There are two things San Antonio can always do with more of: barbecue and Tex-Mex. It’s not surprising that Blanco BBQ, located at the recently renovated 13000 block of Blanco Road, has already turned into a hot spot for neighboring families and workers.
The massive facility helps accommodate these hordes of barbecue fanatics that flock to the joint. A sprawling parking lot is easy enough to navigate (after a much needed expansion), but even then, good luck finding a spot on the weekend.
Chef Arthur Mayo, a Culinary Institute of America-Hyde Park alum and former owner of Louie Ledeaux Cajun Seafood Kitchen in the Forum heads the kitchen. The extensive menu features hand-breaded chicken tenders, a handful of sides, salads, baked potatoes, chicken combos, rib platters, barbecue plates, as well as sandwiches and po’boys.
There’s an interesting sense of carefully curated history mixed with newness to Blanco BBQ. At first glance, it would seem that the eatery’s been part of the landscape for decades, but the sign proclaims its establishment in 2013. What Mayo and business partner/developer Steven Honigblum are providing is a laidback Texan experience.
The edifice recalls memories of Gruene Hall with its 9,500 square-foot spacious dining room filled with branded wooden benches and old gas station signage begging diners to relax. The corrugated tin-lined exterior with the 2,000 square-foot patio deck that’s cloaked in shade by dozens of oak trees really drives home the laidback vibe. There’s also a long list of domestic and imported brews, wine coolers and wines to choose from to really kick back.
The runaway favorites were the smoked chicken and turkey. Available in combos, platters, sandwiches (a personal favorite), or in the chef salad with the house-cured ham (yes, mustard-glazed ham, cured for 10 days, then smoked for 10 hours), the turkey is brined for eight hours before smoking it for four–the result is juicy and moist. It works well inside the pillow-y bread and topped with the sweet hot pickles and onions (available at the condiment bar).
The brisket, to be sure, needs work. On one particular visit, the house special portion of brisket was too fatty, and while of course, you can draw some flavor from fat, there’s something to be said for a lean and appetizing cut that allows the meat to shine. The pork ribs on the other hand were flavorful, but a bit on the dry side, an easily amendable mistake.
Some hits came in the way of the baked potatoes, which served as a great vessel for meats available. Served with butter, sour cream, cheese and barbecue sauce, the potatoes were just filling enough without being overwhelming. Try a spud topped with the pulled pork that’s smothered in the sweet, yet vinegary, house sauce–you won’t need much else.
The sides are solid, but not mind-blowing. Chef’s cranking out a standard mac ‘n’ cheese, savory green beans, and a classic potato salad filled with red bell peppers, celery and dill pickles. You’ll also find homemade peach cobbler and pecan pie, available whole, again, aimed for pleasing a crowd. Mayo, who also has a history with Pappas restaurants, can cook for an army, so add Blanco BBQ to your emergency list of places to take large groups. The menu is big enough so most (sorry, vegetarians) will find a suitable meal, but don’t expect to trade your yearly pilgrimage to Luling, Lockhart or Driftwood for Blanco BBQ just yet.
Best Bets Brined chicken and turkey breasts are a must; the baked potatoes are the size of your head and hit the spot.
The Skinny Speakeasy-turned-barbecue joint is great for families, lunchtime and weekend ’cue
Hours 11am-9pm Mon-Thu, 11am-10pm Fri-Sat, 11am-9pm Sun