Texas-style BBQ on a muthafuckin boat!!!

So, a couple weeks ago, we were sailing the seven seas of cheese on the Norwegian Bliss. Now they’ve got all kinds of funky joints all over this cruise ship — Mexican, Italian, French, teppanyaki, even a fancy steakhouse…but you KNOW the first place we’re checking out is the Texas BBQ joint! That’s right, Q Texas Smokehouse has got all the meats, and even though I didn’t see a smoker or smell the hickory, I can tell ya this shit is legit!!!!

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What we’ve got here is their signature Pitmaster Platter, with beef brisket, pork spare ribs, smoked chicken, jalapeno cheddar two ways — sausage AND cornbread, and then a couple sides like pickles, potato salad and beans. Now, let’s break it down:

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Now, unlike a real-deal Texas BBQ joint, this place don’t ask ya if you like yer brisket lean or fatty — they just give it to ya lean. But this thinly sliced meat has a perfect pink smoke ring, and tastes nice and tender with a side of Tennessee Whiskey (from the in-house country cover band).

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Now, normally I’d say if you’re eating ribs at a Texas smokehouse, you’re doing it wrong. But them bones are perfectly smoked, with a nice bark and a good chew. I might even order a whole rack of these bad boys next time!!!

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Likewise, a true Texas BBQ joint is more likely to serve you turkey instead of chicken, but man, you could cook anything in that smoker of theirs and it will still taste good!!!

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Now, I’m not a fan of the fact that they cut their jalapeno cheddar hot link in half — smoked sausage is all about the snap, son! But this still wasn’t bad. Not as good as Adamson’s, which is TheBomb.ca, but not bad…

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Now, this might sound crazy, but even with all that meat on the platter, the jalapeno cheddar cornbread almost stole the show. It’s a bit sweet, with a nice chew, and just a little kick from those hot peppers… Dude, this is body by jalapeno cornbread!!!

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Of course, you KNOW that after polishing off that Pitmaster Platter, I’ve still got room for dessert — we’re talking peach cobbler AND a chocolate brownie, bro! And yes, I did eat most of both of these myself…

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Beach Hill Smokehouse: A Texas-style BBQ joint…inside a Toronto housing co-op???

So, we’re hanging out at Beach Hill Smokehouse, this brand-new BBQ joint that just opened up in the east end. This place is a short walk from Main St Station, or an even shorter walk from the Danforth GO Station, in case you wanna come in from Oshawa or something. And you might wanna do that, if you love beef brisket, bro! Lemme tell ya, this might not be the best Texas-style BBQ joint I’ve been to, but it’s the most authentic Texas-style BBQ experience you’ll get in Toronto. All that’s missing is some good ol’ country music…

But when it comes to the menu, there’s very little they don’t have: beef brisket, turkey, pork ribs, chicken, beef ribs (only on Thursdays and Saturdays) and all the sides like beans, coleslaw, potato salad and mac ‘n cheese. They might be sold out of some stuff sometimes—but not by 2 p.m., like that other place in town. These guys keep on smokin’ throughout the day, which means they might not have ribs at 6:30, but they’ll have ‘em again at 7 (which explains why I didn’t get any ribs).

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Instead I went with the Lockhart, their take on a traditional Texas BBQ sandwich. You’ve got both sausage and brisket on a bun, with some pickles, onions and raw jalapenos from the condiment bar. There’s a nice, fresh bun here, packed with chewy, tender brisket and a nice juicy snap from the hot link.  Not too bad for 10 bucks! And then I added another hot link on the side, along with some mac ‘n cheese, cuz you never turn your back on mac ‘n cheese, Stampede Bro!!!

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Like I said, this is the real-deal Texas-style meal. The prices even reflect the fact that BBQ is meant to be working man’s food, which is what you’ll find down south. (And yeah, they’re at the bottom of the Main-Gerard Housing Co-Op, not in the middle of Queen St W or something.) We’re talking 7 bucks for a half chicken, 9 bucks for ribs, 11 bucks for brisket. All the food you see here plus a bottled water and a couple bucks for the tip jar, and I’m going home completely not-hungry for just 25 bones, bro!!!

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But yeah, like most good Texas BBQ joints, you’re gonna hafta wait in line. The food’s at the back counter, and the line goes right through the middle of the room, so at least you’re probably not waiting outside. At 6 p.m. on a Friday, that line was a good 35-40 minutes long…but that’s still nothing compared to when I went to Franklin BBQ down in Austin!

