A Little Slice of Texas at the Jersey Shore
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of dining at Jersey Shore BBQ, a Texas-style barbecue place right here in Belmar. Now I don’t claim to be an expert in the art of barbecue; my barbecue experience is pretty much limited to backyard burgers and hot dogs and the food at the ubiquitous Famous Daves chain. Still, I know good food when I see it, and I found it here.
Jersey Shore BBQ is located in a typical strip mall behind Main Street. But don’t let that description turn you off – some of the Armpit of America’s national treasures are found in strip malls. Just look for the black sign with a pink pig on it, and you’ll know you’ve found it.
Once inside, you’ll find the dining room to be laid back and unpretentious, qualities that are becoming increasingly harder to find due to the simultaneous gentrification and guidofication of the Jersey Shore. Though nothing fancy, the interior is warm and welcoming. And no need to wait for some hostess to look at a map of tables before telling you where to sit – this place has open seating.
But enough about that boring stuff. The main draw here is the food, advertised as authentic Texas BBQ. As mentioned above, the most authentic barbecue I’ve eaten is that of Famous Daves or Texas Roadhouse – another chain, in which everything is covered in some sweet and tangy sauce. Boy was I in for a surprise.
We started with the special “Ribs Appetizer,” which, appropriately enough, was just a plate of ribs – three baby back, and three St. Louis style. While I expected them to be glazed in that familiar sticky sweet sauce, these ribs were completely different. They were smoky and peppery and just so flavorful. Though it didn’t really need anything else, I poured some of the two different types of vinegar-based barbecue sauces on the table and dipped the meat in. Wow. The vinegar just punctuated the meat, elevating its taste even more.
For our main courses, we skipped over the BBQ place staple combo platters (since we had a big plate of meat for the appetizer) and went with the sandwiches. I went for the brisket, while the woman opted for pulled pork. While the pulled pork was perfectly good, the brisket was amazing. New paragraph time.
This wasn’t my mother’s Rosh Hashanah sweet and sour brisket – a mix of Coca-Cola, Heinz chili sauce, and an envelope of Lipton’s onion soup mix, which actually does taste better than it sounds. Jersey Shore BBQ serves up thick shingles of brisket that were perfectly flavored, yet not so overpowering as to prevent the natural beefy flavor from coming through. And I was happy to see that they weren’t afraid to leave the fat on the meat. Though it may look gross, all of those globs of white fat just give it more flavor. Not to mention how it just melts in your mouth.
While I could go on and on about the brisket, the sides were pretty good too. A lot of things are called beer-battered these days – pretty much anything deep-fried can be labeled as such and no one gives it a second thought. But with Jersey Shore BBQ’s onion rings, I finally know what beer batter is supposed to taste like – beer. And their beans were also really good. They were bursting with peppery and bacon-y flavor, but without that sickly sweet taste from what you’ll get out of a can.
I’m sure I’m sounding like quite the cheerleader for Jersey Shore BBQ, but it really is that good. Then again, maybe I’m just saying that since I only eat meat about once a week these days and got drunk off the high dose of protein. But no, I still know good food when I taste it. And you’ll definitely get good food at Jersey Shore BBQ.