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  • Texas BBQ Tour

    Post #1 - September 2nd, 2013, 9:37 pm
    Post #1 - September 2nd, 2013, 9:37 pm Post #1 - September 2nd, 2013, 9:37 pm
    I took my first steps (outside an airport) in Texas a couple weeks ago and had a little BBQ itinerary planned for it. You know some things just come with too much hype and cant live up to the expectations but that wouldn't be so on this trip. Where and what region in America one can find the best BBQ will always be an argument but you'd have to be Skip Bayless to not include Texas in any "best of" list compiled. Folks who follow the foodsphere over on Twitter might of seen some RT's from a @BBQSnob who's the man behind one of the best jobs in the world. "BBQ Editor" for Texas Monthly Magazine is his job and he's also the author of 'The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue'. The mans been everywhere as far as BBQ in Tejas goes and he created quite a controversy over on Twitter when he named the "50 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America" and all were from Texas. Of course he's just being a Homer but they really do some fantastic 'que down in the Lone Star State. Here's five worthy places I ate.
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    Pecan Lodge

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    Dallas, TX

    Dallas is where I was flying into with my GF who's from there. This was my first trip back with her and I had plenty of spots to try but the one place I would not be missing was Pecan Lodge at the Downtown Dallas Farmer's Market. This place is new to the Q scene having come onto it just a few years ago. Sitting in Shed 2 this is the reason to come to the market and many do as there's almost always a line. It help's that they also have an express line for business lunches of 5 lbs of meat or more so it was only about a 20 minute wait on my weekday visit. It was ranked #2 overall by Daniel Vaughn aka BBQ Snob on his 50 Best List and I could see why.

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    Three Meat Combo (Brisket, Pork Rib, Sausage) w/ Collard Greens

    First up we're in Texas so beef is what they do here. However my gf really likes pork so we tried a rib and they were just ok. The brisket though? Holy smoke. This was the finest example of it I had ate to date. Euphoric in many ways. One has to wonder if it can be used to heal poor vegetarians who were led astray by the hippie movement and fast food corporations. I believe meat in its more purest form can come two ways. One is a big beautiful bone in dry aged ribeye and the other is in top notch Texas BBQ Brisket. This is it.

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    Brisket...damn, damn, damn...damn!

    That wouldn't be it though. This is Texas and they do everything big so my first BBQ meal in-state would be just that. As good as the brisket is I had heard their beef ribs were something to behold here. I saw the tweets from @BBQSnob one day and made sure I wouldnt miss out on one. I almost did as they had two left when I asked about them when ordering. I took the smaller of the two which was still 1.70 pounds. Again this is whats its all about. While I still preferred the brisket the rib was rich in flavor and came with the perfect kiss of smoke.

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    1.5+ Pound Beef Rib

    No resistance here, otherwise you'd be looking like a caveman after a long winter, trying to gnaw your starving ass thru this feast. The meat on this was almost as rich as Jerry Jones. Not to mention the collard greens were the best side I ate on the trip. All in all my lunch, which I was sharing, cost close to $50 with the rib alone taking up half the tab. But like I said when In Texas. You cant really ask for a better start but is it all downhill from here?

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    They couldn't serve these in prison, the bone could be used to beat someone...

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    Rig Out Back
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    Vitek's

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    Waco, TX

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    In Line

    After spending a couple days in Dallas it was down to Austin for the same. I had a few spots planned out for the ride down including Vitek's BBQ in Waco which is en route. Vitek's is coming up on their centennial celebration in 2015 so they've been around for a while and that was evident with the different generations of customers in line and dining in at the 100+ tables inside and out. They've obviously come a long way since William Frank Vitek started his spot in 1915. It was in the late 50's that his son Willie took over and decided to start expanding the locals favorite his father built. That's when they started selling their family sausage which is still made to exact specifications today.

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    House Smoked Sausage Sandwich

    I'd seen a tweet from the Snob showing Vitek's most famous eat which is called the Gut Pak. It's easy to see why this concoction won "College Eat of the Year" but don't let that fool you. Those kids will eat well if they know where to go. Vitek's is that spot. The crown jewels of all Frito pie's is found here. It was really good as the pickles and onions, both staples with Texas style BBQ mashed well with everything else which wasn't just some stuff from a can thrown in a bag. Their chopped beef, brisket and sausage are what most people are there for.

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    The Gut Pak - Chopped Beef, Sausage, Fritos, Cheese, Beans, Jalapeño, pickles, onion + bread

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    Better with each bite

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    Old Pit

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    New Pit
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    Louie Mueller

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    Taylor, TX

    We hit up Louie Mueller on the way back to Dallas from Austin. I believe it was ranked 4th overall on the list and it's always been on my to get too list. Taylor is about 45 minutes NE of Austin and Louie Mueller is a state treasure. It's one of the holy stops on the trail having had a history there since 1936. It was around 1949 they started slanging BBQ and since then they've been written up 100's of times, first appearing in Texas Monthly in 1976. They've also been the set for a few movies and the 54 years old pit suffered from a fire recently and was deemed unrecoverable but all is well these days.

