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Barbecue is best done the hard way. Sauces and rubs should be made from scratch. Meats smoked for hours under the watchful eye of a pitmaster. Since 1981, that's how the eponymous owner has preferred to do 'cue. Ravenous crowds squeeze into tables and vinyl booths, and on a busy day, they spill out onto the heated and covered patio's picnic tables. Prime on the cafeteria-style menu is the Lone Star State's signature smoked meat, brisket cooked over hickory. The pork ribs are given a dry rub then finished off with a moist baste, leading to what Mike and crew call a "toe curlin'" dish. Pulled pork and 60-40 beef-pork Polish sausage are big-time favorites. The house-made sides are old-fashion with a kick, including barbecue beans, cheesy cornbake, okra and something called the Spudzilla BBQ Baked Potato.
Mike Anderson's closes at 2:30, and I made it just in the nick of time with only seven minutes to spare.
All of their BBQ Dinner Plates come with up to three meats and two sides. For my first two, I picked brisket and pork ribs. I also wanted to sample their beer bratwurst, which they had unfortunately run out of by this point. The helpful server behind the counter recommended their jalapeno cheddar sausage instead. For side #1, I decided on jalapeno pinto beans with rice and brisket. You can also get dessert as one of your sides, so I eagerly asked for Granny's peach cobbler. They were out of cobbler too, but I was ok with substituting Dee's banana pudding.
The beans had a ton of flavor and plenty of heat to boot, courtesy of the big slices of pickled jalapeno. I found a decent amount of Cajun seasonings, which added to the heat level. The rice didn't add much in terms of taste, but did add a nice texture balance.
Mike Anderson's makes their sausage in house with about a 60/40 moo-to-oink ratio. My sausage was very cheesy, but only moderately spicy. There was also a nice snap to the casings, which is always appreciated. The jalapeno cheddar sausage was an excellent second choice.
My brisket was very tender and juicy; I only found one bite out of all my slices that was a tad dry. The brisket had a slight smoke ring, which I expected to be much larger given the abundance of smokey flavor throughout. The crust was well seasoned, as was the rest of the cut.
Of the three meats, the ribs had the most smoke. There was a thick red hue on the edges which validated my taste buds. Smokiness aside, the ribs were a little on the dry side. Not so much overcooked, just dry. The crust had a nice sweetness to it, but could benefit from more seasoning.
The banana pudding was a perfect palate cleanser. It was a little runny, but not enough to ruin things. My 'nilla wafers, which easily could have been very soggy, still had some crunch left to them too.
I'll definitely be going back to Mike Anderson's, and hopefully they'll have some beer bratwurst available the next time around.
Read my full review, complete with pictures:
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