American, Beef, Burgers, North Carolina, Uncategorized

Hops Burger Bar- Greensboro, NC

This past weekend I got to make a very special trip to Greensboro, NC to see my sister and brother in law and it was full of extra tummy rubs…I’m going to be an aunt! It’s definitely all about the pregnant lady, but I made sure my food needs were known and I knew I had to try 2015’s best burger in the nation. Yes, this weekend we went to Hops Burger Bar.

Indeed they were named the best burger in the nation, a title not to be taken lightly. Over the years of having some pretty amazing burgers I’ve concluded for myself (sorry if you disagree, but this is my blog) that most burger places are kind of the same, but in a really good way! Having fresh quality beef and ingredients is the norm now and how amazing is that! Now it’s down to the variations and overall vibe and story of a place and Hops lives up to that expectation. 

With a couple locations they’ve obviously done well for themselves, attracting the crowds enough to need to expand. Upon walking into the Lawndale location the aromas of beef and hops fill the air. An array of chalkboards dazzle the board with what’s on tap and the burger of the month. A good size restaurant bustling the middle of a Friday…you definitely know it’s going to be good and worth it. 

The menu of burgers is a huge selection, from the many options of burgers they’ve concocted to being able to make your own made it a difficult decision on deciding what to order! I was literally stuck between three burgers and putting my favorite parts of all three on one burger was just not going to mesh well. So upon asking our waiter of his thoughts, I ended up with the fan favorite…The Spicy Goat.

As you can put together so far about the burger it has goat cheese along with applewood bacon, sweet and spicy pepper jelly and topped with lettuce. In the end it’s just really hard to pass up goat cheese! I’m so happy I got this burger because in one bite I was on goat cheese cloud nine. The biggest hunk of cheese sat in between the incredibly juicy burger and crisp fresh lettuce. The sauce had a tangy sweetness and then would finish with just the faintest spicy kick. The combination was superb, all the flavors melding well and complimenting each other. 

Perhaps the only thing that could steal the show would be the crispy fries. There’s a pretty extensive menu when it comes to the fries, but the classic ones are done perfectly…super crispy yet soft and warm on the inside. I loved the plain old fashioned, having tried the Parmesan and truffle ones they really weren’t winning me over. But look at these golden brown beauties:

Of course more and more restaurants are aware of dietary restrictions and choices, but it’s pretty cool walking into a burger place and seeing gluten free buns available as well as vegan friendly substitutes like veggie patties!

Hops Burger Bar lives up to their title of being the best burger in the nation. Although some time has past since they’ve been given that honor, they are serving up some really great, well made burgers. Like I said, I can’t wait to go back and try more!

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Barbecue, Beef, Uncategorized

Snow’s BBQ- Lexington, TX

This is what dreams are made of…or at least bbq dreams. I can officially say that I’ve had the best bbq in Texas. Texas Monthly made the tough decision back in 2008 to name Snow’s BBQ the best bbq in the state. It’s created quite the following, hundreds of people waiting for hours to try the brisket and pork, flocking from around the country and even the world. Along with the food people only hope to catch a look at the famous pit master, Tootsie Tomanetz.

Although the original Texas Monthly article stated they make the best in ’08, the popular joint was renamed the best this year. The article (which you should give both a read) perfectly describes the scene at Snow’s. You enter tiny Lexington, TX, the sign stating a population of 1,200. You find parking in their “downtown” and head towards the small red building that has several parked cars along the main street. You loop around and take your place in line. It’s early in the morning (I suggest getting there between 7:45-8:45 to secure getting food) and you just wait. People have brought chairs, beer, water, cornhole, the whole nine yards…and they aren’t even open yet. As they open their doors and the line starts to slowly move, you finally catch a glimpse at the “open air shed” that houses the three to four working smokers. 

One great way to pass time while waiting is sipping either on the complimentary water or go for the keg of free Lone Star beer. Yes, they have a free keg of beer for all to enjoy. A small thank you from the Snow’s family for your service and patience. You may be able to catch Ms. Tootsie herself pulling up in her white pickup truck and get right to work, and she’s a mere 82 years old. 