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    In Line

    We stopped in on a Saturday and were lucky to not see a line out the door. It was still a good 30 minute wait but as was the case which each other place we waited I met some nice people. A couple from Austin by way of Rockford were on a little BBQ tour of their own and made for good company while we waited. All these places tend to sell out of meat and when they do it's done for the day so plan accordingly.

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    Menu

    The Mueller's are one of the most well known families of Texas Barbecue and I guess there's some interesting drama as there tends to be when places like this go big. I wasn't hear for hearsay though so who cares about that. I wanted to try their brisket which gets rave reviews most everywhere you go and also their award winning all beef sausages which comes plain and also blended with jalapenos or chipotle. As soon as you step up to place your order you are greeted with a bite sized piece of brisket for you to enjoy. Anyone that eats some and doesn't order it needs to have their head checked.

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    Meat Storage

    I was coming from brunch and heading into Dallas for a home cooked feast so I had to contain myself when ordering here. The only thing they were out of was the beef sausage so I went with a link of chipotle and also a sandwich with the jalapeno blend link and brisket one as well.

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    Jalapeno Sausage Sandwich

    Sausage as expected was excellent. Not only was it cooked just right but he extra bite from both the peppers really made for some of the best I've ate. Same goes for the brisket. I was wondering why I didn't order extra but the combo of pickles and raw onions with your BBQ down in these parts is one of the great pairings in all of food. It's too tough to name best brisket but the places visited that were ranked near the top all put out a top shelf product. The fact that the briskets here seemed to be rubbed with black peppercorn made for some righteous bark and deep pink rings in the meat. I really liked their version which I guess there's a reason they've been so well known for so long for. It's really, really good.

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    Brisket Sandwich

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    Plenty of Wood out Back
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    Micklethwait Meats

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    Austin, TX

    I made it a point to eat at as many food trailers as I could on my trip into Austin. Most of them will be shared in a separate post about Austin but one of the up can coming trailers is "Craft Meats" which I had seen on Twitter and then read good things about. I made a mental note and tried them right upon their opening at 4p my first day in town. Lots of the food trailers will serve lunch until a certain time and then open again in the late afternoon or early evening. Since I was getting there right when they were opening there were only a couple people ahead of me so it was the fastest of all the stops but judging by their product that's not going to last long. They're already generating buzz and do sell out so plan accordingly.

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    MENU

    What I'd heard about from here was their sausage. The offering can change daily because they're always making it fresh. On my visit during Hatch Chile season they were selling a pork and beef based blend with them in it. Perfect as I love some good green chiles and Hatch which are grown in New Mexico but reach markets in Texas are one of the best. I ate some great sausage this trip and I think theirs was the best. With it I got some brisket which was also top notch and I really liked the use of homemade pickles and red onions. This was really good product being put out from a trailer with the smoke rig next to it made for an awesome almost authentic so to say experience. So it turns out you can get some really good 'que just down the street from that place that gets all the hype.

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    Brisket and Hatch Chile Sausage Plate
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    Franklin Barbecue

    What spot is that you ask? Well unless you've been living in a hole or just don't pay all that much attention to the food worlds rumblings, that would be Franklin Barbecue. This was the spot ranked #1 in the noe infamous Texas monthly roundup. This is where Aaron Franklin has taken the game to another level.

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    Austin, TX

    Franklin Barbecue started out as a trailer ran by Aaron Franklin and his wife Stacy. But the story goes back past that. Aaron's parents owned a BBQ stand in Bryan, TX and one day when he started experimenting with brisket in the backyard it was the start of something bigger than even a Texan could dream. His place became the most popular spot to stop and just like how it's supposed to go (ATTN: Chicago) they went from tiny trailer to full brick and mortar. They had no other choice as supply needed to meet demand and people were going to wait for the good stuff no matter how long it took. In my case that would be 3.5 hours. It was a Friday and people were in town for UT welcome week. But that's not why there was a line, there pretty much always is. Tuesdays and Wednesdays it might not stretch around the block but you're going to wait if you wanna eat what many deem the best BBQ in the state.

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    On this day the line would extend from the meat counter out the door then down and around the block

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    Some come prepared...

