There is something about Rudy's Bar-B-Q that is really unsettling to many Texans. Sure, you'll find your ordinary average Rudy's full to the brim with Texas natives, but there's something else going on. Whenever I talk about how much I love Rudy's there is always a group of naysayers. "The thing about College Station is," they say, or, "The thing about Fort Worth is," or, "The thing about [City in Texas] is that we don't really need a Rudy's because we have so many other places to get great barbecue." Sometimes people even name the particular restaurants that they are referring to. Most times they don't. I investigate, and for some reason I keep coming back to Rudy's.
For me, this is like an X-File. It is something that someone from far away has to come into town and investigate. I take the role of Agent Fox Mulder, of course. I get the lay of the land. I come to understand the locals. I solve the crime. As you can imagine, this undertaking involves eating at every single Rudy's Bar-B-Q, even the ones in New Mexico and Colorado. It involves eating everything on the menu. It involves getting into the minds of those Texans who resent Rudy's. I've only been to about a quarter of all the Rudy's Bar-B-Qs in this great nation and I've only lived in Texas for two and a half years, so all of my findings will have to be considered provisional.
Rudy's is the home of the best meat I've ever tasted in Texas. Their brisket is slow-cooked and savory, needing nothing to garnish it. But their garnishes are some of the best I've ever tasted. Their Bar-B-Q "Sause" comes in two flavors, Original and Sissy. I recommend the Original --- it's just a little bit spicier. They also have their own special variation on cracked pepper, which I've found to really complement the meat. Food is sold by the pound or half-pound. (You can order sandwiches, but you get a whole lot more for your money ordering the meat.) With any order of meat, you are given as many slices of bread as you need. I got a whole loaf the other day from one particular rebel without a cause. A half pound of brisket makes for four sandwiches, which brings about two savory results: 1. I can eat one sandwich with the naked meat, one with barbecue sauce, one with barbecue sauce and pepper, and the final one with barbecue sauce, pepper and pickles, and 2. I will enter into a food coma as soon as I get home and sleep like a baby.
One in twenty of the so-called great barbecue joints in Texas end up truly tasting great whereas every Rudy's location I've ever been to is amazing. Why do Texans boast of everything but Rudy's? I could suggest a theory, but it's more likely that it would piss off all my Texas friends than actually explain anything. Why do Texans boast about anything? Do they learn it in school? From their parents? I don't know. Probably all of those things. What I do know is that Rudy's makes some great barbecue, and the following is a list of my favorite Rudy's locations: