Jody’s Barbecue Revue: No One Has the Blues at Blu’s
What’s a good measure of a barbecue joint?
Well, for starters, keeping long hours. Making great barbecue isn’t your normal job. Getting up at before the crack of dawn to poke fire when people are coming over for Saturday’s game is one thing. Doing it every day? That’s a whole ‘nother level of commitment.
But when you go and build a bedroom in the back by your smoker, just so you can keep watch over slabs of meat? That’s just plain certifiable.
Texas Tech is where this all started for Zach Bergenholtz, but then living in Lubbock has been known to affect the stability of a lot of people. Thankfully, barbecue is what Zach saw people around him going crazy for – to the extent that he bought his first smoker and joined a campus barbecue club. Up late and cooking with buddies is how Bergenholtz says he learned to do brisket, and he admits his wasn’t very good at first. It’s also how Zach came up with the rub he used in the catering business Bergenholtz started after coming back home to Plano.
It’s easy to see that Bergenholtz has since perfected both.
That catering enterprise soon led to a former-barbershop where Bergenholtz used to get his hair cut. Noticing it was vacant and up for lease, Zach snapped it up. Needing a kitchen and preparation area, they knocked out a wall and added a converted 40-foot shipping container. Plans include an eventual drive-thru, but right now you can either dine inside or pick up your order from a walk-up window – giving a nice little peek at the good stuff that goes on behind the counter.
And I mean good stuff.
Blu’s smoked Angus beef brisket will make you think Zach’s been doing this a lot longer than someone in his mid-20s. Delightfully moist and flavorful, it’s matched by the snappy Akushi smoked jalapeño sausage. The menu varies each day, but my buddy and I were lucky enough to try Blu’s pork belly burnt ends – which were as tender and juicy as you could possibly desire.
There are lots of beef, pork and chicken options available every day. If you check Blu’s website, you can see what’s being offered daily. Pepper-crusted smoked prime rib, turkey, brisket burnt ends, pork ribs and pulled pork, and even tacos are options depending on when you go – with occasional venison and quail as well. If you’re looking for something with a spectacularly flavorful bite, snag some of Blu’s bacon-wrapped brisket-stuffed jalapeño poppers. OMG, they are good.
For any barbecue joint to really make the grade, the sides have to be equal to the entrees. That is no problem at Blu’s whatsoever. I think I might be able to put away a gallon of the potato salad alone. The mac & cheese is simply off the chain, and it’s perfectly made with five different cheeses. The 3-pepper coleslaw wonderfully balances each bite of beef or pork, and you’ll want a quart of Blu’s smoked baked beans to take home.
We visited on a Saturday, so allow me to spend a minute on Blu’s collards greens. Most of my family comes from deep East Texas and the South, so I know my way around collard greens. How a kid whose family roots are actually in New York City got collard greens this right shatters my Southern pride, but they’re as good as any I’ve ever enjoyed.
Blu’s offers banana pudding for dessert, and it’s delicious. You also may find bourbon cherry cobbler (Fridays) or caramel apple cobbler (Saturdays). On Thursdays Blu’s serves tipsy campfire bread pudding. Wednesdays there’s peach cobbler, so I might just borrow that bedroom out back and stay the night. On Sundays Blu’s serves sweet potato casserole. Don’t plan any afternoon meetings if have you any of that good stuff, because you’ll be comatose before the 2pm powerpoint even gets rolling.
And if you’re only in the mood for a small sweet after all that savory, get one of Blu’s maple-bacon cookies. I mean, really. Who thinks of maple-bacon cookies, for crying out loud? Blu’s does, and I wish I’d gotten a box of them.
Blu’s Barbecue is on Preston Road just south of Frankford, and is open every day except Monday. Catering is also still available.
Just my opinion, but Blu’s is one of the best things that Lubbock has produced since Buddy Holly. Guns up.