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    ...some dont

    So this was the middle of August meaning it was HOT. Lucky for me though it was only 92 "this isn't bad at all, first time we've been under 100 in a week" is what the Bears fan standing behind me in line said. They say you can find Cowboys fans anywhere you go, well I was finding Bears fans everywhere in Texas I rolled. Thank the smoke gods, the clouds were out on my wait which was being made hungover. I got there around 10:00a and took my place in line and within a few minutes a couple ladies came and asked what I might be eating while warning me they may be out of ribs and pulled pork when my time to order comes in the 3.5 hours they told me the wait would be. For about 30 seconds I thought about saying screw it and then the Bears fan offered me a beer and I said screw it the other way around, I'm staying. People in Austin are nice so you shouldn't have a problem with leaving the line to go get yourself something from your car or just to use the restroom or anything like that. Some people shift in and out with their groups. Some people bring full fledged tents with table and chairs to play card games while taking turns in line. The atmosphere while you wait is that of a tailgate. I met great people including an Austinite who worked as a chef for 15 years in Bucktown before moving back to consult there. The line moved faster because everyone there was enjoying themselves and their new friends.

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    The man of the hours attending to one of eight? rigs in back

    As mentioned you can bring your own beer or booze or buy from them. They have vendors that come up and down the line every 15 minutes or so and also offer free water from a cooler so you can stay hydrated. While waiting in line you get constant whiffs of the goodness due to the fact all the trailers are right there in back. Once you get under the shade amongst the spray fans it's not all that bad and they were dead on as far as time goes. It was around 1:30p that my turn to order came up. On this day they had everything left but pulled pork. Important to note that they tend to run out of the pork products first because they cook alot less of it. Brisket and sausage are what people are willing to wait for so they make sure they smoke enough so people can get some.

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    3.5 Hours Later

    The line seemed to be moving quick at first but then once we got inside where it was nice and cold it was about another 40 minutes from there. You can see all the articles on the wall and drink a Smoked Porter brewed in their honer while trying to figure out just how much meat is too much. I wanted the Tipsy Texan Sandwich which comes stacked a mile high with chopped beef, sliced sausage, pickles and onions but instead went with the Brisket and Ribs platter along with a pound of their house sausage which is a beef and pork blend.


    Action

    So the question everyone will ask...was it worth the wait? I say yes. Although next time I'll just pay a hippie panhandler that never left the city to wait. Not gonna lie, the first guy in line looked like he was asking for change all night and once he finally got enough for food and drink he got drunk then passed out at the front door becoming the first in line the next morning. But the first time around is worth it. Not just because it really is some of the best damn brisket you will ever eat but also because of the experience. It was a mixed crowd but everyone was there because they shared a similar love. That being smoked meats. All the folks I talked too knew about food spots in Chicago and elsewhere. The ribs were good not great. A fall off the bone variety with plenty of smoke flavor. I liked them but not as much as what they're known for. The sausage was blended kicked up black pepper mix which made it really tongue tingling. They know how get you excited here as they pass half links wrapped in white bread out while you wait. The brisket was almost airy in texture and so clean in taste. They only use hormone and antibiotic free beef. I guess when half the people in line are repeat customers there's a reason. This is the type of BBQ that can change lives. The man has it down to a science that not even Christopher Kimball can mimic. The sides? What you'd expect from your sister in-law who goes textbook Betty Crocker. They were average and I was fine with that. I'm here to eat meat and that I did, every single tidbit that fell into the container was consumed. Yes the hype is real.

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    Had the need for some since my last bite...
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    Pecan Lodge
    1010 S Pearl Expy
    Dallas, TX 75201
    (214) 748-8900
    Website

    Vitek's BBQ
    1600 Speight Ave
    Waco, TX 76706
    (254) 752-7591

    Louie Mueller Barbecue
    206 W Second St
    Taylor, TX 76574
    (512) 352-6206

    Micklethwait Craft Meats
    1309 Rosewood Ave
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 791-5961

    Franklin Barbecue
    900 E 11th St
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 653-1187

    *edited to change title
    Last edited by Da Beef on January 13th, 2015, 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - September 2nd, 2013, 11:09 pm
    Post #2 - September 2nd, 2013, 11:09 pm Post #2 - September 2nd, 2013, 11:09 pm
    Da Beef wrote:
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    Brisket...damn, damn, damn...damn!

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    Brisket Sandwich


    Hell of a report. Everything looks better than solid, but the brisket from Pecan Lodge and Louie Miller have me salivating.
  • Post #3 - September 3rd, 2013, 9:02 am
    Post #3 - September 3rd, 2013, 9:02 am Post #3 - September 3rd, 2013, 9:02 am
    Did you make it to Snow's in Lexington?
  • Post #4 - September 6th, 2013, 8:20 am
    Post #4 - September 6th, 2013, 8:20 am Post #4 - September 6th, 2013, 8:20 am
    Tyrgyzistan wrote:Did you make it to Snow's in Lexington?


    Nope. I know about them but it wasn't really en route, too far off track. I could of just done BBQ the whole trip and it would of been just fine but I had too many tacos and food trailers in Austin to eat at too.
  • Post #5 - September 6th, 2013, 8:41 am
    Post #5 - September 6th, 2013, 8:41 am Post #5 - September 6th, 2013, 8:41 am
    Beef - you have inspired me.

    Comprehensive BBQ trail trip now on my bucket list.

