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Monday, June 18, 2012

Longhorn Cattle Company and BBQ - San Benito, TX

Trying to head to the island on Saturday was impossible - we made it less than 4 miles that direction and it took an eternity.  We stopped at Wal-mart and turned around and headed home.  The hubs recommended we take a trip into Harlingen to see a movie since all the traffic was headed in the opposite direction!  Sounded like a plan to me :-)  The teen opted out of joining us (he's anti-parent whenever possible these days) so we had a date night!

We went to see Men in Black III and really enjoyed it.  I even shed a tear or two towards the end.  Since it was a date night, we'd elected to eat dinner in town and Mr. Flip Flop said "why don't we go to that barbeque place you are always wanting to go to?"  I responded "Longhorn?"  He said "yeah, the one off 77".  My face lit up, I'd been wanting to go there for a couple of years now and every time I wanted to stop it was either packed or I missed the exit.  Today, we were in luck!  I didn't have my regular camera, so once again, we just have cell phone photos.  I have GOT to start carrying my camera!

Upon arrival, the parking lot was full but we snagged a spot when someone was leaving.  I snapped a photo of the building and texted it to my Facebook friend, Lisa Turner, and said "guess where we finally got to?"  I knew she would laugh, because she and her husband Bill run this business.  I thought she was out of town so imagine my surprise when she responded "I'm coming over"!

Lisa's a friend I feel like I know well.  She is a friend of a friend from Central Texas and we connected because she lives in the area where I now live and her Dad lives in the same tiny town I live in.  We have a common love for horses and food ...and talking.  When she walked in the door, we were just being served and I recognized her immediately, and she me (thanks to FB photos!) and we greeted and hugged as old friends would. 

My first job in high school was working in a meat market with a pit included off to one side and one of my Saturday duties was being the barbecue girl...so I do know my cue!  Many a week-end, I went dancing after work with my hair smelling of oak wood smoke!  Didn't matter how many times it got washed, I always smelled like a fire pit on Saturday night.

I had lamented online a couple of years ago that there were no good BBQ joints down here in my new home.  She encouraged me to stop by their place.  I surely meant to get there sooner...but better late than never!  WOW...when I walked in, I knew I'd hit the jackpot.  The ambiance, the longhorn head and cattle skulls and horns on the wall, the old photos, the wood, the awesome SMELL of a real pit.  Felt like home!

Lisa and her husband are good people.  They care about their staff and the quality of food as well as service.  It was evident by the many staff stopping by our table to say hello that she is well-liked - and that all flows over to the good atmosphere.

As I said, our food was just arriving when she arrived - and the first thing she did was ask me what kind of brisket I liked.  I said a mixture of moist and lean.  We had a discussion about the cap of the brisket and the excellent marbling which created a mouthful of goodness.  She had our waiter get us a sample of their cap, since my plate had lean beef on it.  It was incredible I will say - you could cut it all with a fork, but that brisket cap was like buttah!

I got ahead of myself here.  The menu is extensive with the standard meats expected at a BBQ joint, but there is also an array of fine steaks available.  I think quite a bit of that night's crowd were there for a pre-Father's Day dinner.  Lots of family groups enjoying steaks as well as traditional brisket and sausage. 

We started off with iced tea for both of us...I LOVED the iced tea glasses!  They were a small pitcher!  It was a good glass of tea, with a lime on it and a straw.  Just the way I like it.  Big enough not to require a refill, which messes with my "mix" of lime and sweetner.  When I have it just the way I like it, I don't want someone topping it off!  This pitcher glass worked great.

They start with their famous "bean soup".  I'd heard people rave about it online, and they weren't making things up!  They were tasty beans, served in a ceramic coffee mug. Tastes just like my Momma makes.  LOVE it. (I loved just about everything you'll find out).

I got the two meat combo, with brisket and baby back pork ribs.  Potato salad, cole slaw, and pickles/onions on the side with a big piece of thick white bread (the kind you make Texas Toast out of).  Since I was yammering with Lisa the entire time, my husband polished off his sausage and brisket plate, and I loaded most of my ribs onto his plate, he finished my beans, and held up his hands to ward me off when I could only eat half of my sides.  I told him when we walked out I was glad I had chatted - if Lisa hadn't been there I would have cleaned my plate and been miserably full for the rest of the evening!

The smoke ring on the brisket was perfect, and even the lean meat was moist.  The pork rib I ate was flavorful but I will say I'm not the biggest fan of the baby back part of the rib...they are lean and meaty, but the bigger, juicier spare rib part has the fat that makes them moist.  The flavor was excellent, but Lisa immediately asked if the ribs were a little dry. She has a good eye. They were, slightly, but not so that I wouldn't absolutely order them again.  I love me some pork ribs, whichever part of the pig they come from!   I enjoyed the potato salad - homemade obviously with skin on potatoes.  The coleslaw was exactly the way I like to make it and they had good BBQ sauce!  Happy, happy girl. 

I felt happy as I fell into bed Saturday night.  I'd seen an entertaining movie, met someone in person I had only known "virtually" and felt like I'd liked and known her forever, and I'd had an awesome real Texas BBQ dinner in a real cattleman's environment.  What more could a Texas girl ask for?  Not much, I tell you, not much.

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!


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