The Salt Lick, Driftwood
Places that are ultra-hyped, usually are a let down, and this one was no different. As my first taste of Texas ‘Que, I was expecting to be blown away, and I wasn’t. Everything was very good, no doubt about it. Solid smoke flavor, a good mix of flavors, but not an eye opening “wow.” The sausages were heavy on the grease and short of flavor, while the ribs were very nice, but my very non-traditional favorite was the smoked turkey breast. The turkey seamed to breathe in the smoke, and tasted perfect with the tangy sauce. That was another thing, the sauce seemed to work well with the turkey, and just okay with everything else.
The Hog Pen, Leakey pronounced Lake-Ey
I did find one little cute little motorcycle-themed BBQ place in Leakey called The Hog Pen on the corner of US-83 and Ranch 337. The meat was decent, but they didn’t have much when we visited before lunch on a weekday. The owner highly recommends what he refers to as the “Three Sisters” routes 336, 337, and 335 (which parallels 336 about 10 miles to the west).
In the City, Austin, that is
Feeling like taking your riding separate from your Que’n? Or if you’re just unambitious about your mileage totals, I tried a couple of in-town joints while there. The first was an old black man set up with a little portable rig in back of the Continental Club. Austin is known as a major live blues music locale, with its many stages hosting hot up and coming bands, country bands, and the local scene which is a little of everything, known in some parts (but not around here) as Ya’llternative.
With the ContiClub’s back alley gent, expectations again reared its ugly head. Unlike at the Salt Lick, they were pretty low in the alley behind a bar, but Texas’ rep for quality meat came through with a fine smoky piece of cow flesh.
The other place I tried in the city was Iron Works BBQ. On the premises of the old F Weigl Ironworks, the place has a ton of charm, with many of the ancient metal working machines left around the place in their own roped-off areas. The back porch directly overlooks a stream that runs right through downtown with a jogging trail alongside. It feels like a world away from the bustle of the city outside the front door. The ribs were good here, but the star was the sausage, which is another thing Texas Barbecue is known for. Everything else was of high quality, but nothing stood out.
Cooper’s pit bar-b-que, Llano
Easily my favorite of the bunch. Not only do they do pork and beef equally well, they are a little more wide-ranging in the cuts they’ll attempt. I managed to stuff myself full of smoked prime rib, which was crazy good, but also crazy-priced. It was a shame because, the far cheaper beef rib, was the best of it’s kind that I’ve had. They were huge! And oh so tender and tasty. Salty, but, I like that, so no complaints there. The pork ribs paled in comparison, and they were damn good. They also had turkey, ribeye, and a number of other cuts you don’t normally see at a smokehouse. Though on this weekday lunchtime that we went there A