Texas Monthly magazine has come up with something truly wonderful: an on-line road map of good barbecue places within 10 miles of an interstate highway. (I think that includes all divided highways.) How could there be a better Texas travel guide?
Well, they could have taken more care. They locate the “City Market, Luling” in the Bellaire section of Houston. Now, first, the genuine City Market is in Luling, Texas, within a pretty easy shot of San Antonio. To me, it would be worth a drive from Houston, but I suspect mine is a minority viewpoint, there being tempting places in Houston and along the way. In my now pretty dated experience, the City Market is — was then — the best overall barbecue place in Texas. This is not to disrespect Miss Tootsie, who makes the best brisket in Texas, but Snow’s is only open one day a week, there’s a justifiably long line, and about 90 percent of the seating is outside. You can go to the City Market on days you don’t want to eat outside, which is probably half the Saturdays in Texas.
Texas Monthly has confused the City Market in Luling with the Luling City Market in Houston, which, with apologies to Mona Lisa Vito, is like confusing a Corvette with a Buick Skylark.
It seems that some miscreants lured away an employee of the real City Market and opened a shadow of the real thing in Houston. Basically, they opened the sort of barbecue place that gets opened here in Washington. Here’s an excerpt from a report on faux Luling City Market from the Houston Post a:
When I got in line for food, I discovered that the meats were stored in a steam table. My hopes sank when a cloud of water vapor rose from the stainless-steel holding tank as it was opened. … I sat down at a table and picked at my dinner. The ribs, which had been so crunchy on my lunchtime visit, were steamed into mush. The sausage was soggy, too. The barbecue had become waterlogged.
At City Market in Luling, the meat cutter stands in front of the smoker. You watch the meats as they come out of the oak smoke and get carved. …
I bought a bottle of Luling City Market barbecue sauce and threw the rest of my dinner away.
The City Market was the first (and only) place I checked on the map. There may be other mistakes. Y’all, use the map, but use it with caution. Trust but verify.
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