View Full Version : Need Help: Going to Austin on "business".

04-29-2010, 11:07 AM
I have an extra day which I plan to use hitting up as many BBQ spots as possible, and I need some recommendations.

On my list so far are County Line and Salt Lick. I may venture to Lubbock if time permits.

04-29-2010, 11:39 AM
Just a heads up, Austin to Lubbock is around 387 miles.
Perhaps you're thinking of Llano or other central hill country Texas towns....
Have a good trip, enjoy the local fare.

04-29-2010, 11:39 AM
Don't miss Stubbs. Salt Lickin Driftwood is a blast with a lot of people and BYOBto boot but the Q is just average for the Austin area IMHO.

04-29-2010, 11:53 AM
RUDYS!! There are a few of them.


04-29-2010, 12:03 PM
Lubbock would be a long round trip, with lots of speed traps, and not a lot of scenery in between.

You can hit Taylor which has several good places to eat, as well as Lockhart that has a few better known places and still not burn the entire day.

04-29-2010, 12:23 PM
I have to differ withe suggestions made by the esteemed Brethren above.

County Line - Pretty decent for a BBQ chain restaurant - too 'saucy' and not enough smoke for me.
Salt Lick -Was dead excellent - 25 to 30 years ago. Great ambiene but I found the food only so-so the last few years.
Stubbs - Used to have decent BBQ, seems to have fallen off as of late. Same for Austin Iron Works BBQ.

My suggestions are as follows:
Franklin BBQ at 3421 N I H 35 - a lesser known place with excellent Q - get there before 1pm or they might run out of one or more meats!
Cooper's in Llano - always a good choice, try the Big Chop. Pick your own meat off the pit!
Black's BBQ - if you are heading to Lockhart, this is ahead of the Smitty's/Kreuz Market Q. Chisholm Trail is good, too.

Happy eating!

04-29-2010, 01:10 PM
Yeah, meant Lockhart, typed Lubbock (name of a project I used to work on).

Keep 'em coming!! I plan to document my vacat... I mean business trip and post whatever seems appropriate.

04-29-2010, 02:44 PM
Don't limit yourself to one joint in Lockhart - which is the best one varies from time to time. Do a crawl, since you are paying by the pound.

One town south of Lochart is Luling and the City Market there is another great one.

These Central Texas meccas have odd hours so lunch or shortly thereafter is you best bet. Some of them are closed on Sunday too. Be sure to check the times out as you are planning.

04-30-2010, 12:39 AM
Luling's City Market - easy to find, quite possibly the best sausage in the state.

04-30-2010, 08:26 AM
Luling's City Market - easy to find, quite possibly the best sausage in the state.

and one of the better sauces, IMO.

04-30-2010, 08:30 AM
Luling's City Market - easy to find, quite possibly the best sausage in the state.

I agree on their sausage.

05-01-2010, 11:02 PM
and one of the better sauces, IMO.

I agree, wish they would put it in HEB.

05-11-2010, 08:23 PM
OK, so I'll break things up by day. Please be advised that these are only the opinions of a New Englander, so don't anyone take offense to what follows ;)

I have video coverage of most of the places that I went. I'm editing them up and will post them on YouTube in the near future.

1) Iron Works BBQ in Austin: Place was good. Had the brisket which was good. Medium smoke, and a nice lean cut of the flat which I like. Sat outside along a creek that was full of fish and crazy huge turtles. Not sure what they were burning.

2) Salt Lick in Driftwood: Place is huge. You can tell they get buses pulling in there. We got the family style meal, which comes with smashed potatoes (which are more like a warm vinegar potato salad; no creaminess. Has chunks of onion). Came with baked beans (pretty bland and watery), some giant jalepenos that had no heat, some pickles and a good vinegar slaw. Nice and crisp. It was all you can eat, so I did. They brought out pork ribs (spares), brisky and sausage. Ribs were not very good. Underdone, no smoke. Sausage was pretty good. Not all greasy, but not a lot of flavor either. They hang over the open pit so I don't think that any of the meat gets a concentrated smoking. Brisket was good; not very smokey, but good. Most of it anyhow. I got a few pieces that were cut with the grain and therefore tough. Some were great, totally tender. Some were not. All in all, didn't live up to the hype that I had built up.

05-11-2010, 08:37 PM
OK, so this is the day that I took some personal time off to head down to Lockhart and Luling. Again, I'll post videos later. I got coverage for all of these places to some capacity.

1) City Market in Luling. This wound up also being the best of the day. It was a market in the front, and a strange closed-in area in the back with the pits. Very good, nice and smokey. Brisket was great and the hot links were even better. They had a mustard vinegar (basically a S. Carolina) sauce that was the best out of all of the places IMO. I got a used/cleaned out Lipton Iced Tea bottle full of it that I will bring home.

2) Chisholm Trail in Lockhart. Meh. The brisket was ok; not great. No real smoke taste. The hot links were hot, but as oily as your worst nightmare. I prefer it drier and didn't see any options to order it that way; I could have missed it certainly as I was busy taking in the local flavor. I probably could squeeze a teaspoon or 2 of grease out of a 1 inch chunk.

3) Smitty's Market in Lockhart. Another Meh. They had the coolest pit setup, with 2 open fires on the ground, adjacent to 2 pit rows. All of these places have about the same type of pit. More about that later. As for the food, it was just OK. I ordered brisket which they called Fat, and it was. It was like a point that never saw a trim. And was not rendered, underdone. I also ordered the "lean" brisket which they called shoulder; it tasted like an eye of the round or something. Not bad, but not brisket flat like I assumed it would be. I must have missed something when ordering. I was busy trying to get some video shots of the pits as they were pretty cool. No real smoke flavor in either cut, even with all the smoke that was certainly getting on it. Like Chisholm Trail, the links were a grease-fest. Here I found out after the fact that I could have ordered a dryer version, which they said are just cooked longer.

