We’re back on the Flickchart Texas BBQ Road Trip. Last time we visited the barbecue capital of Texas. This time we’re heading southeast to one of the birthplaces of Texas itself.

Stop #22: Gonzales, Baker Boys BBQ

Gonzales is one of the oldest Anglo-American settlements in Texas, established by Green DeWitt as the capital of his colony in 1825. The town is known for its major role in the Texas Revolution. Known as the “Lexington of Texas”, it was the site of the first skirmish of the Revolution when the Texians refused to return a cannon given to them by the Mexican government. Famously proclaiming “Come and Take It,” a slogan on a flag that remains famous today, the Texan Revolution began in earnest when Mexican troops withdrew from the area under fire.

The city later became the only one to send troops to help defend the Alamo. Despite this early historic importance, Gonzales was all but abandoned by the end of the Revolution. It would later be rebuilt in the early 1840s and has existed since. While it has not quite had the boom of population and economic growth of many Texas towns, it has continued to prosper. It is the site of many historic locations and some architecturally-notable homes.

Baker Boys BBQ matches its town’s humble origins. It was opened in 2015 when Phil Baker and his son Wayne decided they should open a restaurant after winning multiple BBQ competitions. Opening up in a metal building just off the highway, the spot has a rustic feel to match the town. The Bakers utilize a unique method of smoking, using oak lump briquettes in their indirect-heat pit. This creates less of a post-oak flavor than is typical for most central Texas BBQ.

One of their more unique offerings is a smoked boneless chicken leg, stuffed with onions and jalapeños. They also offer some of the more low-key central Texas options, pork loins and turkey breasts. It can all be topped off with a layered banana pudding as a desert, based on a recipe from Phil Baker’s late mother.

I wasn’t able to partake in some of these more unique choices, but did enjoy an ample offering from two parts of the Texas trio, and some pork ribs. The brisket was strong, nice and moist with a notable bark and fatty flavor. The sausage was also an ample morsel, nice and dark with a distinct lasting bite of smoke. The pork rib was well done with a flavorful seasoning and a bright smoke ring of its own.

I award the brisket 4 slices out of 5, the sausage 4.5 links out of 5, and the pork rib 4 oinks out of 5. I award Baker Boys BBQ 4 smokers out of 5.

The Film: Natural Selection

Natural Selection is hardly a well-known film, but it fits perfectly for Gonzales. It was filmed partially in the area, and while the film never explicitly identifies where it takes place, the suburban small-town Texan setting works as Gonzales. The movie never received a wide release, but was a darling at the 2011 South by Southwest festival in Austin. It won Best Narrative awards from both jury and audience as well as a number of other awards. Roger Ebert loved the film so much he showed it at Ebert-Fest.

The film follows a barren housewife struggling with her purpose and existence, who discovers that her dying husband has a son living in Florida that was born as the result of her husband donating to a sperm bank. She sets out to find the son and bring him back to meet her husband before he passes. Natural Selection is a nice rumination on religion and faith and the convictions we hold. As a person of faith I feel like the film can be unfair at times, but it avoids taking easy potshots and its depiction of its lead character’s faith is genuine and respectful. She’s portrayed by Rachael Harris, known now mostly for her role on the TV show Lucifer. Harris is fantastic in the lead performance, taking a complicated character and giving her lots of emotional depth and nuance. She is more than up to the challenge of the script, and she has a wonderful rapport with the other lead, Matt O’Leary, who has a wry sort of humor.

Director Robbie Pickering does a great job of keeping the lead character wholesome and pure, and the road-trip tale allows both actors to occupy their roles as opposites who grow together. The script contains hidden depths and conveys the fight to feel a sense of connection in this world.

It’s a very Texan concept. The vast open spaces of the state can leave some feeling lonely and adrift, and it’s not the first time a film in this project has tackled the concept. While Natural Selection may be a mostly forgotten indie darling, it’s a great piece of the Texan cinema landscape. The quiet drama and humor and excellent editing and pace keeping the film moving and fun.

Does anyone eat barbecue in the film?

None this time.

The Rankings

Texas Film Chart

  1. The Last Picture Show
  2. No Country for Old Men
  3. Rushmore
  4. A Ghost Story
  5. Boyhood
  6. The Right Stuff
  7. Lone Star
  8. Chef
  9. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
  10. Tender Mercies
  11. Dazed and Confused
  12. Dallas Buyer’s Club
  13. JFK
  14. The Sugarland Express
  15. Frank
  16. Whip It
  17. Natural Selection
  18. This is Where We Live
  19. The Alamo
  20. Outlaw Blues
  21. Selena
  22. Nadine

Texas BBQ Chart

  1. Franklin Barbecue
  2. Pinkerton’s Barbecue
  3. Terry Black’s Barbecue
  4. Pecan Lodge
  5. Stiles Switch BBQ
  6. Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
  7. Hutchins Barbeque
  8. 2M Smokehouse
  9. Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que
  10. Hays Co. Bar-B-Que
  11. Smolik’s Smokehouse
  12. Lockhart Smokehouse
  13. Heim Barbecue
  14. Gatlin’s BBQ
  15. Baker Boys BBQ
  16. Kreuz Meat Market
  17. Micklethwait Craft Meats
  18. Payne’s Bar-B-Q Shak
  19. The Pit Room
  20. Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que
  21. The Smoking Oak
  22. Harris Bar-B-Que

Join us again next time for more delicious smoked meats and fantastic Lone Star cinema!

The post Flickchart Road Trip: Natural Selection first appeared on Flickchart: The Blog.

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