Pinky Stars at Texas Star Grill Shop

It's hard to ignore a large metal pig, even when you're zipping home from the gym gravely in need of some post-workout fuel.

Trust me, I know from experience. Rubbernecking at my giant porcine friend while she stands proudly in the window of the Texas Star Grill Shop has become somewhat of a morning ritual.

As you may have inferred from her location, Pinky (as I like to call her) is not simply the latest creation of some metal-working Montrose artist, but a fully functioning outdoor grill and smoker. I have often fantasized about buying Pinky as a wedding present for friends of mine, a couple who harbor a swine (culinary) fetish, or purchasing her as a (surprise!) anniversary present for my husband.

But to do so, I would first have to stop ogling her and actually go visit Pinky at The Texas Grill Shop.

Occupying a rather inauspicious location, a run-down strip mall at the corner of South Shepherd and the Southwest Freeway right next to the feeder to 59-N, The Texas Grill Shop might have easily escaped my notice had not its owner cleverly positioned Pinky front and center. The first time I visited the shop, I quickly noticed she was not the only "novelty" grill on display (though she is certainly the most garish).

The Texas Star Grill Shop offers many different grills, outdoor cookers and smokers, from ultra-fancy models with great temperature ranges (roughly 100 to 700 degrees) that run close to $2,000, to more modest selections that will set you back a few hundred dollars. Pinky, as one employee informed me, is not as popular a choice as one might expect, due to her somewhat limited interior capacity.

My reply: "Who cares if you can fit only six hamburgers on that thing? It's pink!"

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An extensive selection of rubs, sauces and seasonings is also on hand, but perhaps even more fun are the shelves of different types of fuel. Those experienced in grilling (and, actually, those experienced in eating grilled foods) understand that wood, pellets, charcoal and other fuel items impart their own signature flavor notes. Choosing the proper fuel is as important as selecting the ingredients and seasonings you cook.

The day I visited Texas Star Grill Shop it was chilly and drizzly, definitely not ideal grilling weather, but I've lived in the Lone Star State long enough to know that al fresco chillaxin' weather is right around the corner. I predict I'll be back sooner rather than later to scope out some barbecue supplies, and, of course, visit Pinky.

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