Howdy y’all. More Texas BBQ Road Trip comin’ at ya. We head to the College Station area, home to one of Texas’s most famous institutions, Texas A&M University, for a BBQ spot in the adjacent town of Bryan!

Stop #30: Bryan, Fargo’s Pit BBQ

Though Bryan is a separate town from College Station, they sit right on top of each other and are one collective metro area. Bryan is named after William Joel Bryan, nephew of Stephen F. Austin, considered the founder of Texas, and was incorporated in 1871. Just five years later Texas A&M was founded and the area began to grow, turning the heart of the Brazos Valley into a hub of activity. The turn of the century brought the International Great Northern Railroad to Bryan as well as a grant from Andrew Carnegie to build the Carnegie Library of Bryan.

Bryan and College Station grew in tandem throughout the early 1900s, with a state highway being built through the middle of both towns to unite them together. The prosperity from Texas A&M’s rise fueled this growth, and the university is the largest employer in Bryan today. Though little other Bryan-specific history has occurred, the town did garner national attention in 2010 when the DA’s office started a “Gang Safety Zone” due to escalating violence in the area. That program has become a model for other cities in the nation.

The students of A&M have been lucky enough to have a nearby BBQ spot on the Texas Monthly list since 2000. Alan Caldwell and Belender Wells opened Fargo’s Pit Barbeque and have kept an unusual amount of secrecy as to their exact smoking methods. They keep their pit hidden from sight, and Alan Caldwell refuses to divulge what wood he uses. Texas Monthly spotted some oak and speculates that commercial charcoal may be used, but there is no easy way to know. They serve up spareribs, short and chunky. Brisket slices are also served as well as sliced sausage. I also grabbed some potato salad, which unfortunately was not my favorite with its heavy mustard taste.

The highlight of this trip was, surprisingly, the pork rib. In what can be fairly described as the best pork rib I’ve had during this project, the short spareribs were smoked to perfection. With a thick dark bark providing a hearty bite, the mixture of smoky flavors crafted a very unique flavor profile (and indeed, it seems like charcoal is in there somewhere). It’s a smokiness you just can’t get enough of. The brisket was decidedly more average, as was the sausage, but those pork ribs make a trip to Fargo’s well worth it.

I award the brisket 4 slices out of 5, the sausage 3.5 links out of 5, and the pork ribs 5 oinks out of 5. I award Fargo’s Pit BBQ 4.5 smokers out of 5!

The Film: The Junction Boys

While the majority of The Junction Boys takes place in the small town of Junction, hundreds of miles west of both Bryan and College Station, there was no better pairing for a local BBQ place than this one about the Aggies of Texas A&M. An ESPN made-for-TV movie, it stars Tom Berenger as famed coach Bear Bryant. It follows a notoriously brutal training camp Bryant put the Aggies through during his first year as head coach of A&M back in the 50s.

A non-sports fan is likely to get little out of this trope-filled sports movie. Berenger’s Bryant is rascally individual who believes in winning at all costs. With rather inconsistent quality of acting, we see the players struggle against Bryant’s belief that winning means enduring any hardship. There isn’t much more to it than that. The biggest character development, in which Bryant realizes he doesn’t need to be so unrelentingly brutal, occurs as a result of just one scene.

That’s not to say it’s a bad movie. Berenger is a great selection as Bear Bryant and gets number of drillmaster-like quips directed at the complaining players. For a sports fan, it is fun to see a dramatization of what were pretty typical training camps back at that time. The guesses into the psyche of Bryant are at least somewhat interesting, but it’s just rather thin for most of the run-time. Nor is the direction or production particularly innovative as a TV movie.

Despite being simplistic, this film is a fine pairing for this area of Texas. The Aggies are worshipped in this area, and when visiting Bryan and College Station, an A&M film the perfect companion.

Does anyone eat BBQ in the film?

There ain’t time for eating in this movie!

Texas Film Chart

The Last Picture Show
No Country for Old Men
A Ghost Story
Blood Simple
Paris, Texas
The Right Stuff
Lone Star
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Tender Mercies
Dazed and Confused
Dallas Buyer’s Club
The Sugarland Express
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Planet Terror
Whip It
Natural Selection
This is Where We Live
The Junction Boys
The Alamo
Song to Song
Outlaw Blues

Texas BBQ Chart

Franklin Barbecue
Pinkerton’s Barbecue
Terry Black’s Barbecue
Pecan Lodge
Stiles Switch BBQ
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
Hutchins Barbeque
Joseph’s Riverport Bar-B-Que
2M Smokehouse
Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que
La Barbecue
Hays Co. Bar-B-Que
Smolik’s Smokehouse
Louie Mueller Barbecue
Lockhart Smokehouse
Heim Barbecue
Truth Barbeque
Fargo’s Pit BBQ
Gatlin’s BBQ
City Market
Baker Boys BBQ
Kreuz Meat Market
Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ
Micklethwait Craft Meats
Payne’s Bar-B-Q Shak
The Pit Room
Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que
The Smoking Oak
Heavy’s BBQ
Harris Bar-B-Que

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

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