Here’s a video homage to Tootsie Tomanetz, the pit master at Snow’s Barbecue in Lexington, Texas.
Nancy, Liza, and I went to Snow’s in 2010 when I was teaching at Baylor Law School for a term. Now, you don’t just drop in and eat at Snow’s. It’s in the middle of nowhere by East Texas standards (West Texas is in another league when it comes to the middle of nowhere), about an hour and a quarter from Austin and a like distance from College Station or Killeen. And it’s only open on Saturdays from, I think, 8:00 a.m. until they run out, which they always do, often before noon. Ms. Tomanetz, who is 81 years old, is busy the rest of the week working as custodian of a local school. She came to prominence in 2008 when Texas Monthly picked Snow’s as having the best barbecue in Texas.
I knew there would be a line, and I don’t do lines very well. But I was working my way through the Texas Monthly Top 50 on a tight schedule, and I was willing to wait in line because it was a beautiful spring day, I was with Nancy and Liza, and we were in line with a very interesting philosopher/goat rancher/electrician who knew of a place (Johnny’s) that pan-fries their chicken fried steaks. We got there by 9:30 a.m., and were at the front of the line by 11:00.
By that time, they had run out of a lot of stuff, but they did have brisket –the best brisket I have ever eaten, and that’s going some. Because Liza was visiting, we’d been to Lockhart the day before and had some really good brisket at Kreuz Market (and the best sausag I had in Texas), and I think we had dinner the night before at Ironworks in Austin.* The brisket at Snow’s flat put them in the shade.
The video focuses on Ms. Tomanetz’ work ethic. She is a wonder. Even more remarkable — more of a wonder — is her skill at cooking brisket. She is a national treasure, one recognized by the James Beard Foundation. If you’re in the eastern half of Texas, you should go to Snow’s. And go early.
And while you’re at it, click “follow” on our front page to receive blog posts in your email box. Or bookmark us and check in from time to time. If you’re planning a trip, you can “Search” the name of the city, state, or country for good restaurants (in Europe, usually close to sites, like the Louvre or the Van Gogh Museum, that you’ll want to visit in any event). Comments, questions, and suggestions of places to eat or stories to cover are very welcome. And check out our Instagram page, johntannerbbq.
*The visit prompted Liza to coin the term, tour de barbecue.