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The best Texas barbecue


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262 replies to this topic

#61 fifi

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 05:31 PM

Excellent comparison! I will print this off for my next trip out that way.

Please tell me that you hauled a lot home with you. I take it that there was you and one buddy. If you ate all of that you should have driven straight to your friendly neighborhood cardiologist! :laugh: Thanks for taking one for the team!
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#62 Kent Wang

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 12:40 AM

Where are Austinites going now that John Mueller's is temporarily closed? I'm thinking Ruby's which still uses wood. Anywhere else that hasn't switched to gas yet? When I asked him at the Texas BBQ Festival, Art of Artz said he's on wood.

Places to not get BBQ in Austin that nevertheless are endlessly hyped by the less knowledgeable: County Line, Pokejo's, Green Mesquite. Not to sound elitist, but BBQ and Tex-Mex are two cuisines that everybody in Austin has an opinion about. I think partly it's because BBQ is so Texas that they think it would be unpatriotic of them to admit that they don't know much about the subject so they convince themselves that the one they know has got to be the best. Rudy's is another popular "number one" joint. One of these days I'll try it for comparison's sake.

#63 tetsujustin

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 09:31 AM

Where are Austinites going now that John Mueller's is temporarily closed? I'm thinking Ruby's which still uses wood. Anywhere else that hasn't switched to gas yet? When I asked him at the Texas BBQ Festival, Art of Artz said he's on wood.

Places to not get BBQ in Austin that nevertheless are endlessly hyped by the less knowledgeable: County Line, Pokejo's, Green Mesquite. Not to sound elitist, but BBQ and Tex-Mex are two cuisines that everybody in Austin has an opinion about. I think partly it's because BBQ is so Texas that they think it would be unpatriotic of them to admit that they don't know much about the subject so they convince themselves that the one they know has got to be the best. Rudy's is another popular "number one" joint. One of these days I'll try it for comparison's sake.

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My guess is that you won't like Rudy's, the pit isn't exactly the most authentic and I'm almost certain they don't use wood. The sau(s)e while good, probably won't "match your standards." Personally, however, I don't see what there isn't to like about some good company, a double dr. pepper, a half pound of turkey and brisket, the sysco-brand banana puddin that they have, and a beer afterwards. When I go to Austin, I go to Rudy's. I sit outside, enjoy the weather (hopefully), enjoy the food.

And do you really have to know about a subject in order to eat it and enjoy it? I'd hate to see your mind explode if you ever go eat at a place like Alinea or WD-50.

#64 Kent Wang

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 11:25 AM

And do you really have to know about a subject in order to eat it and enjoy it?

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Absolutely not. But eG is about learning and discussion, right? Everyone has a finite budget (not just in terms of money but also time, stomach-space and dietary goals) so why not try to maximize your bang for your buck?

#65 BigboyDan

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 12:38 PM

My guess is that you won't like Rudy's, the pit isn't exactly the most authentic and and I'm almost certain they don't use wood.

And do you really have to know about a subject in order to eat it and enjoy it?


Ken said Ruby's not Rudy's. Ruby's is on Guadalupe at 29th. Also, Rudy's does infact use wood, they just use a rotisserie unit instead of a pit.

And, yes, the more that you know about a subject the better that you can enjoy it. Take women for example...

#66 tetsujustin

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 02:24 PM

Rudy's is another popular "number one" joint. One of these days I'll try it for comparison's sake.

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That's what I was referring to, Dan.

And now that I know that they use wood, maybe I'll enjoy it more.

All I'm saying is that sometimes it's probably good to just sit down and not have to think and be meticulous in discriminating your food. If it's good, it's good. Knowing more about your food probably spawns from the fact that you do enjoy it so much, however.

But I guess that's probably like arguing about whether the chicken or the egg came first.

And I guess I'd better warn my girlfriend, because I'll never really understand women.

#67 BigboyDan

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 02:41 PM

No one understands women, but a little knowledge helps...

BBQ is a very aquired taste. The more that you eat it, and the more that you undestand about how pit barbeque is done, the better that will enjoy it. Ask a pit boss sometime to allow you to watch what they do, from the kitchen side, make a day of it. You will learn a lot about meats in general, as well as the history of how and why Central Texas BBQ is so good...

#68 MSchmidt909

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 03:14 PM

Where are Austinites going now that John Mueller's is temporarily closed?

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Why limit yourself to Austin, Lockhart is only 30 minutes away. But be careful, a couple of meals at Smitty's and nothing in Austin will be good enough.
I never think twice about the drive (I live in Marble Falls) and many times I keep going to Luling.
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#69 Lone Star

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 03:31 PM

My all time, #1 favorite:
City Market in Luling - best barbeque in Texas, but must be eaten with slice of wonder bread and a Big Red longneck.

I will stop at Mr. Cooper's anytime I am in the Llano area for the pork chop.

For everyday, around town barbeque, I like the Hickory Hollow in the Heights or Gabby's.

