Our anticipation for our third and final installment of this month’s tribute to the three Rio Grande Valley Barbecue places to make Texas Monthly’s “Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas” came to a screeching halt when, at the end of our previous visit to cachete heaven, a.k.a. Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que, a visitor from afar came in through the doors moping and moaning at his disappointment that one of the three Valley establishments was closed until July 20 because they had the “audacity” to go on vacation and failed to post notice on their social media page. Needless to say, the gentleman was NOT a happy camper.
We were left with a big dilemma. What were we to do? Where were we to go? We had made a promise to you, our dearly cherished readers, that we would fully dedicate ourselves AND sacrifice our waste lines so as to communicate our humble, yet honest opinions, to you. Luckily for us, Texas Monthly added an interactive digital map on their website* that not only focuses on the Top 50 joints, but also highlights Honorable Mentions, and that’s the reason (thank goodness) that we once again ended up in Brownsville at 1848 BBQ.
Past the old homes, through the older part of town, a drive by Sharp Elementary (Gaby’s old stomping grounds) and some resacas, we found ourselves face to face with our next food challenge at 1848 BBQ: What to order?
The first of the two buildings, soon to be three, is a small rectangular den where you can order your feast. Yes, that’s right, a feast.
Gaby: I was still waking up from our ride over and too confused to pay close attention, but as I leaned on the bar, I came across a variety of books on the shelf, including a Momofuku cookbook. We’re in Brownsville freakin’ Texas and these guys have a freakin’ Momofuku book?! SOLD! I wanted everything!!!
Trisha: Our eyes glazed over the DIY blackboard and its selection of meats, sandwiches and sides. “Yes, we’ll take a quarter pound of this, half pound of that, eighth of this.” It wasn’t until the Pit Master looked at us with confused eyes, and the firefighters in line behind us stared in awe, that we realized we must have sounded like a special kind of crazy women.
Gaby: “Here’s a piece of moist brisket,” he said as he extended his hand with some samples on a small paper plate. We took a bite, it melted like butter, and I exclaimed, “And a quarter pound of that!” I turned around to face the bomberos and told them, “I am trying to keep my girlish figure.”
If you are stocking up on protein, make sure to balance your diet with some of their (let’s pretend these are made out of pure heaven and have zero calories) healthy sides like 1848’s macaroni salad, corn pudding (a tasty twist on traditional cornbread), potato salad, charro beans (with chunks of brisket) or their one-of-a-kind broccoli salad with roasted cashews, grapes and cranberries.
Our trays were loaded with yummy goodness and, as we proceeded to pay, we were asked, “Would you be interested in a beef rib?”
Gaby: Yes and yes!
Trisha: “That’ll be an extra 30 minutes for the rib,” said the clerk. “Scratch that, please.” Sorry, Gaby, a little too late for that Jurassic-sized beef on bone. Judging by the look in Gaby’s eyes, in addition to the disappointment, I am pretty sure she would have taken down a Brontosaurus rib if possible.
Every piece of meat is cooked to perfection. Depending on the size of the brisket, the humidity and the temperature, it can take anywhere from 14 to 16 hours of cooking, plus 4 to 5 hours of rest (wrapped in butcher paper) to meet (pun intended) Pit Master Abraham Avila’s standards of quality. “It doesn’t really take much. We begin with a great product and try not to mess it up during the process. Just salt and pepper.”
Gaby: But it’s more than just that. These guys try to locally source as much as possible and cook only with natural pork and beef all the way from Creekstone Farms in Arkansas City, Kansas. No hormones, no antibiotics, just grass-fed and grain-finished Premium Black Angus Beef.
Trisha: These guys are truly trying to do something different down here. They even bring in split, seasoned Post Oak, all the way from San Antonio, to make sure that the smokiness is tasted thoroughly through their meats. You can tell that they’re making some noise, people from all over are coming to this joint!
Gaby: That is indeed correct. As I was getting my carnivore on, my ears perched and I was distracted by the distant, yet familiar sounds of “Die Muttersprache” (the mother tongue). We had Germans and Austrians in the house!
Trisha: I am certain they didn’t totally freak out when you jumped in the middle of their conversation and began chitchatting away with them. Although, the picnic tables really do create an immediate sense of community.
Gaby: I was being nice and welcoming.
Trisha: You were just a teeny, tiny, itty bitty stalker-ish. Love ya! (wink)
Gaby: Call it what you want. The enchantment didn’t last too long though because I was drawn back to that spicy, half pound of sausage that we had before our eyes. I want to say that I tasted chorizo. I love it when places in our area infuse our Tex-Mex culture into our foods without being too overt.
Trisha: Agreed but, Ms. Red Meat Lover, don’t forget the tender turkey breast and the scrumptious pulled pork we washed down with that Dublin Texas Root Beer. Just a tad early for the “real stuff”. We had a long evening ahead of us.
As mentioned earlier, there is a third building under construction for 1848 BBQ. The new addition will feature a wood burning grill and a bar with a selection of various craft beers. Visit them at5 Avalon, Brownsville, Texas, TX 78520 or contact them at (956) 504-1848. Current business hours are Wednesday from 11:00 AM- 4:00 PM, 6:30 PM- 11:00 PM, and Thurs.-Sat. from 11:00 AM- 4:00 PM., but fair warning, once they run out of meat, that’s it! 1848 BBQ is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Also, stay up to date on all the happenings at 1848 BBQ by visiting them on Facebook @1848BBQ or on Instagram @1848.bbq.
Gaby Jones and Trisha Watts work hand-in-hand with the service industry. Jones is in charge of craft and imported beer for L&F Distributors and Watts is the communications director for Visit McAllen. Each week they will have a new adventure and provide an opinion on various locations throughout the Rio Grande Valley.