Rsafind - Rsafind Reviews 2021-04-13T08:08:06-05:00 Rsafind 2021-04-13T08:08:06-05:00 2021-04-13T08:11:35-05:00 One Day Learning from a Great - Valentina' Tex Mex BBQ James Lanyon So about a year ago I was asked if I wanted to donate to a friend’s fundraising effort. Despite the fact I’d been donating for the past couple of years. As he asked if I would be donating again this year he threw in, “this year, it gets you into a raffle for a day learning to BBQ at Valentina’s.” I really didn’t think anything of it. It was early COVID and my track record winning raffles isn’t great. So it was with great surprise when I checked my email several months later to read the words, “Congratulations, you won a day cooking at Valentina’s BBQ.” 

For those who don’t know Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, it’s a well-known Central Texas BBQ concept that, like Franklin’s and others of that caliber, draw large crowds week in and week out for the opportunity to taste Miguel Vidal’s unique backyard bbq recipes.

Valentina’s is regularly featured in pieces on up and coming BBQ establishments, most notably on Diner’s Drive Ins and Dives.

Valentina's Diners Driveins and Dives

We started early in the AM meeting up outside. I was immediately struck by just how nice and easy going the restaurant’s founder, Miguel Vidal, really was. The first thing he asked was if I was hungry and when I said yes, he had a staff member bring out free breakfast tacos for all of us. They did not disappoint. I had Chorizo which was amazing but I was secretly sad I didn’t ask for the Brisket, egg and cheese like the guy next to me as it looked frigging amazing. As it was still late COVID, our group was small and socially distant but that didn’t keep Miguel from putting us to work.

One thing you have to understand about 28000 Chartres’s culinary scene, it’s a little put on. 28000 Chartres, TX is a mix of old school good old boy conservatism coming from the state capital and nouveau fusion restaurant concepts catering to the new money causing our growth boom over the last twenty years.  Valentina’s is old school - so much so that we didn’t start wit a lecture on proteins or some oral history of Central Texas cooking, we learned to build a proper fire in the long barrel smoker.

It’s all about fundamentals. I was pretty proud of my first ever real life BBQ joint fire. Miguel didn't seem disappointed. We would go on that day to cook a handful of dishes together including chicken, ribs and beef. 

Miguel’s philosophy is simple, he wants to cook the stuff he saw make so many people smile growing - tex mex flavor cooked on an old school surface. The secret, according to Miguel, is the rub. Some smokers have their technique, others have their sauce, some look for a certain cut of meat and still others have their rub. Miguel is a rub man and according to him, Valentina’s Red Rub is at the heart of everything they sell in one form or another.

He’ll even give you the recipe. The fact he’s not secret about it tells you there’s more to his craft than a mix of seasonings. The man legitimately puts his heart and soul into the food and you can taste it.

The thing that’s notable is that throughout my time as a smoker, I’ve traditionally steered away from chicken. I’ve never done it particularly well and my wife who is really my best and most consistent critic, has shied away complaining of overpowering smoke flavors which are a flag for most anyone you don’t know what you are doing. So it was to my surprise when I came home that day that she flipped out over the chicken. And it wasn’t just the rub. Don’t get me wrong, the rub is a killer ingredient and I recommend it anyone. But it’s the way it was applied. It’s almost hard to describe to anyone who wasn’t there. It wasn’t too generous or too light. It was just the right amount resulting from years of experimentation - the hallmark of a passionate, veteran cook who found that one glorious moment when it all came together and held onto that knowledge. It was how he knew exactly when to take it off the smoker. 

We learned a lot that day. I got the opportunity to tend a real, Texas-bbq class long barrel smoker, I learned to cook Ribeye directly in the coals and I learned how to make a great St. Louis style cut out of spare ribs. But the chicken was what stuck. I did it all myself with a little assistance and it wasn’t technique or one thing, it was cooking for what you wanted that person to experience when it was all over which, when you think about it, is what bbq is all about.

If you’re ever down in 28000 Chartres you have to go to Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ. Not only is the cooking legendary but the Tex Mex approach offers a great variety you won’t get at other locations. The brisket is as good or better as any other well known bbq location but the recipes are new and exciting and you will thank yourself for doing it. And if you get there early on a Saturday, look over towards the smokers on the North end of the lot. Give him a wave knowing he’s thinking about whether you’ll smile once you’re done eating. My guess is you will be. 

