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Marley’s Central Texas BBQ – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Marley’s Central Texas BBQ on the Northeast Corner of Montgomery and San Pedro

In Central Texas, Barbecue is more than a way to cook meat -
it’s a way of life, a path to salvation, and
a sure-fire way to start an argument at the dinner table.”
~Central Texas Barbecue

Texans hold certain truths to be self-evident: everything is bigger (and better) in Texas, the Dallas Cowboys are America’s team (who can argue with that), George Strait is the king of country music, Nolan Ryan was the greatest baseball pitcher who ever lived and the best barbecue in the universe is pit-smoked along the Central Texas Barbecue Belt.  Although Texas may be “like a whole other country,” the rolling plains of Central Texas are like a whole other world when it comes to barbecue. 

That’s not to say pit masters at Texas’s three other barbecue regions–East Texas, South Texas and West Texas–don’t prepare great barbecue or that they don’t regard barbecue as practically a religion.  In fact, pit masters from each Texas barbecue region will defend the honor and bragging rights of their respective regions with the same vigor shown in 1836 by a small group of volunteer soldiers at The Alamo.

The Texas proud interior

While conceding that there is great barbecue to be found throughout the Lone Star state, purists and aficionados almost unanimously agree that the state’s best barbecue is to be found in Central Texas with Austin as the region’s epicenter and pockets of barbecue excellence nonpareil found in such small towns as Lexington, Lockhart, Driftwood and Taylor.  Historically, it makes sense.  The Central Texas region was settled in the 19th century by German, Polish and Czech immigrants carrying forward their old country traditions for making sausage and smoking meats.

Central Texas barbecue has a number of distinguishing hallmarks.  First and foremost, beef is king.  That means moist, smoky brisket.  Secondly, barbecue means spice and seasoning rubs (heavy on salt and pepper), not sauces.  Some of the best bastions of barbecue serve their meats naked–no sauce.  Others will give you sauce on the side if you request it.   If you’ve got to have it, sauce is typically tomato-based complemented by vinegar and Worcestershire.  Thirdly, barbecue means low and slow cooking over Texas post oak wood or pecan woods, both of which impart mild smokiness.  For best results, the wood is “cured” for nine to twelve months which creates very little soot when it burns.

Sliced Brisket and Elgin Sausage with Bacon Potato Salad and Coleslaw

June, 2014, saw the launch in Albuquerque of a new barbecue joint brandishing the name “Marley’s Central Texas Barbecue.”  Located on the northeast corner of Montgomery and San Pedro (at the former home of the beloved Tickles & Snooks Wings & Things), Marley’s has a pedigree which promises authenticity.  It starts with pit master Gene Woodson who cut his barbecue teeth in the Texas Hill Country.  Woodson lovingly tends to the smoker, slowly smoking meats anywhere from 15 to 18 hours over post oak obtained from an Austin area source.

Restaurant employees sport shirts emblazoned with the slogan “we smoke the good stuff.”  For the most part, the “good stuff” comes from the Lone Star state.  The restaurant’s Black Angus beef is sourced from trusted Texas suppliers and sausage comes from Elgin, the self-proclaimed “Sausage Capital of Texas.”  Even pecans for the restaurant’s signature dessert, pecan pie, come from another central Texas city, San Saba which purports to be the “Pecan Capital of the World.”

Pork Spare Ribs and Elgin Sausage with Beans and Bacon Potato Salad

Texans treat their flag with such reverence, respect and esteem that it’s not uncommon to see the state flag used to accent a home’s decor and furnishings.  The flag of the great state of Texas has a place of prominence in the dining room.  Other Texas accents include looped lassos and cowboy accoutrements on the walls as well as other stereotypical trappings.  One of my favorite Texas accents is Big Red soda which, not coincidentally, is bottled in Austin.  I believe it’s a Texas state law that Big Red should be served with barbecue.

The menu is relatively small.  Meats–sliced brisket, chopped brisket, Elgin sausage (regular or “hot”), pork spare ribs and pulled pork–are available by the half-pound.  Sandwiches and plates are also available.  Sides include pinto beans with fresh herbs and New Mexico green chiles, coleslaw and bacon potato salad.  Your best bet is a combination plate, your choice of any two meats served with two sides.  Plates include sweet Vidalia onions, pickles and slices of white bread (often considered a veggie in barbecue circles).

