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I’ve heard Central Texan BBQ restaurant, 10500 Merritt Street, Castroville, referred to as a “vegetarian’s nightmare.” If you do have any carnivorous tendencies, they serve the best smoked turkey and brisket I’ve ever had. Meats are pit-smoked for up to 20 hours.

I first discovered Central Texan years ago while driving down Castroville’s main street. Detecting tantalizing aromas in the air, my friend and I quickly turned around to find the source of these smells.

As authentic a BBQ place as you’ll find outside of Texas, Central Texan is a rustic, no-frills place with sawdust on the floor, picnic-style tables and Texas memorabilia everywhere.

After making your selection at the counter, watch as owner Don Elkins (a lively character and jokester) slices huge chunks of pit-cooked brisket, Angus beef, chicken, ribs, pork shoulder or Texas sausage. He piles them on your plate with hunks of onion, pickles and bread. You have a choice of beans or salad.

My pups love the dinosaur-sized rib bones I bring home (two for a dollar).

It’s worth a visit when you’re in the Monterey area. Open every day 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

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