Monday, June 20, 2011

True Texas Traditions: Chevrolets and BBQ

 picture from inside of Sonny Bryan's

On June 11, Max Man and I got to partake in a little activity out of our realm of regular and venture on a scavenger hunt, hosted by Chevy and their Driving Heartland initiative, along with 4 delectable barbecue restaurants around the Dallas area (click the linked words to view our YouTube video - we are interviewed and you can hear Max using the OnStar!) Chevy lent various models out for a group of people to use for the weekend, genius promotion if you ask me. The car I received, no, I'm sorry, the tank I received caught me off guard at first. Let me be honest with you: I am not the best driver out there, I can admit that. When that big black Suburban pulled up in my parking garage on a Friday afternoon I had two thoughts: secret service and 15 year old self. Secret service is a "duh" factor, the black tinted windows and shiny black tanker made me feel like I would be carting around George W. on his personal around town errands. Then I went to the nostalgic thoughts of when I was 15, with a permit and mom's suburban learning to drive in the local high school's parking lot thinking how will I ever be comfortable going over 17 mph.

Though I am far from Suburban years, as in needing one for myself, I did enjoy my temporary ride for the weekend aside for some of the maneuvering methods such as merging, parking, backing out... that was a little more challenging than my liking. When I am in prime-time soccer mom years, I'll think back and remember my Chevy Suburban!

We started the day at the original Sonny Bryan's BBQ, which was conveniently close to my apartment and work. It was a tiny little shack that reveled in tradition and brought a taste of small country life to the big city. The restaurant was comprised of a small room with the counter and condiments, then an equally small room of old school desks with plaques above them for valued customers and family  this was where you ate. The only tables resided outside under big yellow umbrellas but with that triple-digit heat, we opted for the school desks. At this location we sampled some of the best brisket I've ever had, ribs, sausage and one of their specialty sides, onion rings. They were HUGE. What was also really impressive is that they've had the same smoker on-site since it opened in 1958 - it was very well seasoned, that's for sure, and you could definitely taste it in their meat.
Mr. Max and I enjoying our first plate of BBQ - I'm glad we went the sharing route....
I personally adore the Corona BBQ Sauce bottles.

After receiving our first clue envelope, we hurried to the Suburban - let's call it the 'Burb - and drove it like my old Jetta to the next location. Both of us felt this was a race to get there before everyone else. Sidenote: it wasn't. We got to Sammy's BBQ and had more amazing food. While I felt their meat lacked a little in comparison to Sonny's, their sides were amazing. The owner's wife came over and told us a little about their start, how her husband only wanted to serve meat but she insisted on creating sides from her own book of family recipes. This is a perfect instance of how the man may be the head in the relationship, but the wife is the neck and turns the head in the right direction. I heard that somewhere... 

Here I focused on a delicious spinach salad, a twice-baked potato dish and Texas Toast.
With our friends Wes and Lindsey at Sammy's - I'm proud of Lindsey and myself for not staining our white attire when we were sampling BBQ all day
This next stop in the 'Burb was perhaps my favorite as we ventured from Uptown to Bishop Arts District to Lockhart's Smokehouse. Everything about this place impressed me, including the fact that you ate on butcher paper, no plates! It is a family inside joke that I once told my mom that having china was stupid and when I grew up, I would register for decorated paper plates (this was after watching all the women in our house polish silver and clean the china for hours after a Christmas dinner). Lockhart's provided a different array of food which I appreciated, there was a wonderful originality to such a common genre. My favorite meat was their smoked turkey breast, it was just to die for! We also sampled tasty sides such as macaroni and cheese, jalapeno baked beans, sauerkraut-slaw, potato salad, deviled eggs and their own creation - rib rub. The rib rub was a combination of rib meat, jalapenos, brown sugar, cocoa and that's all I can remember. It was great by itself or on a cracker! This was definitely a place I look forward to coming back to.
Our last and final stop was an "upscale" BBQ joint called Smoke, located at the boutique Hotel Belmont in South Dallas. I have been to the patio bar at the Belmont before but had not tried Smoke yet. I loved this restaurant for several reasons but one of the main things is that they used their own homegrown ingredients from a garden behind the restaurant and local produce. They also brought unique twists to their menu including their drink and dessert selections. I managed to try their incredible hominy casserole and a bite of brisket even though I had O.D.'d on meat for the day, I had to compare. The stellar features were a vanilla infused rum made in-house using wooden plank boards soaked in natural vanilla extract and large honey tubs to soak the rum and planks in. Add a splash of coke and a little maraschino cherry drenched in fruit juice - mmmm! Then, there were the desserts... We got to try Max Man's favorite dessert, keylime pie dressed up with a fabulous meringue topping, and my BBQ dessert favorite, banana pudding but this was complimented by chocolate sauce and peanut butter crunch bites. There was also a chocolate cake with a caramelized banana topping. The perfect end to a fun day, thanks Chevy!

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