We dive into the briskets and ribs at Martin’s Place for my birthday in 2011. That’s their 86th year. I was born in ’86. I like to think Martin’s and I share some common destiny to cross path, beside the appreciation of good ribs.
There is one flimsy door to the side of the red brick building, facing the supposed parking lot, which is just a flat pebble-and-dust land free to park wherever convenient. Crack open the flimsy door, we turn the knob of another, more solid door to the interior, and with it being our first time, we awkwardly stand there looking at the few customers who are in for an early lunch, not sure whether we should wait or just pick a table ourselves. The only hostess of Martin’s Place points us to a table next to a window with broken blinds.
The menus stand ready by the side of sugar, salt, and hot sauce. At first she seems a bit indifferent to us, the opposite of her cheerful friendliness to the likely long-term acquainted patrons at the other tables, but as I tell her that it is our first time here and I would like her to recommend a dish among their various delicious sounding options, she starts smiling more. Somehow I get the feeling that Asian families don’t often visit this family-owned beef stop between Bryan and College Station.
The BBQ dinners with choice of beef, pork, or sausage, and two sides cost $7.25, pickles and bread available upon request, but the bread is simply two white slices. A bigger appetite for meat would be met by the BBQ plate alone, ranging from 1/4 ($4.25) to 1 pound ($10.50) each.
Like at most Southerners’ country cooking joints, vegetable sides are not exactly vegetables, and it all comes down to picking fried (onion ring, okra, tots, corn, fries) or non-fried (cole slaw, beans, potato salad, sliced jalapeno, cheese). I go both ways: a house (German) potatoes and a fried corn nuggets.
The house mashed potato is sweet and creamy, highly recommended. The ribs, not as falling-off-the-bone tender as those from Potatoe Patch, are much more filling than they look. Two ribs out of three and I find my hand rubbing my belly.
How does a place so underkempt and lacking of attentive and giggling service stay in business for 86 years, when its beef does not quite give the most tongue-catching experience? The only answer must be its small town charm, fostered by its loyal patronage of the locals that does not need any advertisement about supporting local business. Maybe it’s my Texas self taking over, but I like it beyond reasons, like any other little country sites in the middle of nowheres.
Address: Martin’s Place
3403 South College Avenue
Bryan, TX 77801