For whatever reason, I’ve never been attracted to restaurants that specialize in smoked meats such as brisket, ribs, etc. I don’t recall a traumatic barbecue-related experience in my upbringing, so I’m not entirely sure of why I typically stray away from this hugely popular. Maybe it’s all the pestering celebrity chefs like Guy Ferrari and/or Bobby Flay that have been championing all things barbecue over the years that has ass chapped, or perhaps it’s the annoying “dudely” subculture that perpetually surrounds it.
Before you judge me, it’s not like I haven’t tried to develop a taste for barbecued meat. I’ve been to a few joints around town that proudly park a working smoker in their parking lot, but every time I’ve followed my nose to one of these places I’ve repeatedly been disappointed with bland, chewy or dry meat. While spending some time in Austin and San Antonio a short while ago, I was disappointed at how much I didn’t care for the brisket or ribs that I ate, but maybe I was looking for love in all the wrong places. As a last ditch Hail Mary, my wife and I visited Mamma’s Mustard, Pickles & BBQ on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I was a bit anxious going in as I thought I’d never come around to fully appreciate this sort of cookin’.
We were seated right away by a friendly young man that was quick to admit that he was new, but that he’d do everything he could to help us. I assured him that I was also a Mamma’s newbie, and that we’d get through this harrowing experience together. Before perusing the menu, I surveyed the interior of the restaurant — this space was very open, but long, kind of like a king sized shotgun house. There were large televisions one each wall, all of which showing a sporting event. A bunch of horse racing memorabilia surrounded the TVs, consisting vintage photographs of Derby horses, jockeys, and of course, Churchill Downs, all making for a homey Louisville atmosphere.
After a bit of consideration, we decided to go big with our order, because that’s what you’re supposed to do with barbeque, right? We requested the beef ribs, the pulled pork, the wings, the cole slaw and the cheese corn (what?!). I ordered a West Sixth IPA to hold me over while I took in the wonderful, mouthwatering smells flowing from their kitchen.
All of our food was delivered to our table pretty quickly. I started with the beef ribs, gripping the Frenched bone like a proud Conan the Barbarian after punching a camel. The meat had a charred look to it, but whoa boy, when I put this hunk of beef into my mouth, I experienced a flavor explosion that I’d never felt before. You’d never think it from the darkened exterior, but these ribs were ridiculously juicy and full of succulent flavor. My first few bites were supplemented with their spicy BBQ sauce, but I quickly wised up and ditched the bottle to allow the perfectly cooked meat to fully represent itself to my taste buds.
Take a look at these boss-ass beef ribs below:
Next, I picked up my fork and dug into the pulled pork. There were parts that were a little dry, but the dish was consistently full of smokey flavor. I added a bit of the aforementioned spicy BBQ sauce for an extra kick in the pants.
Gaze on the beauty of this majestic af pulled pork. Welcome to flavor country, jerks.
After polishing off the pulled pork I dove into the smoked wings. It’s no exaggeration when I say that these are the best wings I’ve ever eaten. Each piece of chicken was very juicy with a crisp exterior enhanced with a spicy dry rub. At this point, I was starting to get full, but the powerful flavor from these wings was persuasive enough to hypnotize me into finishing my plate down to the last morsel of delicious meat.
These wings tho…
As for the pair of sides we ordered (pictured above), both were incredibly satisfying. The slaw was creamy, but crunchy — I ended up mixing a bit in with a portion of the pulled pork. I’m not sure if that’s a barbecue faux pa, but I’m like the Han Solo of food, like totally a rogue, you know. The cheese corn happened to be the side item that I had no idea I so desperately needed in my life. The dish was pretty damn cheesy, but the corn maintained a zesty crunch in each bite. Is this a thing? Who thought of it, and why am I just now finding out about it?
After wrapping up my integral super meal at Mamma’s Mustard Pickles & BBQ, I walked to my car feeling as if I’d just had a religious experience. Once a nonbeliever, I have officially reconciled and made good with the meat gods.