Veteran roadfooder Brucesw pointed me to a great spot in Waelder awhile back,here's a report on Eurestes Grocery I wrote on another site:
On a sunny Fall afternoon with a deep craving for smoked meat I point mi moto south towards Lockhart,not to Smitty's or Black's,they're good and great,respectively but I'm in the mood to go a place I've never been:Eureste's Grocery in downtown Waelder Texas.
I hop online,get a good image burned into my brain of the roadways,gas up and hit the open highway.Somebody needs to figure out a way to show the Google folks how to dilineate between a road and a goat path.As I'm hammering down 304 I see a sign for County Road 151 and remember this to be an excellent shortcut.
With recent rains turning the county road into a series of red mud gully washes I begin to wonder how sane my decision is.Normally driving down a dirt road to get barbecue is one of my very favorite things to do.In this instance,with images of famous Dakkar Rally wipeouts clouding my vision I begin to question the wisdom of this option.
Powering the beast out of potential wipeout #27 I see blacktop;glorious,sweet blacktop buckling up out of the yellow Texas sunshine.I'm completely turned around at this point[I'd begun haphazardly driving down whatever goatpath looked the least threatening]so I guess left and 10 minutes or so later I'm parking in front of Eureste's in downtown Waelder Texas.
The building is a thing of beauty. Bordering on ramshackle with a faded white paint front, plenty glass and a couple teevee antennae sticking up here and there. Probably hasn't changed much in the last 50 years or so I inwardly reckon.
Walking inside is like walking into countless old-school small Texas town markets . A full array of dried goods and sundries are on the neatly stacked shelves. Big coolers filled with beers and pops line one wall and there's a nice deli case in the right rear. With 20 foot ceilings and the wonderful smell of roasting flesh mixed with tobacco smoke permeating the air it's truly a step back in time. The puritans haven't made it out to Waelder just yet, I exult to no one in particular.
At the rear of the room is a small door,the entrance to the barbecue joint portion of this full service wonderland. I enter and nearly begin bawling. Thick blue smoke, the kind you get off fatty young steers that are being carefully roasted over good American Hardwood, fills the eating room [3 nice picnic tables arranged in the tiny space]. Another door to the left is your entry point to intense deliciousness....barbecue greatness is found here. The pit is a big ol' iron contraption , rolling smoke and stuffed with briskets and handmade sausage links.
I'm greeted warmly by the assistant pit boss and place my order: a pound of outside slice brisket and a couple links of the ruddy sausage links. I adjourn to the eating room and begin to feed. The Post Oak smoked brisket is tender, fatty and filled with delicious flavor...the sausage is wonderful. I wish it was greasier but it's certainly not lacking in tasty cholesterol. I sit quietly inhaling the wafts of blue smoke off the pit, a rooster insistently crowing off in the distance.
The lone decoration on the wall is a framed Bienville Democrat newspaper dated Thursday May 24th 1934. The headline:Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker Killed By Sheriff Jordan and Posse "Bonnie and Clyde Ambush...It's Death For Bonnie and Clyde"
I collect myself briefly. Savoring the delicious meat, reflecting on a great American tragedy, this moment is really bearing down on me. I shoulder my way through the emotion by concentrating on the barbecue.
DAMN Sheriff Jordan's sorry hide.
I wreck myself back to the here and now, eat some more meat and make my way to the front of the house. Dan Eureste is holding court behind the cash register. We begin to converse. Mr Eureste has been in charge of this joint since 1974.He took a little 10 year break in the 80's to go and make some money in Houston while his cousin ran the business...cousin did less than a superlative job so Eureste made his way back to Waelder and rescued the operation.
The building we're standing in has been around for over a 100 years.It was a bank for a good long time before it became a Super-ette and it was a Super-ette for a good long time before it became Eureste's. The history is glorious, the meat delicious and this man's handprint is large on everything he surveys. Talk turns to the future and I inquire as to which of his favored children will carry the business into the new century. His voice turns down, things don't look so good for the long term.His kids have outstripped the earning potential of this humble little business with their big city doin's in Houston.
We walk onto the front porch and look out over the once busy Hwy 90. I-10 was a death knell for many a family run operation when it came swinging through awhile back. If you weren't near an exit ramp you got left behind by progress so it's a real testament to Dan Eureste that he's still going strong after all these years.
We say our goodbyes and I point my bike back towards Austin, the Fall sun burning down behind the good farmland as I make my way back north toward home.
Eureste's is now Waelder Grocery. The barbecue is still good but they did spruce the joint up a little bit.