Customers Adam Chapman (left) and Ed Harrison chow down at the Old School BBQ in Monroe. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Customers Adam Chapman (left) and Ed Harrison chow down at the Old School BBQ in Monroe. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Get schooled on Texas BBQ at this Monroe restaurant in a bus

Brisket, pulled pork, sausage, chicken and the fixin’s all await you near the Reptile Zoo on U.S. 2.

MONROE — The rule is to brake for a school bus when the lights are flashing.

How about when it’s smoking?

I’ve driven by Old School BBQ’s yellow school bus on my way to and fro along U.S. 2 many times.

It was time to brake.

Texas transplants Leanne and Henry Smiciklas opened Old School BBQ 10 years ago in the plaza by the Reptile Zoo and have been educating and feeding Washingtonians ever since. Meats are cooked fresh daily in a trailer smoker they pull from their Monroe home. You can see the smoke and smell the splendor from the road.

I don’t know much about Texas barbecue, but I know how to eat. Everything looked good on the chalkboard menu listing the combo plates and sandwiches.

So, I went hog wild. I got the meal deal that feeds four ($61.99) to go for my family. It came with pork ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork and, at Leanne’s suggestion, sausage. We’re not big sausage lovers, but she urged me on.

Indeed, the sausage was a hit with my husband. “It had good texture, good taste, even though I know it’s bad for me,” he said.

The ribs scored second place on his palate. “I liked the way they were cooked and smoked, and they had a lot of meat on the bone,” he said.

My son praised the pulled pork, saying it was smoked so tastefully it didn’t need sauce.

He was spot on. I usually can’t eat smoked meat that’s naked. I need it thickly clothed in sauce.

When I got home with the fare, I panicked because there were only a few little containers of sauce in the bag. Turns out these meats don’t need it. I dipped the cornbread in the sauce.

There was so much meat in the meal deal that we had it for dinner two days in a row.

The sides were polished off quickly. The baked beans were tangy, the coleslaw crunchy. I ate the entire thing of macaroni salad, which I usually don’t like.

While I was there, I got a carryout for Herald colleague Ben Watanabe, who was stuck at work.

He wanted the two-meat combo plate ($14.99) with brisket and pulled pork.

“It was tender and basically fell away with a few soft chomps,” he said. “The meat was brilliantly smoky and tender as butter. All of that savory flavor was punched up with both of the sauces I tried, the M (medium) and the SS (sweet and spicy). The “SS” had a strong tint of tomato to it, which was nice to be able to pick out from the sugar and other spices. The M had just about as much spiciness to it as I can comfortably stomach, and was a nice hit 1-2 hit.”

For a side, Ben chose macaroni salad.

“If I could choose one food to eat without any consequences to my health, it would be macaroni and cheese. So adjacent to that is the summer picnic staple of macaroni salad. This one was tangy, with some nice crunch thrown in with diced carrot and celery,” he said.

“The cornbread was dense and flavorful, with a down-the-middle balance between savory and sweet. It made for a hefty and satisfying finish to the plate.”

Next time I want to dine in. There are six picnic tables outside, but what is really cool is the second school bus rigged as a lunchroom that seats 22.

Maybe I’ll bring the whole fam damily. I doubt we’ll have any leftovers to take home.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Old School BBQ: 22715 U.S. 2, Monroe; 425-367-1045

Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, closing earlier if the food sells out.

Catering available.

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