Brotherton's Black Iron BBQ (AKA Black Iron Eats) (Pflugerville, TX)
John Brotherton’s popups have been wildly popular in the area for quite a while, so we obviously had to check out his brick and mortar when we got around to it. Scott, James and I headed over there on a Saturday morning to see if having a set location made an appreciable difference.
He’s set up a sizable menu. While offering BBQ by the pound, there’s also a variety of sandwiches. And not your normal pulled pork or chopped beef varieties either (although there is a brisket sandwich). Rather, John has used Texas BBQ to provide a twist on some other classic sandwiches, including a Pfilly*, Texas versions of the Cuban and the Reuben, and a Brisket Kimchi Banh Mi, among others.
(*This is the default Ph spelling for EVERYTHING in the Pflugerville area, including at least one child I know named Pfill.*)
But we’re here to eat, not talk, so we start eating. As always, not everyone tries everything.
Turkey: The turkey is tender and extremely moist. It has some nice spice and pepper to it, and the smoke is definitely noticeable. It stayed moist throughout my meal, which is always a plus. I was the only one eating it, but score it 9.0/10.
Pork Rib: The ribs are tender and juicy, with a nice ratio of meat to bone. There a good smoke flavor. There an interesting flavor in the rub, which I think is ancho chili? It adds a lovely flavor. Call this 9.0/10 as well.
Sausage: There’s a good snap in the casing, and it is juicy without being overly greasy. There’s definitely some heat in here, as well as some smoke. 8.5/10.
Boudin: The smoke isn’t as noticeable in this as the other items, but there’s a lot of other flavors competing. It has a hint of heat but is milder than the original sausage. Call it 8.0/10.
Jalapeno Sausage: Scott's comment: I give it an 8.5/10. I would give more specifics about it, but I am still swooning about that pork chop...and Gillian Anderson in season 11 of the X-Files.
Pfilly Sandwich: This take on the Philly uses brisket and queso in addition to onions and red peppers. The brisket adds a nice smokiness, and you get more flavor from the queso than you would from regular cheese sauce that a normal philly would come with. It’s an excellent sandwich. Tom: 9.0/10. James: 8.0/10. Avg: 8.5/10. Note: In the spirit of openness John comped us the sandwich. Thanks!
Brisket: The brisket has a nice smoky flavor with some wonderful black pepper. We were so distracted by the menu that I forgot to specify, so I got a mix of moist and lean. Even the lean was surprisingly tender and flavorful, and the moist was almost fall-apart tender. All three of us rated this 9.0/10.
Pork Chop: A moment of reflection here. A well-done pork chop is a work of art. Give us a wonderful flavor in a tender and juicy piece of pork, and we are ecstatic. For Scott, it was Opie’s and for me, it was Cooper’s…. (Note the past tense). The pork chop here is incredibly tender. I was almost able to cut it with a fork (and probably could have if it hadn’t been 2 inches thick). There’s a nice smoky/spicy flavor that goes all the way through. My initial thought is that I now have something nice to bring when I want to suck up to my bosses at work that isn’t a beef rib. They’ve knocked it out of the park with this one. All of us agreed: 10/10.
If anything, setting up a brick and mortar has allowed John to improve his game as well as increase his offerings. We agreed that we need to come back sometime soon just to try sandwiches, as they all looked good and interesting. Black Iron BBQ gives Pflugerville something it has been missing, namely a top tier BBQ place, and helps fill the hole on the I-35 corridor between Georgetown and Austin.