Chopped Brisket Sandwich with Coleslaw

3 August 2014: The sliced brisket is moist and tender with a faint smokiness, a very pronounced smoke ring and a good amount of marbling around the edges (off-putting to some, absolutely necessary for others).  It doesn’t have the thick, peppery crust characteristic of some legendary Central Texas barbecue establishments, but for taste, tenderness and appearance, it’s a very good brisket.  Procured from the world-famous Southside Market in Elgin, Texas, both the regular and “hot” Elgin sausage live up to their reputation.  They’re succulent, smoky and delicious with a natural casing that’s easy to bite through, but not cut with the plastic utensils provided. 

28 August 2014: There’s yet another way to enjoy brisket at Marley’s and that’s in the form of a chopped brisket sandwich.  When the menu reads “chopped” it’s not “chopped” as in the Carolina style “hack” job done to pork.  In this case, the brisket is cut into very small cubes.  If anything, the brisket seems even more tender prepared in this fashion and a caramelization not as apparent on sliced brisket is readily discernible with the chopped brisket.  This sandwich is served with onions and pickles.

Brisket Tacos

28 August 2014: The newest (as of August 28th) way in which Marley’s showcases its brisket is in tacos. An order of brisket tacos yields three beauteous tacos made on housemade corn tortillas.  The tacos are engorged with chopped brisket and a pico de gallo.  The corn tortillas are quite good and are formidable enough to hold up against the moistness and volume of the brisket and pico.  The brisket is moist, tender and smoky.  Alas, the pico de gallo (tomatoes and green peppers) is rather insipid, lacking any heat.  Fortunately the barbecue sauce has just a tad of heat to lend.

3 August 2014: Although beef may be king in Texas, Marley’s pork spare ribs are no jesters.  While the menu describes them as “fall-off-the-bone tender,” they have just a bit of “give” on them as you pull them off the bone.  That’s the way it should be.  Far too often, fall-off-the-bone denotes overdone.  The ribs are tender and juicy with the spice and seasonings rub more pronounced (you’ll discern a bit more sweetness) than on the other meats.  None of the meats needed sauce to make them palatable, but Marley’s sauce is good for dipping bread into.   It’s sweet, vinegary and has a pleasing bite.

Pecan Pie

3 August 2014: Sides are no afterthought.  The bacon potato salad, made with in-house cured bacon and a spice blend with personality, is very different from most potato salad served in New Mexico which tends to have a surfeit of mayo or salad cream.  Shawne Riley, a long-time friend of this blog, called the potato salad the “closest to my Texas grandmother’s I’ve ever had.”  We agreed the coleslaw was wonderful. Even with New Mexico green chile, the pinto beans have the flavor of Texas beans with sundry spices which detract from the natural flavors of the Land of Enchantment’s “other” official state vegetables (pinto beans and chile).

3 August 2014: As a proud native New Mexican well acquainted and enamored with our state’s fantastic pecan crop, try as I might it was difficult to remain impartial about our pecans, especially when a Texas city has the audacity to declare itself “the pecan capitol of the world.”  Alas, the pecan pie was rich, decadent and absolutely mouth-watering.  Nary a disparaging word can be said about it even though it wasn’t made with New Mexican pecans. 

Having visited about a month before I did, Shawne apprised me about an ordering process I might otherwise have found confusing.  Shawne observed that “everything about this place says, “order and pay at the counter, seat yourself and get your drinks, eat and throw away your trash afterward.”   Instead, a very pleasant and friendly wait staff will take care of your every need–even refilling your Big Red though the soda fountain dispenser is mere feet away.

Marley’s is the next best thing to eating at a barbecue restaurant in the Texas Hill Country of Central Texas. Within the air conditioned confines of Marley’s, we were especially grateful not to be waiting in line for two hours for one of Austin’s famous pilgrimage barbecue restaurants to open even as oppressive humidity sapped our energy and mosquitoes the size of helicopters consumed us as eagerly as we would the barbecue.  Give me New Mexico enchantment and Marley’s any day.

Marley’s Central Texas BBQ
6219 Montgomery Blvd, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 639-5962
Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 28 August 2014
1st VISIT: 3 August 2014
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 20
COST: $$
BEST BET: Big Red, Pecan Pie, Sliced Brisket, Pork Spare Ribs, Elgin Sausage, Bacon Potato Salad, Coleslaw, Brisket Tacos, Chopped Brisket Sandwich

Marley's Central Texas BBQ on Urbanspoon

  • KenJ says:

    Please tell me they serve beer in long neck bottles….