    Davooda
    Life is a garden, Dude - DIG IT!
    -- anonymous Colorado snowboarder whizzing past me March 2010
  • Post #6 - September 7th, 2013, 5:27 pm
    Post #6 - September 7th, 2013, 5:27 pm Post #6 - September 7th, 2013, 5:27 pm


    Any discussion of Franklin's always reminds me of this parody video.
  • Post #7 - September 9th, 2013, 1:03 pm
    Post #7 - September 9th, 2013, 1:03 pm Post #7 - September 9th, 2013, 1:03 pm
    I first saw that as "Hitler Hates the Cubs." Funny with any suitable subtitles.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #8 - September 9th, 2013, 2:42 pm
    Post #8 - September 9th, 2013, 2:42 pm Post #8 - September 9th, 2013, 2:42 pm
    Damn dude, 3.5 hours for Franklin BBQ?! :shock: I would consider it, but that's just insane with plenty of other options around. Don't know if I could wait in line like that.

    Pictures look great, especially the brisket! Looking forward to my future visits to Texas.
  • Post #9 - January 13th, 2015, 12:29 pm
    Post #9 - January 13th, 2015, 12:29 pm Post #9 - January 13th, 2015, 12:29 pm
    From now into the foreseeable future I'll be in Texas at least once or twice a year and with it I'll use this thread to report on all BBQ stands that I hunt down and or come across. Had a good 8 days to get some spots doc'd on my most recent visit which took me to Dallas with a roadtrip to Austin in-between. Oddly enough one of these cities is considered to serve the best BBQ in Texas (ATX) and the other is said to have some of the worst (DFW). While the former is most certainly true the latter is becoming a myth. No trip to Pecan Lodge (seen above) this time due to the fact they were closed on the 26th. But it along with a couple of the spots I tried this trip are holding their own as far as smoked meat in the Dallas area goes. Texas style Barbecue is taking the nation by storm, with it's home-state included in the mix. As evidenced in this post, many of the best places to eat BBQ in the Lone Star State these days are relatively new spots. It would take a handful of years living down there to get a full idea of whether or not I dispute or agree with this but I put alot of trust into the local experts down there. Thus for the most part I visited places they had praised that I had not yet been too. Happy to report back that the mission was a smashing success. All due respect to KC, Memphis, NYC (Muhahaha) and others when I say Austin is the best metropolis for BBQ in America. No bake zone. They know better.
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    The Slow Bone

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    Dallas, TX

    As I already mentioned, much like my trip seen upthread I heavily relied on the local experts to guide me to the best spots in their respective towns. A tweet to Daniel Vaughn aka @bbqsnob resulted in a handful of recs in Dallas on top of the much loved Pecan Lodge. I decided to check out the much lauded Slow Bone hoping that due to the fact it was the day after Christmas there wouldn't be a line, which there usually is. Lucky me because I walked right in and placed my order for a two meat combo plate.

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    1st Class Condiments Bar

    What makes for Central Texas style BBQ? Pretty much everything you'll see in this 1st visit. First and foremost is the brisket. This is the cut most everyone will judge your product by, sure theres places within the state that do other things better but the spots that make a mean brisket should for the most part stay successful. Thus it looks as though Slow Bone has a long future. The picture doesn't quite do the requested fatty part of the brisket I ate justice. Hidden underneath is some of the best bark I'd encounter on the entire trip and the meat itself was tender with perfect hints of both beef and smoke. The other beloved smoked meat in Texas is sausage. Here they make their own blend and also one with cilantro. Seeing as I'm always a fan of cilantro I opted to try that blend and loved it. Sides were above average and while I'm usually not a sauce guy, I really enjoyed their thin chili laced brew remembering it as one of the better dipping sauces I've ate of late. Last but not least when it comes to the signatures of Texas style BBQ is the condiments. Pickles and Onions are pretty much a must to go along with the bread and also the meat. I love how Slow Bone took the onions a step up by serving pickled red onions as opposed to raw. Add in the house pickles and sliced jalapenos and all was well.

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    Two Meat Plate (Cilantro Sausage and Brisket) with Brussels Sprouts/Cauliflower Au Gratin + Jalapeno Mac & Cheese
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    Lockhart Smokehouse

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    Plano, TX

    Next stop up is a popular Smokehouse in Dallas thats recently expanded to the suburb of Plano. Since I was in Texas for a wedding, which would be held in Plano, I figured this @bbqsnob rec would be doable and it was. There was a line to the door near lunchtime on NYE but it moved pretty quick. There's plenty of seating and also a bar for some libations while you wait. Aside from the usual suspects I was intrigued to try the smoked beef clod shoulder and then I saw another customers spare ribs and those became part of the order. I got a ton of food and was even comped an end piece of the spares but make no mistake the price adds up. Still it's a ton of food and I had three meals out of it.