Three hours seem to go by fast because soon enough you’re near the front and finally come face to face with the bright Snow’s sign and peak at the quaint back patio area, equipped with several tables and funny signs to boot. Yes, it took about three hoursto get  food and yes it was well worth it. 

Soon, you’re nearly at the door, and the guest book is to your left. You sign your name and where you’re from and simply can’t help yourself from browsing through the names and places. Naturally there are plenty from all over the Lone Star state, but other places that caught our eye were Madrid, New Zealand, Singapore, even the group behind us drove from Louisiana that morning just for Snow’s. 

Finally you enter the sacred building, the smell of oak and sweet aromas filling the air. For such great quality and for the best, the prices at Snow’s are very reasonable. I highly recommend the brisket (obviously), but also the pork. Naturally you have extremely high expectations of what you’re about to eat, knowing its been named the best bbq in Texas. 

Oh my word, mind blown. It truly is the best bbq I have ever had. The meat had a smoke ring all the way around, not just one side like most places. It pulls apart so smoothly and you can tell its going to melt in your mouth. The flavors of the wood come through and the sauce only enhances the smokiness of the meat, it doesn’t steal the show.


The pork was just as smoky and the rub was more prominent. It seemed to be more peppery than the rub on the brisket and a thicker layer. The meat was moist and, like the brisket, the meat to fat ratio was perfectly balanced. 

Everything about Snow’s lived up to the expectations set by Texas Monthly. You knew there was going to be a long line, a long wait, but knowing a keg of beer was waiting reassured you the wait was worth it. And aside from that you knew that the meat and atmosphere of Snow’s was also going to be worth it. 

Exiting the famous building you feel a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, and Texas honor. Most of all you feel complete because it’s worth being able to say you’ve been to Snow’s, the best bbq in Texas.

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American, Barbecue, Beef, Fort Worth, Uncategorized

Heim Barbecue- Fort Worth, TX

Well it’s that time of the year, Texas Monthly released their Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas list and this carnivore certainly didn’t miss the chance to read through it. They had a good list comprised, but in my opinion forgot some places too (particularly Black’s in Lockhart and even The Longoria’s in Everman…Angelo’s is one of my favorites, but it’s been some time since it’s made the list). However, barbecue is growing and expanding and the millennials are taking a crack at it…and succeeding. One young couple is doing just that and was named the top BBQ joint in Fort Worth, Heim BBQ.

The story basically starts with Travis Heim who started smoking meat young, learning from his grandparents, and the BBQ fire was lit. He and his now wife, Emma, started off local and small, grew to a food truck, and then met the right people to start their own place on W Magnolia in the Fort. It’s a great story of growing your business and going after your dream, never giving up. And it has obviously paid off.

The Magnolia area is a perfect fit for Heim, like I said the Heim’s being a younger couple have sort of aimed for the millennial generation as their customers and making BBQ ‘hipster cool’, which is precisely what Magnolia is sort of known for. Don’t get me wrong you see the older couples in there too, just my opinion and overall feeling I got.

They do have daily hours, but when they sell out they sell out. We went on a Friday and it was still hopping around 7:30, but if you check their Facebook they update it and it’s usually around then that they sell out, just a heads up. The space is nice, some outdoor picnic tables, full bar area, and decent amount of seating inside. Long tables take up the center part of the joint which adds a community feel to it, and isn’t that what barbecue is all about? 

Overall the food was good, I can see why it made the top 50 list. However, I wouldn’t say my mind was blown by the food. Let’s get into detail here:

The sauce- tangy, some smoky flavor, but definitely a sweet taste to it. There was a good mix of spices that I could taste, I’d certainly take a bottle of it home.

