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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tejas Brew Pub & Smokehouse

Photo Credit:  Ian Hook
UPDATE 11/7/2013:  It was reported that the last day of business for Tejas Brew Pub and Smokehouse was 10/31/2013...said they were moving their business to Colorado. Good luck to them!

I finally girded my loins and headed to the island on a day in July least it was a week day... happily no crowds to struggle against!  I visited my friends at Paragraph's on Padre Blvd, drove around a bit to see what was up...little things change all the time on the island.  In the Summer, I make myself a stranger on purpose.  When you visit the island in the Fall, you know what "real" island time is like.  There's a slower pace, less crowds, a different set of people.  It's my favorite time of year down here.

So, there are a few new restaurants that I've not been able to try.  I have a handful that I've been reeeeeally wanting to visit...and today, finally, I made it to Tejas Brew Pub & Smokehouse.  Good smoked meats have not been readily available on the island since I've lived down here.  There is a tasty new spot or two in Port Isabel, but until Tejas Brew Pub & Smokehouse opened up, nothing really special in this category on the strip of sand we all love so much!

Since I visited at the book store so long, we didn't get to lunch until 1:30... and not only was it not crowded, we were the only ones in the restaurant section.  We went in the front door (facing the street) which was the main entrance for the previous inhabitants of the building.  I have always found it a confusing building to enter.  At least they clearly have signs indicating bar to the right, dining to the left.  That's after you get in though.  We walked all the way through the dining area before someone hailed us.  Maybe it's less confusing when there are a lot of people there.  It felt like we came in the wrong door.  When we walked in, the first thing I smelled was not the luscious smell of smoked meats, it was the disgusting smell of cigarettes.  I almost turned around and left.

I guess it was folks in the bar smoking.  I used to smoke.  We rehabilitated smokers are the worse.  I don't want to smell it anywhere around my food and it is the reason I've stopped going to Tom & Jerry's.  Griff had really talked up the good food though, so I proceeded into the dining room.  Ahhh, the cigarette smoke odor was not prevalent there.  Whew.  I bring this up only to point out...keep walking to the dining's worth the trip!!!

I was with the teen and he was not interested in conversing with me and had his nose immediately into the new book he'd gotten at Paragraph's.  Since there was no one in the restaurant but me, I rudely talked on my cell phone to Mr. Flip Flop most of the time we were waiting for our food.  I figured no one would be offended...the teen surely wasn't!

We got our drinks quickly - a soda for the boy and an iced tea for me.  Really GOOD iced tea I must say!  We quickly made our choices.  Ian is a smoked sausage lover but I had already warned him that they made their own sausage (which excited him) BUT that they used fresh jalapeno in the mixture. 

That required him to opt for the Beer-battered Shrimp Basket and Pepper Fries (the boy loves black pepper with his fries and ketchup).  I told him it was crazy to go to a smokehouse and order fried shrimp but he insisted.  When the waiter left he said "Mom, it's a brew pub...and it's beer battered".  Huh, well, he's right about that.

I wanted to taste all of the meats so I got Uncle Mel's Sampler Platter.  It came with sliced brisket, baby back ribs, sausage, and pulled pork.  Sides included charro beans, potato salad, cole slaw, pickles and onions.  Actually, when I check the menu on Facebook, it doesn't mention sausage.  I may have just gotten lucky.  I know why so many of the men are raving about this place.  The Sampler was enough food to feed a hard working ranch hand!  Wayyyy too much food for me. 

I negotiated a substitution of green beans instead of charro beans for a small fee.  Joni, at Paragraphs, had highly recommended the green beans.  If you like crunchy fresh green beans, sauteed in butter and bacon pieces with some onion and garlic - you will love these.  I couldn't eat them all, and they were the one thing I brought home in a "to go" box! That fact alone would speak to my enjoyment of that side dish!

