Shade Tree Barbecue with Dewayne Pines

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On Saturdays, Dewayne Pines tows his barbecue trailer to a quiet spot in the parking lot of the Rose Rich shopping center on 90A on the Richmond Rosenberg line and sets up a shade tree barbecue operation he calls Smokey’s Barbecue and Grill. The trailer is licensed by the City of Richmond health department.

Dewayne puts out a well-worn card table and four plastic chairs under the shade of a tree where his customers can sit and eat. I got a two-meat plate with brisket and ribs for ten bucks. It came with beans, potato salad, two slices of white bread, pickles and onions and a Fanta strawberry soda.

Dewayne makes the mashed potato-style salad with lots of French’s mustard. He says his wife made the potato salad last week and it was too soupy, so he fired her and did it himself. It was still too soupy if you ask me, and the beans tasted like they came from a can.

But Dewayne’s brisket was a real shocker. It had a thick red smoke ring and it was juicy and falling-apart tender. There were some nice black end pieces of brisket mixed in even though I didn’t ask for “in and out.” I couldn’t even pick the ribs up, the meat just fell off the bone. I told him to put the sauce on the side. It was a spicy sauce, not too sweet.

I love Texas shade tree barbecue--I think of it as culinary folk art. Sometimes the barbecue is terrible. But when it’s good, it can be very, very good. And on this particular Saturday afternoon in late June, Dewayne Pine’s brisket and ribs were sensational. – Robb Walsh

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