By: Nick Rallo
No matter what time you walk through the jangling doors, the season is always Texas fall at One90 Smoked Meats. It means that there’s warming, cheesy and smoky comfort food, the kind you eat near a crackling fire while wearing loose pajamas. The sound of “Wish You Were Here,” forever a family chorus during the holidays, plays over the counter at One90 Smoked Meats on Northwest Highway.
Cobwebs stretch over the shelves and a fake spider the size of a raccoon waits, patiently, on the sign informing passersby that One90 smokes meats with pecan and oak wood from trees fallen in the neighborhood. The humidity of beef steam and smoke fills the air inside the restaurant. Only in Texas does 100 percent barbecue humidity exist alongside Halloween decorations.
The beef tenderloin sandwich is the forever autumn sandwich you need, and it’s part of a menu of some of the best things between bread in the city. Smoky slices of loin are cut into thin panes (ask for it medium rare for the glory of all glories) and piled on a glossy bun with grilled onions and melted Monterey Jack cheese. The tenderloin slices are shaved so thin they nearly melt into the onions and cool mayo.
This sandwich needs no chips: It’s a full, $15 meal. Co-owner Herman Guerra talks through it: Whole tenderloin, seasoned with kosher salt and coarse black pepper, smokes for four hours over the pecan and oak wood grill. The beef is shaved thin before kissing the flat top grill so it’s tender and lightly crusty. Then it’s piled under grilled, paprika-dusted onions. Monterey Jack drapes over everything, and the whole thing comes wrapped in glistening, oily tin foil, ready to be unwrapped and tossed into your mouth.
This is the sandwich you order a dozen of, fill a banker’s box, drive it straight to your family dinner and claim that you cooked it. The beautiful grilled onion oil, dark, autumnal maroon from the paprika, runs into the steak and the mayo.
Behind me, the kitchen’s filling with gauzy smoke because Texas fall means barbecue smoke, mosquitoes and jack-o’-lanterns. It also means to-go bacon — because this is the kind of sandwich place where you can take smoked meats and bacon in vacuum-sealed packs to go — and, of course, ham.
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