Name the best BBQ in the country (The Best of the South, Our readers weigh in on the best eating, including the best BBQ, March issue)? C’mon gang, that is an impossible task. I know, every, and I mean every, establishment and person in the world has to have one superlative claim to fame. But that ain’t possible in many claims — or is it that many claims are just too subjective to be believable?
Consider “the best looking woman in the world.” Is it Jaclyn Smith? How about Elizabeth Taylor? Maybe Angelina Jolie? Kate Bosworth? Catherine Zeta-Jones? The possibilities are endless, entirely subjective and dependent on personal taste and what impressed you last.
The same with BBQ. I consider myself a connoisseur of southern BBQ, especially BBQ in the southwest. BBQ is beef brisket, slow smoked and sliced thin, served plain with the sauce ladled on. Chopped meat stirred with sauce, served on a bun, just ain’t BBQ. That is MY definition, and I would expect many to disagree with it.
I have had good BBQ in many places. In the final analysis, that is the bottom line. Was it good? Was the place convenient to get to? Was the atmosphere acceptable? When we as pilots talk about BBQ, we are also talking about going to someplace we haven’t been before.
We are going to arrive with headset hair, rumpled clothes and a severe thirst. Since we will be flying home afterwards, the answer to the thirst must be iced tea (the house wine of the south). Is the glass large (12 oz. or more)? Is it over cubed ice or crushed ice? Is it clear or cloudy? The answers to these must be the former in all cases. Sweetened or unsweetened is your choice.
Cafeteria style is good, but I have had good BBQ served sitdown. Meat by weight at the pit is good, but so is sliced and slapped onto your plate in front of your hungry eyes. Good coleslaw, potato salad, beans and a dill pickle only adds to the meal.
Now, where can you get this? Hard 8 in Stephenville, Texas. Sanderson’s in Graham, Texas. A place in Mineral Wells whose name escapes me, but the FBO at Kickapoo Downtown can give you directions. A place in Monticello, Ark., described by the local chapter of the Airport Bums Society. We have been more places, but those stand out in my memory.