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Texas Barbecue Comes to Charleston

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I need strong flavors that can transcend the barriers in my olfactory system these days.  After yesterday’s Asian inspired pulled pork, I thought I would share my recent experiences at one of the newer barbecue joints in town.

Lewis Barbecue – The Meat is the Star

Once the hubbub and novelty slowed just bit we decided to try Lewis Barbecue to see what the buzz and lines out the door were all about.  Now I know.  And I totally get it.  The brisket, my Gaud the brisket.  But let’s start at the beginning of what you can expect when you walk in the door at Lewis Barbecue.  I have not spent any time in Texas to speak of so my familiarity with what “Texas” means to barbecue is limited, therefore I may come off a bit judgemental regarding a few of its attributes.  Apparently, this is “true” Texas style, so I should get with the program.

Tuesday Charleston
Brisket, Pulled Pork & Hot Guts Sausage

You Stand In Line

To get your food you stand in line like you did when you were in the school cafeteria.  Pretty much there is always a line.  Next, check out the board overhead to see what is being served that day.  There are meats by the pound and sandwiches along with some sides.  Meats include: The Prime Beef Brisket, Pulled Pork, Pork Spare Ribs, Turkey Breast and Texas Hot Guts (housemade sausage).  On Saturday’s they add , Beef Short Ribs.  The “meat guy” pulls out a tray throws a piece of butcher paper on it and you are off and running.

This next step is my favorite part other than eating it, of course. You tell the guys at the meat station what you want and you can be as specific as you want.  The brisket is cut to order.  Do you want from the lean side or the fatty side?  Do you want the burnt end?  I love the “bark” on pulled pork so I can request lots of that.  It is dangerous because your mouth is watering and you can get carried away.  Remember you pay by the pound so it can get expensive.  Choose your sides next with pickled onion, raw onion, housemade pickles and white bread as free options you can also pick up Buttermilk Potato Salad, Creamy Lemon Slaw, Cowboy Pinto Beans or everyone’s favorite Green Chile Corn Pudding.  Then head to the cashier.  Last time Gary and I were there our bill was $57.00 and that did not include any drinks.

Get a drink

I know that the star of show at this place is the food.  But I have to admit that when I go out to eat, it is also about the total experience.  You wanna drink a beer with your barbecue…. head to the bar and to me this is where it starts to get complicated.  There is a huge bar that has service on three sides.  Both times we have been there the bar was well attended but not packed.  But there was only one bartender to handle all the patrons sitting at the bar and all the dinner patrons wanting a drink to go with their meal.  For me this is a clusterf….k that gets irritating really fast.

Both times the bartender never makes eye contact and because patrons arrive at the bar from three sides he really has no idea who is next.  He responds to whoever is loudest, or waving most frantically to get his attention. Then there is the chicken or the egg dilemma.  If you get your food first, it’s cold by the time you get your beer.  If you get your beer first; it’s either gone by the time you get your food because you drank it while in line or it’s warm because it sat at the table you scoped out when you first got there before you waited at the bar and then got in the food line.

If you want another beer or anything else from the bar once you start eating…. be prepared you gotta go back to the bar and it will take a while.  This is something that could easily be fixed with drink servers that came to your table but since the food is the star your drink may just not be a priority.restaurant review

The Meat

The meat is the star and shines bright but the main stage at Lewis Barbecue belongs to the Prime Beef Brisket.  Hands down the best brisket I have ever eaten and probably the best anyone will eat anywhere.  Like I said above, carved to order, juice glimmering as the slices are stacked on your tray.  Great smoke ring.  Each and every bite melts in your mouth.  And the end cut?  Just hope there is one when it’s your turn to order because this is a must have each and every time.  This is why I eat here and this is why I will come back.

Best brisket ever
Best Prime Brisket ever

I have also had the Pulled Pork and the Texas Hot Guts (sausage).  The Pulled Pork is succulent and incredibly flavorful but again what makes it so good is that you are staring at the pan of meat as the “meat guy” is pulling your order.  You see something you want…. like an amazing piece of bark – let him know and it’s on your tray.  The Hot Guts comes by the link and it’s a doozy.  It is full of spice and heat that lingers on the tongue.  You gotta love it when the skin pops as you bite down.  Gary gets the Turkey Breast every time and loves, loves, loves it.

Tuesday Charleston
Turkey Breast from Lewis Barbecue

The Sides

Your tray then needs the pickled onion and the housemade pickles for the acid when you switch from brisket to pork.  And a couple slices of white bread to sop up the deliciousness for sure.  The Green Chile Corn Pudding is the favorite side by far but in the future I will probably skip that and the others and focus just on the star of the show.

Free Fixin's
Free Fixins
Tuesday Charleston
Cowboy Pinto Beans from Lewis Barbecue

Of Note

Lewis Barbecue is closed on Mondays.  So if you go on Sunday for dinner you may not get the full menu.  When we went on a Sunday at 6:30pm they were already out of pulled pork and pork ribs.  I hear that happens on most Sundays.  The short ribs on Saturday go fast as well so you may wanna plan for a late lunch or really early dinner.

 

barbecue
Don’t Let the empty stools fool you … It’s late on A Sunday

 

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cheers,

rick

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