AND THE TEJAS CHOCOLATE CRAFTORY
Authentic Texas Style BBQ has finally come to Tomball, TX in one of the strangest places, a converted house turned into a specialty chocolate shop called Tejas Chocolate Craftory. Located in Old Town Tomball (where this Foodie does most of his eating when he’s in the area) on N Elm St by the railroad tracks down the street from The Depot. Owned by Michelle (Vice President /Operations), Scott Moore Jr. (Pitmaster & Chocolatier) and his brother Greg Moore (Chef/Pitmaster). I noticed this place one day when I went down the street to Jane and John Dough Bakery for a quick lunch. I had already heard about the wonderful hand-crafted chocolates at Tejas Chocolate, and was intrigued when I saw the three signs hanging from the front porch of this adorable old house that said “Beer” “Barbecue” “Chocolates.”
I went in for the first time on a Tuesday ready to try some BBQ; I walked up to the counter and Tricia, who also happens to be the house Confectioner, informed me that BBQ was only served Wed thru Saturday. She talked to me about the BBQ and convinced me that I had to come back tomorrow because it’s that good. I returned Wednesday, walked in and placed my order at the front counter. If you have a sweet tooth as I do, and you look to the left while you are waiting to place your order, there is a lovely case of Tejas’ chocolates and chocolate truffles so you can start thinking about dessert. I ordered a chopped beef sandwich, with potato salad, and an additional side that intrigued me, cornbread pudding. Tricia told me they would call my name when my order was ready and that they have a pickup window around the corner with their sauces and condiments. The place smelled amazing while waiting for my food, which didn’t take long at all. I picked up my food, and stopped by the condiment bar to pick up some pickles and a small plastic cup of their house BBQ sauce, in doing so, I discovered that they have two additional sauces available, a green sauce and a mole. Odd right? I wanted to try their BBQ by itself first and was unsure why a BBQ place would have these other sauces available.
Looking around the place, I thought it had a hill country feel to it, which is a good thing because, in my opinion, that’s where some of the best BBQ in Texas is from. I sat towards the back of the place where there is a small section that leads out to the pit room and a partially covered patio with picnic tables. The back section of the restaurant has a cool window looking into another room where you can see where and how they make the chocolates. Now back to the task at hand - lunch! I looked at my chopped beef sandwich and noticed that it was not served on an average hamburger bun like so many other places, but rather a gourmet brioche bun. I grabbed a fork full of the meat, and I just had to smile, because it was so good. I knew I
just found BBQ that was as good if not better than my two beloved places in Spring, TX - Corkscrew BBQ, and BBQ-Godfather. The bun matched the quality of the chopped beef, and both were great in every way. Tender beef with the perfect amount of smoke and seasonings. The cornbread pudding was delicious and made me think of a savory bread pudding with corn, onions, and herbs. It has an almost quiche-like texture. The potato salad was quite good, but I would have liked a little less mayonnaise in it and maybe a little more mustard. One thing for sure, I was coming back for more BBQ because it was the best I have found for a very long time. I finished my meal, and sine I couldn’t walk into a chocolate shop with getting some chocolate, I stopped for a milk chocolate truffle with 70% cocoa. One bite of this truffle and I knew exactly why the place was called Tejas Chocolate Craftory. The truffle was intensely chocolaty and rich and so much better than anything I could have gotten at Godiva. I also got to meet the pitmaster and head chocolatier, Scott, that day because he was walking around checking on tables while tending on the pit outside. I told him how much I loved the BBQ and his place, and he was very appreciative.
Visit number two: I am a lover of a good pulled pork, so a pulled pork sandwich it had to be, along with a side of pinto beans. I asked Tricia what their best dessert was and she said that the chocolate crème brulee is amazing and is one of her favorites. Once again, it took one bite to figure out that this pulled pork was every bit as good as their beef. The right amount of smoke and once again no sauce needed. I know a lot of people that love putting coleslaw on their pulled pork sandwich, but so far it’s not one of their sides or options. On their condiment bar they have the regular pickles, raw red onions, and Jalapeños. The great addition to my pull pork is the option of pickled onions; I liked it better than coleslaw since the pickled onions complimented the pulled pork. Such a simple addition to a condiment bar, and one that works well with the BBQ’s flavor profiles.
