Hay County Barbecue: Mon-Sat., 11am-8pm, Closed Sunday, 2601 Hunter Road, San Marcos, TX 78666
It was the middle of May, and Ben and I were driving on Yarrington Road, a road I used to drive with the radio blasting when I was in college and not wanting to study, in San Marcos, Texas. We were on our way to the food trucks that have sprung up in San Marcos in the last year or so. But, then we heard Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly‘s BBQ editor, on the radio talking about the upcoming issue of Texas Monthly, the much anticipated yearly list of the 50 best barbecue joints in Texas. As many well know, people take barbecue in Texas very seriously. In fact, when I got married in 2009, the day before the wedding, a barbecue tour was led by my very knowledgeable brother-in-law. There was a soundtrack made for the barbecue tour, need I say more. Well, our plans changed quickly from food trucks to barbecue at Hays County Barbeque.
As we drove into town, I thought about how many times I had passed this barbecue joint that, for the first time this year, had made the Texas Monthly’s top 50 list. Many. I had passed it many times and never gone in to eat. Something about the white brick building always made me think of a real estate office. There is very little that is inviting about the outside of Hays County BBQ, not to mention that there are no lights strung around the outside or outside seating, things that I really appreciate at restaurants. However, the bland outside is not a reflection of the food. In fact, Hays County Barbecue has been a BBQ establishment since 1984 but was purchased by Michael and Arsentte Hernandez in 2007. My understanding is quite a few improvements were made under their ownership, one being that it is now open for dinner and not just lunch.
As we pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car, I smelled the smokers and saw the barbecue pit out back surrounded by firewood. This was a good sign according to what I’d heard Daniel Vaughn say. Inside, one of the gentlemen working there was very helpful and directed us to the large open cooler where we could pick out the sides we wanted to go with our barbecue: onion, a couple varieties of cheese, pickles, jalapenos, potato salad, and coleslaw.
In my experience, pickles and onion usually come with the barbecue, but okay. I did very much like that you could buy unique things for your barbecue like avocados, habanero peppers, and in retrospect, I should have picked up one of the banana puddings. We got our sides and then ordered a pound of brisket and a sausage link.
We took the food to go and rushed home to eat because the aroma of brisket now scented the car. At home, I unwrapped the butcher paper and started serving myself brisket. It practically fell apart as I was putting it on my plate because it was so tender. It was the smoky, tender meat bbq connoisseurs search for in Texas. The sausage was good, but it was the brisket that sold me.
Texas Monthly was right again. Besides the meat, the bbq sauce was good but a bit too sweet. The beans are great; they have brisket mixed in with them.
After dinner, I walked my bloated self to the mailbox to see if my new issue of Texas Monthly had arrived, but sadly, it had not. I’m hoping it will arrive tomorrow, so I can pick out some more BBQ establishments to frequent.