Good Eats! Texas Best Smokehouse

by Michelle Y. Kelly

The three “R”s = remarkable service, reliable quality, and taste to remember , these are the three things I look for in a restaurant when I am going to write about them.

I am a truck driver by trade, with a background in food and food service. My father was a butcher and a son of butcher so I have grown up knowing my meats. I love to cook and do so every chance I get, even if I am on my truck. I have managed several food service establishments over the years so I know what is expected and what can be expected.

I have been traveling across this country over the past 14 years and have eaten at many BBQ places during this time but only a few have been worthy of a second glance let alone a mark in my Places to Eat book. For those who don’t know, most drivers, keep a book like that to remind us where the good food, the large parking lots, and the hot showers are.

Normally, I’ll be telling you about two of the best restaurants that I have found in my travels but this time I want to mention just one. The place I want to mention just blew my mind, it was so good. It had me routing myself back just so I could stop again. (I don’t usually route myself back to any place special .But this time I just couldn’t help myself.) It is call the TEXAS BEST SMOKEHOUSE, located within the Texas Best Truck stop on I 20 at Exit 571a, in Tyler Texas and I can assure you it is the best.

From the food to the staff, I have found no equal. You are greeted with a loud “Welcome to Texas Best” as you walk in the door and not just by one person but by all the staff at the same time. The smell of the smokehouse makes your mouth water. More than just a restaurant, it is also a store and the store features an assortment of homemade jerky as well as regional favorites like chow chow, relish and an array of other items that you have to take a moment and look at. But do so after you eat. As you make your way around the jerky counter and head for the dining room the smell of the piping hot Texas Best Smokehouse side dishes has you focused on one thing; getting in line.

From mashed potatoes and baked beans, to greens, noodles, and potato salad, to tomato salad and desserts like fresh fruit medley and banana pudding , you are left standing there trying to make up your mind. Then you move on to the meats, again you are trying to decide from the ribs, chicken, beef or pork (shredded or sliced). Or, do you go with the sausage? I could go on.

A meal of two meats with two sides and a big slice of Texas toast will cost you $11.00 dollars with tax add a medium drink and the total comes to 13.58 but I can assure you, you will need a to go box. I arrived around 10:00 am and ordered the two meat and two sides. I got the ribs and sliced pork with macaroni and cheese and potato salad. I had to have a to-go box, there was so much.

It was good, no it was better than good, it was awesome! The name fits this place perfectly. I found the macaroni to be firm but not undercooked, not mushy either and very cheesy. I’ll let you in on a secret, I don’t like macaroni and cheese and this had me getting a little more to go. It is that good.

I had to see if the evening shift could measure up to the day shift, so a few days later I found myself back at the Texas Best ordering up another two meat, two side plate. This time I had the chicken and shredded beef with the tomato salad and mashed potatoes. I am please to say that even a hour before closing, it was just as good as it was a hour after they opened.

There is a staff of twenty seven ranging in age from 16 to 60. From what I witnessed, they work well together and know what they are doing. You are greeted with a smile and a “Welcome to Texas Best” as you walk up to the counter.

The line is kept warm, clean and always fresh. I sat at my table for an hour and watched the staff work and I can tell you this: they were fast and efficient. Some of them maybe young but they work like they have been doing it for years. The GM here knows how to pick a good crew.

The smoked meats are kept piping hot and whether you want yours sliced or shredded they will fix it up fine. Just add the BBQ sauce hot or mild and enjoy. There is a little side bar with onions, relish, pickles and green and hot peppers. Take what you want but please don’t waste the food because to do so here would be a sin. Food this good belongs in your belly — not the trash bin.

When you leave, don’t forget to ring the bell to let the staff know you had a great stay and you’ll be back for more.

Michelle Y. Kelly is a long haul truck driver who will be sharing her passion for food with P3 readers now and in future editions.

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