    August 6, 2014 at 5:02 PM
    • Gil Garduno says:

      At present Marley’s Central Texas BBQ does not have a beer and wine license, but that could change in the future.

      August 7, 2014 at 12:53 PM
  • JohnL says:

    After we saw write up on Marley’s in the paper we tried to go there for lunch. Arrived about 1:45 and were informed that they were out of ribs, brisket, coleslaw, and potato salad. They open at 11:00nd are out of all that by 1:45! So we left. Urbanspoon has two reports of others who had similar experiences. Might go back but they need to have what they sell.

    August 6, 2014 at 7:47 PM
    • Gil Garduno says:

      Most brand new restaurants have start-up issues as they try to figure out the volume of traffic (which ultimately dictates how much food to prepare). It’s a bigger challenge for barbecue restaurants because when they run out of food, it takes 15-18 hours to replenish it.

      Marley’s had been open for about five weeks when we visited at just past noon on a Saturday. We didn’t experience any of the start-up issues reported by others.

      August 7, 2014 at 12:57 PM
      • KK Downing says:

        The Texas base County Line is the next big thing to Texas Barbecue considering that it is from Texas. With Texas size portions,that which 3rd place Marleys does not have figured out yet amongst others.

        August 23, 2014 at 10:50 AM
  • Di says:

    Yeah, it was also disapppointing for me and my group to stop by Marley’s for a late lunch only to be told that they were out of the very thing that we were looking forward to tasting. I’m in the biz, so I understand start-up issues as Gil explains above. I just hope the owners are keeping up with reviews so that they can make the necessary adjustments. Word of mouth is very powerful, so at this point it seems like an important thing to fix in order for them to stay afloat.

    August 7, 2014 at 2:56 PM
  • KK Downing says:

    Portions are kinda small and stingy don’t you think?

    August 23, 2014 at 10:44 AM
  • KK Downing says:

    The County Line is the next best thing for Texas style Barbecue not Marleys. Being that it is from Texas! Lets just get that straight shall we?

    August 23, 2014 at 10:47 AM
    • Jim Millington says:

      Dear Mr Downing/Randall/Randell/Wendell/Ruben or whatever name you are using today.
      Your postings are always recognizable for exhibiting such humor, warmth and charm that the County Line should use them in advertising. They would be as much a boom for business as ones advertising:
      Home of the Wednesday night prayer meetings for the Westboro Baptist Church or
      Home of the Taliban’s Friday Night Executive Board meetings or
      Home of the ISIS commander’s Strategic and Tactical organizational planning meetings.

      August 25, 2014 at 9:56 AM
  • I was always a bigger Glenn Tipton fan myself says:

    The name says it all. Liked his leads and style over KK’s. Just saying.

    August 25, 2014 at 10:39 AM
  • Schuyler says:

    Downing? KKK’s comments are so loving, gracious and thoughtful that I thought for sure his name was Dowling as in Father Dowling: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096582/

    August 26, 2014 at 11:40 AM
  • Nate D says:

    KK,

    I ate at County Line in 1996. I haven’t ever had the urge to return. I tried Marley’s last week for the first time and will be back this week. Portions were fine to me, brisket and sausage were great. Cici’s Pizza has enormous portions, too..all you can eat. I bet you hang out there when you’re not eating mediocre BBQ and posting inane commentary.

    August 26, 2014 at 8:49 PM
  • Kon says:

    I visited Marley’s shortly after it opened. Mid week about midday. Had the brisket and spare ribs, no sides. I asked for the moist/fatty brisket, untrimmed. I don’t know if they usually trim it. The brisket was excellent. Nice bark and fat was well rendered. Meat was succulent. Easily the best brisket I’ve tasted in New Mexico, two trips to the Pork and Brew included. I think it compares favourably with a number of BBQ places in Texas.

    Spare ribs were tasty although I would have preferred them unsauced.

    Having lined up for several BBQ visits in Austin I’m happy to have to visit at lunch to be assured of the BBQ rather than have them be serving stale meat.

    Checked out the lane behind the restaurant. There’s a large offset style barrel smoker and a large wood pile. Good signs that a BBQ joint is doing it right.

