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Review: Smoke signals quality barbecue’s return to downtown San Antonio at Burnwood ’68

December 24, 2018

Note: This is a Just a Taste review, which the Express-News does soon after a restaurant or bar opens to give our first impressions.

When King’s Hwy Brew & Q closed in September, downtown San Antonio was left with a crucial void in the form of an independent barbecue joint capable of delivering a top-shelf array of smoked meats.

Well, I have good news, folks. Burnwood ’68 is stoking the fires of barbecue rebirth in the city’s Five points neighborhood.

The Victoria-based Limon family, veteran barbecue restaurant operators themselves, have taken the property over, launching their new restaurant earlier this month. Burnwood’s tidy interior has received a fresh coat of paint and new decor. The feel is cozy and family friendly. The restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol, although diners are welcome to bring their own bottles.

I had a chance to dine at Burnwood over the weekend, and I’m happy to say there are meaningful smoke signals wafting over NoFlo once again. Do those signals rise as high as Kings Hwy? Not yet. But the message is clear: This newcomer wants to carve out its own identity, one slab of brisket and rack of ribs at a time.

On the menu: Burnwood serves up all the usual suspects, although pulled pork was not available during my visit. Least remarkable on my platter was the barbecued chicken ($7 for a half bird), which sported a well seasoned skin and pleasing smoky fragrance, but arrived too dry to enjoy without a generous dousing of sauce.

Brisket, sliced from the fatty end ($20 per pound), also was surprisingly arid, with only one of four slices having any stretch and flex to speak of, although a zippy bark worked overtime to make up the shortcomings. That same meat took a starring role in the Chopped Frito Pie ($9), a heaping basket of Fritos draped in flavorful beans, barbecue sauce, diced onion and smoky beef.

Rib fans can rejoice in the baby backs ($16 per pound) on tap at Burnwood. They’re tender and juicy, and cling to their bone with just the right degree of tenacity. The sausage ($15 per pound) was less moving but fulfilled its duty with dignity.

Side dishes ($2.25 for a 4-ounce portion) were particularly enjoyable at Burnwood. Bright and zesty green beans had clearly never seen the inside of a can. Crisp coleslaw had all the tangy vinegar acidity I’m so often left wanting. Little differentiated the cheesy potatoes from the German potatoes, save for an ample creaminess in the former, but both provided necessary and tasty ballast.

Looking through the smokescreen, Burnwood is yet to deliver the blissful barbecue highs that Kings Hwy cultivated over several years in business. But with just a few short weeks under it’s belt, the restaurant shows a confidence and potential I’m happy to support.

Location: 1012 N. Flores St., 210-320-0584, Facebook: @burnwood68

Hours: 11 a.m to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday

Paul Stephen is a staff writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | pstephen@express-news.net | Twitter: @pjbites | Instagram: @pjstephen

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