July 26, 2008

Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q

By Angele Sionna

2321 Carlisle (at I-40), Albuquerque, NM
Menu at: rudys.com

The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>>>= always great, unique, and flavorful no matter where you’re from

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxx= comfortable

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$= under $10

Value (what you get for your money)
***** = superb -lots of quality/taste for what you pay

Barbeque is really all about two things when you get right to it: the sauce and the meat. Great meats are slow cooked with flavorful woods that subtly permeate their smoky flavors into the food. Done right, they practically melt in your mouth. The sauce, on the other hand, needs to be bold. It should stand-up and grab your attention.

In my mind, barbeque meat and sauce doesn’t get any better than Rudy’s Bar-B-Q. The secret is the sauce. It’s distinctive with peppery flakes, a sweet tanginess, and a zesty kick that shoots across your tongue as you’re savoring all the flavors. This once small town country store in the Texas Hill Country has become an expansive enterprise with 25 restaurants across the southwest. (You can see a list and map of every location HERE.)

My most recent visit to a Rudy’s was in Albuquerque on Carlisle at I-40 as a lunch stop on our road trip to Texas from Arizona. (read more about that road trip HERE.) It was PACKED! But then I’ve never been to a Rudy’s that wasn’t. This particular Rudy’s is a franchise operation. They have the same look to the building and the same menu, and except for not having the choices in type of brisket (lean, juicy, etc), you could mistakenly think you’ve wondered into the lone star state... down to sipping a glass of their excellent sweet tea.

Rudy’s Bar-B-Q is all pit-style flame cooked with oak wood, which gives everything a delicious smell and taste. My favorite is the sliced turkey. It is smoky and juicy with hints of buttery flavors. Add the “original sause” with its peppery, zesty kick and I’m in food heaven. Their brisket is probably the number one item on the menu. It is tender, juicy, and melts in your mouth. You can smell the oak that’s used to smoke it in every bite. Another top item: sausage links which have a little kick to them but aren’t spicy. All of the meats are served by the pound (or quarter pound or half pound).

Sides are the only things about Rudy’s that could be improved. While I love the buttery boiled potatoes, everything else is just okay. Luckily, all the meats are served with sliced bread so you really don’t need much else in the way of sides. Don’t forget to order up a large sweet tea (with serve yourself free refills) to top off your meal in true Texas style.

The seating is family-style on wooden picnic tables. They have indoor seating, covered porch seating, and a few outdoor tables too. On a busy day, you’re more than likely to be sitting with some hungry strangers but that’s part of the fun. Everyone seems to adopt a friendly Texas attitude when they walk thru the doors.

I miss great barbeque being a Texas-native living in Arizona. So whenever I am even sort of going to drive near Albuquerque, we head to this Rudy’s. The top quality food at reasonable prices means I’m a Rudy’s life-er.
We even order the “sause” from the Rudy’s website to make our home-cooked briskets great. (Admittedly, mine is nowhere near as awesome as Rudy’s but our friends who’ve never been there think we’re the best cooks they’ve met.) You can order a large bottle of their original “sause” for $9.49 (for a 38 ounce bottle) plus shipping and make your home cooking stand out as well. They also have a subtler blend of spices in their “sissy sause.” This is my husband’s favorite. No matter if you’re in Texas, New Mexico, or half way around the world, you can get a little piece of barbeque heaven with this "sause" in your cupboard.


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