When the New York Times highlighted the ribs, brisket, pork, and sausage at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, it called the feast a "life-changing experience." That's just one press mention from a veritable briefcase full of articles that vouch for the barbecue destination's food. The menu isn't complicated: it catalogs 15 core barbecue meats as well as apple, blackberry, peach, and pecan cobbler. On the side, servers bring beans, corn on the cob, whole baked potatoes, or salad tossed into a bowl by a major league pitcher.
Just a touch crooked, the timbers that hold up New Braunfels Smokehouse's awning impart both a rustic and timeless look, which hearkens back to the smokehouse's 1940s beginnings. The Dunbar family bought five local ice plants including one in New Braunfels that formerly housed a brewery. With limited storage options, farmers brought their meats to the ice plant for refrigeration. Then employee Benno Schuennemann had an idea: he'd help the farmers preserve their meats even longer by curing and smoking them using old German recipes. As word grew of the smoked meats coming from the icehouse, the Dunbars found a whole new business on their hands. They added a restaurant in 1952, and by the 1960s, they fielded smoked-meat orders from across the United States.
Today, the Dunbars continue running New Braunfels Smokehouse from a new location, producing hickory-smoked beef, chicken, pork, and turkey using Benno's methods at their USDA-inspected facility. They also bake their own bread each day, plus insist that their chefs craft every side from scratch and smith every utensil by hand. The restaurant surrounds visitors in rustic style with decor that incorporates old-barn siding and knotty-wood paneling—many of the materials salvaged from the original smokehouse. After savoring meals ordered from the counter, visitors can peruse the country store for sausages and other packaged meats fresh from the smokehouse.
Gill's Ranch House Bar & Grill will never be accused of being pretentious. For starters, its large wooden facade looks like an old-fashion saloon, its executive chef is named Doc Holliday, and its adjoining open-air bar is fittingly called the "Lucky G Corral". As you might imagine, most of the food comes from the grill, including slow-cooked brisket, sausage, ribs, and burgers, though there's also Tex Mex food such as nachos and quesadillas.
When Jim Kiest of the San Antonio Express-News visited Hooligan’s Bar & Grill, he left with one important takeaway: “It is a great place to hang out when you’re not quite sure what you want to do. You’ll figure it out when you get there.” Kiest hit the nail on the head, given Hooligan’s eclectic collection of events and games. On any given night, a DJ might spin current hits for patrons to tap dance to or a cover band might storm the stage and pump out jams from the 1970s, ‘80s, or ‘90s. The music supplies a lively soundtrack for free rounds of poker, coin-operated pool games, an arsenal of darts and video games, and even dodge-ball matches.
Regardless of the ever-changing events schedule, patrons will always find three staples at Hooligan’s—food, drinks, and plenty of TVs. While watching Monday-night football or a UFC fight, bar-goers can munch mild to extra-hot wings, classic 8-ounce burgers, and individual pizzas, all washed down by domestic beers or fun cocktails such as cherry bombs and washington apples.
Dickey?s Barbecue Pit has smoked beef brisket in-house nearly every night since 1941, painting each morsel with a tangy house-made sauce. Pulled pork, turkey breast, and polish sausage round out the menu with meals that are heartier than a burrito wrapped in Paul Bunyan?s plaid shirt. Boxed lunches and catered buffets brim with homestyle sides such as coleslaw, mac 'n' cheese, and jalape?o beans. Once the last pickle has been crunched and the last finger has been licked, guests can savor one of the restaurant?s most cherished traditions: a vanilla cone, on the house.
When Food Network celebrity chef Guy Fieri roams the country in search of down-home eats on his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, he follows his gut. Rarely, though, does he stumble upon a “culinary compound.” But such was the case when he and his film crew visited Texas Pride Barbecue, where “It’s all about Texas,” as owner Tony Talanco told the San Antonio Express-News.
The haven of Texas-style barbecue juts out from the tall grasses, mesquite trees, and barbecue-sauce waterfalls that fill the surrounding fields. As an old filling station, Tony’s restaurant not only greets guests with the smoky scents of slow-cooked brisket, ribs, and sausage, but also with waves of nostalgia surging from antique gas pumps, jukeboxes, farm equipment, and artifacts from the 1920s through ‘60s that Tony has salvaged. In the kitchen, Tony and his cooks lavish time on their two most popular items: the brisket and the homemade barbecue sauces. After dry rubbing the brisket with seasoning, they cook it for 12 hours in a pit fueled by mesquite wood. This smoky flavor comes to life when dipped in hot or regular sauce, both of which begin with onions caramelizing in bacon fat.
Texas Pride Barbecue continues celebrating its state heritage with live music and special events that include a Bike Night and a fish fry. Such activities may have been part of the reason the San Antonio Express-News declared Texas Pride Barbecue its “Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests”—one of many awards the eatery has racked up.