Tex-Mex vs. Barbecue
Throughout much of Texas, barbecue is king, but when you get to Lubbock and this area of West Texas, true Tex-Mex gives barbecue a run for its money. So which cuisine is more authentically Lubbock? And where can you find the best Tex-Mex and barbecue in town? We’ve pitted some of the top restaurants in Lubbock against one another to find which Texas cuisine comes out on top.
BATTLE 1: Albarran’s Mexican Bar & Grill vs. Tom & Bingo’s Bar-B-Q
Albarran’s Mexican Bar & Grill (7723 Milwaukee Ave.), a two-story restaurant on Milwaukee Avenue, is a new foodie favorite in Lubbock. The Scene: Its festive interior—chandeliers made of recycled blue bottles, gorgeous wrought iron bars, colorful mosaic tile walls—is exactly what you’d expect from an authentic Tex-Mex restaurant in West Texas. Albarran’s is easy to spot due to its large cactus sign by the front entrance. The Food and Drink: The extensive menu is stocked with all your faves like fajitas, chile rellenos, enchiladas, spicy asado, chimichangas and carnitas. And of course, you can find frosty margaritas here with unique flavors like spicy watermelon. The Secret Weapon: Sure, the interior is fun and festive, but the best spot to hang out at Albarran’s is on the outdoor patio in the back, where live music is often playing throughout the weekends.
At one time, Tom & Bingo’s Bar-B-Q was so popular, it had several locations throughout Texas, but owner Dwayne Clanton wanted to focus on the food and menu, and he simplified the operation by keeping only one location in Lubbock. The Scene: Good luck resisting the temptation to go inside as you get a whiff of hickory-smoked meat. The Food and Drink: Tom & Bingo’s has a limited menu, which means that each dish gets extra attention. Order a brisket sandwich, and choose from several sauces to coat the meat. Its own signature sauce is known for a spicy and sweet mixture. The Secret Weapon: Yes, the barbecue is the start of the show here, but the secret-ingredient sauce takes your average barbecue sandwich place to one of the top 50 barbecue joints in Texas, according to Texas Monthly Magazine.
THE VERDICT: Albarran’s gets high marks for its fun scene, while Tom & Bingo’s gets national attention for its sandwiches and sauces. It’s a tie.
BATTLE 2: Abuelo’s vs. Eddie’s Barbeque
Another fantastic joint to enjoy the warm weather and Tex-Mex menu is at Abuelo’s. The Scene: Abuelo’s is comfy and casual, and inside features a combination of arched brick walls, indoor plants and murals depicting a Mexican countryside. The Food and Drink: Diners can order a wide range of Tex-Mex appetizers and dishes like firecracker shrimp, enchiladas, the durango burrito, fish tacos, stuffed chicken medallions and much more. A kid-friendly menu is available, as is a dessert menu that features dulce con leche cheesecake and traditional flan. Yum! The Secret Weapon: Thanks to a newly remodeled courtyard patio, Abuelo’s has become a popular hangout for happy hour or a night out where you can sip on sangria swirls, agave margaritas and mojito shakers.
Few places look and feel more Texas than Eddie’s Barbeque. The Scene: The restaurant is a true barbecue shack with fading red paint and a kitschy decor of old wheel rims, vintage Texas license plates, vintage arcade games and a wall of hot sauces. The Food and Drink: The menu consists of traditional meat dishes like brisket and ribs, but a popular option is the baked Frito pie—a taste of authentic West Texas flavors. The Secret Weapon: Eddie’s has a big cooking pit in the back—built by hand—where brisket, sausage and pork loin are slow-cooked on-site daily.
THE VERDICT: Abuelo’s is the spot for margaritas with friends, while Eddie’s is unassuming but generally loved by anyone who knows barbecue. How can we decide? Tie.
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: Sazon at Arrogant Texan
Instead of trying to figure out which cuisine reigns supreme, why not find a Lubbock restaurant where you can enjoy both Tex-Mex and barbecue in one place? Sazon at Arrogant Texan is the answer. Here, you can order delicious fusion dishes like brisket nachos, brisket kidney beans and rice and barbecue burritos. The scene is perfect: a combination of Texas flags, John Wayne portraits and a salsa bar. The two separate restaurants recently combined to share one space, and you can still order barbecue from The Arrogant Texan menu or traditional Tex-Mex via Sazon, but the fusion dishes prove that you don’t have to choose one over the other. You can have your Tex-Mex, and eat barbecue too!