Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Pody's BBQ (Pecos, TX)
I've slowly but surely been eating my way through Texas Monthly's list of "Top 50 Barbecue Joints" for 2013, and Pody's BBQ would make 6 out of 50. I'd probably never find myself in Pecos, Texas again, so this was an opportunity that I just couldn't pass up.
Pecos claims to be the home of the world's first rodeo, though the folks in Deer Trail, Colorado may disagree. Historical accuracy aside, the only thing I wanted to wrangle in Pecos was some delicious barbecue.
Pody's BBQ seemed to embody everything that's great about West Texas. The interior definitely reminded me of the old west, with a few modern accents for good measure. I thought the wagon wheel chandeliers were a nice touch. They are very proud of their nod from Texas Monthly (as well they should be), with several signs and banners showcasing this tremendous accolade. With as much notoriety as Pody's has gotten since the Texas Monthly list came out, they still keep things simple and humble: sweet tea in red solo cups, plastic utensils, styrofoam plates, and paper towels. Even their menu is nothing more than a hand-written marker board.
I knew that a lot of food would probably make the remaining six hours of my drive home long and sleepy, but I couldn't resist sampling all that Pody's had to offer. I ordered a 3 Meat Plate: brisket, ribs, and sausage with potato salad and Southwest pozole on the side. The customer in line ahead of me got a pretty big takeout order with 10 pounds of ribs, thankfully leaving just enough meat for my combo plate. I really dodged a bullet there.
Their potato salad was about average. There wasn't just a ton of flavor, though the pickles did stand out nicely. A little black pepper would have gone a long way here. The pozole, on the other hand, was spectacular. There was a good seasoning to it, with a slight hint of spiciness on the back end of each bite, courtesy of the green chiles. The cheddar cheese also added a nice creaminess. This was my first go round with pozole, and I really enjoyed it. I wish pozole would become more mainstream because it was a great pairing for barbecue.
The brisket had a gorgeous black crust, with a pronounced smoke ring beneath. I could tell it would be melt-in-your-mouth tender just by looking at it. As I suspected, the brisket tasted phenomenal. I received a good combination of lean and fatty pieces, and both kinds were very juicy and tender. The crust had an amazing punch of flavors, and there was indeed a nice degree of smoke in each bite. My order came with one end piece that was about 75% crust, which was absolutely divine. I didn't dare add any sauce, though I'm told Pody's has a habanero-based barbecue sauce that will light you up.
I managed to put down the brisket long enough to try their sausage. The casings were beautiful and dark from the pit. I found a good snap there, though I would have preferred just a little more. The smoke seemed to have penetrated the casings nicely, and the pepper and other seasonings gave it a nice flavor. According to Daniel Vaughn of Full Custom Gospel BBQ/Texas Monthly, Pody's sausage is not made in house. That just goes to show that a true pitmaster can turn even store-bought sausage into something delicious.
The ribs looked so incredible that it was hard to save them for last. My big, meaty spare ribs had a deep black crust, and the smoky hue went almost all the way through to the bone. They were impossible to put down once I started eating. The meat had great staying power, but was still tender enough to come off the bone with only a slight tug. Each bite was very juicy and packed with smoky goodness. I'm glad that I arrived when I did, since otherwise I would have missed out on these tasty ribs.
I was absolutely stuffed by the time I left Pody's. On the way out the door, there's a sign asking you to "Ring Bell If Satisfied." Not a single customer left without ringing that bell, myself included. Kudos to pitmaster Israel Campos, because I could eat Pody's barbecue morning, noon, and night.
1330 S. Cedar
Pecos, TX 79772