I was hesitant to order a chocolate crème brule because original crème brule it is one of my all time favorite desserts, but this chocolate crème brule is spectacular. The texture was a little heavier than a traditional brule, probably because of all the wonderful chocolates that they packed into it. Oh yeah, chocolaty goodness! This visit I was also met my favorite BBQ connoisseur and well-seasoned home barbecue chef, Paul Van Deusen. He ordered the brisket and pork ribs, and agreed with my assessment that this is the real deal authentic Texas Q! He was smiling with each bite.
Visit number 3: I decided early on a Saturday morning to invite my Foodie friends and family to have a “Foodie Takeover” at Tejas Chocolate Craftory. We had quite a few people show up to meet and eat some really good BBQ. Everyone agreed that the all the food and service was fantastic. (I have included a sidebar of some quotes from the people that showed up). Since we had family and friends, we ordered ½ lb. of all the meats and four different side dishes. The brisket was moist with a very nice smoke flavor, and a perfect smoke ring. The sausage had a nice snap to the casing and was nice and peppery. The ribs were fall off the bone tender, and the turkey was pretty darn good too. I mentioned two other sauces earlier and let me tell you that the green sauce and the house made mole are both very good on the turkey. The green sauce reminded me of Indian coconut chutney, and the mole is the best I have had anywhere (which makes sense since mole has chocolate as one of the main ingredients, and I was at a gourmet chocolate place). The most intriguing side and the most addictive was the carrot soufflé. Think of the texture of a good sweet potatoes pie, but instead it’s carrot based. This is definitely another signature dish from Chef Greg along with his cornbread pudding. Green Beans and Potato Salad rounded out our meal.
We were all pretty darn full from lunch and almost in a meat coma, but that didn’t stop us from taking home a “Hi-Five”, which is any 5 of their house made chocolate truffles for 12 bucks. Beautiful and rich chocolate truffles like the Margarita truffle - 70% Madagascar cacao with lime and salt, and an instant favorite for me. Whiskey coffee latte, honey lavender, dark chocolate & coffee, mole and coconut cream, chili chocolate chipotle, single origin Madagascar and even a praline truffle.
I could go on and on about each of my previous visits, but I have to go into our visit with our family from California. I walked in, and Scott said we have “your” sandwich today. I asked Scott and Greg the week before if the could do a stacked sandwich with chopped beef and sliced sausage (one of my favorite combinations). Well, they took it to another level and named a sandwich after me. The “Stack N’ Rama” (pulled pork, sliced brisket, and sausage on a brioche bun topped with an over easy egg). I have to say that this sandwich was incredibly great. The textures were amazing and the perfectly fried Egg was like having the best Barbecue turned into a breakfast/Brunch sandwich. ½ lb. of meat on a delicious bun may be as perfect as it gets. I am very honored that I have my very own menu item at my new favorite find. As I was ordering, I looked down at the cash register and on a piece of butcher paper written in sharpie was the words “Burnt Ends $5 served in a paper boat.” I love some good burnt ends, so along with my giant sandwich, I had to order them. Talk about a perfect char on little morsels of meat that packed so much delicious smoky flavor of goodness.
Tejas recently introduced a new Beef Rib and If the BBQ world had a BBQ Walk of Fame, this new 1/2 LB Ancho Cocoa Coffee Rubbed Beef Rib would have its own star. Incredible flavor profile, perfect crusty bark, rubbed with Scott and Greg’s new outstanding rub, this is one of the best pieces of beef I have ever had. Their plan is to have Beef Ribs only on Saturdays, so get to Tejas early if you want one of these masterpieces.
My family from California loved everything they tried and wished they had BBQ this good back home in or around Visalia. They thought the different sauces were a genius idea. I thought Uncle Brian was going to take shots of the green coconut sauce and the mole. They sampled the brisket, ribs, turkey, pulled pork and burnt ends and they were highly impressed that one BBQ joint can do all of these so well. On the same visit, we ran into a Tomball Foodie, Chris Clements. He ordered some food and posted such a great review directly afterwards on the “Northside Eateries” Facebook page, I include it here.