4) Black's in Lockhart. Yum, boy. This place was very good. Nice lean flat section like I asked for. Smoke was medium, but at least was there. The hot link was great. It had chunks of garlic and jalapeno and was lean, hardly any grease. Real good.

5) Kreuz Market. Mega-meh. Worst overall. Place is huge; looks like it may have been good at one time, but now seems to be a tourist trap. It is the first obvious BBQ joint coming into Lockhart from the North (Austin) but was my last stop as I went south to Luling first and then came back up through Lockhart. I got brisket, which was point and almost all fat. What little meat there was was underdone and tough and cut with the grain. I didn't eat but a small bite of bark that I got. Tossed the rest. The link was OK; in the middle of the crowd I guess. Kinda greasy, not terrible.

All of these places had about the same type of pit. They are all brick/stone, and all on the floor. The fire is at one end, and the pit stretches quite a ways to a chimney. There are several heavy steel doors along the tops of the pit rows where they have grates inside and meat getting happy. So, think of like a typical offset, but on the floor, and stone. Most had a fire box made out of brick/stone also with a steel door for loading. The one at Smitty's didn't even have the box; the fire was just sitting there on the floor next to the intake to the pit row. All of the places had 2 rows of pit that shared a common chimney; in an 'L' formation if that makes sense, where the vertex of the 'L' is the shared chimney. The ends of the 'L' would be where the fire boxes were. All of the places that I asked about firewood reported that they use post Oak.

One thing that was pretty consistent was the subtle nature of the smoke flavor. Some places hardly had a hint, while a couple had slightly more.

05-11-2010, 08:54 PM
Last day in Austin. I had just enough time to hit up 2 more places.

1) Rudy's in Austin (Research Blvd.): Here I had to endure some sideshow action once I announced that I had not been there before. I was deemed a rookie and they brought me out small samples of point, flat and turkey. Samples are always welcome, perhaps better executed without the entertainment at my expense ;) BBQ rookie... meh! But I digress... I got brisket flat and their hot link. The brisket was good; very lean which I like. It was cut very thin however, suggesting that it was probably a bit on the under-done side. No real smoke flavor, but was fine and I gobbled it up. The link was actually pretty good. It had chunks of jalapenos in it. This place was situated behind a Shell gas station, and was manned by a bunch of what I assume to be college-aged kids. Very much about the ambiance, and the Q wasn't bad either.

2) Franklin BBQ in Austin: My GPS saved me while seeking this spot out. I never would have found it. This place is situated on a defunct gas station with a bunch of picnic tables and such set up; the Q is served out of an old funky green camp trailer, and the food was being smoked on at least 2 large offsets (I could only see one directly, but saw some Blue trickling out from behind a blind). Place was very busy and was the first place that I had to wait for my Q. I got some brisket, and it was cut about halfway up the brisket and so there was some point. I overheard the guy trying to offload burnt ends with no takers. The people didn't seem to know what it was, and when he explained they passed on this awesome offer. Needless to say, I took plenty off of his hands. The meat was cut a bit on the thick side; it had been a bit overdone but I prefer that over underdone. Nice and smokey (post Oak again) taboot. I had some of their espresso sauce which by itself was a bit odd but really worked well with the meat.

So, that's it. I think that I'll pass on ranking all of these places... well, OK, I'll just say that the quality varied a lot more that I had anticipated. City Market in Luling would be a place I'd travel outside of Austin to hit up again for sure.

Thanks for all of the recommendations.

05-11-2010, 08:57 PM
Good work on your crawl brother! I like Blacks the best overall however the best I ever had was a good day at Smitty's, But then again you didn't get to Snows or the Taylor Cafe'. Both of those rock!!

05-11-2010, 09:18 PM
Thanks for the detailed write up... sorry to read that most did not live up to the repuation or your expectations...

I still want to make a trip there at some point, even if the BBQ is sub-par.. more so for the experience.

05-11-2010, 09:27 PM
Yes, it was a lot of fun.

I certainly didn't mean to sound overly-negative. In fact, I had some of the best Q I have ever tasted. I guess I was caught off-guard by the amount of variation from place to place; a lot of variation between places in Lockhart that were little more than a quarter mile of each other.

Now I need to invent a business reason for going to KC....

05-18-2010, 11:46 AM
Everything listed is great not a bad one in the bunch however it is well worth the drive to go over to Llano Tx and visit Coopers BBQ, there is one just open up in New Braunfels as well much closer to Austin. The Salt Lick umm umm good.

04-27-2011, 11:20 PM
Bump! Just made it down here again for "work", and hit up Coopers which I missed last time. Liked that place a lot. All you can eat beans? Huge tub of Japs on your table? You kidding me? Went to the New Braunfels one. Briskey was nice and juicy, dino bone was well-rendered. Made it halfway through the jap link. Not quite the man I was last year :)
I like the sauce they dunk the meat in (at your request). Its thin and just right for dunking. They also have a big old pot of it simmering alongside the beans. Yum.

04-30-2011, 02:37 AM
Hit up Rudy's one more time today before I headed to the airport (just got home), but a different one down on 360. I love that place. I must just say it. Dumb kids working there? Yup. Touristy? You bet. But some damn good brisky. Till next time! (I need a few more spots to try guys!)

04-30-2011, 09:42 AM
Well, Rudy Mueller's and Taylor Cafe in Taylor can both be great. Both joints are as funky as Smitty's if not more so.

I hit Mueller's just right for some excellent brisket.

Cooper's in Llano is well worth the drive even if you have been to the NB location already.