Monday morning found me in Conroe helping out a friend, which meant that I was outside of my comfort zone of Inner Loop luncheries. My web search sorcery pointed me to McKenzie's Barbeque. The McKenzie family birthed the restaurant in Huntsville in 1992, with the Frazier Road location opening in 1995. Upon stepping into the establishment, I was greeted by a smoked-meat aroma that confirmed what the full parking lot indicated; these victuals were going to be good.
Diners are confronted with a key choice right away: burgers or barbecue? The burger-and-fry dispensary has its own location to the left of the bbq-a-teria. I decided to forgo the burger experience this time, but I'll be back, as freshly ground leftovers and debris usually make for a good burger.
The brisket plate delivered delicious value despite not being out-of-this world. The $7.99 price tag affords you a half-pound serving of brisket and a shot at serve-yourself sides including potato salad, cole slaw and corn on the cob. I'm sure the beans were there somewhere, but brisket, slaw and tater salad are my litmus test for cue spots. Additionally, you can choose from plastic-wrapped white bread or wheat bread.
The brisket was well-cooked and tender, but not of the falling-apart variety. The cuts were generous, with just the right amount of smoky flavor so as to not make you feel like you bit off a hunky of charred briquette. Only the juice was missing. Perhaps I'd gotten the tail end of last night's offering? The subtly tangy, vinegar-based sauce got me over the hump. To be clear, no brisket was spared a date with my chompers.
Sides of potato salad and slaw accompanied the brisket on its journey to my gullet. I've been a slaw-hater since Maw-Maw served it daily for an entire summer, yet I enjoyed McKenzie's no-frills version. The mix look like the bagged Sysco variety that had been tuned up a bit with minced pickle and onion. Further, the slaw dressing was not overwhelmingly creamy, which was a good thing. No one, except for maybe Brick Tamland, enjoys eating a spoonful of mayo. In fact, the potato salad mirrored the slaw's no-frills approach with conservative amounts of mayonnaise and mustard (tasted like Hellmann's and French's, respectively) combined with pimento, salt and pepper that left only satisfaction on the palate instead of the thick film of creamy residue common with many versions of this staple.
To sum it up, I wouldn't drive to Conroe just to eat at McKenzie's, but you should definitely eat here if you find yourself in the neighborhood and want a mouth full of flavor without a double-digit price tag.
-- McKenzie's Barbeque 1501 North Frazier Street Conroe, TX (936) 539-4300
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