If I’ve been identified as a whore for Joss Whedon thanks to this blog then I think I’m about to be identified as one for Kevin Tubb as well. I’m a huge fan of the king of southwest food in Madison. His El Dorado Grill features the best damn brunch in Madison and his Killer Bloody Mary is the drink gods dream about. His smaller, more inexpensive off shots, Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace on the East and near West side are my favorite options for relatively cheap eats. I even got his cookbook last year for Chrismukah and have hosted a couple of dinner parties utilizing his recipes. So with all that said, you can imagine my joy, as a self-professed BBQ-holic, at the news that he was doing smokehouse takeout from the El Dorado. It took me a few months to get my ducks in a row but my partner and I enjoyed a meal this weekend that will only add to Tubb’s legacy.
Since this weekend fell between our two birthdays, we decided to do it up right and order more food than 2 people could possibly consume. We started with the chile con carne, which was more brothy then, stewy. The beef tips were so tender and the spice was mild but never bland. I like my chili a lot more fiery though so I was a bit let down. Still the flavor was constant and the chili a comfort on a cold night. We then tackled the combo plate, which featured pulled pork, smoked brisket, and smoked sausage. I’ve never been a fan of the traditional Texas BBQ staple of smoked sausage but that might change after enjoying this version. The smoke flavor was most prominent in this dish compared to the other two and the sausage was a perfect compliment to the sweet notes in Tubb’s sauce. The pulled pork was excellent and was the meat was not overpowered by the slightly excessive amount of sauce. The brisket was probably the low point of the meats, as the smoke flavor didn’t seem consistent through the dry meat. We also got a half rack of the baby back ribs and here’s where I did somersaults. While Smoky Jon’s on the north side of town might have the best BBQ in Madison I’m not always pleased with their ribs. El Dorado can now lay claim to the best ribs in Madison. Such tender meat with each bite raising the smoke factor. My only complaint is that you can only order half a rack as an entrée.
The sides were mostly successful as well. The chipotle potato salad was the star of the show again balancing spice and flavor perfectly. The cornbread cakes I’ve sampled before and we ended up ordering extras knowing they’d be perfect to soak up sauce, chili, etc. The worst part of the meal had to be the green chile pinto beans, which could have used more seasoning, salt, pepper…anything. Also some of the pork could have livened them up as well. Some pickles, cabbage relish and white bread round out the sides and you’ve got yourself a full mea.
Wanting to span the spectrum of the menu, we also pick out a couple of desserts. The ancho chili pecan pie is a regular on the El Dorado menu and never disappoints. A slight air of tequila and the sweetness of chocolate chips mix with the pecans. A dash of chile flakes gives the dish a little bite that satisfies as well. The almond flan was another success although I found the almond flavor coming through the crust more then the custard.
How much did we pay for all this and a Sprecher root beer? A grand total of $51! The prices come in lower than any other BBQ joint I’ve been too lately and as I said earlier the food rivals the best in Madison. The place starts doing take out after 5 but you can call after 4 to put in your order as we did. I was told the food would be ready around 5:20 and it was right on the nose. I got to the restaurant a bit early and was treated to a complimentary Lone Star beer while I waited by the friendly bartender. I was the only one waiting on a Friday night so I’m a bit worried this won’t catch on which would be a god-damn shame because the El Dorado Smokehouse is certainly one of the best take out options Madison has going today.
El Dorado Smokehouse, 744 Williamson St, Madison, WI, 608-280-WEST