Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties
- A Return to America's BBQ Heartland
We stay in Texas for today's post. I had a good 8 days to get
some spots doc'd on my most recent visit which took me to Dallas
roadtrip to Austin in-between. Coincidentally 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 almost certainly true
the latter is becoming a myth. No trip to Pecan Lodge (Seen in Part One
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 here 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.
The Slow Bone
I already mentioned, much like my previous trip
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 beoved 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
makes for Central Texas style BBQ? Pretty much everything you'll see in
1st Class Condiments Bar
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 they took the onions a step up by serving pickled red
onions as opposed to raw. Add in house pickles, sliced jalapenos
and all is well.
Two Meat Plate (Cilantro Sausage and Brisket) with Brussels Sprouts/Cauliflower Au Gratin + Jalapeno Mac & Cheese
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 a ton of food and I had three meals with it.
Spare Ribs, Brisket, Shoulder Clod, Kreuz Market Sausage
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.
The trip where I learn Texas can do ribs really good too
Rider's BBQ and Hot Sausage
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 Dallas and Austin.
Located about 45 miles north of Austin in a stripmall this place had the
highway exit smelling good with smoke in the air. 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.
Hot Smoked Sausage at Rider's
quick 20 minute ride from Austin sits Elgin. The proclaimed
sausage capitol of of the State. Southside Market has been around since
1882 making it the oldest BBQ shack in Texas. 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 and one cheddar jalapeno. The all beef sausage
which 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 Daniel Vaughn said 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 break.
House Sausage (Full Link) and Jalapeno Cheddar (Sliced)
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 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 was up first 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.
a peek inside
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
Spare Ribs and Brisket
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 next door.
You are getting hungry, very hungry...
Valentina's Tex-Mex BBQ
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 next time I'm in town.
Smoked Brisket Taco w/ Smokey House Salsa + Homemade Guac on Handmade Flour Tortilla. Smoked Elotes and Charro Beans in back
of the men 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 they're the only people in Austin smoking with it. The flavor of the smoke is noticed in the brisket which is a good thing, a nice
change of pace that paired perfectly with the wonderful tomato salsa
included alongside the more standard bbq sauce. I had high hopes coming in as I love
both BBQ and also tacos and I'm glad to say they were met and then
exceeded. Only in ATX. Shout-out to Jose @tacotrail
for the heads up on the terrific tacos.
Mesquite Smoked Brisket
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 moreso 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 in your world. At least it was in mine.
1/4 lb taste of brisket
Last stop is certainly not the least. I follow both critics previously 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 on this trip.
a peek 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.
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. 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. Capable of causing wet dreams and possibly even an orgasm making you a one minute man. For sure to leave you wanting more.
...now baby tell me how you want it.
The Slow Bone
2234 Irving Boulevard
Dallas, TX 75207
1026 East 15th Street
Plano, TX 75074
Riders Barbecue & Hot Sausage
305 Limestone Terrace
Jarrell, TX 76537
1212 Highway 290
Elgin, TX 78621
1901 South Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 78704
Valentina's Tex-Mex BBQ
600 West 6th Street
Austin, TX 78701
2402 San Gabriel Street
Austin, TX 78705
902 East Cesar Chavez Street
Austin, TX 78702