The Bar B Q Station San Antonio

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Sometimes the stars align and the soothsayers say it is a good omen. Since I don’t know any soothsayers I have to go by the San Antonio bar b q signs. That was the way it was when I went to visit the Bar B Q Station off Northeast Loop 410 at the Harry Wurzbach. I had seen the place a gillion times as I drove 410. It was near and the Petroleum Club and just down the service road from one of my clients offices.

_Y4A5611I don’t know why but somewhere in the past five years of living in San Antonio I had given up on finding a decent Texas Bar B Q joint. Little did I realize I was passing up a great place.

The Bar B Q Station had all the b.b.q. omens going for it. First, the big parking lot indicated this was the right place. It was almost full at lunch time. There was maybe 10 spaces left. Perfect. Everyone had a place to park with room left over. Once inside I could see the parking lot fit the number of seats. The place was almost full.

_Y4A5617The second “good sign” happened as I walked to the front door. The variety of vehicles told me it was a place that welcomed all economic levels. Oil Field trucks next to “too long” Mercedes is always a good sign. The third signal was a huge wave of smoke engulfed me as I walked toward the door. Not only was it thick smoke but it had that wonderful comin’ home smell of meat and wood. That smell alone puts an added kick to my step.

_Y4A5612As you enter the transformed gas station, there is a nice sized air conditioned waiting area. The walls became the next indicator things are going right. The waiting area walls were covered in oil field lease signs. If you don’t work in the oil patch or live in an area where oil and gas can be found you probably won’t recognize the signs. But…But if you have ever been sent to do any kind of work in the oil field this sign is your location point of truth. After following generally terrible directions and reading several dozen of these gate signs, I promise when you find the one you are looking for it’s a welcome sight. Lease locations signs are comforting for a guy who’s spent the last twenty years working as an oil field photographer. 

_Y4A5613The next sign might not mean any more to a Texan than an oil field sign to a yankee. But to a bar b q fan from the Mid South (Memphis) tribe, two big black guys behind big butcher blocks, are always a welcome sight. I know, I know that sounded all prejudice and everything but that is what a mid southerner expects when he walks into a good bar b q joint. I can’t think of any place in the mid south the pit master isn’t a big ole black dude with cooking skills beyond belief.  Now that’s just telling it like it is.

_Y4A5610There were two cashiers, I would learn later they were the owners. The short lines moved fast with the cutters asking for orders as well as the cashiers. It sounds a little confusing but the system really moved that line. Twenty years in business must have taught these folks how to make it all click.

_Y4A5616The food was delivered with the meat on butcher paper sitting atop a standard plastic serving tray. From my Lockhart background the use of butcher paper is definitely a positive signal.

The next sign ? The cashiers bill was less than most. I had one big pork rib, and a two meat plate including sausage and brisket. The two sides were beans and potato salad. Beans and tea refills were free. Three pieces of white bread, there was a choice, were added to the tray. The price was $12.97. From the lunches I’ve paid for during this review process I would guess this one to be somewhere in the medium range.

_Y4A5604I made my tea, fetched my beans from a big hot crock pot looking warmer and grabbed a seat. There were two good sized dining rooms and an out door area for a nice winter’s day. (You gotta be slap nuts to eat outside during a San Antonio summer.) Big community tables and booths that lined the walls were available. There was a nice rough ambience decor but to be frank my attention span waned as my senses were taken over by the sight and smell of the plate in front of me.

_Y4A5607It looked great. A plastic fork and my big pocket knife went to work like instruments of destruction. The brisket was absolutely perfect. The rib was one of the meatiest big old pork ribs I’ve ever seen and it was wonderful. I had asked about whether they made their own sausage. They looked me right in the eye and told me they didn’t have to they were buying perfection from a “friend” up in Elgin. Well that raised my expectations. I’ve been hitting those Elgin places for years and they make an excellent sausage. This one was every bit as good as it should have been. A little bit of Elgin heaven right here in San Antonio, who knew ?

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Finally I lifted my head from the rapid fire eating position. I looked around at the crowd. I didn’t see anyone I knew but I did see several familiar faces. There next to the service truck guys were oil industry exec’s who would be just as comfortable across the street at the Petroleum Club. When people from all walks agree on a restaurant you know it’s good. And that my friends is why all the omens, stars, moons and smoke signals lined up to tell me I was walking into the right place. The Bar B Q Station offers a great bar b q experience. Hit it every chance you get.

John Boykin

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