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Rudy’s Country Store & Barbecue – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Rudy's Real Texas Bar-B-Q on North Coors.

Rudy’s Real Texas Bar-B-Q on North Coors.

I first sampled Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q’s products in 1993 in Leon Springs, Texas, a San Antonio suburb on the fringes of the magnificent  Texas Hill Country. At the time Rudy’s was just beginning to make inroads toward becoming a significant barbecue presence in Texas where beef and brisket are king.  Back then Leon Springs appeared to be a test ground for new restaurant concepts–and in fact, it is the site of the first Romano’s Macaroni Grill and the first Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q.

Before it was Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q, however, it was just Rudy’s Country Store. The country store was opened in 1929 by Rudolph “Rudy” Aue, the son of the founder of Leon Springs. The country store included a gas station, garage and grocery store.  In 1989, Rudy’s added Bar-B-Q to its country store’s name. Rudy’s was transformed into a meat market selling meats prepared on 100% oak-fired pits.

Rudy09

The counter where you place your order

My first impression was that this intriguing country store concept would be a perfect fit for for Albuquerque which until recent years has had pretty slim pickings when it comes to great barbecue. It took more than a dozen years for those hopes to be realized.  Today, Rudy’s now has two stores in the Duke City. This expansive enterprise also has a presence in Chandler and Phoenix, Arizona; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Norman and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Rudy’s still offers Texas style tangy barbecue in a country store setting. Unlike many Texas barbecue bastions which seem to prefer acrid mesquite woods, Rudy’s meats are prepared using only oak, a slower-burning wood than mesquite.  Rudy’s meats are also imbued with a nice smoke ring characteristic of good barbecue. Those meats are flame cooked pit-style. The meats are dry-rubbed, not slathered with sauce before being placed in the smoker. The meats are characteristically moist, tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. You can purchase them in increments: quarter-pound, half-pound, pound or more if you so desire.  With a half-pound, you can build two stacked sandwiches.

Meats are always available by the slice or pound at Rudy's.

Meats are always available by the slice or pound at Rudy’s.

The meats are delicious with or without sauce (sause is how it’s spelled on Rudy’s menus). There are two kinds of sause–a hot sause which is better, bolder and more peppery than its counterpart, labeled “sissy sause.” New Mexicans who adore green chile give the hot sauce a healthy respect and might insult wimps who use the sissy sauce by calling them Texans.  To some, the secret to the deliciousness in Rudy’s barbecue starts with the distinctive sause and its peppery flakes which imbue a sweet tanginess and zesty kick (especially if you use the hot sause).

Surprisingly Rudy’s markets itself as the world’s worst barbecue. There are at least two explanations for this slogan’s genesis. Some surmise that this is just a clever advertising ruse intended to be taken ironically, not literally. It’s as much a “rib” as the meaty ribs on the menu. The other explanation is that “worst” is a play on the German word “wurst,” a type of sausage prepared in the Texas hill country by Germans who first settled this part of Texas in the mid-1850s.

Look at the smoke ring around the brisket.

Look at the smoke ring around the brisket.

A great meal features a pound or more of very good smoked meat wrapped in butcher paper with accompanying bread slices (rather ordinary wheat or white bread) that make for several sandwiches.  Rudy’s brisket is probably the number one selling item on the menu. It is tender, juicy, and melts in your mouth. You can smell the oak that’s used to smoke it in every bite.   The pork and brisket are very good, links are terrific and ham is excellent. If you’re a ham fanatic, Rudy’s serves some of the best in town.  A light, sweet glaze contrasts with the porcine saltiness of the ham to dance on your taste buds.

Seating is family-style on wooden picnic tables, but no one seems to mind sitting with strangers.  Perhaps that’s because most patrons are too busy with the entrees, but more than likely it’s because the environment seems to inspire friendliness.  Aside from the indoor seating with a view of the prep tables where the slicing and cutting is done, Rudy’s offers covered porch seating.

A half pound of smoked turkey with four slices of bread

A half pound of smoked turkey with four slices of bread

Between the unholy hours of seven and ten in the morning, Rudy’s offers “grab and go” tacos which you can customize with your favorite smoked meats.  Once you’ve had tacos made with smoked meats, you might never again be satisfied with ground beef tacos (or any Taco Bell faux-simile thereof).  The grab and go options include bacon, egg and chile; sausage, egg and chile; brisket, egg and chile; jalapeño sausage wrap; sausage wrap; carne adovada wrap; chop taco and beans and cheese.  Any option with chile–red or green–is best.

Rudy’s also serves something called the “brown cow taco” which is made from barbecue brisket (or you can substitute pulled pork as in the photo above), chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese and sour cream inside a warm flour tortilla.  It’s a much larger taco than the other breakfast tacos and can be ordered any time of day.  The Turkey Joe taco is somewhat similar except that it’s constructed from the smoked turkey and Ranch dressing.  Both are full-meal-sized and quite good.

The Brown Cow Taco with Pulled Pork

The Brown Cow Taco with Pulled Pork

The menu includes several sides: potato salad, green bean salad, coleslaw, corn-on-the-cob, green chili stew, pinto beans, cream corn, new potatoes and a jumbo smoked potato (nearly the size of a football).  The buttery boiled potatoes are a popular favorite which many guests seem to love.  The cream corn, which is also quite good, uses large niblet corn and a sweet, creamy, buttery sauce.

Rudy’s employees wear shirts emblazoned with the slogan, “We didn’t claw our way to the top of the food ladder only to eat vegetables.” That’s the way most diners feel as well.  The walls nearest the entrance are festooned with accolades proclaiming the self proclaimed “world’s worst barbecue” Albuquerque’s very best several years running by publications such as Albuquerque The Magazine, The Alibi and Local IQ.

