For the past year or so, you may have noticed a sign hanging over the door of the old BJ's Pharmacy located at 205 Moore Street in SMTX touting a new restaurant's arrival. "Coming Soon!" it said. "BBQ and Tex-Mex!" it said…
Then nothing. The sign hung and blew in the wind. It just hung and nothing changed… Queue tumbleweeds, lone vultures, and an epic wind storm.
Until last Friday. That's right folks! AJ's Ranch Road Grill finally opened. I have to say that when I I saw the "Now Open!" sign, I freaked out.
I pretty much slammed on brakes and nearly caused a billion car pile up. Yes, that was very exaggerated and perhaps a tad dramatic, but it was exciting, to say the least.
I couldn't wait to get in the former pharmacy and chow down on some award winning BBQ, tasty tacos, mouth watering Tex-Mex and juicy burgers from AJ.
What I didn't expect was for AJ, the owner and namesake of AJ's Ranch Road Grill, to be a 25-year-old Texas State University graduate. As he explained, he was having a tough time with the relentless job market, and decided to pursue his dream of running his own business. How cool is that? With the help of his family, he was able to get the doors to this cozy, homey and Bobcat-proud eatery open.
When I first walked in the doors, I was not at all surprised with the semi-stark atmosphere, and the strong Texas State vibe. It was cozy and relaxed. Think local neighborhood hang out. The place is really small though, with only about 4 tables in the dining space, but somehow, it just worked.
I approached the ordering counter without a clue as to what I'd order, so I asked the man who turned out to be AJ's father what he'd suggest. Without hesitation, he enthusiastically recommended both their beautiful burger, and their pulled pork sandwich. I couldn't turn down the pulled pork sandwich combo with fries and a drink, so that's what I got. Yum.
After a pretty long wait due to the real-deal cook to order nature of the place, I was presented with a paper plate of awesome. What a beautiful sandwich. The pretzel bun was shiny and beautiful. The meat was less pulled, and more chunked, glistening with a beautiful caramel colored glaze.
The bright green, tart and crunchy pickles contrasted both in texture and color with the tender and flavorful meat. The bun was chewy and pretty dang good.It was like a chewier and unsalted soft pretzel. I've never had a pretzel bun before, and now that it's all the rage, I'm glad I now know what it tastes like.
The fries were just those that you see everywhere. You know them, and you probably love them: traditional crinkle cut fries. But there was something really good about them. I guess when they're fried and seasoned special just for you, they are better.
The sandwich was filling and super satisfying. The fries were great, and I felt really warm and welcome at AJ's. Next time I go, which I am betting will be REALLY soon, I'm going to test out the other house favorite, the 1/2 lb certified Angus beef burger. Drool!
Do you need a few more reasons why AJ's is so special? Well, they are BYOB, have a drive-thru and open until 3:30 a.m. Yep! It's just what we need here in this college town: a cozy place to eat great food, and soak up all that alcohol from a big night out on The Square. Basically, it's the best place grub out late night in town. In fact, it's one of the most comfortable and yummy spots to grub out in town, period.
Have you had a chance to get out to this new place? What'd you think?