With the hum and whir of a busy U.S. Highway 75 just behind this stand, Smoky G’s in Van Alstyne is no backwoods barbecue joint. It is just a stand, plopped down on a concrete pad in a Shell gas station parking lot, a lone picnic table next to the tire pressure checker.
The constant stream of traffic leads to impromptu stops for a quick bite by people going somewhere, and the travelers leave having learned what most of the locals already know. Galen Gibson makes some the best barbecue in the area.
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“I make real food, not fast food,” Gibson said. So those stepping up to his stand find that when they order a sandwich—oh, say the three-dollar rib-meat sandwich special—Gibson is going to grab a rack of smoked pork ribs and painstakingly pull a handful of meat off the ribs. Then he will get it good and hot in a pot on his stove, and load up the bun, full, pressing down on the meat to compact it and give the customer more than the usual sandwich fare. And that is going to take more than a few seconds.
For regulars like Vicki Ross of Van Alstyne, every bite of Gibson’s barbecue is worth the wait. “Oh, I’m a regular. He knows me,” she shouted over the traffic.
Before she even got to the window to order, Gibson had asked, “How many you want?”
“Just four today,” she said. Some days she may take home fifteen or sixteen barbecue sandwich specials to feed the family. “We love his barbecue. We love the sauce. We love it all,” she said with a laugh.
Gibson worked at TXU Electric in Dallas for years, and when his plant was closed down, it was time to find a new line of work. He had buddies who had a couple of “dive joints” on Lower Greenville Avenue in Dallas, and on occasions, they asked him to bring his barbecue rig down for big get-togethers.
When it came time to look for a job, Gibson’s wife urged him to go into the barbecue business full-time. That was two years ago, and today, Smoky G’s gets so much business, he often has to close down early because he has flat run out of meat. “With ham and rib meat sandwiches at three dollars, I sell a lot of sandwiches,” he said.
In his pit, Gibson uses a mix of hickory, oak and pecan. The brisket gets no rub. It’s just meat and smoke. The beef comes chunked, or what Gibson calls “chipped,” no sliced or chopped. The ribs are pork and come out of the smoker a mottled black and red and brown, with the thick smoke ring and the tasty crust.
The principal ingredient in Gibson’s barbecue is his passion. “I love to cook, man. The coolest thing is making a sandwich, and watching someone take it back to their car and take a big bite, and then watching their face light up. It’s a cool feeling, man.”
Smoky G’s BBQ
Owner: Galen Gibson
U.S. Hwy 75 at Hwy 121
across from Lone Star Exxon
Van Alstyne, Texas
Tues-Sat 11am-7pm (or till all meat is sold)