Coop's West Texas BBQ
Coops West Texas BBQ is a rare find in Southern California. Many BBQ places out here are wary of the bold flavors that Texas BBQ has to offer with it's minimal seasonings with sauce on the side. This restaurant surely does not meet the California standards of sweet sticky sauces and heavy seasoned meats. However, Coops has amazing food and I'm very excited to share my experience with you.
The photo above is from my lunch today. It is called the Kit N Kaboddle. It comes with 4 meats of your choice, 2 medium sides and 2 slices of corn bread. There are a couple extra items included since I just had to order dessert! The 4 meats we ordered were pork spare ribs, beef brisket, hot links and beef ribs. The 2 side dishes we ordered were mac and cheese and baked beans. Continue reading below for details on each of these delicious items.
The above photograph shows 1 of the 2 pork spare ribs that were included in our meal. As you can see, the rib tips were not cut off of these ribs and they are massive! I've actually never see a full rib served like this with the rib tips attached; this gives them lots more meat though, so it was definitely appreciated to have them included.
As far as appearance, they looked nice (the huge size made me feel happy for the price). I couldn't really tell if they were dry by looking at them, but it was nice to have the BBQ sauce separate (there are 2 different bottles on each table already when you sit down). Being able to see the meat without it being hidden in sauce was a nice aspect of these ribs. It's definitely a "California thing" to see sauce all over BBQ. This is definitely real Texas BBQ!
The ribs were just a little tough. I did like the underside of the rib tips, because I was able to get a huge chunk of meat from down there. However, the meat was not as tender as I would have liked it. At least it wasn't falling completely off the bone, as most BBQ restaurants like to over cook their ribs. The seasoning was there, but not very noticeable. This is a good thing when you really want that full pork flavor. I enjoyed that aspect of the ribs because there was nothing hidden; just straight up pork flavor with hints of seasoning and smoke. You definitely get your money's worth with these ribs. However, I would have paid more to have them be more tender.
Here is another photograph of the pork ribs on top (hiding the brisket, which unfortunately, I did not get a good photograph of). Next, the beef ribs. As soon as I opened the box and saw these ribs I was a bit confused. There's cold beef fat just sitting right on top of the ribs. Clearly, they were not fresh. When beef is fresh and hot, the fat is almost in a liquid state. This is what makes meat juicy and tender. Once this fat gets cold after sitting around for a while, the meat gets tough and the fat solidifies just as you see in my photograph. Please note that this photograph was taken within 2 minutes of the food getting to my table; it's not like we were going to sit around and wait 30 minutes to crack the lid open and dive into this feast.
As far as flavor for the beef ribs, I'm not sure what to say honestly. It was definitely beefy and similarly to the pork ribs, the meat flavor of that individual type of meat was what stood out. In BBQ there are tons of opinions on this, but it really comes down to a balance. The art of BBQ is a fine balance. Back to the ribs, they had a few parts that were nice and tender and juicy, but there just wasn't that much meat. We felt a bit gypped on this because we wanted more meat then bones, but with only getting 1 beef rib we had nothing else to compare it to from Coops. I think I would order it again to see how other ribs are, but this one for sure missed the mark.
Moving on to hot links! They were very nice! These links were actually spicy, just like they're supposed to be. That is almost funny to say because I've actually had hot links that are not spicy at all. These lived up to their name and I really enjoyed the kick at the end in the back of my throat. I definitely had to gulp down my Texas Sweet Tea in order to keep eating these bad boys! When I went back to eat more of these spicy bites, I squeezed lots of BBQ sauce on top of them, which complimented them even more. It wasn't necessary, but it made them even more unique which is exactly the experience I was wanting!
Since brisket is such a Texas staple, I was really excited to dive into this stuff and saved it for last. Appearance-wise, the brisket had lots of blackening around the edges which is simply seasoning being charred during the smoking process. It looked great though! I definitely grabbed a few thick slices of brisket, did my judges pull test, and sure enough, it was as tender as ever! This is some very good brisket. Most of the pieces were very similar and were consistent in appearance, tenderness and taste. I can't say that there was anything wrong with the brisket. I will definitely go back and order that stuff again. I just hope it's a tiny bit hotter when it comes to my table.
Lastly (as far as the BBQ side of things goes, let's get into the side dishes). The corn bread slices were huge and came with some packaged butter. The corn bread was pretty much your standard out of the package stuff. Nothing special about it, but it was nice to have when eating so many different types of flavors. I like to use it as a palette cleanser in between different types of meats. The mac and cheese was good with it's slightly crispy topping. The cheese flavor was nice, but not too overpowering. I will get it again next time we go to Coop's. The baked beans were, however, the MOST unique beans I've ever tasted, and I do love baked beans. These beans have cinnamon and allspice and WOW, they blew my mind. I was not expecting that type of flavor, but it worked so well with the rest of the entrees. I will also order these again.
Peach cobbler! This has absolutely nothing to do with BBQ, but since I'm a chef in the making, I'll get into this amazing dessert. I have had peach cobbler a handful of times in my life; honestly, I wish I could have had it more, but again, it's not a "California thing". However, I do know what a peach cobbler is supposed to taste like. This peach cobbler did not taste at all like what I was expecting or what any of the other peach cobbler's I've eaten tasted like. This dessert literally tasted like it was the filling for a donut. I have no idea how else to explain this, but that is the first thing that came to mind. And no, I've never had a peach cobbler filled donut, but that's a million dollar idea that I just came up with; you heard it here first people. Since this is published, I'm definitely taking the credit for coming up with that idea.
Have you ever eaten buttermilk pie? If not, you're just missing out on one of the most amazing desserts in the world! I LOVE pie so I had to try this. I've never eaten buttermilk pie before, but I figured I'd give it a shot for $4 a slice. I have found my new love. It was super flavorful, almost like a pumpkin pie, but sweeter and more creamy! The crust was nice and crispy as well.
In all, Coop's West Texas BBQ is a very solid BBQ restaurant. It's almost important to mention that this place was packed during the entire time we were eating there. We even saw a chef come in and he ordered a lot of food to go. That's 2 golden rules of eating out to remember. 1, when you see a packed restaurant, it's probably a really good thing. 2, when you see a chef ordering food, pay attention to what they get, and if they go there a lot. You can't go wrong if you follow those 2 steps, especially with BBQ! We will definitely be going back to Coop's and I hope this encourages you to try it out. It's definitely worth what we paid and we will do it again!
This review was not requested by the restaurant. Daniel Lubin has not received any financial compensation for writing this review. All food was purchased by Daniel Lubin. Daniel Lubin paid for all travel expenses in order to eat at this restaurant.