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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lunch Report: McBee's Bar-B-Q in Hondo...

During the drives my wife and I take, we are constantly on the look-out for the perfect little place to stop and grab a bite to eat. We have a few methods of operation for finding places. First, it is not uncommon for us to get a recommendation from a friend to try a particular place if we happen to be in some town. Other times, we find our place visiting a small town and there is only one place to eat - that makes it pretty simple. The third and very often used method of selection is our friend Garmin.

When we made the decision to make our return home from Devine via Hondo, I consulted Garmin to reveal several potential dining candidates. One place that caught my eye was a Billy Bob's Backyard Barbecue. The other place that caught my attention was called McBee's. I recalled the name because we had seen a McBee's down in Pleasanton on Highway 97, and later, my brother-in-law told me that we had missed some good eatin'. There's only one problem; he is a vegetarian.

As it was already close to 2 in the afternoon, stomachs were rumbling and my wife and I thought we would give Billy Bob's a try. As we drove through town, we started to wonder if perhaps we would end up in some good ol' boy's actual backyard with a huge pit and a picnic table.

Well, it turns out, that is sort of close. When we pulled into the place, there seemed to be a regular restaurant called Billy Bob's Burgers, but in the back, there was a smaller take-out sort of place called Billy Bob's Backyard BBQ. It was such a beautiful day and the smell was great. But then the logistics of where to eat came up. There were a few picnic tables occupied by fine upstanding citizens I'm sure, but for my wife, this was not going to be her idea of a good time.

Not to worry - one day we'll try the burgers for sure.
But over two blocks or so is McBee's. As soon as we parked the smell hit us. This place meant business. The place had the look and style of an older Bill Miller's to it. Everything looked and smelled good. I ordered a two meat plate - brisket and ribs with potato salad and Cole slaw. My wife got a single meat - chicken with potato salad and ranch style beans. As soon as we sat down, we divvied up all the food so we could each have a little of everything.

The sides are nothing to write home about. I'll just leave it at that and let you know that you can order meat by the pound instead of buying the plate with two sides.

You may recall my wife coined her Eeee-yuk rating when we tried Dickey's BBQ. She is a firm believer that good Barbecue must be able to stand on its own without the use of sauce, regardless of how good the sauce is. Dickey's had a great selection of sauces and for good reason; the meat was not that great.
McBee's chicken is pure heaven. The meat fell off the bones, the seasoning was not overpowering - just some sort of pepper and whatever goodness they rubbed into it before smoking it for however long it takes. I didn't even touch the brisket or the ribs until I had devoured ever edible part of the chicken pieces on my plate. I'm telling you, I would drive to Hondo for for a piece of chicken, and that is saying something.

I must comment on the portion sizes. This place does not skimp on the vittles. The single portion of chicken was enough for two people to share. For about a dollar more, the two meat plate was loaded down.
I am fascinated with ribs from the Rib House, but they are a different sort altogether. Those are your BBQ with sauce ribs. These are your BBQ with seasoning ribs. Do not under any circumstances spoil the deliciousness of McBee's ribs with sauce. They were tender and juicy and tasty.

The brisket had a great taste to it and again, they piled it on. I did break down and try out the sauce that was on the table. I don't know if it was some house brand or what, but it had sort of a sweet taste to it. At first, I wasn't sure, but when I took a piece of bread and covered it with the sauce to taste it, I decided I liked it.

Okay, I guess I will tell you about the sides. The ranch style beans were bland. The Cole slaw was passable and much better looking than what I got at the Rib House. The potato salad was dry. My wife ended up cutting up some pickles and mixing it in and sure enough, that was enough to fix it up. I put a little BBQ sauce on mine.
The chicken alone is worth the trip, and gets McBee's Bar-B-Q in Hondo both the Tasty Treats and the Eeee-Yum seal of approval. If you are heading out to Garner State Park but are worried about getting a grill site, just stop at McBee's, order up several pounds of the chicken and take it with you.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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