“I’m not even sure where to start! Other than I’m not sure why I’m writing this review, as I’d like this place to be a secret. Serving some really amazing bbq Wednesday through Saturday and sides that are, from what I sampled today, just as good, which to me is an oddity worthy of notation. Pictured is moist, succulent brisket, well rendered and not overly smoky, pretty much melted in my mouth! Pork spare ribs that are done exactly how I like them rub not too sweet or overbearing, so the porky flavor can still be detected and not over cooked, the meat pulled off the bone just the way it should! The turkey... just amazing! The rub on that, whatever it is, is perfectly balanced, and the salt is perfect and shines through the super moistness and tender flesh! Burnt ends are spectacular. The good kind of charred caramelization with a deep yet once again mild smoke penetration and a tender almost gelatinous interior that will make your eyeballs roll back into your head! Now the two sides I ordered, and let it be known that I usually hate sides at BBQ joints, but that just changed! While the potato salad isn’t my all time fav, it’s a close second. It wasn’t mashed potato salad. The potatoes were cooked perfectly with just a little bite to them and good texture. Mostly a mayo based dressing but really good flavor, described by Michelle, one of the owners as Louisiana style potato salad... wherever it’s from, it’s good eating excellently prepared! On to the best side I’ve ever put into my mouth ever in a bbq restaurant! This carrot soufflé. Just OMG! Where has this been my whole drab and dreary life? It was raining outside, and I’m pretty sure the clouds parted and shone down upon me as this masterpiece hit my tongue! It was everything I could do to stop eating it at the halfway point, so my wife could taste this manna after she got off work! I mentioned to Scott, another of the owners, that a little crème anglaise would have just made it amazing, but it was still pretty much perfect! Service here was great. Both Scott and Michelle are very personable, super nice and obviously dedicated to putting out high-quality food! I’ll not only be returning for more; I may just actually buy some chocolate too! That’s right they make chocolates... all I saw looked great, but I did not get to sample any on this visit as all I had eyes for was some astounding Q! Give em
a try, it’s worth the trip, you’ll be glad you did!”
Tejas also has some great sandwiches, happy hour gourmet BBQ bites, several varieties and methods of coffee also and, of course, two of my favorite things all in one place, BBQ, and Chocolate… doesn’t get much better than that. I got to sit down and chat with Michelle, Greg and Scott and pick their brains for a Q&A session, here is what they had to say about all things related to Tejas Chocolate Craftory current and future.
Nick Rama: Michelle, how long has Tejas Chocolate been in business?
Michelle: Tejas was founded in 2011.
Nick Rama: I noticed your website just says Tejas Chocolate, but your sign and the Facebook page says Tejas Chocolate Craftory, so which one are you going with?
Michelle: Our domain is tejaschocolate.com, but I think we’ll update it to add The Craftory which is what the new location is called. Nick Rama: Scott, how did you get into making chocolate?
Scott: Watching TV one rainy Saturday and came across a show about “bean to bar” chocolate. It was interesting to learn about the craft methods and from that came research. The research and discovery of great chocolate led me to want to be the neighborhood chocolate maker. Turned out the neighborhood was Texas and Tejas was the first.
Nick Rama: What is drinking chocolate? Scott: Drinking chocolate is a rich and intensely cocoa hot drink. It is pure chocolate in a cup. There can be many variations in spice and cocoa intensity.
Nick Rama: Chocolates and barbecue is either an odd combination or marriage made in heaven. Which is it and what made you decide to add BBQ to the mix?
Scott: A total marriage made in heaven. Many old Latin American villages roast cacao over an open flame. It’s sort of like barbecue in that sense. Two of the oldest foods on the earth. The flavors are big and pair so well together. The two foods pair perfectly in our house mole sauce which naturally has our chocolate in it.
Nick Rama: Where did you learn the art of “Authentic Texas Style BBQ”?
Scott: I’ve been a backyard weekend barbecue warrior my whole life. I’ve been playing with fire since I was a kid. Ha ha. In Texas, Chef Greg and I have spent hours upon hours discussing the places we like that we’ve visited and dissecting what might make Texas Q so great. The fundamentals of cooking meat and specific cuts are there if you’re logical. It’s all about the proper application of temperature and time.
Nick Rama: Scott, tell us more about the meats you serve on a daily basis and I heard you even named your Pit?
Scott: Greg named the pit The Black October as we all love the movie The Red October and our pit looks like a ballistic missile submarine. Nick Rama: Greg, what is your culinary background?
Greg: I started in Tomball as a kitchen helper at a place called La Tavala where present day Ciscos is located. I was fortunate that I got to work with Chef John, a classically trained Italian chef. We worked a few places together as he got me ready for my own chef gig. I’ve done several different cuisines around town. Last stop was back to Italian at Mancusso’s Table in Tanglewood.