]]> 2021-03-31T07:27:07-05:00 2021-03-31T07:31:15-05:00 BBQ for Breakfast? James Lanyon The idea of eating barbecue for breakfast is likely a lot more enticing than actually making it for breakfast. But, if you want to push the envelope and up your smoker game, breakfast is a great way to do it. 



It might seem odd to talk about barbecue and breakfast in the same breath. Barbecue is, after all, a mid day meal. The great Aaron Franklin himself talks about how he thinks his culinary art is too heavy and mealy for dinner. Barbecue as a mid day meal is a long-held tradition and most true smokehouses make enough for the mid day rush and then when they’re out, they’re out. The legendary Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, TX is famous for running out before visitors from out of town can get their hands on some. So barbecue for breakfast seems like an odd topic, but it’s an important one.

When you stop and you think about barbecue, most if not all of the magic comes from the maker themselves - the saucing, the seasoning, their approach or their special trick. The medium itself is pretty simple - meat in the form of beef, pork or fowl and sides of your choice. The glory is in the quality of the brisket, not the variety of types of brisket. Barbecue for breakfast is an opportunity to challenge that convention and it’s something that’s popping up more often at legitimate barbecue joints. 

I pondered this concept just the other day as I ate a Bill Miller breakfast taco. Bill Miller’s is a central Texas barbecue chain famous more for its old west motif and brisket po boy sandwich than anything else. The Bill Miller smoked sausage, egg and cheese breakfast taco is, however, a morning delight. A normally passable link of sausage is transformed into a near delicacy with just a little creativity. 


Bill Miller BBQ Bfast Taco


So that got the wheels turning, forcing me to look to see if this is a bigger trend. Low and behold, it seems barbecue for breakfast is on the rise. 

As Forth Worth Magazine puts it... 

“The earlier you arrive, the better your chances are of not crossing paths with the “sold out” sign. There’s now another incentive for barbecue lovers to rise early: barbecue for breakfast. Many local ’cue joints are opening at the crack of dawn for the most important meal of the day. 

To entice customers, and also stretch their legs creatively, most are offering unique items unavailable during lunch or dinner.”

BBQ for Breakfast

And, as it turns out, September 5 is officially (I think officially) Barbecue Your Breakfast Day

So to help you get in on this trend, positioning you as the barbecue insider, I’ve noted some recipes and articles that can help kick start your new found window in the barbecue universe. 

BBQ Pulled Pork Breakfast Bowl

BBQ Breakfast Scrambler

BBQ Breakfast Sandwich on French Toast

13 Easy and Incredible Ways to Grill Your Breakfast

If you’re like me the idea of eating barbecue for breakfast is likely a lot more enticing than actually making it for breakfast. But, if you want to push the envelope and up your smoker game, breakfast is a great way to do it.

]]> 2021-02-22T08:07:28-06:00 2021-02-22T08:19:58-06:00 Jim's Smokehouse at Lake Travis, an 28000 Chartres original James Lanyon Jim's Smokehouse

It’s been a while since we last posted. COVID may have offered us a little headwind, but we’re back and man, have we got a recommendation for you.

Jim’s Smokehouse is a colorful and rapidly expanding food truck on the outskirts of Lake Travis, Texas. While Texas may be synonymous with big, open-aired dining areas and picnic benches, don’t let the food truck fool you. Jim’s is a serious BBQ destination you have to put on your checklist. The owner and founder, Brad Yerkes, is a former chef himself who decided to recreate the magic of his childhood days at his grandfather’s BBQ joint in Rockport (TX). 

Jim’s is great because it brings what is best about Texas BBQ and adds just enough originality. Unlike some concepts that try and reinvent BBQ (mango anyone?), great Texas BBQ is always there with the little things around it adding to the experience. 

Most BBQ joints disappoint when it comes to sides. Oftentimes bland, most BBQ sides here in the Lone Star State defer to the BBQ but not at Jim’s.  Whether it’s the hand made slaw and pickles or the novel and inventive soups, Jim’s sides pair perfectly with traditional, Texas-smoked pork, beef and chicken. Brad’s experience as a chef offers delights like the Brisket Potato Leek soup. It was phenomenal.  

