The mesquite tra­di­tion is still alive at Bob’s

Well pre­pared lamb ribs and the all-beef sausage are win­ners

San Antonio Express-News (Sunday) - - Taste - By Mike Sut­ter STAFF WRITER msut­[email protected]­press-news.net | Twit­ter: @fed­man­walk­ing | In­sta­gram: @fed­man­walk­ing

When Bob’s Smoke­house opened at its cur­rent spot on FM 78 in Kirby in 2009, it be­came the tallest rung on a lad­der that reaches all the way back to 1973.

That was when the late Bob Wells opened the first Bob’s Smoke­house on Rigsby Road. He built a small bar­be­cue em­pire through the years, open­ing and clos­ing a hand­ful of shops, lead­ing up to Bob & Bob’s Smoke­house on Fred­er­icks­burg Road, where an up-and-comer named Bob Long joined in.

Wells died in 1989, but Long car­ried his legacy through to the last re­main­ing cor­ner of the Bob’s Smoke­house dy­nasty in Kirby.

You’ll find a cou­ple other San An­to­nio joints in the old Bob’s lo­ca­tions with the words “smoke­house” still prom­i­nent in their names, but this is the only one with the orig­i­nal hand­picked suc­ces­sor at the pits, cook­ing mar­bled brisket, hand­made horse­shoe-link sausage and lamb ribs over mesquite like they’ve been done for 45 years.

Grand cham­pion: All-beef sausage isn’t all that com­mon at San An­to­nio bar­be­cue shops, and hand­made beef sausage is prac­ti­cally a uni­corn. But Bob Long packs a spicy, loose grind of beef and herb sea­son­ing into shiny red horse­shoe links for sausage with vel­vet tex­ture that soaks up the twangy mesquite smoke ($14.50 a pound). As part of a $13.50 three- meat plate along with brisket, chicken and two sides, it’s one of the best bar­be­cue val­ues in town.

The trin­ity: I or­dered two rounds of fatty brisket ($17 a pound) and got brisket with two dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties. The first round bris­tled with salty bark that over­whelmed the meat’s juicy bal­ance of fat and lean. The sec­ond round came with less salt, but also less color and less fat, kind of like smoky roast beef.

Some­where in-be­tween the two would’ve been just right. The pork ribs got ev­ery­thing right: a tight, shiny glaze with meat that knew when to hang on and let go of the bone ($17 a pound).

More from the pit: For chicken, Long switches from mesquite to pecan for a more mel­low smoke, and it suited the juicy bird, leav­ing a bronzed layer of skin just start­ing to crackle at the edges ($7.50 for half ). A war club of a tur­key leg ($9.50) re­in­forced two bar­be­cue truths: the leg is for­ever the best part of that gan­gly bird, and dark meat holds up to a bar­be­cue pit 100 per­cent bet­ter than breast meat.

Sides: Wide wales of cab­bage in sweet mayo gave the coleslaw the char­ac­ter of a good side salad, and chili-style spice painted the bar­be­cue beans dusky red. They stood out against much more or­di­nary potato salad, green beans and corn ($2.50 each).

Sauce: Bob Long laughed when I started guess­ing at what’s in his sweet, spicy sauce. Molasses? Brown sugar? Black pep­per? He wouldn’t con­firm a thing, but it’s some of the best I’ve had, with a taste like can­died cow­boy brick-

le.

Mav­er­icks: I’ve had some truly awful bar­be­cue lamb and mut­ton ribs, gamey and tough as hobo road­kill. Bob’s Smoke­house knows the se­cret to tam­ing the wily beast: Treat it like a rack of pork ribs.

All those things I said about the pork ribs? Same for the lamb, am­pli­fied by the meat’s more lyri­cal fla­vor ($17 a pound).

Mike Sut­ter / Staff

Meat and sides from Bob's Smoke­house. Clock­wise from top left: Brisket, corn, bar­be­cue sauce, house­made beef sausage, pork ribs, tur­key leg, chicken, cole slaw and beans.

Lamb ribs and house­made sauce from Bob's Smoke­house.

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