Long before Dwayne was a sparkle in his dad’s eye, Tom, a teenager at the time, was looking to make a buck with his cousin Bingo. The teens had bought a cow from their grandpa and were going door to door in Tyler, Texas trying to sell the meat. After having one door after another shut in their faces, they decided to barbecue the meat of which they sold every last bite to the same people that had shut their doors on them just hours earlier. At 16 years of age, Tom opened the doors to the first Tom & Bingo’s Bar-B-Q in Tyler, Texas.
The restaurant quickly grew and eventually there was a Tom & Bingo’s Bar-B-Q in Abilene, two in Amarillo and three in Lubbock. But as Tom aged, he decided to simplify his life and chose to own and operate just one location in Lubbock. In 1982, Dwayne’s dad gave him the opportunity to buy the Lubbock operation and the rest is history.
The secret to Tom & Bingo’s continued success is serving up the same great barbecue, but with the minor addition of a jalapeno cheese sausage. Six days a week, they begin preparing the meat at 2 p.m. and check it every four hours until serving customers at 11 a.m. the next day. While their lips are sealed when it comes to the exact ingredients, Tom & Bingo’s does divulge the decision to cook with hickory wood instead of mesquite.
Another key element to their success is the Tom & Bingo’s Bar-B-Q sauce, the perfect mixture of sweet and hot with a vinegar base. Tom & Bingo’s fans have reason to rejoice now that the sauce is available for purchase at United Supermarkets in Lubbock, Amarillo, Plainview and Canyon.
I had the opportunity to indulge in the chopped brisket sandwich during my visit to Tom & Bingo’s. The bread was perfectly toasted and the meat was both tender and juicy. Once you add the Tom & Bingo’s Bar-B-Q sauce, you have made it to barbecue heaven. Another must try is the jalapeno cheese sausage, which is available in a sandwich or wrap. While most sausage tends to have a tougher skin, this is tender and makes a nice little pop when you bite into it.
Don’t just take my word for it. This barbecue joint has made Texas Monthly magazine’s “Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas” list twice and has also been featured on the popular TV series “Texas Country Reporter.” My only request is that you let the staff know who sent you when you decide to stop in and satisfy your barbecue cravings!
Editor’s Note: Dwayne Clanton’s legacy is now carried on by his son-in-law and third generation pitmaster, Ian Timmons.
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