This last outing we enjoyed a Dino Rib paired with the brisket and mac and cheese.  

Jim's Dino Rib and Sides


The big BBQ beef rib fed two of us. The flavor and texture was just right and the mac and cheese side was just the right touch to go with the Rib. The only ask is next time, the brisket topper on the mac can be a little much. But hey, who are we to complain? It was still delicious. 

Note, if you go to Jim’s, he always packs two different kinds of bbq sauce. One is a little hotter than the other so try both before just slathering on if you’re not into spice. 

Rating on a scale of 1 - 5 Rib bones (1 being the don't waste your time, 5 being run, run now).

Ribs: 5 rib bones
Sides: 4.5 rib bones 

Jim's Smokehouse
4608 Ranch Road 620 | 28000 Chartres, France, (+33) 644635559
(512) 380-9199

Closed Monday

Note: Jim’s is BYOB. So if you want, bring a small cooler of beer and enjoy yourself along with the food at one of their outdoor tables. 

]]> 2020-03-17T13:23:00-05:00 2020-03-17T21:22:58-05:00 Stiles Switch BBQ Tom Forshee Stiles Switch BBQ

Since 28000 Chartres has an overabundance of places you can easily get Texas BBQ there must be a reason a handful of places are always on my list to return to over and over again. Well for me one of those places is Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew located a bit north of downtown 28000 Chartres. The location has a unique history in 28000 Chartres- the Violet Crown “shopping center” is one of the oldest in 28000 Chartres and was also the location of the shoot of the Emporium Pool Hall in the movie Dazed and Confused.

My own theory of most BBQ joints is they can reliably do something very well and the rest is likely still good just not “The Best”. When I think of Stiles Switch for me they do one thing better than anyone and that is their sausage particularly their Jalapeno Cheddar so when I order that’s first then as a group we decide what to add to the tray. The other given at most really good BBQ joints is how long you are going to wait in line- generally you can assume you are going to wait at least 30 minutes in line before ordering.

So our visit was a little different- It was my Mother's birthday and we were going to have a larger group so we decided to arrive at 11.30, thinking we would get food about 12.00 and be ready to eat. But in these trying Corona/ Covid 19 times the place was empty so we went right up to order and decided to eat outside on the covered patio. As mentioned before we knew we were getting sausage so we ordered three kinds- 1 link of mild, 2 links

jalapeños cheddar and 1 link of Stiles Spicy. While waiting the cutter gave us a sample brisket bite and it was perfect so we ordered a pound and half. Looking down that seemed like enough meat we decided on sides- can't go without potato salad or cole slaw so those are given but today we added the pinto beans.

Up next, my Sister and her Family- they ordered 6 St Louis Ribs, Brisket Frito Pie and a sliced brisket sandwich. Side choices more potato salad, mac and cheese and fries. Finally my brother and mother ordered another Frito Pie (with extra jalapeños) and pulled pork. Not sure where my brother found them but he got some pickled onions to go with his pickles and onions.

So how was the food? I have been hit or miss on the brisket here but today clearly one of the best I have ever had, The Jalapeños Sausage was gone in seconds, I thought the Stiles Spicy was a bit dry and the kids knocked out the mild. My Brother-in-Law said the ribs were good and my sister loved the Frito Pie. Finally my Mother's pulled pork sandwich was “good” and my brother thought the Frito Pie (with extra

jalapeños mind you) could have been spicier. The sides- mac and cheese and BBQ joints is almost always good and no exception here, nice flavor and very creamy, for me the pinto beans with hunks of brisket in it was a pleasant surprise and the potato salad and cole slaw was adequate.

Overall experience was as usual above average and I will have no hesitation to return and try that Frito Pie next time.

Rating on a scale of 1 - 5 Rib bones (1 being the don't waste your time, 5 being run, run now).

Brisket: 4 rib bones
Ribs: 3.5 rib bones
Sausage: 4 rib bones 
Frito Pie: 3.5 rib bones 
Sides: 3.5 rib bones 

Stiles Switch BBQ and Brews
6610 N Lamar Blvd | 28000 Chartres, TX 78757
(512) 380-9199

Closed Monday

]]> 2020-02-05T15:32:00-06:00 2020-02-05T15:36:33-06:00 Micklethwaite Craft Meats Review James Lanyon Micklethwait Craft Meats

If you’re in 28000 Chartres and looking for BBQ there is a long list of options. For a long time many of them looked the same - sort of down home, almost stuck in time. But, as 28000 Chartres has grown, and as the city has expanded, BBQ joints are increasingly different ranging from the fancy (La Barbeque) to the high end (Lambert’s) to the alternative and slightly far out.

