Where There's Smoke, There's Flavor
No-frills barbecue is smokin' in the Mimbres Valley
at Bryan's Pit BBQ.
Story and photos by Peggy Platonos
On her first visit to Bryan's Pit BBQ in the Mimbres Valley, a friend who grew up in Louisiana commented, practically purring as she gnawed on a pork rib, "Oh, this is the real thing. This is authentic Southern-style barbecue."
Bryan Smith opens the doors of the commercial smoker he uses at Bryan's Pit BBQ. He fires the smoker with apple, walnut and oak wood, a few pieces of which are visible behind the smoker.
Bryan Smith, the barbecue master, is not from the South, however. Bryan grew up in Clovis, NM, and says, "There was no barbecue place in Clovis. The closest I came to barbecuing as a kid was cooking out with my dad on camping trips. I learned to barbecue professionally in Missouri, where I helped to open a Wabash restaurant."
For his wife, Theresa, on the other hand, barbecue has always been an integral part of her family tradition. A native of Oyster Creek, Texas, she comes by her cheerful Texan drawl and her taste for barbecue naturally. "In Texas, when you have a family of more than five, you barbecue every weekend in metal drums," she says. "My mother would cook a brisket for two days."
Bryan's Pit BBQ is an amalgam of Southern- and Texas-style barbecue. "Our meat is not strictly Texas barbecue style," Theresa says. "They use lots of sauce. We use a dry rub."
The dry rub, a special blend of seasonings, is applied to the meat before it is cooked slowly in a large commercial smoker, acquired in Arkansas. "We use apple, walnut and oak wood as fuel. The smoking is usually an all-day process," Bryan explains. "Different meats take different lengths of time to cook. Briskets take about 10 hours, pork about 8 hours, ribs around 6 hours and chicken about 4 hours."
The no-frills style of service that you find at Bryan's Pit BBQ is common to barbecue places in both Texas and the South. Each table has a roll of paper towels stuck vertically on a simple metal stand to serve as napkins, and customers pluck their own knives, forks and spoons from the cluster of clean silverware bristling from empty pint canning jars on the tables. Meals are served on paper plates.
"We considered serving off butcher paper, but that's usually done where people come to a window to pick up their own orders," Theresa says. "Because we were planning to deliver meals to the table, I needed a way to carry the food." Hence, the paper plates — sturdy, good quality ones.
The menu is totally devoted to smoked meats. Brisket, pork ribs, chicken and sausage dinners with two side dishes range in price from $23.95 to $6.95. The side options are all genuine Texas-style dishes, made from recipes passed down to Theresa from her mother. They include potato salad, smoked beans, coleslaw and green chile cornbread muffins.
Theresa's 25-year-old son, Albert Schooley (left), has joined Bryan and Theresa Smith in their new restaurant venture. The three stand by the restaurant's new sign at the edge of Hwy. 35, 9 1/2 miles from the intersection with Hwy. 152 in the Mimbres Valley.
Pulled pork and chopped brisket sandwiches are also available, served with a bag of potato chips and a pickle. They cost $6.95 and are large enough, one customer commented approvingly, that "you have to eat them with a knife and fork."
Dessert options include blackberry or peach cobbler, or brownies, all served with vanilla ice cream.
Bryan's Pit BBQ has been open about three months and is already attracting customers from as far away as Deming and El Paso. A separate dining area is available for private parties of up to 20 people, and a wedding reception has already been booked at the restaurant.
Bryan's Pit BBQ is located about 9 1/2 miles northwest from the intersection of Highways 152 and 35 in the Mimbres Valley. It is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A landline telephone has not yet been installed in the restaurant, but the Smiths can be reached on their cell phones: Bryan at (660) 247-3151 and Theresa at (660) 247-3160.
Be advised that the restaurant accepts only cash or checks, no credit cards.
Send Mimbres freelance writer Peggy Platonos tips for restaurant reviews at email@example.com or call (575) 536-2997.