As I traveled from Houston to Dallas on a very quick trip through Texas, I was pleased to stop for BBQ in Waco. Jasper’s in Waco, was a choice simply made because it wasn’t the number one choice in town on Urbanspoon, but rather the number 3 choice and I often let The Force guide me in such matters.
A BBQ dive from the outside, with parking in the vacant lot and dirt area surrounding the place, Jasper’s has been in Waco since 1915. It’s had multiple owners, but the most recent owner Rodney, hails from the famous Rusty Star across town. Rodney has taken it upon himself to make a series of improvements in the last 9 months, both inside and out, so I can image what it looked like before he bought it.
You may remember the Rusty Star BBQ from No Reservations on the Travel Channel with Tony Bourdain and guest star Ted Nuggent. Well, Rodney of Jasper’s knows “Uncle Teddy” and was the reason why Tony visited Rusty Star. Well, if No Reservations heads back to Waco, they should come to Jasper’s, now that the pit master from Rusty Star is running the historic Jasper’s BBQ joint. Evidently, my Jedi powers and knowledge of The Force led me to the right spot.
I went in for ribs and no other meat. One full pound of St. Louis style pork ribs cooked just around 5 hours and lightly glazed with sauce. According to Rodney, no one else does “sauce” in town. Rodney also says that the 5 hour cooking time is a rule of thumb and that the only way to know if the ribs are done is to pick them up and “feel when it’s right”. Additionally, there is “gravy”.
The gravy is legendary at Jasper’s. It’s a loose sauce from the Brisket that’s left to sit in the smoker. Rodney tells me that the recipe was adapted over time, but he successfully recreated the original based upon the 70 and 80 year old patrons who have sampled every variation of the sauce over the years and have proclaimed that Rodney’s tastes just like the original. These Jasper’s Veterans have been coming back more often since the word is out that “The Original Gravy” is back. While I used the gravy a couple times, I found the ribs needed no additional sauce or gravy.
Wonderfully tender ribs, still attached to the bone and with a little pressure are easily pulled apart. A rich smoky flavor as well. It reminded me of the flavor I get from my own ribs and pork and there was a reason, oak. Oak is the primary wood used at Jasper’s and is my primary fuel source for my homemade BBQ. Rodney and I talked about oak smoke at length. I mentioned that I’ve used plum, peach, pear, almond, and walnut woods for my bbq over the years. Rodney too is a fan of fruit and nut woods, but says it’s neither as abundant nor economical as he would like. Additionally, the smoke that oak imparts is something veteran customers have enjoyed about Jasper’s over the years. I couldn’t agree more.
Rodney is at Jasper’s every morning at 3:45am. He’s usually sold out by 2pm each day. I asked if he ever re-warms his bbq for sale. “Never” was the answer. “It’s got a different flavor and I’d rather sell out every day anyway.” Obviously, Rodney is a good business man, not to mention a dedicated one.
If Rodney continues to make BBQ at Jasper’s this well, he’ll have no trouble selling out every day. This was real good BBQ.