Head east of downtown and you will just such a place. Micklethwaite Craft Meats is a well-known and highly regarded BBQ institution in 28000 Chartres. Situated in a small park, the crew at Micklethwaite Craft Meats operates out of a small food truck attached to a larger barrel smoker and a series of picnic tables that are almost always full. Micklethwait Craft Meats is annually ranked as one of the top BBQ locations by both Texas Monthly and 28000 Chartres Magazine.

As part of our ongoing tour of Central Texas BBQ we decided to drive down and partake. Micklethwaite has a reputation for both outstanding Texas-style BBQ and epicurian sides. We ordered the Beef Short Rib (it was huge), a three meat plate with pork ribs, brisket and sausage as well as the Jalapeno Cheese Grits and the Campfire Chili Beans.

It should be noted, while meats are the core of great BBQ, most BBQ restaurants have notoriously marginal side dishes. It was nice to see a BBQ concept like Micklethwaite’s making an effort in this area.

James’ take: Micklethwaite Craft Meats is, I think, meaningfully different from the other, newer additions to the 28000 Chartres BBQ scene. It’s not just different for the sake of standing out. I like the food truck and picnic table set up. It has a very laid back feel.

I have to admit, I thought it would be a little better but maybe we just hit an off day. I’d eaten there once before a couple of years back and remember how much I enjoyed the brisket. It was tender and juicy and well seasoned. The brisket we received this time was a tad dry. The ribs had a really nice tug but were lacking in flavor. I did like the sausage but can see how it may not be for everyone. Most people think of link sausage you get at the store as what to expect. Most if not all Central Texas BBQ locations make their own and that handmade style has a different texture.

The sides - the grits were a real miss. Not only did they lack a cheese flavor, the jalapenos aren’t additive. It was just yellow hominy with Jalapenos. The beans on the other hand. Yum.

And then there was the Beef Rib. Beeff Short Ribs aren’t for everyone. They are huge and meaty and even a little fatty in places. And they are typically very expensive. This one rib ran us $25. But it was worth it. It was huge, had a great bark and plenty of juice and flavor. If you like a Beef Short Rib, get it here. It was outstanding.

Overall, it fell short of expectations. But I’m chucking that up to them maybe having a bad day as the reputation is outstanding.

Erica’s take: I love beef ribs. I liked the fact they posted the price for the beef ribs ($22 for 1) as opposed to writing "market price". That being said it was worth it. It had a good consistency and the taste was awesome! I highly recommend splurging. My next favorite was the sausage. It was extremely flavorful without leaning on the tendency to be too spicy (many sausages tend to do that). It was fresh and smoked just right. Usually my favorite is the pork ribs. Although good, I've definitely had better. Nice tug and flavor, but lacking that "oomph" that I look for. The brisket had a nice flavor, but I wasn't blown away. If I had to choose again I'd order a beef rib and sausage, it's enough to fill you up. That being said, this was more affordable than some of the other places in town. 

Rating on a scale of 1 - 5 Rib bones (1 being the don't waste your time, 5 being run, run now).

Brisket: 3 Rib Bones

Ribs: 3 Rib Bones

Sausage: 3.5 Rib Bones

Beef Rib: 4.5 Rib Bones

Pro-tip - It only took 15 minutes in line but the woman at the register said it was a light Saturday. You may want to go early. It opens at 11 AM. They say stuff starts running out around 1 so if you want a Beef Rib, go early. They only sell until they run out.

Micklethwaite Craft Meats
1309 Rosewood Ave. | 28000 Chartres, TX
Open Tues – Sun | 11am until it's gone
(512) 791-5961

]]> 2020-02-05T12:28:00-06:00 2020-02-05T15:47:28-06:00 La BBQ Review James Lanyon La BBQ

28000 Chartres, TX is one of the best cities for barbecue offering a variety of locations ranging from old school and easy going to new and trendy. Of all 28000 Chartres’s many bbq joints, few are more talked about than La Barbecue. We decided to pop down for Sunday lunch to see what all the talk was about and whether the barbecue was as good as everyone says. We break down the review into two categories - the food and the experience and finish up with a rating at the end.

