I eagerly anticipated the opening of a new barbecue joint that is situated very close to home. Early in the year a temporary sign went up for Rango’s Barbecue. In spite of the challenging location (northwest corner of Stuebner Airline just north of Louetta Road – just north of the HEB) I had high hopes that they might be as solid as 2 Guys 1 Pit BBQ. Not long ago me and my barbecue buddy, Craig, made the quick drive from work to try them out. The interior felt nice, but was a little too dark – like they needed to open the blinds a bit or turn up the lights. We were greeted by one of my own “sons”, so I was still hopeful. Then I saw the menu in his hand, and I started getting a little nervous – table service at a barbecue joint? That just didn’t sit well with me. Then I noticed the distinct lack of smoky smell – there was nothing resembling a smoky smell either in or near the restaurant. I really wanted to learn more about Rango’s style of barbecue, so I asked if I might get to talk to the owner/pitmaster at some point, maybe get a pitroom tour, etc. I was told that he was way too busy. Yet another sign of concern.
I went ahead and ordered a two meat plate, with fatty brisket and their smoked sausage. When Ben brough the plate to the table, the meat had already seen sauced. So many warning signs already. I had asked for fatty brisket but instead got lean. There was very little bark. And what bark there was did not have much flavor. There was no real smoke ring (fwiw, a smoke ring is not a required element to judge smokiness – there are plenty of great smoked briskets that do not have deep pink smoke rings.). The fat was well-rendered fat, but it was lacking any smoky flavor. I have to say that I was pretty disappointed. I think it is reasonable to expect smoky flavor in smoked meats. The sausage is not made in-house. But it is bought fresh and cooked/smoked onsite. It was a very passable, but not memorable, sausage. The sides were definitely the highlight of this meal. The baked beans were good. They had a good flavor and some meatiness to them. And the French fries were excellent. They had some sort of delicious seasoning or coating. And to make it even better, I got an errant onion ring on top, which was pretty good. And finally the toasted Texas toast was very tasty. They offer two sauces – both a house sauce and sweet-n-smoky variety. Both were good. I was honestly pretty glad to have something with a smoky flavor to it given the absence in the brisket and sausage.
I will certainly have to try Rango’s again at some point. I really hope it was just an off day for them while they were in “start-up and get rolling” mode. And I will definitely report my results when I go back.