Texans are a proud lot. In this great big state they ride bulls, pump oil, and make presidents presidential (Dubya’s actually a Connecticut boy). ‘Don’t mess with Texas,’ their menacing slogan, alludes to the pride citizens hold for this wide swath of land that straddles the South and West. This stubborn pride extends to barbecue, and that’s all they serve at Bubba’s.
Ken Walker, who presides over his restaurant with a fatherly love for things smoky, will be sure to introduce you to the philosophy of his food, and the American art of barbecue, which has several schools. By barbecue we mean smoking, ‘low and slow,’ which allows meats to retain moisture and absorb the rich applewood flavor from the logs in the pit. Bubba’s menu is brief, with a few starters, pork ribs, chicken, beef short ribs, brisket and sausage; a handful of sides are also available. It’s all served in a space that has a few nods to cowboy culture (a stuffed buffalo head and a several lone stars) but could use some more in the way of decor to create a truly campy atmosphere (and sell more T shirts).
The appetizers we ate at Bubba’s were outstanding – they may have the best bar food in town. Spicy, intensely smoky chicken wings with a tangy blue cheese dressing, and fiery, homemade jalapeno poppers are both worth traveling for. The barbecue is served only with a dry spice rub – you apply the homemade sauce yourself. Beef short ribs were crisp and richly beefy, and their tender brisket is the perfect medium for soaking up their sweet and spicy vinegar-based sauce. While Bubba’s sides didn’t always measure up to the meat, this restaurant is all about the pork ribs. And they do them right too.
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