The first couple of days of December have brought very cool weather to the hill country. There are a lot of ways to stay warm when cooler weather hits I guess, but I prefer the JalaQue. It doesn’t require putting on warm clothing or turning on the heat. All that’s required is a quick visit to TUG’S BAR-B-QUE.
Tug’s got its start on a boat, plying the waters of Lake Travis and selling barbecue from its deck. And, while it still has the boat, it also has a spot on land, located in Lago Vista, Texas.
Tug’s shares a building with a gas station. Now, people from the north may be a little skeptical when they see a restaurant sharing space with a gas station, but as anyone from the south knows, at least with respect to barbecue, you’re better off focusing on the barbecue itself, and not the venue its served in. Folks, who don’t pay attention to this simple rule, will miss the best barbecue the south has to offer.
Tug’s, like many barbecue places in the hill country, offers a wide variety of meats. Brisket, chopped beef, sausage, turkey, ribs, and chicken are all available. They serve the obligatory breakfast tacos of course, and have some good cakes and banana pudding. I often order the chicken, which is very good. And, while I’ve never been a big fan of okra, I actually enjoy the fried okra at Tug’s.
But the big draw for me, especially on the days when the temperature is a little cool, is the JalaQue sandwich. To make the JalaQue sandwich, Tug’s takes its normal, extremely moist, chopped beef selection, and mixes it with a lot of chopped jalapeno peppers. A healthy portion of this fiery mix is added to a bun, and then topped off with raw onion rings and dill pickle slices. This sandwich is not for the faint of heart. It is warm when you take the first bite, warm as it goes down, and you will feel warm for hours after eating it. That is why it is so perfect for a day when the temperature falls. I’m not joking, or, overstating the case when I say it will keep you warm on a cool day.
A perfect companion to the JalaQue at Tug’s, are the beans. There are many days when I go to Tug’s to just order the beans. I’ll then bring them home and serve them with whatever food we’ve prepared that day. The beans are soupy, seasoned with black pepper, chunks of tomato, and who knows what else. Whatever spices are in there, the beans are unique, and delicious.
Since discovering Tug’s, I no longer worry about being caught outside without a jacket when a “blue norther” rolls into the hill country. I just make my way to Tug’s and order a JalaQue sandwich as quickly as I can.