I end up with an overnight in Midland / Odessa once or twice a year for work, which gives me a chance to catch up with a couple of friends that live there (to protect the innocent, I’ll refer to them as Altitude Boy and Pookie). This evening, when I asked where they wanted to eat, AB suggested that we go to KD’s Bar-B-Q. I hopped on I-20 (only 1,116 miles from home!) and headed from Odessa toward Midland. I parked and was waiting to go in at the door above, when they pulled up and told me that I was actually standing by the exit and they directed me around to the entrance.
We walked around the side of the building and into a door where I was confronted with a stack of trays, a stack of paper and a menu on the wall explaining that all of the meat was sold by the pound ($13.99). I turned to my right and was confronted with this heavenly pit:I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a place with such a clear view of what was fresh. Clockwise, from the front left: ?? (I don’t know what); chopped brisket in sauce; sausages; more sausages; turkey; a whole brisket; ribs; pork chops; pork loin; red hots; grilled chicken; grilled jalapeños; baked potatoes and mixed sausages. There was a young man standing by the back edge (armed with the electric knife resting on the back edge, above) waiting to see what we wanted. AB asked him about ribs and he pulled two full racks out of the warming tray to the left, unwrapped the foil and sliced a couple off for him. I decided on brisket (he cut a 1″ slab from the middle of that gorgeous char-crusted gem), a couple of ribs, a red hot and pork loin, all of which he placed on the tray as he sliced it.I took my tray into the restaurant proper and the lady behind the counter slid the paper off the tray, weighed it (about 1.8 pounds) wrote a price on it (you can see a couple of the numbers under one of the sauce cups) and handed me back the tray. She was at the closest end of the counter, which was followed by two giant pans of cobbler (peach and cherry, that we returned for after dinner), utensils in buckets, drink options, sliced cheese in baggies (?) and a register.
Then I rounded the corner and met the “bean bar” (which was included with the meal).This picture was from the south end of the bar. At the extreme north end was a large crock put full of beans. These were much more like charros beans (that we’d see at home served in a taqueria) than the baked beans we normally see served with barbecue in the south. There were also four or five loaves of white bread, sliced jalapeños (that were at least and inch and a half wide), bottles of a dozen condiments and five smaller crock pots with the sauces (regular, vinegar, really hot – aptly named, sweet and hot).
Then we walked into the giant room – the one that I had originally tried to enter – sat at one of the metal picnic tables and dug in. The red hot wasn’t anything special, although it was both red and hot. And the pork loin was fine. The ribs were very good – spicy, peppery and with just the right amount of pull to get the meat off the bones. The brisket was even better – among the best I’ve ever had. Maybe it was just because I had the perfect center slice, but this was amazing brisket. Then we went back and got some cobbler, waiting so that it would be hot (cherry for me, peach for the other two), although we refrained from getting the Blue Bell ice cream cups to go atop it. I’d love to say that this was for some high brow reason, but I was told that they were frozen too hard to melt without putting it in a microwave and it seemed like it might be a lot of work.
The space was filled with the detritus of decades of rural Texas life – from a non-working space heater in the corner of the dining room (my grandmother had the same heater in her living room in 70s rural Georgia) to walls covered in signs from the decades. While we were sitting there, they were decorating for Christmas, finishing up with a silver Christmas tree that they placed atop the heater.
By the time we finished, the tables were filling up, the noise level was rising and it sounded like people were enjoying themselves. I know that I did.