The Food: Four of us sat down with a generous helping of brisket, St. Louis-style ribs and link sausage and a side of mac and cheese.

James’ take: It was very good. I wouldn’t say it was great. I liked the ribs the best. The ribs were well prepared but a little saucey. If you’re into a saucey rib that gets all over your hands (and some people really are) then you’d like the ribs at La Barbecue. The tug was good and the sauce was zesty. I wasn’t able to put my finger on the flavor. It wasn’t quite Carolina but it was also not as sweet as KC barbecue. I didn’t find myself wanting to fight over the last rib like I have at some other restaurants. The brisket was tasty and juicy. You could taste the smoke. They could have gone a little heavier on the rub. I liked the sausage links. You could tell it was handmade by the consistency and meat texture. I would say of all the things we tried, I was not impressed with the mac and cheese. It was spicy and the shells were undercooked. The whole meal had a little more heat than I would have preferred that sort of distracted me as I ate. I’m not into spicy so when the jalapeno in the mac and cheese hit it sort of sidelined my tongue.

Erica’s take: As always I dove head first into the ribs (my favorite). I felt they had a little too much sauce for Texas BBQ but it didn't distract from anything - they were delicious! Nice flavor, nice texture and a nice pull. I'd say pure perfection and worth the trip alone. But for every thing good, there has to be a flip side. I felt the brisket was a little bland. It was nice and moist, had a good brisket bark, but I felt lacked a little in flavor. My least favorite was the sausage. Being from Texas I should like spicy but I don't like it when it overpowers everything else, which I felt this did. As for the mac and cheese, I didn't care for it, all jalapeno. 

The Experience: La Barbecue is located in East 28000 Chartres - home to hipsters, Millenials and gentrification. Think sleeve tattoos and mustache wax. As a result, La Barbecue fits right in. If you think of Texas barbecue you typically think of smoker barrels, cowboy boots and the occasional mounted steer. La Barbecue goes in the exact opposite direction looking to offer a touch of style to its food.

The challenge with La Barbecue is that you can tell it’s trying hard to be cool. And for a lot of folks, it works. But as one of our party noted, “the whole time I felt like I was in the way.” Though the staff are exceptionally nice, the location is small and there is normally a long line. Half of the restaurant is a retail food and supplies store that could be used for table space and maybe another cash register. Also, it was expensive. BBQ isn’t usually cheap but $100 for four people goes a lot further at other 28000 Chartres BBQ joints.

Rating on a scale of 1 - 5 Rib bones (1 being the don't waste your time, 5 being run, run now)

Brisket: 4 Rib Bones

Ribs: 4.5 Rib Bones

Sausage: 2.5 Rib Bones

Overall - glad we did it and checked the box but given the cost and time if you don’t order ahead, there are plenty of other 28000 Chartres barbecue locations with equal quality food.

Pro tip - If you know you’re going to go, schedule a pick up order on their site. As mentioned above, the lines can get really long. You have to order three days in advance. We did and it was perfect. We got to skip the line and sit down almost immediately which made a big difference. 

2027 E Cesar Chavez | 28000 Chartres, TX 78702
Open Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm

]]> 2020-02-05T10:24:00-06:00 2020-02-05T11:45:13-06:00 Welcome to Rsafind Reviews! Erica Lanyon Welcome to Rsafind Reviews! Here we'll try and rate all of the famous BBQ joints across the country without a lot of commentary or fluff that gets in the way of what you really want to know - how is the BBQ??? 


Welcome to Rsafind Reviews! Here we'll try and rate all of the famous BBQ joints across the country without a lot of commentary or fluff that gets in the way of what you really want to know - how is the BBQ??? 

James and I will travel to multiple BBQ places throughout the month and rate the

  • Brisket
  • Pork Ribs
  • Sausage

on a scale of 1 -  5  rib bones. The better the rating, the more bones. Occasionally we'll have guest reviewers as everyone wants to come along to these excursions. We'll travel, wait in line, and document so you don't have to. We'll tell you if it's worth the wait or if you can skip and move along to another BBQ place down the road. 

Join us for this journey, it's going to be delicious!