Fifi - have you tried Foodtown for the beef ribs?
If you can't act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen - Calpurnia

#70 Kent Wang

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Posted 21 March 2006 - 01:28 AM

I just tried Sam's in East Austin the other week. It's not just good late night que, it's good que period. They use wood and according to the server, run the pits all day to satisfy demand. I'm a little skeptical about the "all day" bit and wouldn't doubt the meat you get at 3am has probably been sitting around since the afternoon, but it's still fine 'Q.
The highlights for me are the ribs and mutton.

On another note, Sam's is located in a scary part of town. Not that I can't handle myself, but it is definitely scarier than any other restaurant that I've been to in Austin. Much scarier than Juan in a Million, Arandinas or Tony's Southern Comfort.

#71 BigboyDan

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Posted 21 March 2006 - 08:30 PM

On another note, Sam's is located in a scary part of town. Not that I can't handle myself, but it is definitely scarier than any other restaurant that I've been to in Austin. Much scarier than Juan in a Million, Arandinas or Tony's Southern Comfort.

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You should have seen the area in the late 60s. Just go during the day, be polite, and after a couple of visits the regulars will get to know you. that mutton is worth it.

#72 MissAmy

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Posted 22 March 2006 - 04:00 PM

Where is Sam's located? I'd like to give it a shot.

Personally, my favorite bbq in Austin is Artz Rib House. Highly underrated in my opinion. Their country style pork ribs are unparalleled.
-Sounds awfully rich!
-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

#73 Kent Wang

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Posted 22 March 2006 - 04:48 PM

Where is Sam's located? I'd like to give it a shot.

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Austin Chronicle is always your best resource for this kind of question:
http://www.austinchr...ation?oid=45854

#74 dumpling

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 02:51 PM

Is John Mueller's still closed?

Edited by dumpling, 23 March 2006 - 03:52 PM.


#75 tupac17616

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 09:41 PM

Made a nice BBQ discovery last week when I was home in Texas for spring break. My brother had a competition in College Station, so during an intermission in the afternoon, what better way to kill time than drive around in search of some good food? Knowing the Bryan/College Station area is not exactly food heaven, I figured we might have our work cut out for us, but I insisted we hit the road and look for something beyond the terrible chain restaurants that seem to rule the area.
Driving around randomly in Bryan, a beatiful barbecue aroma enters the car, and we know that's our signal that it's time to stop. Fargo's Pit BBQ. We order a sampler with pork spare ribs, brisket and sausage. (A couple of sides were included, too, but, ahem, there is meat to talk about...). The brisket and sausage are decent, not great, but the ribs are wonderful. Not quite as good as, say, Kreuz in Lockhart, for example, but some mighty fine ribs. Best I'd eaten in quite a while actually.
So next time you're in the Bryan/College Station area, fear not, lovers of good 'cue. Sometimes all you have to do is follow your nose to the good stuff.

#76 tupac17616

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 09:43 PM

On another random note, made it back to Kreuz in Lockhart this past weekend. The ribs and sausage were outstanding, just as I had remembered. But the prime rib. Dear God, the prime rib. The stuff dreams are made of... :wub:

#77 MissAmy

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 09:46 PM

Is John Mueller's still closed?

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Yup. Still closed, and from what I understand, not going to reopen. Something about non-payment of rent and the owner/business partners selling the building to another restaurant. :sad:
-Sounds awfully rich!
-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

#78 dumpling

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 04:33 AM

Made it to Kreuz, Smitty's and Artz in the past week as I gather my info on Texas barbecue for reading consumption of the New Jersey contingent of eGullet. I will post the reviews after I get back in a couple of days with the pictures if I can figure out the picture thing. Gonna try to take in Louie Mueller's this evening on my last run before I have to leave.

But thank you guys for your help.

#79 Kent Wang

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 10:01 AM

A theoretical question: would you rather have bad wood-smoked cue (e.g. a bad serving or an off day at one of the top five places in Texas) or very very good gas-cooked cue?

#80 Kevin72

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 10:39 AM

Bad stuff from a good place. When I went to Kreuz in Lockhart the only thing they had left at that point was their regular or lean brisket and it was still mind-blowing. It was still suffused with all that great, smokey flavor and really cared for.

When I lived in Georgia I was perpetually on a quest to eat at their top 'cue places and my frustration with them was how little the smoke played in flavoring the meat: it was for all purposes basically roasted or at the most grilled. It was good and hit the spot for what it was (I do like their tart, vinegary spicey sauces in that area) but it always left me wiftul for the Texas stuff at the same time.

Edit: Dumpling, when you do get your report ready, please post a link on this board. I'm eager to hear about it!

Edited by Kevin72, 24 March 2006 - 10:40 AM.


#81 MissAmy

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 11:16 AM

A theoretical question: would you rather have bad wood-smoked cue (e.g. a bad serving or an off day at one of the top five places in Texas) or very very good gas-cooked cue?

