we again had a bubba pass — a stored value card that lets you skip the long lines and go “behind the scenes” and in special lines to get your bbq. this worked like a breeze this year — they made it a punch card, so the lines moved quickly with no snafus.
i was there on saturday june 9 — my sense is that the crowds were slightly smaller than in previous years. in fact, i’d say that for some stands, you might have gotten your bbq more quickly in the public lines than in the “bubba pass” lines. and many stands had no lines at all.
that meant more bbq for me, of course. in years past, we’d have to return on sunday to get to all the stands. this year, the combination of smaller crowds and better organization meant that we could hit all the stands in one day. great for my day planning, but not so great for my waistline.
at any rate, here’s a quick roundup of my favorites:
» best sausage, best brisket — southside market & bbq, elgin, texas, my consistent favorite year after year. their sausage is, for me, always the best thing at the entire event. but this year, their brisket was my favorite as well. it had the largest smoke ring, and was the tenderest and most flavorful. bonus points for the slice of cheese and the raw onion. sausage runner up was the salt lick bbq in driftwood, texas — it’s more kielbasa-y than sausage-y, but really juicy and good. brisket runner up was baker’s ribs in dallas, texas — nice flavor and outsanding fall-apart consistency. gotta mention this, though — the baker’s ribs beans tasted like liquid smoke. not positive of that, but if true, a big big no-no. that stuff is cancer in a bottle.
» best pulled/chopped pork was mitchell’s bbq, wilson, nc — whole hog chopped up. it’s good, but what makes it great is the vinegary sauce. it’s in a squirt bottle and not obvious, so while i knew to put it on, not everyone might. the sauce makes the whole taste come together, for me.
» best cole slaw — my favorite was big bob gibson, from decatur, alabama. it was mustardy and rough chopped and delicious. kirk and our friend stephen preferred the coleslaw from the salt lick bbq in driftwood, texas, which had beaucoup celery seeds.
» best beans — the multi bean mix from 17th street bar & grill, murphysboro, illinois was outstanding. honorable mention goes to ubon’s champion’s choice from yazoo, mississippi, for the inclusion of tasty burned-y bits.
» best ribs — hands down, 17th street. honorable mention to rack & soul, nyc, for great baby back ribs. jake’s boss bbq from boston had ribs as well, but they were way too saucy for me. didn’t see any dry-rub ribs, which was odd — maybe i just missed them.
» best surprise — the brunswick stew from the proclamation stew crew from lawrenceville, virginia. didn’t expect to see it there, and loved every last bite.
and damn did i miss the smoki o’s people. no pig snoot for me this year. i guess i’m going to have to go to st. louis.