Henry’s Barbecue – Artesia, New Mexico

Henry’s Barbecue in Artesia, New Mexico

Texas. It’s Like A Whole Other Country.” That slogan, conceived by the Texas Tourism Department, appeared on television commercials, billboards, advertisements and even license plates. It was such a hit that the Texas Department of Transportation obtained seven federal trademark registrations to protect it on everything from stickers to shot glasses. In 2014, USA Today readers declared it thebest of all state slogans,” edging out Virginia Is For Lovers” and “Kentucky Unbridled Spirit.” New Mexico’s sacrosanct “Land of Enchantment” slogan ranked fifth.

Visit Artesia, New Mexico and you might just wonder if you didn’t accidentally cross over into that whole other country. As with much of Southeast New Mexico, the scrub-brushed topography closely resembles that of West Texas. It’s a different type of enchanted terrain haughty New Mexicans along the Rio Grande corridor picture as representing the entire state. Then there are the large old west bronze statues depicting cowboys and oil drillers, imagery often associated with the Lone Star State. Any image association exercise involving Texas would also include trucks, barbecue and football. As in Texas, the preferred mode of transportation in Artesia seems to be heavy-duty pickups.  As for barbecue and football, Henry’s will tell you all you need to know.

Brisket, Green Chile Brisket, Buttered Corn, Sweet Baked Beans and Bread

Most of the vehicles parked in front of Henry’s BBQ on the Friday night of our inaugural visit were heavy-duty pick-up trucks. Had it been football season, many of those trucks would probably have been stationed at Bulldog Bowl, the pristine stadium in which the Artesia Bulldogs reign supreme. Proudly and prominently displayed on the front window of Henry’s is a poster celebrating the Bulldogs thirty state football championships since 1957. Another poster depicts the town’s divided loyalty between Texas Longhorn fans and those who support the Oklahoma Sooners where former Artesia (and Pittsburgh Steelers) quarterback Landry Jones made Friday night lights brighter. There are probably some closeted UNM Lobo and NMSU Aggie fans in Artesia, but we didn’t see any.

Emblazoned on the west side of Henry’s is a muscular bulldog sporting a spiked collar and standing atop the restaurant’s motto “Henry’s: Dog Gone Good.” With the multitude of reminders throughout town extolling Artesia and the Bulldogs, you would think the BBQ Superstars Cooking Channel would have learned the name of the town (the host even called it Azuza). Then again, he also raved that on a scale of A to Z, Henry’s BBQ warranted an A+.  You won’t get any argument from the throngs of Artesians who frequent it for their barbecue fix.

Turkey, Chicken, Green Beans, Buttered Corn, Bread Roll

Henry’s is named for John Henry, a local from a restaurant background though not in barbecue.  John launched Henry’s in 2009.  He does all the cooking and of course, is the premier smoke master, practicing the low-and-slow arts on a high-capacity Southern Pride smoker.  Brisket and ribs are smoked for 12 hours.  Apple wood, acquired from Runyan’s Farms just outside of Artesia, is the wood of choice.  Henry’s uses a multi-ingredient dry rub on all its meats; sauce isn’t mopped on before or during the smoking process.  Feel free to add your own sauce later.  It’s a good, smoky sauce with sweet-tangy notes.

In addition to ribs and brisket, Henry’s offers pulled pork, smoked chicken, smoked Black Oak brand sausage, beef ribs and chicken wings.  Sides are also plentiful: macaroni n’ cheese, green beans, loaded potatoes with cheese and bacon, smoked new potatoes, sweet corn, baked beans and more. As we learned, if you don’t get to Henry’s early, the restaurant might just run out of the meats and sides you most want to try.  For me that meant no beef ribs and chopped brisket instead of sliced brisket.

Cherry Pie and Pecan Pie

My plate was piled generously with chopped brisket, chopped brisket with green chile, sweet baked beans and sweet buttered corn.  Though I’d just as soon chop up the Mona Lisa as chop up a sumptuous slab of brisket, Henry’s chopped brisket is actually quite good.  There’s no way, of course, it can have the moistness and especially the sweet, crusty, rind we call “bark” of sliced brisket, but is still suffused with the sweet beef flavor of king brisket.  The chopped brisket with green chile is especially good even though the green chile is rather mild.  The sweet baked beans are terrific! 

Even when in Texas (or even in the vicinity of the Lone Star State) where beef is king, my Kim’s preferred smoked meats are turkey and chicken.  Henry’s does a great job with both.  The rub is especially evident in the chicken which has a nice moistness and just a hint of smoke.  Similarly, the turkey only hints at smoke, the way it should be for a delicate meat.  Both the green beans and sweet buttered corn are terrific sides. 

Desserts include homemade cakes (carrot, strawberry and chocolate), bread pudding in a rum sauce, cobbler (peach, strawberry, blackberry, cherry and apple) and pie.  For some reason, my Kim’s cherry pie was twice the size of my pecan pie, probably a recognition by the server that she’s a better tipper.  Both pies topped off a dog-gone good meal. 

Henry’s Barbecue may be reminiscent of West Texas, but it’s got a lot of that New Mexico enchantment we all cherish.

Henry’s Barbecue
811 West Main Street
Artesia, New Mexico
(575) 736-1777
Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 1 March 2019
COST: $$
BEST BET: Brisket, Green Chile Brisket, Turkey, Chicken, Baked Beans, Buttered Corn, Pecan Pie, Cherry Pie
REVIEW #1098

Henrys Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

2 thoughts on “Henry’s Barbecue – Artesia, New Mexico

  1. Of late I’ve been stretching my red wine-soaked brain cells trying to figure out what act in the culinary world would be considered a capital offense. Much like overcooking salmon or ribeye steak I’d have to say chopped brisket is downright criminal.

    I have on occasion had no alternative such as our roving gourmand Gil had to eat brisket chopped instead of sliced and consider the event gustatory self-laceration, well below boiled pig liver on my list of preferences.

    Are there hungry inhabitants on this great earth of ours who prefer chopped to sliced? I wondered, so I googled a pit master forum and learned among other things that chopped comes from the Point and sliced comes from the Flat, and that the Point is often irregular and fatty and doesn’t give the “prettiest” slices. Yet, several carnivores on the forum pointed out that the “Point is tastier and more tender than the Flat.”

    I’d bet a week of your salary that these are the same people who prefer Bruce Springsteen to Bob Seger. Born in the USA can’t hold a candle to Against the Wind. Neither can chopped to sliced.

    1. I’m a Barry Manilow “Mandy” man myself, but heartily agree with your assessment of chopped brisket. While it’s true that chopped brisket SHOULD come from the point, it’s a cut not always readily found in meat markets. As such, all too often even pitmasters chop up even the flat section of a brisket. Chopped brisket from the fatty, juicy point is discernibly better than chopped brisket from the flat.

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