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Bad wood. Gas cooked bbq isn't bbq in my opinion, it's grilling.
-Sounds awfully rich!
-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

#82 mrbigjas

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 12:14 PM

so i know we've been over this a few times, and i've read a lot of stuff, but i'm headed to dallas tonight and i just have to get one more confirmation: is DFW really pretty much a lost cause when it comes to good brisket?

a few years ago i had decent bbq at the railhead in fort worth, and more recently main st. in euless was fine. i know there's nothing that really approaches kreuz's or smitty's but for the next few hours i'm going to be writing down a few names in the DFW area in hopes that something will turn up, so any last minute suggestions are appreciated...

#83 mrbigjas

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 08:48 PM

i'm just gonna reply to myself here, because this is where i asked the question--mods, if you want to move this, that would make sense.

my question in the post above was answered today at mac's bbq on main street in... well, i'm not sure. near deep ellum, but i don't think it's actually in deep ellum. 39xx main street. the brisket was meltingly tender, not at all dry, and was plenty fatty. it could have been smokier--i couldn't really tell about the smoke ring from where i was standing, but i've had more intensely smoky brisket other places--but it was delicious. ribs were pink through and through from the smoke; sausage was damn good too, although not the loosely-packed sausage that i love at kreuz's. beans were a little sweet but not too much so.

for this yankee, mac's is the go-to place in dallas. unfortunately it's only open like 10:30-2 weekdays...

#84 Kent Wang

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 09:03 PM

A theoretical question: would you rather have bad wood-smoked cue (e.g. a bad serving or an off day at one of the top five places in Texas) or very very good gas-cooked cue?

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Interesting to read the responses. I think it depends. Sometimes a bad wood brisket can be so dry that it's downright inedible; that happened to me once at John Mueller's.

#85 Kent Wang

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Posted 02 April 2006 - 03:46 AM

I went to Crosstown BBQ in Elgin at 5pm on Friday. Brisket lacked smokiness though I got a great fatty cut. Sausage was nice and juicy but still bland as Elgin sausages often are. Beef ribs had an interesting sweet rub that carmelized nicely but also lacking in smokiness.

Southside Market is better on all counts; go there instead.

#86 JPipes

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Posted 03 April 2006 - 12:47 PM

1) Williams Smokehouse in Houston (especially for ribs)

2) The Swinging Door in Richmond (surprisingly good)

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Thank Jeebus for The Swinging Door, that's where my rehearsal dinner will be. I was pretty damned surprised at the quality of the grub there too.

#87 Kent Wang

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 12:42 PM

I went to Coopers Pit Bar-B-Q in Mason yesterday. I have heard from a number of people that the original in Mason is much better than the better-known one in Llano. Austin Chronicle has a short bio of the Cooper dynasty.

Posted Image

Posted Image

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Unlike many restaurants, Cooper's keeps the meat in the pits until they're served. They even have goat.

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Really excellent crust on the brisket, very thick and crispy, even better than Louie Mueller's. The sausage was mediocre.

Posted Image
Pork ribs. Lackluster but not as dry as Mueller's.

Posted Image
Beef ribs.

Overall, I felt that Cooper's edges out Louie Mueller's as my favorite barbecue restaurant -- though there are many more that I have yet to visit. The Muellers use only salt and pepper in their rub while Cooper's uses "a bunch of stuff", according to the staff, in addition to salt and pepper -- I'd venture that there was some cayenne pepper in there. Cooper's also dips all their meat in a thin, vinegary dipping sauce immediately beforing serving. This was a very thin sauce -- almost as thin as water -- not a thick sauce like a standard barbecue sauce. The flavor contributed by the sauce is barely perceptible except for the added acidity which I felt nicely complements the greasiness of the meat. The difference is more a matter of preference one as a purist might prefer Muellers' style; I personally prefer Cooper's.

#88 BigboyDan

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 01:16 PM

Kent,

What you noticed, tasted, is the difference in regional styles. Cooper's is of the Western Cattle Trail, Mueller that of the Eastern Cattle Trail, starting just South of San Antonio, photo. (We BBQ regulars don't ususally compare them equally). Each style results from differing techniques, spicing, and woods used for smoking. As you mentioned, the sausage is mediocre, as is ALL sausage outside of Central Texas. Cooper's "thin, vinegary dipping sauce" can be had in Austin (close) at The Pit on Burnet Road. The Mason Cooper's does infact have a better reputation than that of the Llano operation, but both are the best of the Western Trail style. Don't miss the Mason/Brady Cabrito Festivals over Labor day...

And, thanks for the photography.

Edited by BigboyDan, 22 May 2006 - 02:12 PM.


#89 Kevin72

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 09:24 AM

Wow, I had never even heard of these differences in styles based on the East and West trails before. Can you elaborate more on them? Is the West style then the Czech barbecue that Central TX specializes in?

I've only been the Llano location for Coopers before and I still enjoyed it quite a bit.

#90 Kent Wang

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Posted 26 May 2006 - 11:08 AM

Dale Rice says Salt Lick is now opening in Las Vegas. It may not be good Central Texas barbecue but I'm betting it'll be better than the competition there.