Monday, October 21, 2013

BBQ Corruption in Texas?


Bartley's BBQ
413 E. Northwest Hwy.
Grapevine, TX

Texas is no stranger to scandal, corruption and bribery.

Lyndon Johnson’s national political career was launched thanks to the infamous “Box 13 Scandal” in 1948.

Six days after seemingly losing his bid for the U.S. Senate by just a handful of votes, a ballot box from the 13th precinct in what is now Jim Wells County was “discovered.”

Miraculously, all the newly discovered ballots were written in the same ink and all the voters somehow managed to cast their ballots in alphabetical order.

How’s that for Texas creativity?

The vote total from Box 13?

200 for LBJ. 2 for his opponent.

LBJ was declared the new United States Senator from Texas by 87 votes.

Thus began LBJ’s path to the White House where he created the modern American welfare state that has set America on a steady glide-path to economic and social ruin.

Rigged elections have consequences.

But it’s one thing to rig a political election in Texas.

Apparently, that, Texans will tolerate.

Just don’t go messing with their barbeque.

So what I am about to allege will rock the Lone Star State to its core.

Texas Monthly’s revered “The List” of “Top 50 BBQ Joints” is rigged.

How else to explain the inclusion of Bartley’s BBQ in Grapevine?

The twice per decade list just came out to much fanfare a few months ago. And I’ve already been to eight of them.

That’s a pretty good sample size considering I live 1000 miles away from here and Texas is only one out of 50 states Suit757 travels to.

So far, the barbeque I’ve sampled at these now world-renowned smoke shacks has ranged from exquisite to mediocre.

But the inclusion of Bartley’s, a small joint in a run-down strip mall just north of DFW Airport, throws the integrity of the entire “List” into question.

Now, I know what you are thinking.

You’re thinking, “Suit757, isn’t judging Texas barbeque somewhat subjective?”

Somewhat, yes.

But no barbeque eater worth his rub would conclude that the food served by Bartley’s is good barbeque. Certainly not a blue ribbon panel of supposed barbeque experts assembled by Texas Monthly.

Corruption is the only explanation.

That was my conclusion as soon as I picked up my first piece of brisket.

It was so hard and stiff, I thought this cow might be suffering from rigamortis.

I took a picture and planned to submit it to one of those on-line “planking” contests.

Folks, Texas barbeque brisket is supposed to be slow smoked for hours, yielding a fall-apart tender texture that you can just pick up piece by piece with your fingers.

It’s not supposed to be hard like a piece of cold salami.

Like a tough slice of cold roast beef, Bartley’s brisket was a room temperature mouthful of chewy, bland tastelessness.

A thin red smoke ring and a pile of hickory logs out back by the chimney prove that this cow has seen at least a bit of smoke, but I couldn’t taste any of it.

Even the dark bark on the edges had no flavor.

The only way I could even choke it down was to douse the brisket in Bartley’s sweet tomatoey sauce.

The sausage was better, but far from inspiring.

It was basically the same processed pre-cooked smoked link sausage you can buy at your grocery store.

The sides were even less inspiring.

The options in the do-it-yourself cafeteria line were so unappetizing, I opted for some boring baked beans and macaroni salad.

Macaroni salad?

At a Texas BBQ joint?

Yeah. Like I said, uninspiring and unappetizing.

So who did Bartley’s bribe to get included on a list of the best BBQ joints on earth?

Is there a “Box 13” of paper ballots with “Bartley’s” written in the same hand writing stashed somewhere in the bowels of Texas Monthly’s headquarters?

I want to know.

When I fly into a state, I usually have time for exactly one meal. That’s it.

It better be good.

I trusted this “List” to make my decision today.

So I wasn’t just disappointed. I was ticked off.

Like I said, corruption has dire consequences.

A stuffed ballot box in Jim Wells County 65 years ago eventually led to the swearing in of the worst President in the second half of the Twentieth Century.

And a stuffed ballot box at Texas Monthly ruined my trip to North Texas.

I’ll let you decide which is worse.

Rating: Clean Grill with Shirt.

Bartley's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon


  1. I second this - I ate there once and have never returned. In my opinion, Hard 8 is better than this (and that is not saying much)

  2. There are few worse things in the world than bad barbecue. I had a similar bad experience at a "BBQ" joint in Indianapolis, that is no longer in business. It was like eating ALPO dog food...Just terrible.

    1. Understandable from a bunch of damn Yankees...but Texans should know better!

  3. this is a good story and good explanation of corruption took place in 1948.