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    Spare Ribs, Brisket, Shoulder Clod, Kreuz Market Sausage

    First off my initial reaction to the spare ribs was dead on as these were really smoked well on this particular visit. Along with an upcoming spot these proved to me at least that Texans can make beautiful smokey ribs that give some resistance and don't just fall cleanly off the bone, much like the Chicago aquarium style I'm used too. Brisket was damn good, might of been a tad past done as it easily fell apart but I was still very satisfied with the overall flavor. I'd love to try it fresh out the smoker. The clod was a bit of a miss as it was just a tad too tough, not inedible but some of the fattier pieces were better off removed. The pieces that were good made for a great sandwich with pickles, onions, and jalapenos in between some squishy white bread. The sausage here comes from Kreuz Market of Lockhart Texas fame and it's sensational.

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    The spot where I learn Texas can do ribs really good too
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    Rider's BBQ and Hot Sausage

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    Jarrell, TX

    Pitstop for some gas and a quick link just outside of Austin. I'd read about Riders when looking for spots to eat 'que in-between Austin and Texas. Located about 45 miles north of Austin in a stripmall this place had the highway exit smelling good sweet with smoke. We stopped in on the way back to Dallas and I had just ate at a couple spots before but still wanted to get some of their sausage to nibble on for the ride. Excellent. Both the hospitality and the hot link.

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    Hot Smoked Sausage at Rider's
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    Southside Market

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    Elgin, TX

    A quick 20 minute ride from Austin sits Elgin, Texas. The proclaimed sausage capitol of of the State. Southside Market has been around since 1882 making it the oldest BBQ shack in the state. They started making their famous hot sausage a few years later and it all went into the history books from there on in. I drove over for breakfast one morning and got one original hot and one cheddar jalapeno. The all beef sausage which the locals order as "hot guts" was simply outstanding. So they say "there's hot links in other parts of the state, but hot guts are different." Though according to a story I read from D. Vaughn, the grandfather of the current owner switched the recipe as far as spicing goes as he was lucky to see two woman in there a week. Even though it was toned down I still got a nice little tingle, feel free to add more heat with the house hot sauce on the tables. I wanted to try the other popular spot in town but at this point in the trip I was basically burping smoke and needed a quick break from the BBQ.

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    House Sausage (Full Link) and Jalapeno Cheddar (Sliced)
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    Brown's Bar-B-Que

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    Austin, TX

    My first order of business upon arrival in Austin was to get some BBQ. No trip to eat smoked meat in ATX should be made without a peak at Mike Sutter's (@fedmanwalking) website. His series titled 'BBQ City Limits' would be my tour guide for this trip. I had a handful of spots picked from his Top 10 List and Brown's sounded like a good idea as it was one of the places I did not want to miss. Daniel Brown has been smokin' in Austin since 2006. There's a nice Eater interview with him HERE. Barbecue is the family lineage as Daniel's dad was a pitmaster down in Lockhart. He cooks with post oak in a smoker (attached to the trailer) built from an old propane tank by his cousin in Lockhart.

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    a peak inside

    Using @fedmanwalking as my guide I knew what I was here for. First up were the ribs, as mentioned this would be the trip where I ate some great spares. Listed as the best pork ribs in the city according to 'Fed Man Walking' these did not disappoint. Smoke, salt and pepper are all these giant bones of pork need, that and plenty of time to morph into a magnificent piece of perfectly textured meat. Not pictured is their side of cabbage which comes from an old family recipe that's been passed down thru time. All you need to know is it's cooked with lots of bacon and tastes great. It's also Ranked #1 amongst best sides on the aforementioned list.

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    Spare Ribs and Brisket

    The brisket was damn near as good as the ribs. In fact I'm sure if I had tried one without the other the experience just wouldn't of been the same. I thoroughly enjoyed the deeply penetrated smokey meat that had just the right amount of resistance while still being as tender as one wants it to be. The combined quality of overall bbq along with the hospitality I was shown makes me envision this as a regular spot in my future Austin eating plans. Protip: If you're lucky enough to be in town on a Sunday they give free BBQ away at the bar located in the same lot where they set up shop.

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    You are getting hungry, very hungry...
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    Valentina's Tex-Mex BBQ

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    Austin, TX

    Here we have the food trailer that may represent Austin as a city better than any other. The marriage of Tex-Mex and BBQ is a match made in heaven. It just may be the the ultimate mash-up cuisine, at least thats the feeling I got when I started eating this beautiful brisket taco seen below. Made with their signature mesquite smoked brisket paired with a smokey house salsa and some homemade guacamole on a handmade flour tortilla this is where I want to be.

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    Smoked Brisket Taco w/ Smokey House Salsa + Homemade Guac on Handmade Flour Tortilla. Smoked Elotes and Charro Beans in back.