Here's a summary of how we liked or didn't like the stuff we tried:

1.  Beer-battered shrimp basket.  The teen said they were "okay" - gave them a 6 on a 1-10 scale.  He said they weren't all that flavorful.  When we requested shrimp sauce (cocktail sauce) the waiter said they didn't have that.  In my opinion, you shouldn't serve shrimp if you don't have the condiments to go with them.  The teen is a shrimp basket aficionado...he knows what he's talkin' about!
2.  He skipped the charro beans and doubled up on pepper fries.  He gave them a 9...that is high praise from Mr. Picky Eater!  He said they were really good.
3.  Brisket - moist and delicious - some of the best I've ever had (and I worked selling BBQ as a teen...I know my smoked meats).  Also, good BBQ sauce.  I gots to have me some good sauce, or I don't want to eat the BBQ.  It's just the way I roll.
4.  Baby Back Ribs - they looked dry, obviously done with a rub.  Appearances ARE deceiving because they were fall-off-the bone tender and juicy.  Squirted a little sauce down the top and bit into pure-d HEAVEN.  I could have been happy with a big rack of those ribs and nothing else!
5.  Pulled Pork - a generous amount, very lean, would have been excellent (probably is excellent for most people) but for the hot spiciness of the seasoning.  I recently had a pulled pork meal that was fatty at another restaurant...and was so happy to see this big pile of piggy goodness.  I was so disappointed that I just could not bear the burn.  If I'd had some bread to put it on, with those pickles and onions...a little sauce... I would have eaten it.  However, just eating it with a fork was not happening for me.  I left it on the plate.
6.  Brew Meister's Hand-made Smoked Sausage - OMG what excellent texture and flavor...until the jalapeno bit my tongue in half.  The teen tried a piece and glugged his DP to cool the heat...and I sucked up tea as fast as I could.  Just too hot for my taste.  I was telling my oldest son about the visit and he CANNOT WAIT to try this place - he LOVES him some jalapeno sausage!  I was sorry about those being too hot for me... I could tell this was some quality ingredient sausage!  I used to have to make sausage during my BBQ stint...and it was NOT my favorite job...but I learned that overly messing with the product before stuffing in the casing was the downfall of many good sausages.  These guys KNOW how to make a good sausage.  Us wussy-mouthed folks can't handle the heat though.
7.  Handmade Potato Salad - very good.  Not great because I like some onion and pickle chunks in my tater salad, but it was definitely very good and obviously made in-house.  Will happily eat it again.
8.  Homemade Cole Slaw - freshly crunchy - mayonnaisey, light on the sweet/sour (which I'm particularly fond of in a cole slaw).  Also good. (BTW, what's the difference in handmade and homemade?)
Just look at the amount of food on this platter!
Just $12.99 (well, a little more for my substitution)

I won't talk again about the Green Beans since I already discussed them above.  They were excellent (but don't expect the usual soft well-cooked green beans you generally find in restaurants).  Really, bacon, butter, onions, garlic?  Who can go wrong with that?  You gotta like crunchy though - they are barely sauteed. (I notice I said I wasn't talking about them again...and I dove right in anyway...go figure)

Overall, I loved the food. 
Could have used some bread.
I love that the BBQ sauce met my standards and that they had it on the table in a squeeze bottle.
Volume and quality were exceptional. 

I now know, thanks to sampling the platter, exactly what I'll get next time.  I'm also looking forward to trying the smoked chicken, which got a very high rating from the inestimable Griff Mangan, and the Cow Patty Brisket Cakes...'cause they just sound interesting!

They are working towards getting their brewed beers up and rolling, but they aren't there just yet.  They do have a nice selection of draft and bottled beers.

I really hope this restaurant makes it.  The smoked meats are great and I know it is someplace my older boys and husband will enjoy going time and again.  We get tired of seafood eventually!  We need some MEAT.  Welcome to the island Tejas Brew Pub & Smokehouse...glad you are here!

Ranging Zero to Five...

4 – Lip smackin’ - good quality – flip flops will definitely be parked under their table again!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!

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