Paul Antrim serves brisket at Ronnie’s BBQ in Johnson City. Pam LeBlanc photo

Last week’s jaunt to a ranch near Mason to see where Nine-Banded Whiskey draws spring water used in its bourbon resulted in a happy discovery: A really good barbecue joint in Johnson City.

Ronnie Weiershausen started peddling barbecue cooked directly over coals at the storefront at 211 U.S. Highway 281 back in 1976. Mickey Poole bought the place in December 2019, with plans to use it as a commissary and satellite kitchen for an events center and tiny home village called The Edge that he’s opening near Fredericksburg later this year.

The barbecue business is going well, though, so Poole is keeping the fires burning – although he’s ditched the direct-heat method of cooking for an offset smoker “after Paul and I almost burned the place down.”

Paul Antrim mans the smoker behind Ronnie’s BBQ in Johnson City. Pam LeBlanc photo

Paul Antrim is the cook. He arrives at the office by 5 a.m. daily, seasoning meat and putting it on the smoker, where it spends the next six to eight hours. He turns out tender, smokey brisket, ribs, sausage, turkey, and chicken at the counter-service restaurant, serving ranchers and visitors like me passing through town. (Under no circumstances should you skip the jalapeno poppers, bacon-wrapped nuggets of fire and brimstone with a soothing cream cheese stuffing.)

“I’d put our stuff up against anybody,” Poole says. “His brisket is amazing.”

He’s right. The food has gotten so popular that Antrim smokes 18 or 19 briskets at a time, and sells out regularly.

It’s enough to convince me to make the trip, even if it is a little out of the way.





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