Carnivorous alert! It’s funny how your memory is sparked at times. Hubby was prepping rib-eye steaks for dinner last night and it reminded me of Joe Allen’s BBQ in Abilene, TX. That was where I had my ROTC assignment and as always, restaurants were high on my list of places to identify. It didn’t take long to hear about Joe Allen’s, but it wasn’t on a direct route for me getting back and forth to work. One day I drove past at a time when it wasn’t open and sort of shrugged. It was the ramshackle side of rustic and I wondered if maybe the reputation was overblown. Then a friend who was helping me get acquainted with the area took me there for dinner.
As a longtime, multi-generational resident, she explained. Food was what mattered at Joe Allen’s, not ambience. There was BBQ and steak, and a big galvanized tub of ice for the long-neck beer bottles. The point about the steak though was it was rib-eye with a secret rub then grilled over mesquite. Period. The deal though was the steak was cut according to what you chose – from 1/2 inch to 4 inches thick. You wanted sauteed mushrooms or peppercorn sauce – go to another restaurant. You wanted a nice wine list – go to another restaurant. You wanted one of the best steaks you would ever eat and an icy cold beer – sit down and enjoy yourself. I have no doubt the BBQ was excellent, but I admit I never had anything except the steak – my friend and I usually went for the 1-inch.
Other places with stuccoed walls, timbered ceilings, good steaks, and a larger menu were closer to where I lived and where I usually met with friends. That didn’t prevent me from going to Joe Allen’s though and I was always quick to recommend it to newcomers.