Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Willie Ray's Bar-B-Q (8/10) - 145 I-10 North, Beaumont, Texas 77707

I awoke early Thursday morning in New Orleans with the intention of driving approximately 500 miles down I-10W before turning off the highway towards La Grange, home of Prause Market.  Billboards of crawfish, boudin, and any other creole/cajun delicatessens tempted me throughout the drive but my mind was clear and focused and I with held from temptation.  As I entered the eastern corridor of Texas, Beaumont to be specific, I saw a sign for Willie Ray's Bar-B-Q that read "voted top 50 Texas barbecue restaurants by Texas Monthly" and pulled off for lunch.

The inside decorum was what I would predict most tourists would expect in a Texan restaurant: cases of beer piled up against the wall, the heads of deer and bovines, a buffet line, and a bunch of men in trucker hats eating a ton of meat. I looked over the menu and was stuck in quite the conundrum.  All You Can Eat Buffet - $13.49.  2 Meat Combo - $10.29.  For $3, I'd normally man up and have access to all the barbecue imaginable.  Unfortunately, Prause isn't too far away and Zimmerhanzel's Barbecue is within close proximity to Prause's as well.

I go with the two meat combo and tell the server that I want a combination of regular and deer sausage as my first meat and brisket as my second.  The sides looked miserable under the glass case so I told him to not even bother giving me anything other than meat.  When he goes to ring me up at the register, he entered in meat combo with no sides and the bill came to $6.35.  I gave myself a subtle fist pump and walked over to my table to start sampling.

The deer sausage was great.  The casing provided a nice crunch and the inside meat had great flavor and spices.  The regular sausage was also good, but it lacked the intensity of the deer sausage.  I was surprised by that preference, because I've typically been disappointed by anything venison related.  Beef or Pork > Deer 97% of the time.  The brisket was good as well.  It was my first time eating authentic Texas brisket in what felt like years, and I was definitely glad to be back.

I looked over my plate and had an incredible epiphany.  I had just read about the most delicious over-the-top sandwich served at Mustang Creek, south Texas, where the author voted it the best sandwich in Texas.  The picture is legendary.  I had decided that since Mustang Creek was too far out of my way to hit up on this trip, I needed to bring the creativity with me to Willy Ray's.  I stacked the brisket and sausage (both deer and bork) high on a sandwich, covered it with sauce and pickles, and went to town.  I texted a friend that I just dominated a sausage and brisket sandwich to which I got the following response:  "Good. Lord. Stop. Eating. Meat."  I need new friends.

I continued on towards Prause Market and arrived at 4:30pm, a good half hour before it closed.  The market must have run out of food because they were already done for the day by the time I arrived.  I called Zimmerhanzel's Barbecue in Smithville, Texas -- my next stop -- and they confirmed that they had also run out of meat for the day.  I drove straight into Austin and met a friend at Chuy's Tex Mex for some queso and salsa.  Not too bad of a fall back plan.

Willy Ray's BBQ & Catering on Urbanspoon


  1. that brown truck looks pretty old, Nice!

  2. You missed out on the best dish they offer. . . banana pudding!


Ratings and Reviews

In order to provide a consistent grading standard across each restaurant/region, I order a barbecue pork sandwich (and other meats/sides if a restaurant/region specializes in another specialty). In addition to comparing the quality of food, I will also take into consideration other intangibles (ambiance, atmosphere, service, authenticity, etc.) in my ratings as I deem appropriate.

Basically, a 10/10 represents an incredible meal, while a 6/10 score indicates a decent dining experience but a substantial number of dishes fell short of great. Lower scores indicate unpleasant experiences which I would most likely not even recommend to my worst enemy (Jonas Singer).

I reserve the right to continuously edit/update previous posts and to change rating scores as I see fit.