Freedom in meat
Somewhere in my imagination Paul Westerberg has jokingly sang, “All I wanna do is eat BBQ for breakfast.”
If this figment of my imagination were to actually occur near a Texas town with any kind of BBQ tradition, it might be earnestly considered.
On a Saturday morning at 7a.m., I decided to make this fictionalized lyric a reality and take on the task of eating a stack of the finest barbecue meat for breakfast, and then at least try to have a coma free day.
I finally made the trek out to Lexington, Texas to visit what Texas Monthly once hailed as the best BBQ in Texas, Snow’s BBQ. Snow’s BBQ is only open for about four hours on Saturdays. Yes, you read that correctly, four hours on a Saturday, and that’s all you get. Snow’s opens at 8a.m. on most Saturdays and stays open until they run out of meat and product to sell, which I was warned is usually before 1 PM. So to enjoy this meal, I had to steel my stomach for this early morning trial of eating ability and endurance. This is what all my training has led up to.
I couldn’t keep this adventure--and potential to be comatosed--all to myself, so I called a friend who I knew wouldn’t turn down the chance to test just how much he could accomplish on an early-morning, full stomach. He had just returned to the United States after being held as a political hostage in the same European country for the second time in his life (that’s a story for another day). Thus, he needed to celebrate his freedom. Well, at least that’s what I said to try and sell him on this idea. Barbecue clearly equals freedom. Never let them take your freedom away from you Meatans (a new term that I hope will catch on… kind of not like a vegan... but obviously better since they eat meat) of the world.
So we embarked on the hour and fifteen minute scenic drive from Austin to Lexington. The drive was calming and void of traffic, as it’s likely to be if you head off to Snow’s yourself. It lends itself equally as well to discussion of heavy subjects, like very real Eastern European political corruption and humorous stories that are not quite safe for print. As you approach Lexington, you’ll pass farms and livestock and witness FM roads actually being utilized for their intended purpose and, then, you’ll finally arrive at a place that--pun alert--“Snow’s all year long."
Snow’s is what you would expect of an establishment with this kind of lure and envied ability to not answer the phone Sunday through Friday. The shack-like Mecca has a small indoor eating and ordering area, with the pits and the majority of seating located outside. Walking the grounds felt like walking around a friend’s backyard who may have gone a bit overboard on their grilling equipment. After a quick look around, we were drawn towards line of light gleeming inside. The menu is short and curated only to the specialties of the house. Knowing full well we both had full days ahead of us after this diversion, we ordered light: a pound of beef brisket, a whole chicken, jalapeño pork sausage, pork ribs, coleslaw and potato salad.
The brisket, ribs and sausage were good, but sadly not the best I’ve had in Texas. My beef and pork barbecue heart, which are the actual contents of my heart at this point, still belongs to Smitty’s in Lockhart about 45 minutes outside of Austin.
The barbecue chicken was another story. Snow’s barbecue chicken is the real prize at Snow’s, by far the best barbecue chicken I’ve ever eaten. Usually I skip even sampling the dish as it can, and often does, go horribly awry. It takes real cookery knowledge and acumen to get barbecue chicken right. Cooking a meat with less fat content and one that can dry out easily leaves a small margin of error when you’re not dealing with a direct flame. Yet, the chicken was moist and flavorful in its smoke infused goodness.
My final vote: The trip to Snow’s is worth it for the chicken and the strange sights, sounds and smells of livestock located far too close to Snow’s for their comfort.
Go on, celebrate your freedom, eat some BBQ.