JR’s Smokehouse Barbecue
Boy have I been waiting for this since the first time I tasted JR’s barbecued meats a couple of years ago. But the good news is that the team now has a semi bricks and mortar place to call their own – but first a little history.
JR is from the states and with him he brought his love of true barbecue. True, you ask? He wanted to cook all the meat the way they do back home and as he wasn’t able to find the cooker available in Australia he built a massive steel wood burner barbecue himself and set up camp at Miami Marketta to make a name for himself. As the mead is cooked in a BBQ pit for up to 14 hours at a time, JR would each week cook for successive 24 hour periods to ensure he had enough meat to feed the hungry masses. But you better get there early as he is so popular that he sells out EARLY. I can attest to this as I have visited him on three separate occasions in the last two years and each time he has thrown his hands up and offered his apology.
But this week he opened at Sunhouse Surf Shop in Coolangatta. It’s a space that the cafe used to work out of but as they have shifted to the front of the store to just do coffee suddenly the kitchen became free to use. JR was approached to come down and in what I would call a permanent pop up – has built himself a bigger and better BBQ Pit on site so he can continue to use the transportable pit previously used at Miami Marketta for catering events and weddings.
He still has to put the hours in and over the last four days has almost sent every 24 hour cycle either cooking meat (which needs ot be checked every 5 hours – so you can imagine what that does to someone who is both doing all the cooking plus ensuring he’s in the kitchen to serve as well)… But as he said “the world’s best surf break is only a few hundred meters away” so he can get a wave of forty winks between each 5 hour check up. Amicable to say the least – and something you could only do if you loved doing it enough.
The menu is more extensive than the food truck iteration with Barbecue Plates, Barbecue Sandwiches and Tex Mex Tacos. Arriving early at 6.30pm I was assured we would be one of the first in line. The thing is – now it’s a permanent gaff, JR has to cook (the 24 hours prior) to how many customers he thinks might come down the next day. This particular day there was severe thunderstorms expected so cooked less as he didn’t expect much of a crowd…. Thunderstorms never arrived and you can see what happened. But it all comes with experience.
*LUCKILY* – JR was willing to offer us some of the meat he wasn’t originally going to sell as it wasn’t the prime cuts. But having encountered this numerous times before we knew his works trumped 99% of the ‘barbecue’ we have eaten around the world so we told him to plate up what he could. First up was the Texas Style Brisket in fresh corn tortillas, guacamole, salsa and lime. I hate modern Mexican but thee babies were stuffed full of succulent meat and the two tacos were more than enough to share between the four of us.
He through together the leftovers of a couple of barbecue pork ribs that came with BBQ pit beans and slaw. So many ribs you eat elsewhere have the joy sucked out of the meat and all you’re left with is the stringy meat that you have to pull off with your teeth that’s also smothered in sickly sweet sauce that just kills any flavour. Not so JR’s version – even though these were his bin ends, they were the best damn ribs I’ve eaten in the past 24 months both in Australia and the UK. They’re nice and juicy, the light layer of sauce is perfectly balanced and the amount of smokiness that builds up as you eat them just blew me away.
We finished up with a Volcano Nachos made with tortilla chips, BBQ pit chilli, pinto beans, cheese, salsa, a healthy dollop of sour cream and jalapenos. We dug in happy and content. The bar is stocked with a tight selection of craft beers on tap, in tinnies and stubbies with cocktails all priced at a bargain $12 (don’t come if you’re expecting any wine) – and on this visit I was reminded that Stone and Wood Pacific Ale is one of the best beers in the world, and even though you can get it pretty much anywhere you should order it whenever you can.
It’s so great to see the team succeeding on every level. All you need to do is ensure you get down there ASAP and get down there early.
Contact: JR’s Smokehouse Barbecue at Funhouse Surf – 41 Mclean street.