A new list names the best spot to get barbecue in every single state — and the Washington pick is right here in Marysville.
Food & Wine has named Jeff’s Texas Style BBQ the state’s best barbecue joint.
“It’s very surprising and I’m flattered,” Owner Jeff Knoch said of making the national list. “But … everything is in the eye of the beholder. A lot more people are going to know about us, and a lot more people are going to try us, and they’re going to make up their own minds.
“It’s not as simple as Jeff’s is the best.”
Best in Washington or not, Knoch takes his Texas brisket very seriously.
Knoch, 57, has been smoking meats since 1995. He went to Texas around 2000 to learn how to make the perfect brisket. What he found is that barbecuing is less about science and more about experience.
This isn’t the first time Jeff’s has been recognized as one of the best. The restaurant also was at the top of the Seattle A-List for best barbecue in 2016.
We got wind of Knoch’s joint because he feeds the Seahawks at training camp. The Daily Herald ran a review of the restaurant in March.
Aaron Swaney, who writes The Herald’s Hops & Sips column, wrote the restaurant review, in which he called the brisket “unforgettable” and the sides “inventive” and “delicious.” He especially loved the brisket baked beans.
“I think it’s great the Jeff is getting some national attention,” Swaney said. “It’s well deserved. He really sticks close to the true Texas style, which is rather unique in Washington.”
Food & Wine’s David Landsel last week published his “The Best BBQ in Every State” list. For every state, Landsel also noted one or two runners-up “because there’s more good barbecue out there than ever before.”
In addition to Jeff’s Texas Style BBQ, Landsel recommends a trip to Seattle for Jack’s BBQ, 3924 Airport Way S., and Emma’s BBQ, 5303 Rainier Ave. S.
We’re seeing a trend here.
Knoch gave Swaney a primer on barbecue during his visit.
There are four styles of barbecue: Kansas City, Carolina, Southern and Central Texas.
Kansas City style is characterized by pork ribs and brisket burnt ends; Carolina’s is mostly pork and a vinegar or mustard sauce; Southern style is defined by its side dishes like baked beans, corn bread, etc; and Texas style is simply beef and a rub, or brisket.
Knoch told Swaney that Texas style is the most honest of the styles.
“I loved the fact that there was no sauce on it,” Knoch said. “It was just meat with smoke and simple seasonings. The simplicity of it really rang true with me. It’s delicious. If it’s done right, it doesn’t need sauce, because it’s flavorful, moist and smoky. There’s nothing to hide.”
He does, in fact, cater for the Seahawks. They love his barbecue so much, he can’t seem to bring them enough. The first time he catered, he brought 40 pounds of brisket (served alongside ribs, turkey, sausages and sides) and ran out. The next time, he made 60 pounds of brisket, and ran out again. The third time, he brought 80 pounds — and still ran out.
In September, Knoch will again be feeding the Seahawks. This time he’s bringing 80 pounds of brisket, 45 racks of ribs, 40 pounds of turkey, 40 pounds of sausages and lots and lots of sides.
“It’s amazing how much they eat,” he said. “I can’t believe it.”
The scene at Jeff’s ever since the Food & Wine list came out is more of the same: Knoch has sold out every day from Wednesday through Sunday, even after increasing his barbecue volume threefold.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “We open at 11 a.m. and seldom make it to 7 p.m. because we sell out, but I try very hard to make it to 6. Last Saturday, we sold out at 2, and Sunday we sold out at 1:30. I didn’t even come close to estimating how much to cook.”
Our advice? Get in line before the restaurant opens.
If you go
What: Jeff’s Texas Style BBQ
Where: 9214 State Ave., Marysville.
When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
More: 360-386-9489 or www.jeffstexasstylebbq.com