Coleslaw- I’m not personally a fan of heavy mayo or super creamy coleslaw and Heim’s was far from that. They actually use red cabbage only with shredded carrots, which made it bright and pop off the plate. However there wasn’t much seasoning to it, just a lot of pepper. Could’ve used a little more of a creaminess to balance it more.

The mac and cheese- good flavor, but don’t expect any chile flavor from this ‘green chile’ mac. It was very cheesy though!

Beans- huge tomato flavor that pops, good heat and cooked perfectly. Probably one of my favorite sides. 

Potato Salad- Wow, amazing. The cheese mixed in added a creaminess to the mashed potatoes. There isn’t a lot of seasoning, but I didn’t feel the need to add any. It was very refreshing to have compared to the other sides. My other favorite!

Now for the brisket- I have to start with that it was good, but it wasn’t mind blowing like some people have talked about it being. The meat pulled apart nicely and had a good, promising, smoke ring. There wasn’t really any smoky flavor to it unless you took a bite of meat with the bark. The piece of meat was very fatty, I like some fat, but almost the whole piece was fat. It was tender outside of that though, but again not much flavor which was disappointing.

To make up for the meat was the highly suggested bacon bits. The meat was delicious, I mean bacon, and the rub gave the bits almost a pork flavor. It was very sweet for a rub, but it was amazing.

Overall Heim had a cool feel to it, trying to get the younger generation into barbecue from the location to the hipster kind of vibe it has. The Heim’s have certainly paved their way and worked hard, but their meat was fatty and everything was very sweet rather than smoky. I would go back for that potato salad and other sides though! I recommend it so all y’all can experience and say you’ve been to Heim, but there are plenty of other great barbecue joints that deserve a spot on that list. 

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Barbecue, North Carolina, Uncategorized

Lexington Barbecue- Lexington, NC

Last week was a pretty big week for my family…my sister got married! She lives in Greensboro, NC which is just thirty minutes north of one of the biggest pork barbecue cities, Lexington. 

Now aside from being pork instead of beef, Carolina barbecue is mainly vinegar based. Barbecue is iconic to American history, when you think about it, and especially in North Carolina. There are two distinct types of barbecue, Eastern style and Lexington style. Lexington barbecue uses a red sauce that has ketchup, vinegar, and pepper as well as other spices. They also use the red sauce as the base for the coleslaw, using the sauce instead of mayonnaise. 

Since I’m a Texas and beef girl, I had some help in the taste testing of two different barbecue places from my dad. The first place we went to was Bar-B-Cue Center. Let me say, this place is classic. Classic set up inside, classic barbecue. Everything about the food was great, the slaw was particularly interesting with a peculiar, but delicious addition to it that we couldn’t quite figure it out! The hush puppies were great and the meat was really delicious. 


The second place we went to was simply called Lexington Barbecue. The first thing you notice is the smoke stacks around the back/side of the building. You know it’s going to be good. In my opinion the pork here was much better than at Bar-B-Cue Center, not by much though! The meat was tender and pulled apart, it was tastier, and the slaw was solid. The hushpuppies were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, but Bar-B-Cue Center had the better hush puppies, in my opinion. 


I would most certainly return to both spots in the future, but my overall vote would have to go to Lexington Barbecue. The meat there was better and the hush puppies still tasted good! However, when in Lexington it’s pretty hard to go wrong when it comes to their own style of North Carolina barbecue! 

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American, Barbecue

Hard Eight Pit BBQ- Roanoke, TX

Quaint Roanoke, TX is located just north of Keller, about 50 minutes from Fort Worth. Although not the original location, along the main road with many other restaurants is Hard Eight BBQ

Hard Eight compliments the town of Roanoke perfectly. Upon walking in, like most BBQ places, you head straight up and get your order. No waiters or hostesses necessary. But what makes Hard Eight a little different from other BBQ places is the pit is right there to greet you. Most BBQ places display the meat they are going to serve you, but here it’s like walking into a bakery where everything is on display. 

