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Cover Story - Posted October 26, 2012 noon
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Pitmasters, Staff Picks

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Best barbecue joint, overall
TYLER'S BARBEQUE

We agreed with our readers on this winner. There’s no doubt Tyler Frazer knows his barbecue. As we sampled dish after delicious dish, we wished we’d worn pants that were more pajama than skinny jeans.

From tender, pulled pork, classic, meaty ribs and irresistible, smoky brisket, to Tyler’s black peppercorn sausage, green chili macaroni and cheese, and crispy, fresh coleslaw – it was all delicious. What stood out to us was the attention to detail, so refreshing versus grab-and-go, generic food or a sterile environment. It’s obvious everything is fresh and homemade with a keen eye on quality, evident in the food and the warm, welcoming environment.

Choosing a winner proved more of a challenge than we’d initially bargained. We’d be remiss if we didn’t give a nod to another favorite we discovered during our undercover taste tests. Situated in a modest store front in River Road, Wesley’s Bean Pot is definitely worth the trip. We sampled the small, two meat plate with sliced brisket, ribs, beans, coleslaw, potato salad and a jalapeno cornbread muffin. At just over $6, the large portions (even for a “small” plate) make it worth every dime. We were blown away by the home-cooked flavor of everything: tender, succulent pork loin baby back ribs with meat that fell right off the bone, sweet and spicy sauce, thick sliced brisket and dark, smoked sausage. We’re big fans.


Best Ribs
WESLEY'S BEAN POT
We have to admit we were surprised by the fresh, hot-off-the-grill taste of Wesley’s ribs. A thick, sticky, sweet sauce seeps into the meat, but doesn’t overpower the smoky flavor of the pork. For baby back ribs, he meat portion was generous and tender. No fork and knife necessary.


Best Chopped Beef
CRAZY LARRY'S BAR-B-QUE
It was no contest for this category. The chopped beef sandwich at Crazy Larry’s is best described as nostalgic. It’s simply the way chopped beef should taste in Texas. Piled between two, fresh Snowhite Bakery buns that melt like cotton candy in your mouth is a more-than-generous portion of expertly smoked beef topped with Larry’s excellent sauce.


Best Pork
DYER'S BAR-B-QUE AND TYLER'S BARBEQUE

This one came down to a draw; we had to choose two winners. We loved both Dyer's and Tyler’s pork but for completely disparate reasons. Dyer’s recipe is unlike anything else we’ve tried. Juicy, tender and topped with a light, tangy sauce, the pulled tenderloin is not traditional by any means.

Tyler’s, on the hand, provides a more time-honored take on pulled pork – a darker cut of meat with just the right amount of fat to maintain the juiciness of the meat in a thicker spicy, sweet sauce.


Best Beans
SPICY MIKE'S BAR-B-QUE HAVEN

Hands down, Spicy Mike’s had the superior beans of the barbecue bunch.Soupy enough to eat with a spoon, the beans incorporate onions and tomatoes, a nice twist on what can be a somewhat boring side dish. We liked the extra spicy kick of chili powder with the traditional, Texas-smoked flavor.


Best Sausage/Hot Links
WESLEY'S BEAN POT

We couldn’t get enough of Wesley’s sausage. The taut, black casing has a great snap and we loved the deep, smoky flavor of the meat. It’s unlike any of the other sausage we tried.


Best Brisket
WESLEY'S BEAN POT

When we first dug into our to-go meal, we were shocked by the large portions. Wesley’s offers a thicker slice of brisket than most barbecue joints in town. One nudge wth a fork and we knew we didn’t need a knife; the meat was so tender it gave easily under just a bit of pressure. The flavor wasn’t as spicy as some of the other brisket we sampled along the way, but it didn’t need a kick. The homemade flavor stood out on its own, but we enjoyed dipping it into Wesley’s delicious sauce.


Best Potato Salad
BIG DADDY'S BBQ

Big Daddy’s potato salad was the only scoop that had chunks of potatoes in it. We liked how we had something to sink our teeth into rather than just swallowing a spoonful of the mashed versions we tried. With diced dill pickles, perfect mustard flavor and chunks of boiled eggs, this potato salad won out for its crunchy, fresh taste.


Coleslaw
SPICY MIKE'S BAR-B-QUE HAVEN

Once again, we hit a crossroads. We were torn between Tyler’s fresh taste and Spicy Mike’s unique dressing. In the end, we had to go with Spicy Mike’s. Topped with a zesty, chili powder dressing, Mike’s coleslaw was unlike any of the others we tasted. It’s definitely out of the box. However, we have to say the freshness of Tyler’s also impressed us. We could taste the difference in fresh-sliced cabbage versus the bagged, presliced variety. Tyler’s adds just the right amount of coarse black pepper to accent the crisp cabbage.


Best Flavor
TYLER'S BARBEQUE

Tyler’s takes this category as well. We savored the flavor of his distinctive, homemade rub. Since Tyler won’t reveal his secrets, all we know for sure is Tyler’s years of trial and error have paid off. Whatever the magic formula is, it’s a winner.


Honorable Mention
RIBS 'N MORE

Ribs ‘n More’s sauce is drinkable. Literally. We drank it. We dipped our forks in it. We poured it on Texas toast. The best word to describe it is addicting. We wished we’d had a gallon of the semi-thick, sweet and tangy sauce to take home.

To see our the winners of our barbecue reader poll, click here!

-- the AM Team

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