Everyone has that one place, that one food haven that delivers every time. Tried, true and reliable. As I'm moving to Washington D.C., I had to visit Rudy's Bar-B-Q one last time. I will fondly miss it.
The whole experience at Rudy's, from the bright red barn, to the neon signs, to the candy up front, is exhilarating. Granted, it is a bit confusing for newbies -- am I trying to get gas, am I at the country store, can I order one of each meat and why is everyone so happy? Yes, you can get gas here, and the place is also a country store, but I go for the barbecue. And once you try that spicy sauce, you know you have arrived at a carnivore's heaven.
Rudy's has opened four area locations around Houston, Spring, NASA, 290 and now the largest in the world, in Katy.
Back in the 1800s, Rudolph Aue, the son of the founder of a little township called Leon Springs, which sits on the north edge of the Texas Hill Country, opened a one-stop gas station, garage and grocery store. In 1989 and nearly a 100 years later, that same little-store-that-could added barbecue, and today, those same original recipes lure in large, hungry crowds from all over the southwestern U.S.
While in college at UT, I was introduced to Rudy's through a friend. A quick, friendly barbecue meal became a lifelong love of this culinary institution and its wood-fired pit ovens.
Served on white paper spread on a gingham table cover, the half chicken, pork or baby back ribs, jalapeño sausage links, potato salad and sliced white bread, bread, bread were all on the menu. Portion control was not on the agenda.
The meats, rubbed down with a unique dry spice and then flamed up with pit-fired oak, are delicious on their own. But the spicy, dark burgundy "sause" provides an added bite, a firework of flavor that makes this the best barbecue I have ever seen, smelled or tasted.
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Driving back from I-10, I lazily sat in a meat-induced food coma, wishing they would just bring the big red barn out to the East Coast. But I guess the two "sause" bottles stashed in my bag will have to do for now.