    One of the guys behind this trailer grew up in San Antonio and the food reflects his youth. Down there they do lots of smokin' with mesquite but I believe Val's the only place in Austin smoking with it. The flavor is clearly noticed in the brisket and its a nice change of pace that paired perfectly with the wonderful tomato salsa included alongside some bbq sauce. I had high hopes coming in as I love both BBQ and tacos and I'm glad to say they were met and then exceeded. Only in ATX.

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    Mesquite Smoked Brisket
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    Freedman's Bar

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    Austin, TX

    Two of the biggest trends over the last five years pair together at this Cocktail Bar with a Smokehouse in back. I admit that I prefer my BBQ in a more rustic almost falling apart setting as opposed to the fancy room inside here where you'll eat and drink. But when I saw this place was ranked #2 overall as far as BBQ spots in Austin go, I knew I had to check it out. Glad I did. We were more-so looking to drink when we stopped in but a nice slice or two of brisket was also in-store. Talk about bark! Some of crispiest, richest, jerky-like crust I've ever come across. As Mike Sutter explained the pitmaster here has a long history of smokin' some excellent meat. Pair it with a nice bourbon based cocktail and all will be good.

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    1/4 lb taste of brisket
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    La Barbecue

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    Austin, TX

    Last stop is certainly not not the least. I follow both critics mentioned on twitter as well as a few others who are well versed in Texas BBQ. The buzz for la Barbecue is at its peak right about now. Named the best all around barbecue joint in Austin by Mike Sutter he ranks their beef rib #1, pulled pork #1, sausage #1, brisket #2, pork rib #2, and their sandwich #4. FWIW Franklin ranks 5th overall with the #1 brisket. Having eaten there last trip I decided to wait in line here this trip.

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    a peak inside

    The story behind John Lewis who's pitmaster here can be read over on Fed Man Walking. In short this trailer is owned by Leann Mueller (of Mueller Barbecue fame) and Lewis took over when Leann's brother John left to go on his own. I came here on a cold rainy Sunday morning but there was free keg beer so I had that going for me. After a pretty easy 45 minute wait it was my turn to order. It was a damn shame but the one thing they were sold out of was beef ribs which I had planned to try. Nonetheless I ended up with an amazing lunch consisting of pulled pork, sausage and brisket.

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    Fire Sausage, Pulled Pork and some barely visible brisket that had everyone hollering at it...

    Worst to first, the pulled pork was cold and while it might of been good in other parts of the country I just wasn't that interested with the sausage and brisket lying beside it. Next up is the fire sausage, which was fan-flipping-tastic. The handmade link comes bursting with fat as you hear a heavy snap with each bite that yields a heavy tone of heat. This Chicagoan salutes their sausage making skills. Then there's the brisket, the most luscious thick slices of beef I've ever laid my eyes on, with beautiful soft bark. All I could come up with when comparing it to something was a beautiful video girl from the Caribbean. It's mouthwatering and tastes like the nectar of the Smoke Gods. For sure to leave you wanting more. Don't miss this trailer.

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    ...Now baby tell me how you want it.
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    The Slow Bone
    2234 Irving Boulevard
    Dallas, TX 75207
    (214) 377-7727

    Lockhart Smokehouse
    1026 East 15th Street
    Plano, TX 75074
    (972) 516-8900

    Riders Barbecue & Hot Sausage
    305 Limestone Terrace
    Jarrell, TX 76537
    (512) 746-2900

    Southside Market
    1212 Highway 290
    Elgin, TX 78621
    (512) 281-4650

    Brown's Bar-B-Que
    1901 South Lamar Boulevard
    Austin, TX 78704

    Valentina's Tex-Mex BBQ
    600 West 6th Street
    Austin, TX 78701
    (512) 221-4248

    Freedman's Bar
    2402 San Gabriel Street
    Austin, TX 78705
    (512) 220-0953

    La Barbecue
    902 East Cesar Chavez Street
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 605-9696
  • Post #10 - January 13th, 2015, 2:00 pm
    Post #10 - January 13th, 2015, 2:00 pm Post #10 - January 13th, 2015, 2:00 pm
    Awesome and I kind of want to eat that brisket and guac taco for lunch every day for the rest of my life
  • Post #11 - January 13th, 2015, 7:48 pm
    Post #11 - January 13th, 2015, 7:48 pm Post #11 - January 13th, 2015, 7:48 pm
    No bologna or turkey yet?
    The bologna is not my thing, and the turkey, I do enjoy, but brisket and beef ribs are what I'm getting when I visit the fam in Dallas. The bologna always surprises me. Always see ppl getting it, and it's on the menu at multiple places. The beautiful thing about being in certain parts of Texas, is that they even have regional chain bbq joints, and some of em are serving up some fine q compared to other parts of the country where bbq is just not as relevant. Really enjoyed reading about your exploits so far.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #12 - January 14th, 2015, 2:32 am
    Post #12 - January 14th, 2015, 2:32 am Post #12 - January 14th, 2015, 2:32 am
    I don't know if my reaction to this thread means I should have taken that job in Austin, but I do know all I really want from barbecue is beef --- brisket and ribs. Give me those and y'all can have all the pork spares and baby backs and tips and links you can find. That beef rib photo upthread made me weak in the knees. Luckily, I have family and friends in Texas who want to know when I'm going to visit.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #13 - January 14th, 2015, 12:24 pm
    Post #13 - January 14th, 2015, 12:24 pm Post #13 - January 14th, 2015, 12:24 pm
    Da Beef, I love your photos. Question: How can you keep yourself from tearing into the food while setting up these beautiful photos?
  • Post #14 - January 17th, 2015, 9:53 am
    Post #14 - January 17th, 2015, 9:53 am Post #14 - January 17th, 2015, 9:53 am
    I LOVED the photo of the guy renting chairs for $5.00. When opportunity knocks...be ready! :)
  • Post #15 - February 9th, 2015, 9:42 am
    Post #15 - February 9th, 2015, 9:42 am Post #15 - February 9th, 2015, 9:42 am
    Hey BEEF!!!