What’s also a tad different is that as you enter into the next room you’re herded (ha) into an assembly line or as the website calls it “Texas style service”. You go down the line and pick up any sides you see fit to accommodate your meal. You start off at the bread station, where if you got this far and ordered the brisket sandwich and didn’t get bread, you request it here! After that it’s pretty much the usual: coleslaw, potato salad, fruit, cups for BBQ sauce, and ending with hot cases filled with Mac and cheese and cobblers. Then you pay, get your drink and enjoy. Now if any BBQ connoisseurs are reading this you may be thinking “wait, what about beans?” Have no fear, for here the beans are free. That’s right, FREE. They station two pots of beans boiling within a mixture of bacon and jalapeños by the drink dispenser. Did I mention they’re free? #blessed

Now to this day, I still swear by Angelo’s and I may be a bit biased, but still. So going into any brisket endeavor I try to be unbiased. When the pit master sliced the brisket you could tell it was tender and pulled apart beautifully. I did not see a significant smoke ring. The meat was tender and delicious, there were particular bites that had a smoky flavor. The sauce was pretty basic, certainly not hot (there are two kinds of sauce: their classic and hot n spicy…I wish I got the hot). 

The sides I got were coleslaw (which Angelo’s also has the best in my opinion) and Mac n cheese. The coleslaw was actually pretty good! Very close to Angelo’s and was not thick with mayonnaise. But the winner of this dinner is the Mac n cheese: one bite and immediately I moaned. So creamy, so cheesy, the shells cooked perfectly. I didn’t even need to add salt or pepper. I would drive 50 minutes for that Mac. 

Hard Eight certainly has a fun atmosphere, it was cool getting to be apart of ‘making’ your meal! The rustic Texan atmosphere makes eating your BBQ that much more enjoyable, I would certainly go back for this unique way of serving BBQ. 

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Barbecue

The Longoria’s BBQ- Everman, TX

If you’re itching to get out of the city and do some exploring, I suggest throwing on some jeans and a t shirt and kicking back at Longoria’s in Everman. Fifteen minutes south of downtown Fort Worth down 35W is little old Everman, TX. Wide open spaces? A little, yes! It’s exactly what you think of when you hear ‘the outskirts of town’. Take the extra fifteen minute drive for number eighteen best ranked bbq out of fifty! 

I went down with my dad (I suggest not going alone, however you aren’t quivering for your life) and upon pulling in, you know it’s the real deal. The menu has all kinds of delicious sounding meats, but we went with the chopped brisket sandwich. 

When they bring it out to you, the sandwich is wrapped in paper and your mouth is anticipating the goodness. More like amazing, because this brisket had a beautiful smoky flavor and the sweet sauce balanced it out. I could have eaten the sauce by itself, it was that good. The brisket was cooked perfectly and again that smoky flavor was right on. 



If you feel like exposing your family or loved ones to a different side of the city and try some good bbq, I would make the trip to Everman. The Longoria’s BBQ has now made it to my list of favorite BBQ places. 

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Barbecue

Angelo’s Barbecue- Fort Worth, TX

If you’re ever in Fort Worth and in the need of good Texas barbecue go to Riscky’s. If you want great barbecue, well look no further than Angelo’s located on White Settlement, behind Montgomery Plaza and West 7th Street. Although it is hard not to get good brisket in Texas (aside of The Woodshed) Angelo’s is by far the best. They have perfected their smoking technique and the brisket practically falls apart as you begin to devour it. There is a nice smoke ring to the meat and an excellent smoky flavor. And the sides are just as good, including the best coleslaw I’ve probably ever had.

Along with the food comes the atmosphere. You know it’s a great place to eat when you see locals going there for lunch. Several cowboys as well as men in suits from work come together at Angelo’s for a hearty lunch. The staff at Angelo’s really care about their customers and greet you with a huge smile and warm, Texas welcome. And like any real barbecue joint there are animal heads everywhere and footballs games streaming on televisions.

If you’re ever in Fort Worth, Angelo’s better be your third stop after the airport and downtown.

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