It's that time of year when those of us who are not blessed with summer addresses in Aspen or Santa Fe start packing the car for Galveston. Figuring out where to eat among the island city's mostly mediocre seafood joints can be a trial, but there's a swell alternative right where the causeway spits you off onto Broadway, at the puckishly named In and Out House.
This black-owned barbecue place has North Carolina roots, and its Carolina chipped-beef sandwich is enough to make you stow your Texas barbecue snobbery on the back burner. We're talking chopped-up meat cut from inside and outside the crusty, slow-smoked brisket -- ergo the "In and Out" moniker. Rich meat, charred crust, tart/sweet sauce: it's a happy combination of tastes and textures worth every bit of its three-buck price. Yeah, there's some fat in there; wanna make something of it?
Some Carolinians might argue that the very fresh and cabbagey cole slaw, blessedly free of mayonnaise glut, properly belongs on this sandwich instead of alongside it. But this is Texas, and certain concessions are in order. Besides, slaw this good -- its recipe handed down from the owner's grandma -- deserves to stand on its own.
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The In and Out House sports the hallmarks of a truly serious barbecue spot, from its screened-in smoke shack puffing away aromatically in the back yard, to a low-ceilinged, homey interior that is all but devoid of right angles. It's an insular pink-and-blue world inside this small room, filled with air-conditioning drone, presided over by no-nonsense cooks and a spiffily bowtied waiter who'll bring your order to your oilcloth-clad table. They even garnish your sandwich with an endearingly earnest slice of orange -- a Texas barbecue first?
I'm already planning my next visit. I liked the looks of those freshly baked rum cakes, and the very idea of homemade potato salad, turnip greens and Leon's special "stepped up" rice puts a smile on my face. Who needs Aspen, anyway?
In and Out House, Broadway at 55th Street, Galveston, (409) 744-0070.