    Awesome write-ups.

    I used to live in Chicago and am now in Dallas. I think the Pecan Lodge is the absolute best BBQ in Dallas, and now that they are in their new place in Deep Ellum, they are more consistent with less of a wait - definitely worth a return trip! Here are some other recommendations for your next trip down...

    1. Coopers Pit BBQ in Ft. Worth - its near the stockyards in Cowtown so you can have a gander and check out the source of so much BBQ goodness.

    2. Off Site Kitchen - (across the street from Slow Bone.) One of the best burgers in the world! And fantastic fries as well.

    PM me when you're back down here and we can grab some grub!
  • Post #16 - March 2nd, 2015, 6:49 pm
    Post #16 - March 2nd, 2015, 6:49 pm Post #16 - March 2nd, 2015, 6:49 pm
    I've just come back as well, and had very different results than yours (though I haven't hit as many stops)

    Kreuz (below)/ Smitty's competed for the worst, in both "shoulder" and brisket. Both are still in my freezer right now, I might chop it up for chile con carne. Or just feed it to the chickens. Can't decide yet.
    Image

    LA Barbeque was tops during my trip:
    Image

    with Terry Black's following it (yes, I understand it's overs moked with an offset smoker, offshoot of the original, etc., but it's way better than the original in Lockhart). Even the tallow was flavorful and smoky. And they don't run out of meat. And you can eat sitting down indoors. And you can eat it warm for dinner! A chef pal told me her local fave bbq right now is Stiles Switch and I can totally understand why after a visit to the newish Terry Black's.
    Image

    and Franklin below both:
    Franklin's was eaten at 2pm, the final brisket. Moist, tender, faint smoke, devoid of salt. I really do not enjoy this kind of meat where soft and marbeled beef seems to be the main criteria in the rankings. Yes, it's very good "beef", I get that. But the rankings, I don't understand, hence I didn't follow any of the Texas Monthly's 50 best or whatever nonsense they were dishing out.
    Image

    I mean, if you're standing 3.5 hours for this you're just straight stupid, especially because it's been 35 degrees in the mornings for the last 2 weeks. OTOH, I sauntered in at 1:45 PM (thanks to some other experienced 'hounds) and walked out in 15 minutes with quarter lb of brisket and a huge sense of triumph. I would do that again ANYTIME. 11AM line can go kick rocks, I was too busy munching on the ubiquitous quail in Austin.
  • Post #17 - March 3rd, 2015, 9:44 am
    Post #17 - March 3rd, 2015, 9:44 am Post #17 - March 3rd, 2015, 9:44 am
    TonyC wrote:I've just come back as well, and had very different results than yours (though I haven't hit as many stops).


    Not all that different actually. La Barbecue was probably the best brisket on the most recent trip and while I thought Franklin was very good on the first trip it wasn't necessarily better than Pecan Lodge or Louie Mueller. As far as waiting 3.5 hours, meh I've been called much worse than stupid. I don't think I would do it again but lets not pretend Austin is Madrid and I was missing some amazing sites while drinking beer in line with locals, thats a vacation in of itself to me. I didn't travel to ATX to eat quail. Still haven't made it to Stiles Switch but it's on the list for next trip. Everyone has their favorites and the truth of the matter is most all of the good stuff in Austin is better than the brisket found in the other 49 states. Though I will say the best places do tend to run out and that's part of what makes them the best in that you never get served day old meat. The consistency is always there. FWIW Brown's might be my overall favorite top to bottom.
  • Post #18 - March 3rd, 2015, 2:01 pm
    Post #18 - March 3rd, 2015, 2:01 pm Post #18 - March 3rd, 2015, 2:01 pm
    Thanks for the great reports. Hitting Austin in a few weeks and will be armed with notes from here. I won't mind waiting in line.....
  • Post #19 - March 5th, 2015, 6:11 pm
    Post #19 - March 5th, 2015, 6:11 pm Post #19 - March 5th, 2015, 6:11 pm
    Unofficial service provided by a neighbor:
    https://twitter.com/franklinbbqline
  • Post #20 - January 13th, 2016, 11:13 am
    Post #20 - January 13th, 2016, 11:13 am Post #20 - January 13th, 2016, 11:13 am
    Its that time of the year. Was back in Texas for the Holidays and we visited both her family in Dallas and also took a trip down to Austin to do some scouting. Today's post focuses on the BBQ portion of the trip. Specifically the modern new-age barbecue spots. I'll have a separate post about some of the old timers coming at you later in life.
    ________________________________________________________________________________