TEXAS STYLE BBQ SHOWDOWN: Franklin (Austin, TX) vs. Adamson (Toronto, ON)

Now, there’s no doot aboot it, Adamson Barbecue is my favourite BBQ joint in The Big Smoke. I’ve eaten every single kind of meat on the menu, and they’re all honky-tonk redonkadonk, son! I always used to say Adamson had the best beef brisket I’ve ever tried, but then I went down to Franklin Barbecue in Austin, and now I’m not so sure anymore. Their brisket is so outta bounds, people line up all around the block, bro!

So now, while the taste of sweet, sweet Texas brisket is still fresh in my memory, I had to hit up Adamson again so I could figure out which was the best BBQ joint I’ve ever been to in my lifetime. We’re looking at everything from the food, to the line, to the music on the stereo. So who’s got the most bodacious, beefalicious barbecue, bro? Let’s take a look at the tale of the tape!

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COMFORT FACTOR

Location: Adamson is sorta in the middle of nowhere. If you don’t live in South Leaside, and you don’t drive, it’s about a 30-minute bus ride from the closest subway station. Now, East 11th Street in Austin isn’t Sixth Street…but it is only five streets away.

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

Lineup: Adamson opens at 11. I got there just after 11, and waited in line for over an hour. Franklin also opens at 11. I got there just after 9, and waited in line for over five hours!

HUGE ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

Music: When you go to Franklin, you get proper Texas BBQ music–five hours of fiddle-driven classic country from the greats like Willie, Merle and Johnny. Now, the thing I always hated about Adamson’s was that they used to play really loud rap music when you were there. But today, we were greeted by tunes like “Wild Horses,” “Man in Black” and other country music classics. Sounds like somebody finally got the memo!

THIS ONE IS NOW A DRAW.

Seating: The seating at Adamson is mostly wooden chairs and picnic tables. The only picnic tables you’ll find at Franklin are outside–their indoor seating is a little more comfortable.

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

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FOOD

Beef brisket: Now, it turns out that Adamson actually uses the exact same brisket from the same cows as Franklin. As their pitmaster says, if they cook it right, it should be just as good as down south. And I gotta say, it’s really, really close. These were far and away the two best briskets I’ve ever had. Maybe the only way to truly compare them would be to eat them both at the exact same time. They’re both super-tender, juicy lucy, melt-in-your mouth… Of course, you gotta order it fatty. Fatty brisket was my nickname in high school, bro! So, whose brisket is better? I might just hafta give it to Franklin, by a nose. Cuz hey, I’m pretty sure anything tastes better after lining up five hours for it!

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

Pulled pork: The pulled pork at Franklin tastes how you expect pulled pork to be. Tender, succulent, and goes great with BBQ sauce. But at Adamson, their pulled pork has a nice, peppery taste so you don’t even need no sauce, bro!

ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

Sausage: At Franklin, it seems the sausage is sort of an afterthought. It’s like “Well, you’re all sold out of ribs ‘n turkey, so I guess I’ll get some sausage?” But at Adamson, you definitely want to add a jalapeno cheddar smokie to your order–even if you’re already getting a three-meat plate!

ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

Drinks: Franklin serves local Texas craft beer, and they’ll even sell it to you when you’re waiting in line, as long as you remain on the property. Adamson only has a soda fountain…but to their credit, you can get Big Red from it.

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

Dessert: Although I didn’t take it out of the package before taking that photo, the Lemon Chess pie at Franklin is pretty darn tasty. I’d say it’s fairly comparable to Adamson’s coconut cream pie, which you see above. But this one time at Adamson, I had this sweet potato pie that was shut-the-back-door bananas. So I gotta give the edge to Adamson.

ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

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Now, even after all that deliberation, I’m not sure there’s a clear winner here. The fact is, both of these places are really, really good. If you only visit one BBQ joint in Toronto, it’s gotta be Adamson. There are a couple other places I’d recommend, but only if you’re down for dinner. (Adamson, not unlike most BBQ joints in Texas, only serves food until they sell out–which is usually before 3 pm.)

On the other hand, if you’re ever in Austin, you’ll have to get up really, really early to eat at Franklin. I was one of the last ones through, and I didn’t eat until 2:30. Plus, they were sold out of pork ribs, beef ribs and turkey already. Clearly, I needed to be there before 8. Now, Franklin is a total tailgate experience, like a culinary Heavy Metal Parking Lot in Flavourtown. I think it’s worth checking out at least once–just don’t be like the brosephs who got so wastey-faced that they were kicked out once they got to the front of the line and didn’t even get any brisket!!!!!!!

EATIN AUSTIN: The early bird gets the brisket, bro!

Now, I knew the lineup at Franklin BBQ would be insane, so I showed up early at 9 am…the place doesn’t open until 11. But I got hit with one of the longest lines they’ve seen in a while–they were already lined up around the building by 7, son!

