Texas is defined by many things, its size, friendliness and of course, the food. And it’s not a complete visit the Lone Star State without sampling some of its legendary barbeque. Rudy’s Country Store, a chain that claims to be “the worst bar-b-q in Texas”, despite its inaccurate moniker.
Unlike the sauce-covered barbeque from other regions, Texas-style is dry: sauce is added just prior to eating. On Rudy’s web site, their barbeque pits use oak wood for smoking, unlike the mesquite burned elsewhere. Here, the meat is rubbed down with their own dry spice mix to impart additional flavour before being loaded into the pit. It’s always an amazing scene watching the pit master haul a massive, blackened chunk of brisket out of the smoker and deftly carve it up for serving.
Meat is the main star at Rudy’s, with brisket, turkey, chicken, pork ribs, baby back ribs and sausage. Sides include the familiar potato salad, beans, coleslaw and cream corn. Dessert is Rudy’s own peach cobbler. Garnishes include pickles and diced onions. Unsure of what to get? Pit masters always help the indecisive, slicing off a section of beautiful brisket or a sliver of sausage to make that final decision. My go-to is always the brisket — it’s beyond tender and has a lovely smoky flavour. Also offered are bags with thickly-divided fluffy white Texas toast, helpful for making an impromptu brisket sandwich or soaking up the last of the sauce (or beans). Getting all this food back to the table is easy with the huge plastic trays two-litre bottles of pop reside in on their trip to supermarkets.
Seating is offered inside or outside; and depending on time of year, I opt for inside (air conditioning is love) with the long tables and benches. Bottles of Rudy’s “sause” take up residence in the middle of tables, encouraging sharing. This sweet, yet tangy, sauce is also available for purchase on the shelves inside the adjacent store. I pour a minimal amount on my order to enjoy the texture and flavour of the meat, but also not to drown my taste-buds in a tsunami of sauce.
Rudy’s occupies a number of locations around Texas, which are listed on their web site. They also ship product across the United States, but for me, there’s nothing like digging into a half-pound of freshly smoked brisket and sausages with friends after San Japan in San Antonio. Rudy’s is just up on I-35 in Selma, not even a half-hour drive from downtown.
Rudy’s is also on Instagram, where there drool-worthy photos are enough to tempt most anyone.
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