Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Green Mesquite Has A Lot More Than Great Food Going For It

In my opinion, when a restaurant serves up really good food, it does not need to have a lot of other things going for it. Nevertheless, besides having an outstanding menu of great food, there are some things about Austin’s Green Mesquite restaurant which, in addition to the food, make it special.

Cooking with the local mesquite wood is no big deal in Texas, but smoking with “green” mesquite wood, which is used less than a year after being cut, is rather unique. Since it still contains quite a bit of moisture, it produces a lot of smoke and burns very slowly. As the Green Mesquite restaurant demonstrates every day for its customers, a slow cooking process and a lot of smoke make for some mighty fine barbecued meat.

The Green Mesquite is also special because it is so typical of many restaurants in Austin and the surrounding hill country, in that it is anything but modern, and that gives it a particular charm. Like something out of the past, the interior reminds me of the diners from the 1960’s, or before. Humor abounds with signs on the walls which proclaim, “Horrifying Vegetarians Since 1988,” and “Hippies Use Back Door.” An additional significant thing, is that Green Mesquite is well known for its pork ribs, uncommon in Texas, a state which is more recognized for its beef.

There are more interesting things as well. For viewers who enjoy television shows from the 1960’s and the 1970’s, there is a connection with television of that time period. Tom Davis, the owner of Green Mesquite, is the brother of Larry Hovis, an actor best known for his role of Sgt. Andrew Carter on the popular “Hogan’s Heroes” television series. Hovis also acted for many other shows, including, “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.” Before he passed away in 2003, Hovis was teaching at Southwest Texas State University (now, Texas State University), in the hill country town of San Marcos.

For viewers of more recent television, Green Mesquite has been featured on the Food Network’s, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” with Guy Fieri. Guy liked place, and for what it’s worth, so did my wife and I.

Despite it being just several days after Thanksgiving, and just a few days since I finished wrangling through turkey leftovers, I opted for the PO-BOY Sandwich with two meats; turkey and beef brisket. My wife ordered a plain baked potato (I can’t take her anywhere it seems), which she said it was very good. How good can a plain baked potato be? Despite our food preferences today, her order as compared with mine, probably explains the difference in our waist lines, but I’m sure I enjoyed lunch more than she did.

I can’t say much about that baked potato, but my PO-BOY was outstanding. The beef brisket was so moist and juicy, it melted in my mouth. The turkey was moist, and flavorful, and the homemade barbecue sauce was just right.

While I may not be a television star, or, an expert on cooking with mesquite, I do know a good meal when I eat it, and I ate it today at the Green Mesquite in Austin, Texas.

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