Has Daniel Vaughn ever discovered a sketchy-looking barbecue restaurant he was too afraid to enter?
“Absolutely not,” said the hard-working Texas Monthly food writer, the country’s only “barbecue editor” who has reviewed more than 800 barbecue restaurants in barbecue country.
We were conversing by phone on the subject of today’s topic – gas station barbecue – and a theory a reader once shared with me: “The uglier the restaurant, the better the barbecue.”
That’s untrue, Vaughn said laughing. “You’ll hear so many other rules – the parking lot should have an equal amount of Mercedes and beat-up pickup trucks. There are so many rules people place on what barbecue joints should look like in Texas. But generally, the rule is that what the person grew up eating at, that’s what it’s supposed to look like.”
My take, as well as his: There’s really no way of gauging whether a barbecue restaurant is any good until you get yourself three bones deep into a half rack of ribs. And, after all, one of the country’s most discussed barbecue restaurants is in a gas station in Kansas City.
Today, I encourage you to suspend prejudices you might harbor against gas station dining. Forget those mystery meat burritos and five-day-old hot dogs. I’m about to tell you about two barbecue restaurants inside gas station mini marts that are staffed with guys who know their way around smokers and sticky ribs. Read more »