    18th & Vine

    Image
    Dallas, TX

    First stop up is a spot I wasn't sure if I'd make it to or not. Truth be told I wasn't as blown away by the BBQ in Kansas City like I've been in Texas. So when I heard one of the hottest BBQ spots in Dallas was in fact a Kansas City BBQ spot I wasn't sure if I would head over. But then I asked @bbqsnob what the must stop 'que spots are in town these days and he didn't hesitate to mention these guys. The endorsement from Vaughn was already enough reason to check them out, the fact they were runner-up for Restaurant of the Year by a major Dallas publication was just another reason. The restaurant is named after the historic jazz district in Kansas City. Pitmaster Matt Dallman is bringing the best of his hometown to the Big D and the locals love it. You cant go to a KC BBQ spot and not try the meat most associated with this style. The Burnt Ends from here were light years ahead of any of the examples I tried in KC. Tender melt in your mouth pieces of smokey beef drizzled with sauce and paired with house cured pickles and onions were one of the best bites of this trip. Now I can fully appreciate Burnt Ends.

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    KC Style Burnt Ends
    ________________________________________________________________________________

    Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew

    Image
    Austin, TX

    Next stop up! Austin. The center of the modern BBQ movement. One of the older spots in this development is Stiles Switch. Located in a strip mall out on Lamar Blvd they do smoked meats and brews. Its easily one of Austin's most popular lunch stops so you should expect a bit of a line should you go during prime hours. No worries it moves pretty fast and there's plenty of seating for all. Lets just start the Austin spots by saying that there's at least two handfuls of places that make brisket better than anywhere else out there. Stiles Switch is one of them. The fatty end of the brisket was everything you want from it. Tender and Smokey with lots of bark on each end. Pretty much all pork is second thought for me when eating barbecue in Texas but the ribs were still enjoyed.

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    Brisket and Rib Platter
    ________________________________________________________________________________

    Terry Black's Barbecue

    Image
    Austin, TX

    Terry Blacks is old school reincarnated as new. This is an extension of the original Black's down in Lockhart. They did a nice job transforming the new space in Austin to feel like an old time shack. This was one of the only spots open on New Years Day so I went on over for my first lunch of the year. I always go fatty end and was gifted a really nice plate of smoked beef on my visit in. The sides as always, were pretty much an afterthought. Brisket was very good but not the best on this trip.

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    Smoked Brisket and Sides
    ________________________________________________________________________________

    Scotty's BBQ

    Image
    Austin, TX

    Here we have our first trailer in this round-up. Scotty's sits in a trailer park on the East Side surrounded by a few other worthy food trailers. All of the spots on here are very welcoming but the guy working Scotty's on my visit was as nice as could be. He was loving the fact I was snapping pics of the fatty end brisket I ordered. As I was wrapping up he came outside to get a final verdict which was 'not bad at all'. In fact it was quite good and again better than most outside of ATX.

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    Brisket Platter
    ________________________________________________________________________________

    Kerlin BBQ

    Image
    Austin, TX

    Last but not least my favorite of this round-up is Kerlin BBQ. I became aware of these guys when checking out BBQ Snob's most improved list over at Texas Monthly. I was surprised that I hadn't already been. This is a husband and wife team that sells barbecue on the weekends. It was raining on my visit so I was lucky in that there was zero wait. Aside from serving brisket with great smoke flavor and some serious bark to suit, the spicy potato salad with dill to cool it down was the best side I can remember having at these Texas BBQ joints. But its the brisket that will be a candidate to make the list of the best things I ate in 2016. Safe to say they were on during this visit. See ya next time.

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    Brisket Platter
    ________________________________________________________________________________

    18th & Vine
    4100 Maple Ave
    Dallas, TX 75219
    (214) 443-8335

    Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew
    6610 N Lamar Blvd
    Austin, TX 78757
    (512) 380-9199

    Terry Black's Barbecue
    1003 Barton Springs Rd
    Austin, TX 78704
    (512) 394-5899

    Scotty's BBQ
    730 E Cesar Chavez St
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 350-1615

    Kerlin BBQ
    1700 E Cesar Chavez St
    Austin, TX 78702
    (512) 412-5588

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