Things are looking better, but it’s still scary out there, and that’s why Mike Hanson feels like he’s taking at least a small risk expanding his business right now. But he’s also confident. “The biggest risk is the one you don’t take,” he says. In this case, I’d have to agree. If you’re serving the best barbecue in town, getting bigger doesn’t seem very risky at all.
Hanson is owner of Buzz BBQ, a small neighborhood restaurant that began in a tiny former ice cream shop on West Ann Road. It quickly grew into a larger store just off Highway 95 at Craig Road, and in November Buzz opened its second location, next to In-N-Out at Tropicana near the Beltway.
Hanson and his slow-smoking crew specialize in “flavorful, tender meats with the sauce on the side.” It’s not necessarily Texas-style, but it’s all about the smoke and the dry rub—which might have a little island kick, considering Hanson is Jamaican. All Buzz meats are imparted with a rich hickory flavor, so smokey you can see the pink ring in the pork and chicken. My favorite is the brisket, super-thick slabs of moist, melt-in-your-mouth beef. Get a healthy pile of it at lunch, for just nine bucks, with black eyed peas or collard greens on the side and a soft roll and drink.
An even better deal is barbecue-for-two for $19.99, which comes with your choice of three meats and all the sides you can handle. You will be full. “Our portions have always been pretty big,” Hanson says. “You need to know if you’re going to come in hungry and get a sandwich like the Tornado (brisket, pork and sausage) that you’ll be leaving full.”
Buzz also does whole chicken, pork ribs or pulled pork, rib tips, andouille sausage and crispy fried catfish. Around the holidays, the restaurant sells out of smoked turkeys. Salads and sides are traditional, and dessert is fresh baked cobbler with ice cream.
The new southwest location will soon add more fun elements: a full bar and after-dinner entertainment. The cozy, separate bar space will extend out onto the patio and give Hanson an excuse to add to his appetizer menu. A corner stage in the dining room eventually see live music. For now, Buzz is just trying to satisfy its new neighborhood. “We’ve already had some folks who are happy they don’t have to travel as far to come see us,” Hanson says.