Living on the North Shore, I often feel as though we’re left bereft of the many culinary delights of inner and inner western Sydney. Specialist dining like American diners and small bars are few and far between, the further north you get of the Harbour Bridge. Given that I both live and work on the North Shore, I rarely find the time or reason to cross the bridge and am instead left yearning for things like sticky ribs.
Not any longer though! K recently found online reviews of Taste of Texas BBQ, located in a small stretch of shops along the Pacific Highway in Waitara, sandwiched by multiple car dealerships. We gather up a group of friends to give Taste of Texas a try, including our friend T whose girlfriend is Texan and who therefore considers himself our group expert on authentic Texan ribs.
We show up for dinner at around 7pm and have difficulty getting a table big enough for the group. The restaurant is only small, seating approximately 20 people. Most orders coming in are for a take-away meal. You order your meal at the counter and they’ll bring your order out to you when it’s ready – don’t expect ongoing table service though!
The menu is chalked up on a blackboard and all I can see is meat, meat, meat and more meat. It’s what we’re here for! Make sure you arrive early though – we ordered by 7.15pm, and literally ordered the very last serves of ribs they had available for the night. So even though Taste of Texas is technically open until 9pm, it’s well worth ensuring that you arrive by 6pm in order to ensure you have a full selection of the menu.
The decor in the restaurant is at the same time, both rustic and a little bit kitsch. Things like Mexican-style Dia de los Muertos salt and pepper shakers, plus a American turkey toothpick holder take pride of place on the tables. License plates and old prints are hung on the wall – confusingly, with some plates from Canadian provinces like British Columbia. I guess they’re going for a “North American continent” theme, rather than a strictly Texan theme?
K and T both order the special soft drinks they have available – A&W root beer and Dr Pepper. There’s nothing like imported soft drinks, especially when they’re being sold for an extremely reasonable $2.50 each.
K and I share two dishes, the first being the New York Wings. With spice intensities that include Mild, Medium, Hot, Hotter Still (and Honey Garlic for those who don’t like space!), we opt to try the Medium – better safe than sorry, especially when it comes to the avoidance of burning mouth syndrome! I find the sauce on the wings both sticky sweet and tangy sour, with a nice ongoing chilli burn that pairs nicely with the creamy and moreish blue cheese dip. We probably could have opted for the Hot wings, but the Medium was a comfortable level of chilliness.
We also share the big “everything’s included” meal of the Texas BBQ stampede. Now this is the one to order if you’re feeling like a meat fest – definitely better shared between two (or else order the mini version at $20)! Of everything included in the box, my favourite were the BBQ ribs (with a wonderful sticky marinade) and surprisingly the fries – which I found just perfectly crisp and crunchy. The meals are normally served with potato salad but we got fries instead because they ran out of the potato salad – it’s well worth asking to substitute in fries when you visit!
Overall, I would rate Taste of Texas BBQ as a must visit for those who live on the North Shore. Though the ribs didn’t rate highly on the authenticity scale by our friend T, Taste of Texas BBQ in Waitara is still an excellently meaty dining option, offering a better value meal than other North Shore ribs joints like Hurricane’s Grill or Ribs & Rumps. I’ll definitely be back.