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

Since man cannot live on barbecue alone, a collection of sure to please desserts are available: banana pudding, pecan pie, chocolate pudding, buttermilk pie, Rice Krispy treats, ice cream and peach cobbler.  Buttermilk pie, despite its deeply Southern roots has become somewhat of a big hit at Rudy’s in New Mexico.  This custard pie with its faintly caramelized top is almost cloying in its degree of sweetness, but it’s perfect for sweet-toothed diners.

Rudy’s was one of the first restaurants to introduce Albuquerque diners to Stewart’s sodas which come in several varieties including a root beer which was named the top root beer at the 2006 World Cup of Root Beer.  Stewart’s sodas evoke nostalgic tangs among people who grew up with Nehi sodas and their colorful variety.

Banana Pudding and Buttermilk Pie

Banana Pudding and Buttermilk Pie

Rudy’s is perhaps the best Texas import to land in the Land of Enchantment since UNM basketball star Kenny Thomas transferred from El Paso to Albuquerque High School.  It’s become a barbecue landmark in its two Duke City locations.

Rudy’s Country Store & Barbecue
10136 Coors Blvd, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 890-7113
Web Site

LATEST VISIT: 22 July 2013
# OF VISITS: 24
RATING: 21
COST: $$
BEST BET: Brown Cow Taco, Pork Sandwich, Brisket, Ham


View Rudy’s BBQ – Coors on LetsDineLocal.com »

Rudy's Country Store & Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

  • Tim says:

    I think their green chile stew is outstanding. They put a real twist on it by using smoked meat, which really distinguishes theirs from some of the great traditional NM green chile stews found at other restaurants. Plus I like the fact that a restaurant which comes in from out of state incorporates a local favorite into their menu and does it so well. I wonder if they offer it at their other locations outside of NM?

    July 30, 2009 at 10:12 PM
  • martin says:

    We love Rudy’s because you can eat the meat without globs of gooey BBQ sauce. Glad to see Gil RAISED his rating of a year ago. The potato salad is excellent but the cole slaw was dry. It needs some mayo.

    July 31, 2009 at 11:21 AM
  • Lahjik says:

    The most important question is this: Do they serve Big Red in the Duke City Rudy’s? I currently reside in San Antonio and an looking forward to leaving; I’d love to end up in Albuquerque and having a Rudy’s or two would resolve one of the only two things I figure i’ll miss about South Texas. If they have Big Red there then both will be taken care of in one fell swoop.

    August 6, 2009 at 8:40 PM
  • dave floren says:

    First off I want to thank you Gil, just recently found this site and have found it very helpful, and have tried many new gems as a result. About Rudys, I love it. The BBQ is the best and the Green Chile stew is the best I have ever had.

    November 27, 2009 at 9:58 PM
  • Michael says:

    It’s always good and I’ve eaten at just about every Barbecue place in town. The few I havent tried I was warned off of. Some places have better sides than Rudy’s but I know when I walk in the door that the meat is going to be smoked right and it’s all about the meat, not the sides. Some places the brisket is good but the ribs arent, or the chicken is great but the pulled pork isnt, the sides are really good or you leave em on the plate. I dont like my Barbecue served already sauced, but I do like sauce. Rudy’s sauce is ok, but again, it’s all about the meat.

    May 27, 2011 at 2:41 PM
  • Bob of The Village of Los Ranchos says:

    Reading Gil’s review, one can’t help but hear some version of a song apparently popularized in the early ‘40s by e.g. a concert band, a ukulele combo in MA, Gene Autry, the Glen Miller Orchestra etc. (per Youtube googling) and I’m sure near and dear to the hearts of Texans by http://tinyurl.com/m57b27q …ya right… but let’s check these two out http://tinyurl.com/ko53ryw

    For me, I love sitting out on Rudy’s screened in porch while enjoying their potato salad and sausage sandwich and reading the ABQ J …LOL. I prep my “rather ordinary wheat or white bread” by squeezing on some mayo, squirt some Macho BBQ ‘sause’ on, and adorn the sausage with their freshly cut onions! (It is well known that eating onions with sausage negates any negative nutritional stuff, but I can’t find it as all tv channels are awaiting Prince X to exit the hospital!!!) Per consequences of my maturity, and if you are of a similar ilk, I highly recommend asking that the skilled slicer slice thin like coins vs. length wise to facilitate munching on this treasure rather than fighting the traditional skin. An extra delight IMHO, is stocking their sodas and cervezas in iced water as a frigerated beer just doesn’t compare!

    What’s worse than paying Taxes? Paying Taxes for things that we forget to use!!!! Let me suggest a summertime/fall option: Get you order (bring your own “beverage”) and go a mile over to Bachechi Open Space to use the gate off Rio Grande http://tinyurl.com/ll7dutn to use the tables and/or seated swing alfresco or into “forest” for a bench bout an hour or so before closing at sunset.
    “Chow!!”

    July 23, 2013 at 12:09 PM
  • Di says:

    You can’t go wrong at Rudy’s…everything is so good! You gotta try that huge smoked potato! The only thing lacking for me is maybe a green salad or some steamed fresh veggies. However, it’s the kinda place where you definitely go to indulge in some protein, but I always leave feeling a little guilty; say, perhaps some healthy crisp veggies could’ve helped to balance things out.

    July 24, 2013 at 3:58 PM
  • Chelsea says:

    Having grown up in Texas, I love some good barbeque, and Rudy’s is my favorite spot in Albuquerque for good Texas barbeque!

    August 1, 2013 at 12:21 PM

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