    August 29, 2014 at 5:53 PM
    • Marley's Central TX BBQ says:

      Thank you so much, Kon! That means a lot to us. :)

      September 23, 2014 at 11:24 AM
  • Michael says:

    My family had been to lunch at Marley’s last month as we try to keep up on barbecue in Albuq. They shared their opinion with me as I was not able to go with them. I’m writing about my experience with the cue from Marley’s. My sister surprised us on Saturday as she ordered several pounds of the brisket for lunch for our mothers 92nd birthday. The reason I say surprised is that we all cook brisket and we do it very well. I can’t remember when weve ordered barbecu to go. Besides the brisket she ordered a whole pecan pie which was even more surprising. She made potato salad, cole slaw, corn on the cob and some really good baby back ribs. I agreed with her and the family that the brisket was good. After lunch we sang happy birthday and she cut the pecan pie and it was under cooked, very runny. Looking like the picture that Gil took for this review. My sister was disappointed as we all were as this was what we were having along with a lemon meringue pie instead of cake. Were experts on pecan pie as a few years ago our mother won 2nd place at the NM State Fair for her pecan pie. She would have won 1st but my sister won 1st for hers and 1st for peach pie. As for the pecan pie, my sister version has spoiled us for others and the pie from Marley’s was a poor representation. I’m disappointed that Marley’s would cut the pie and serve it the way they did for Gil and once seeing how runny it was and serve it anyway. Albuq has some of the best Mexican and New Mexican Restaurants anywhere but lacks really good and consistent Barbecue. I was born here and spent my youth in Texas.

    September 2, 2014 at 2:16 PM
  • Gil Garduno says:

    I hope your mom had a wonderful and joyous birthday despite the pie.

    I’m probably not the only reader who would love to try your sister’s pecan pie. Does she make it with New Mexico grown pecans? More importantly, does she sell it anywhere?

    In defense of the pecan pie at Marley’s, the slice I photographed was probably two minutes removed from the oven. I didn’t have time to wait for it to cool down.

    September 2, 2014 at 4:19 PM
  • joe says:

    The brisket was very good. The ribs were unavailable; very disappointing. I went for the ribs at 11:30 in the morning and get “We don’t have ribs today.” Service was very slow and not a smile to be had even with the reminder painted on the door jamb to the kitchen. I will not return.

    September 5, 2014 at 8:47 AM
  • Ryan Scott says:

    I am a admitted barbeque snob, more specifically, I am a Texas barbeque snob. I’ve eaten at the the best of the best many times: Luling City Market, Cooper’s in Llano, Kreutz, Smitty’s and Black’s in Lockhart, Snow’s in Lexington, Buzzie’s in Kerrvile…the list goes on and on. The only “pantheon” place I haven’t visited is Franklin’s in Austin.
    That being said…
    If you’re going to present your food as Central TX barbeque, then you are setting the bar VERY VERY high. Marley’s doesn’t cut it.
    Brisket-C+. Nice smoke flavor, not nearly tender or juicy enough.
    Sausage-C+ Good flavor, obviously reheated, and not well. No “snap” with the bite.
    Sides-B. Good potato salad and cole slaw. Good, not great.
    Ribs-??? I must have been having lunch right next to Joe yesterday since we were there at the same time. How can you be out of ribs at 11:30 AM?
    I don’t think I’ll be back, either.

    September 5, 2014 at 10:01 AM
    • Marley's Central TX BBQ says:

      Please see reply below. Thank you. :)

      September 22, 2014 at 3:00 PM
  • Marley's Central TX BBQ says:

    Thank you for the comments, Michael, Joe, and Ryan. We regret terribly that we fell short of your expectations and are constantly striving to consistently serve excellent food with excellent service. Some staff changes have been made since your comments were posted and we are looking into what occurred on the day you visited our restaurant. We are disheartened to learn that we were unable to earn your return patronage but thank you for leaving feedback so that we may consistently turn out an excellent product. Many thanks to all of those who were able to leave positive reviews. We are delighted that we pleased your palate.

    September 22, 2014 at 1:42 PM
  • LINDA says:

    Best BBQ in New Mexico,can’t wait to go back, have had ribs, brisket and sausage, give this great little restaurant a try.

    October 15, 2014 at 7:50 AM

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