I first met Ed and Waldean Ashford when they sold their barbecue from a mobile trailer that was usually parked on Houston Street. One plate convinced me that this was some of the best ’cue in town with its healthy infusion of mesquite smoke into meats that were moist yet deliciously tender.
But the trailer disappeared and so, I thought, had the barbecue.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
It seems the couple found a permanent space on South W.W. White Road, where Ed’s Smok-N-Q has been in operation for the past 14 months, building up a devoted clientele. The trailer is still there, parked at the back, where it serves as smokehouse.
Inside, you’ll find the big board listing your meat choices, which include ribs, brisket, chopped pork, sausage or sausage rings, turkey legs and chicken. Sides include macaroni salad, potato salad, and a host of bean options: green, baked, ranch or pintos.
In two visits, I’ve pretty much had the lot and have come away smiling both times.
The barbecue, in many ways, was better than I had remembered it being. Favorites included the ribs, with an excellent outer crust leading to a deep, juicy, smoky layer of meat underneath; the sausage rings with an evenly ground meat tightly packed in its casing; and the dark meat chicken, with a crispy skin that seemed lacquered onto the thigh.
A friend who is a true brisket aficionado just sat there barely making a sound as she devoured bite after bite. A low, contented sigh escaped her lips and she shook her head in amazement. “This brisket is just perfect,” she said, before heading back for another forkful.
She liked it for the same reason that I liked the ribs: the almost-black, crusty edge, the smoke layer, the tender meat inside. None of it was overcooked to the point where it was mealy or would literally fall apart at the touch of a fork.
The thick cuts of brisket admittedly can be on the fatty side, which I love and I know others do not. So, if you’re bothered by that little extra fatty flavor, you may want to ask to have the fat removed beforehand.
The turkey leg was enormous. Big enough to feed a family of four, one friend cracked. Think of Bamm Bamm’s ever-present club on “The Flintstones” – that is, if you’re old enough to know who the Flintstones were – and you’ll have an idea of what I mean. The flavor was dense and smoky, if the texture was a little like jerky.
The chicken breast dry, too, and not too flavorful, but a dip or two into the tangy-sweet barbecue sauce helped revive it.
Among the side dishes, I’d suggest trying the green beans, if you want something savory. I loved the touch of heat and vinegar on the broad, fresh beans. The macaroni salad was loaded with mayonnaise and pickle, while the ranch beans had the right touch of chili powder and smoke. The potato salad was fine, but your taste for it will depend on if you like that particular style, which is ultra-creamy and slightly sweet.
In the end, the side dishes don’t matter much to me when placed in the presence of that brisket or those ribs. In fact, a three-meat plate ($11.75 with two sides) is calling me right now.
902 S. W.W. White Road
Open Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner
(photos: Nicholas Mistry and John Griffin)