Editors Note:  This BBQ  joint is one of the ‘famous Texas’ BBQ joints.  I have never been, but apparantly Low Budget Review Guys stopped in recently.  Read on:

A recent trip through central Texas brought us lunch-time pangs and a billboard advertizing a BBQ place I haven’t tried….seemed like a natural magnet drawing me to exit 294 and Central Ave in Belton, to Schoepf’s BBQ.  Just a few blocks off I-35, while looking vainly for the sign announcing the establishment, I noticed a low-slung ramshackle stone building with a crowd lined up outside. Could this be it?  Lowering the window, the heavenly smoke of meat in a BBQ pit wafted to me—this has gotta be it.  Pulling into the large parking area just past an auto parts store, the sign was barely visible leaning against the front of the building.  This family owned business has been serving for 16 years.  Ronnie and Staci Schoepf bought the business from Ronnie’s parents in 2007.  Everyone in the family has worked there at one time or another.   Evidently, they had some flood damage but at the time of our visit, the restaurant was fully open and jammed with customers.  Parking in the back we walked past several outdoor BBQ Pits being manned by several employees, keeping the wood going and turning the delicious smoking and roasting meats.  Behind the restaurant is a large wooded area with numerous picnic tables and a stage for warm-weather concerts and performances.  Love that live-music option.

Another Famous Texas BBQ Schoefs, Belton, Texas

Finally making our way inside, we got a chance to see the many offerings.  Brisket, ribs, steaks, pork chops, sausage, chicken, turkey, pork.  These had been transferred from the outside smokers to inside smokers, what they call a serving pit, to keep warm for serving.  A great idea!  Like many BBQ places, there was a long serving line where you placed your meat order.  Watching the servers slice the meat fresh in front of you was like watching artists at work.  They were quick, decisive with no wasted motion.  With the BBQ meat piled on our plastic tray, we proceed into another room where the varied sides were offered. In addition to the usual tater salad, coleslaw and beans, were green beans, baked potatoes, “cheesy potatoes” (like au gratin) and bags of chips.  Along with the obligatory bread loafs were homemade rolls, jalapeno and regular corn bread.  Pickles and Onions offered as well.  (in Texas, I think the law requires pickles and onions)  Deserts offered were homemade pies and several fruit cobblers.

The inside décor was “Texas BBQ joint standard”  There was wood paneling on the walls, wood picnic tables, some Formica tables, with a stand-along drink stand for tea and soda.  Various pictures and stuffed creatures lines the walls.  There was a separate “Event Room” for larger groups that was well done.

For this visit, we tried the two-meat sampler, brisket and sausage, with several sides.  The sauce came served on the side.  The brisket, while very tender and moist, had no smoke ring and no char, with little smoke flavor, making it appear as if it had been roasted on the fire instead of slow smoked.  The sausage came in four options, regular, a little spicy, spicy, and venison.  Unusual, and pleasing.  We elected for the lightly spicy version and were very pleased from the first bite.  The sausage was moist without being overly fatty and sopping with juice.  It was tender with just the perfect blend of seasoning.  It was the best BBQ sausage we had tasted in several years.  The BBQ sauce was warm and molasses/ketchup based with just a perfect blend of spices.  The potato salad was good, chunky, with just enough mustard to make it interesting.  The coleslaw was fresh, with perhaps a little too much mayo, but that may have been because they were adding mayo to the pan as we walked up.  The beans were good, slow cooked and tender.  We were too full to try the desert, but did pick up a bag of their own home-made beef jerky as a present for a family member.

Overall, I give Schoepf’s an “A-“ (A-minus).  The food was fresh, the service quick and very friendly.  The brisket, while tasty, loses some points for the lack of smoke ring and char that I expect from slow-smoked BBQ.  The sausage gets big points.  The multitude and flavor of the sides very good,   The sweet tea was good, and that is always an issue with me.   We will be back to try some of their other offerings.

The BBQ road goes ever onward!

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