Nick Rama: Greg, I see you are making some of your BBQ into gourmet sandwiches and salads. What are some of your most popular dishes?
Greg: Brisket and Blues have been a big hit. The great classic combination of blue cheese on beef is amped up with the meat being a 16-hour smoked brisket. This combination of flavors in our sandwich or salad is very popular. Same holds true for our great smoked turkey that we pair with avocado, bacon, and house cilantro buttermilk dressing.
Nick Rama: Michelle, Tejas Chocolate has become well known for their different coffees and even different brewing methods. What are some of those?
Michelle: We use local coffee roasters exclusively. District Roasters in Tomball is our primary coffee supplier. We also use Orazure Hand Roasted Coffee, a small artisan roaster out of The Woodlands. We take these great beans and
brew them using craft methods like Aero Press, Siphon, and pour overs. These methods bring out the best flavors in coffee.
Nick Rama: Michelle, why Tomball, TX to start this awesome venture and who was the one who came up with the décor?
Michelle: Tomball is awesome, and that’s why. It’s a small town in a big city with people who are very community driven. We came across the building on Elm Street while looking for a place in Tomball where there is a great collection of independent business owners. In Old Town, you won’t find the big chains like you see in every other regional shopping area.
Nick Rama: Scott, I know chocolate making from the cocoa bean to the actual chocolate that people can come in to buy is a very complex process. Give us a short explanation of the process of making a bar of Tejas Chocolate?
Scott: Premium cocoa beans are hand sorted, roasted in a brick oven, winnowed to remove the shell, stone ground for days, the chocolate is rested for weeks, then tempered and molded. The process takes on average about 30 days. It’s a truly handcrafted manufacturing process.
Nick Rama: Michelle, Where do the names for your chocolate bars come from?
Michelle: We name our single origin bars after several of the old Spanish missions that are so well preserved around the state. Single origin chocolate and the origins of Texas was the idea. Then for other bars it just sort of evolves. Our dark chocolate bar with black lava sea salt and black pepper is a good example. Dark chocolate, black salt, and black pepper became “Dark Matter”.
Nick Rama: Each of you describes to me your perfect Tejas Chocolate Craftory meal from start to finish, of course including dessert or chocolate:
Michelle: Love a good salad, so I’m going with our Bird and Bacon Salad, Glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and finish up with a bite or two of our honey lavender truffle.
Greg: Brisket and Blues Salad. Smokey brisket, big blue cheese, and romaine wedge to get my vegetables. I’ll wash it down with a beer like Love Street by Karbach and then end with our chocolate bread pudding. I love making bread pudding, and our chocolate version with the house cajeta caramel is subtle in its sweetness and chocolate flavor.
Scott: Ribs. I love pork ribs and a side of potato salad. Put that with a good beer like Saint Arnold’s Santo and it’s a good day. I’ll end with Greg’s panna cotta. It’s chocolate pudding on steroids.
Nick Rama: Scott, what is the crowd favorite of all the bbq you do?
Scott: The brisket is the popular choice. A great brisket is hard to make but easy to love. I like to tell people we make chocolate because we needed something to do while waiting for the briskets to cook.
Nick Rama: Scott, what makes Saturday’s at Tejas Chocolate Craftory so special?
Scott: We are now doing Breakfast Tacos and Micheladas starting at 8:30am, so far they have been a hit. Starting at 11am we have our 1/2 LB Ancho Cocoa Coffee Rubbed Beef Rib, we are very proud of the way it came out.
Nick Rama: Michelle, what is the crowd favorite chocolate bar and truffle?
Michelle: Dark Matter for bars is the leader and its hard to say on truffles. Probably our Good Life truffle. It’s so rich and decadent.
Nick Rama: Michelle, do you all cater and/or do private parties?
Michelle: In a very limited way for now. We will work towards developing a staff for this eventually.
Nick Rama: Which one of you writes the Blog on your website and tell us more about it?
Michelle: Scott does this. Usually on a Sunday now after he is done yelling at The Texans and needs to calm down.
Nick Rama: Tell me five words to describe Tejas Chocolate Craftory.
Scott: Great chocolate and better barbecue The Tejas Chocolate Craftory is located at 200 N. Elm Street in Tomball, Texas. They are open at 11am till 7pm and can be reached by phone at 832-761-0670. They are also online at www.tejaschocolate.com.