They actually told me I wouldn’t be getting in before 2pm, at which point they’d be all sold out of turkey, pork and ribs. And they gave a guy six people behind me a Last Man Standing sign–nobody after that was guaranteed any grub!

So, did I wait in line 5 hours for brisket? You know it, bro!

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The waiting was definitely the hardest part. At one point, they called an ambulance cuz one lady was too drunk to stand; another guy got kicked out when he got to the front of the line cuz he’d been shotgunning beers all day–sucks to be you, bro! While some people treated this five-hour odyssey as a tailgate party, I was here for one reason, and one reason only: Show me the brisket!!!!

Finally got to the front of the building around 1 pm. Another 45-50 minutes until I got inside, at which point the wait was another half hour or so, and they’d just sold out of ribs ‘n turkey, so I took what I could get. Was I disappointed, though? Hell no, bro!

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Now, this was probably the best beef brisket I’ve ever had. It was super, fall-apart tender, melt-in-yer-mouth goodness. Pulled pork was nice ‘n chewy, the sausages had a good snap to ’em, but there’s no doubt the brisket was the star of the show, bro! I was kinda running on fumes at this point, but I still put away about two pounds of food–one pound of brisket alone–and you KNOW I still had room for dessert!

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They call this Lemon Chess pie. I dunno why, but it’s pretty tasty. Kinda like a meringue, but without the squishy texture. Oh, and I washed it all down with a Big Red, which is sorta like the Lone Star Beer of sodas…in the best way possible. Didn’t get outta there till just before 3, and I was maybe gonna go to a museum or check out the Capitol, but I didn’t end up doing any of that, cuz I spent the whole day at Franklin’s. At least I got this bitchin’ trucker hat to show for it, though!!!!

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My oh my, it’s Frito pie!!!!

Now, I’ve had a lot of BBQ all over this city. Texas-style BBQ, Carolina-style BBQ, whatever that crap at Casey’s Bar and Grill is supposed to be (never again, bro!), and I know you don’t mess with Texas. But there’s this new BBQ joint at Dundas and Dovercourt called Smoke Signals, and it’s the first place this side of Austin where you’re find this down-home, funky Texas dish. Say hello to my little friend Frito:

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Now, they might not serve it up right in the chip bag, but this Frito pie is pretty legit. You’ve got a rich, smoked meaty chili on top of crunchy corn chips, with cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions and jalapenos. It’s like Friday Night Lights in a can, son! And you know we’re not done here…

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They call this sandwich El Chapo, and it will murder your tastebuds, bro! You’ve got pulled pork piled on top of beef brisket, and then they thrown in a sausage link!? Shut the front, back, and side doors! This dish is so outta bounds, Blair Walsh almost hit it with a field goal attempt! And of course, you know they have their own, in-house beer, right?

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Smoke Signals Lager doesn’t come in a fancy glass or anything, and it’s not a fancy beer, either. A crisp, light lager with just a touch of fruity aftertaste—probably the least-bitter Great Lakes Brewery beer I’ve ever had…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Turkey dinner Texas style—just 15 bones—at Adamson’s, son!

Perhaps you’ve heard of the magical, mystical place that is Adamson’s Barbecue. This legit, real-deal, Texas-style joint is tucked away in an old warehouse in the industrial part of South Leaside, and the lineups are so long they often run outta food before 2 pm. And you could only get it on weekdays…until just recently, when they finally decided to open up shop on Saturday.

So, last weekend, I went down to check it out. I’ve heard they’ve got some righteous ribs and Bomb.ca brisket, but I really wanted to try the smoked turkey. I’ve seen a couple places do turkey in the smoker on Triple D, and I’ve been to a whole buncha BBQ joints here in The Big Smoke—but I had never actually seen this delish dish in the flesh until now:

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Now, I gotta say, I’m not normally a really big turkey fan. I’ll have it for Thanksgiving, but I don’t even like leftovers. I mean, I haven’t even tried the hand-carved turkey sandwich at Subway…but I’m pretty sure that Adamson’s checks that sammy hard into the boards, pulls its jersey up over its head, and punches it right in the solar plexus. This bird is super moist and tender, with a nice smoked flavour that you can’t get anywhere else. Shut the back door and buy a ticket, bro!

But of course, that’s not all. This hunka-hunka-burnin’ lunch plate comes with pickles, onions, white bread and a choice of two sides. I got some poppin’ potater salad and a nice crunchy coleslaw, which would probably taste good even on top of a Duck Dynasty burger. And can you believe that all this grub was just 15 bucks!? That’s like a highway robbery in Flavourtown, son!!!!