"Ugh God"

"Chomp. slurp sigh"

"Ugh God"

Needless to say, this was kind of distracting not to mention completely unappetising.

"Ugh God"

And it wasn't even like an ugh god that one might utter during pleasurable activities. Nope, more like "Ugh God, I'm in pain"!

I tell you, it took all I had not to turn around and and yell, "PUT DOWN THE TACO AND JUST WALK AWAY"! Eventually, the rustics finished their workout, and left and we were able to enjoy the remainder of our breakfast while watching Fox broadcast a low speed car chase from California.


Anyway lets get to the que. Today we began with lunch in Taylor TX. As you drive into Taylor, you get the impression that this town has seen better days. It's a little tired, there are a lot of empty store fronts, and its not much of an exaggeration to say that Taylor has three operating businesses; a grain supply company and two que joints.

We ate at both!

The first was at Rudy Mikeskas. As you walk in to Rudy's the first thing that hits you is the 14 deer heads that are mounted on the walls around the room. The second is the smell of smoke, and the third is Rudy, a big man, in at the start of the cafeteria line in the back of the restaurant. We ordered brisket and sausage and sat down to enjoy them with two Dr. Peppers. Rudy's brisket is good stuff. The guys at Smoque in Chicago recommended the joint and they didn't steer us wrong. Lightly smoked, and accompanied by a little sauce ("Just a taste" Rudy said) the brisket was tender and tasty. Rudy didn't ask us if we wanted fat or lean, we just got the fat side, and that was fine with me.

As we were exiting Rudy's we saw the other joint, Louie Millers. I looked at PD1 and we silently agreed that this was our next stop. Louie's que is totally different. The smell of smoke hits you long before you enter the restaurant, and the interior is dark and smokey. Like Rudy's you order at the back of the restaurant and then carry your stuff to the table. Louie's brisket is black as night on the outside and strongly smoked. The interior of the brisket is tender and juicy and has a nice meaty flavor. I preferred Louies over Mikeskas.

After we left Taylor we took a brief respite at the LBJ museum and then took a tour of the University of Texas. Great places, both.

We finished our Austin stop in Lockhart TX at Smitty's. Folks this is the best place we were at. When you enter the building you walk right into the smoking room. It's hotter than hell in there, and since the oak fire is burning out in the open, it is also very smoky. Smitty may have some long term black lung issues with employees!

We ordered brisket and sausage. Our meat was served on red butcher paper with two knives. Notice anything missing there? Correct! No forks! You eat the cue with your hands at Smittys. Another difference was that there was no sauce. Just you, your fingers and the best darn smoked meat in Texas. Oh the meat, what a treat this was! Very smoky and extremely tender, Smitty asks whether you want it wet (fat side) or dry (lean side). We ordered wet and got to work. The sausage received a split vote from us. Too weird was PD1's opinion, but I liked the difference that a clearly homemade sausage made and thought this was our best sausage of the stay.

We wanted to hit Kruetz tonight as well but something else cam up; Bonnie & Clyde. The Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin (which by the way is an absolute treasure) was showing the 1967 classic starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway and I absolutely wanted the chance to see it on the big screen. What an experience! Anyone who has seen this movie remembers two things. The first is the way the movie mixes extreme violence (for the time) with comedic relief. The other is the superbly edited final scene where the doomed couple meet their end. Seeing it bigger than life was an extraordinary treat.

Thats all for now. We're driving 600 miles to Hattiesburg Mississippi tomorrow where we'll enjoy dinner at Leatha's BBQ.

More later.

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