1066 Highway 142
Covington, GA 30014
After no luck finding BBQ anywhere between Atlanta and Augusta on a Monday night, I was able to find a little BBQ spot off of I-20 in Covington later that week. Cowboy's BBQ is easy to miss since it's attached to a small gas station on Highway 142. BBQ might be the only type of food that can be more promising when attached to a gas station. I decided to pull over and give this two year old BBQ joint a try. The stale cowboy decor was a little offsetting at first, but I made sure to try and keep an open mind for their food.
Once inside the faux corny corral, I pulled up a chair and placed my order with the sweet waitress behind the counter. I'd try the baby back ribs, pulled pork, and brisket today. With a name like "Cowboy's" they better have some decent brisket. I ordered my brisket from the moist end to give them their best shot at quality BBQ. I noticed the smokehouse outside that housed either an Ole Hickory or Southern Pride smoker the best I could tell (owner later confirmed it was an end-loading Ole Hickory). I waited about fifteen minutes for my manly meat plate to arrive.
Hmmm...Something was off when I got my food. This pulled pork had clearly been BBQ'ed, but I just couldn't tell how many days before. It tasted as old and dry as it looked. After one bite I moved on to the ribs and brisket. The first bite of brisket was Ok, but the huge pieces of fat left hardly any other meat to try. I can say that there was some kind of nice salty bark on the outside though. The ribs were sweet and smoky but dry and old. The membrane snapped when you bit into them like a piece of sausage. This meal might have actually been decent had I arrived the day before when it was pulled out of the smoker.
Disgusted and frustrated, I asked the worker in charge of the pit when this food came off the smoker. He confirmed that it was all yesterday's meat. I commend his honesty, but was still frustrated that they would serve this to customers. There are a lot of ways to effectively use yesterday's BBQ (burnt ends, Brunswick stew, baked beans, etc.). Throwing it an oven to reheat and serve isn't one of them. He told me he was sorry and would get "some good stuff" for me. The good stuff was foil wrapped pork that was thrown into a crock pot for ten minutes. I don't get it. They don't get it. There are couple sauces to choose from here if you'd rather not taste the old meat. My favorite was the honey BBQ, but the spicy and mustard sauces were pretty good too.
On my way out I was able to run into the owner, "Cowboy." He told me some story about how competition BBQ wasn't for him and how much Southern Pride smokers are overrated. I said my goodbyes, never to return. See ya' around, Cowboy.