From this blog, you can see I eat a lot of barbecue. Fortunately I live in a state that has the best barbecue in the world. Sorry North Carolina, Tennessee and Missouri…but the quality volume of barbecued meats in this state is unparalleled. It seems every little small town across central Texas has a shrine to smoked meats that’s legendary epic or famous. A recent phenomenon on the Texas barbecue scene is the rise of the hipster barbecue. Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin is at the forefront of this movement. In my hometown of San Antonio, we have our own hipster barbecue heaven called the Granary. Located in the cool renovated Pearl Brewery area, the Granary serves up what is widely considered the best barbecue in San Antonio.
The Granary is located in a converted old house on the edge of the Pearl Brewery. Since its a house, the dining area is cut up into smaller areas populated with community dining “picnic table” style sitting. With the smaller rooms, big tables and bulky benches, it always feels cramped when you dine inside. Worse, if another party sits at your table , you get to share in their conversation and get jostled every time they move the bench to get up or sit down. That being said, this nuance of the Granary seems to bother me much more than it does anybody else.
Of course, it’s really all about the food anyway right? At lunch, the Granary is almost like a real barbecue joint. First of all, it’s all counter service. You order by the pound or you order meat plates. You also have a choice of several sides including potato salad, baked beans, cole slaw and collard greens. In the evening is when the restaurant really let’s it hipster flag fly. While there is a relatively small menu, the diner has a choice of those “staples” of Texas barbecue like clod, quail, ramen and hangar steak. Fortunately for traditionalist you still have the option of a barbecue board that includes the true staples of barbecue like brisket, ribs or sausage.
The trademark of the Granary is flavor. All the sides have a ton of flavor which is a good thing if you like the flavor, but really bad when you don’t. Fortunately, I have enjoyed most of my encounters with the sides. The baked beans seem to be the most popular with my crowd. Personally, I like the collard greens best. Collard greens always have that natural peppery taste. The Granary’s collard greens are on steroids in that regard. It’s a nice strong flavor without being overpowering. They flavor the collard greens with some protein that really beefs up the overall experience.
Now for the meat! The Granary has some of the best “lean” brisket, I have ever had the pleasure to try. That being said I don’t particularly like lean brisket…brisket for me is about the fat. And when it comes to fat barbecue, I would not put the Granary in the top tier. I get the sense though that that would not bother the pitmasters at the Granary as they don’t really seem to serve that much of that moist marbled fatty meat. The barbecued chicken is crazy moist if not really that barbecued. It presents more as a “roasted” chicken than a smoked barbecue. Still, it has great texture and taste. The lack of smoke will only bother the hardest core barbecue eaters. Finally, the sausage was top 5 for me. It is a coarser ground sausage which is always a plus to me. What was weird to me was the dryness of the sausage…almost like a summer sausage. However, it is not off putting…in fact it absolutely works.
In the evening, the Granary transforms into a rustic fine dining restaurant that is a barbecue restaurant in name only. I’m sure a more technical expert would be able to demonstrate why its still a barbecue restaurant at night, but I just don’t feel it. At night it feels more like a poser hipster barbecue experience than a real barbecue joint. This is probably just a prejudice of mine so don’t put too much stock in this complaint. You should be aware though that the Granary’s prices increase significantly at night. We dropped just over $170.00 for three people with no alcohol purchased. Of course we had an appetizer and couple of desserts, but still, it’s much pricier than my usual eating experience.
The Granary is a great restaurant…one of the best I have been to in San Antonio. However, I do not think it is a real barbecue joint. It is simply too sophisticated. Enjoy it for what it is…just don’t confuse it with what its not.