The Road House BBQ in Eagle, located in a business park off of State Street, is a bit hard to find. My wife and I headed there for lunch on a rainy day, arriving after a few wrong turns. The Road House is an unpretentious eatery filled with plastic-cloth-covered tables and numerous alligator decorations, and features cafeteria-style service.
Owners Ross and Polly Tilbury were busy behind the counter, and the line moved quickly as she took orders and he filled them. Their place is like a roadhouse you'd see in East Texas or Northern Louisiana, which is where the Tilburys are from.
From the blackboard menu behind the counter, my wife ordered a sandwich plate ($8.79): turkey on a sesame seed bun with sides of green beans and sweet potatoes. She ordered a glass of sweet tea ($1.69) to wash it down.
I ordered the three meat combo ($17.99). I selected sausage, beef brisket and pulled pork from the six different meat options, with coleslaw, barbecue beans, turnip greens and a dinner roll. Two sides came with the combo, but I couldn't pass up a third side for just a $1.69 extra.
Each order came with a dollop of barbecue sauce, a Texas-style ketchup-based sauce lighter and more tangy than the dark and smoky sauces favored by Midwestern barbecues. I would have preferred a sweeter sauce but appreciated that they served their sauce on the side.
Digging into my meal, I was satisfied with my choices. The sausage was delicious and the pork and brisket were so tender and juicy, I didn't even need a knife. My fork easily handled anything that needed to be made into bite-sized portions. My wife's sandwich was heaped with a generous portion of turkey, and she had no complaints with Road House's barbecue sauce.
I was impressed by the range of side dishes and the fact that they're all homemade. The coleslaw was cool and creamy, and the barbecue beans had the sweet, smoky flavor that I would have preferred in the barbecue sauce. My wife's sweet potatoes with pecans were a real taste treat. However, we both agreed that the turnip greens lacked distinction.
My wife, who lived in Texas for a few years, summed up the dining experience in two words: "It's authentic." She was pleased with the sweet tea in pitchers up front. Sweet tea is a Southern thing that you don't often find up here, and, when you do, it's often not very good.
The Road House owners are serious about both food and music. They have good tastes in both and have found a way to make them work together. They sponsor a number of the musical acts that stop in Boise, offering their fare to several well-known musicians. The walls are plastered with autographed photos and posters, many of which include testaments to Road House's food. Natalie McMaster offered high praise, writing, "Best BBQ in the world!"
Other barbecue restaurants may tout the "Texas" in their name, but the Road House BBQ has "Texas" infused into their food and friendly service. If it's authentic Texas-style barbecue that you're looking for, you can save yourself a trip down south. And, when you reach the Road House BBQ, be sure to do as requested on the bottom of Robert Earl Keen's photo, "Tell 'em REK sent ya."
—Curt Nichols is a sucker for southern food and hospitality.