RUSK – By the plate or by the pound, the offerings from All Star Bar-B-Q are a hands-down favorite among Rusk residents.
“We're starting to see second and third generations come through, and a lot of people say (to us), 'My kids are coming to town, you know what they want to eat,' and they're picking up barbecue,” said Russell Turner, who founded the eatery in 1993. “Lately, we've picked up a lot of Jacksonville business when Stacy's closed down, so we've been very grateful for that.”
Located at 267 S. Dickinson Dr. – the name of U.S. Highway 69 inside Rusk city limits – Turner opened his restaurant after giving serious thought to finding a profession that would allow him to settle down in one area and raise a family.
“I had worked construction for about 10 years, and moved around a lot. When I met my wife, I knew I wanted to settle down, raise a family in one place, so I needed a job that was in one place,” said Turner, who grew up in Dayton, which is located between Houston and Beaumont.
He learned the ins and outs of preparing barbecue while working for a local barbecue chain.
“I learned under Bodacious BBQ, (where) I trained under roland lindsey – I was with Bodacious for 11 years, and I wouldn't know anything about it (without that experience),” he said.
Along with mastering the finer points of being a pit master, Turner said he brought to his own business “a hard work ethic, and trying to put your best out there and to treat customers right.”
All Star's menu features ribs – “we're known for our pork ribs,” he said – along with beef brisket, turkey, sausage, sloppy Joes, offered as a sandwich, as part of a plate or by the pound. The meat is from local sources and is prepared daily.
Sides include homemade pinto beans, cole slaw and prepared-from-scratch potato salad, offered as a single serving or in pint-, quart- or gallon-sized quantities. The menu also featured baked stuffed potatoes, chips and desserts.
Smokers the size of a small shed are used to cook the food – one smoker has rotating racks to evenly cook the meat, while a second smoker has racks upon which items baked potatoes and ribs are prepared.
The fires are fueled by split hickory wood, which provides a subtle hint of smoke that teases the taste buds of those who eat the barbecue.
“We use all wood – we don't use any gas. We do everything the old way,” Turner said.
Generous servings top-quality barbecue keeps customers coming back, but the restaurant's Astros-themed décor provides a visual feast for them.
“It's always had a baseball theme, an Astros theme. Picking a name is like naming a child: You want just the right fit, and it's going to last. My love is for the Astros, so I've got the Astros star in my logo,” he smiled. “I just went with the baseball theme.”
All Star Bar-B-Q – located at 267 S. Dickinson Dr. in Rusk – is open five days a week, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and is closed Monday and Tuesday; and while it does not offer full catering services, All Star can prepare meals for large crowds. To learn more, call 903-683-2611 or visit www.allstarbarbq.com or “All Star Bar-B-Q” on Facebook.