Monday, September 1, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 3008: Opie's Barbecue (Spicewood, Texas)

As I begin this post, I am less than 2 hours removed from an outstanding Labor-Day lunch at Opie's, but this review applies to Caroline, Drew, Josh, Todd, and Russell's August 23 trip to Opie's in Spicewood, one of the Hill Country's (and, in my experience, Texas') finest BBQ establishments. Today's trip will be recounted in the days ahead.

The Austin Chronicle's Wes Marshall writes, "People from all over Central Texas flock to Llano for barbeque at Cooper's. Go on a Saturday afternoon during some pretty weather and the wait just to place your order can be more than an hour. I still love Llano, but I won't be traveling to Cooper's any more. Herbie Lynn recently quit cooking at Cooper's and moved to Spicewood to open Opie's Barbeque. It's at least as good, sometimes better, and 47 miles closer."

The trip to Opie's a beautiful 34-mile drive out Highway 71. (If you just can't wait to eat, chances are a gentleman will be selling fresh jerky -- with free samples -- on the side of the road, as you near Spicewood.) Opie's nondescript gray building is on the right side of the highway, just before the gas station. Look for the smoke from the meat being cooked to the right of the building. You can't miss it.

The trip gets better when you step out of your car. The smell of the barbecue is phenomenal. If your senses are in working order, you should, by now, be salivating. As soon as you step into the building, to your right is the BBQ pit, with a large menu hanging on the wall above. A worker will open the pit for you and allow you to take your pick from the selection of brisket, pork loin, sausage (regular and jalapeno), pork ribs, sweet-and-spicy baby back ribs, half chickens, and (huge, bone-in) pork chops. (Go on a Friday or Saturday, if you're in the mood for prime rib.) Pick out what you want, and they'll throw it on a black plastic tray, before they hand it off to be weighed and wrapped in paper. Happy hunting.

You're not done. Time for sides: Cheese slices, slaw, potato salad, tater tot casserole (a must), and spicy corn (a must). After you pay, make your way to the island of free sides: pintos (regular and spicy -- and butterbeans on Friday and Saturday), onions, peppers, pickles, bread, and sauce. The iced tea is great --and for the other reader somewhere out there who is as quirky as I am: They have Equal, Splenda, Sweet'n Low, lemons, and limes, unlike many other places that skimp and just offer (nasty) Sweet'N Low and (sorry-substitute) lemon packets. But I digress.

If you, somehow, have room for dessert, Opie's huge desserts are certain to please: Cobbler (cherry, blackberry, and peach) with ice cream, brownies, banana pudding, and, if all is right in the world and they have it that day, carrot cake. You might need a few minutes before you are able to walk out. If so, plop down in one of the two large, wooden rocking chairs near the door. You'll be glad you did.

Opie's might be my favorite BBQ place. However, if you're looking for a place with no plates, no forks, and no sauce in the mold of, say, Kreuz/Smitty's/City Market (Luling), this is not it. They don't have plates, but they have sauce and silverware. If that makes it less than authentic, you'll catch no grief from me. It's your movie. But the food here is outstanding. Some of the other Man-Uppers didn't score this visit as highly as I did. Perhaps I shouldn't have built it up so much. Even so, everyone can score as he or she sees fit; and everyone has the right to be severely misguided. Kidding. To each his/her own. (However, without giving away too much, I will say that two of these misguided souls scored today's Opie's visit much higher. With age comes wisdom.)

Josh was less than impressed: "the meat was kind of dry, the beans were above average. the tatertod stuff was good but not great the spicy cream corn was nasty good. over all i was not too satisfied. but i give it a 3.01 (on a 5-point scale) as an over all score. it was slightly over rated."

Russell says Opie's has "great atmosphere and sides; the meat has room for improvement as the brisket and pork loin were several notches in flavor and moistness below the Lockhart joints and the Lick on the day I was there."

Russell's ranking - Overall: 7.5

Todd's ranking - Overall: 6.79

Caroline's ranking - Spicy corn: 10; Tater tot casserole: 9; Brisket: 10; Overall: 10

Drew's rankings - Brisket: 8.25; Sweet-and-spicy ribs: 9.8; Sides: 9.7; Overall: 10

Overall Man-Up Ranking: 8.5725

Opie's Barbecue on Urbanspoon


Whitt said...

Opie's Cobbler with ice cream just made me salivate... it looked incredible! As a matter of fact, I am about to get in my car and drive two miles down the road for a peach cobbler with ice cream from Podunk, Georgia's own little whole-in-the-wall BBQ joint.

Joel Moore said...

Opie's continues to be one of my favorite Texas bbq places. Because Texas is clearly and indisputably the barbeque capital of the world, that makes Opie's one of the best bbq joints in the world.

Drew Thornley said...

Yep, Joel, you are officially an honorary member. At least until you and Megan come to Austin and join us. Then you're full fledged.

Joel moore said...

Thank you Drew. It is an honor. We will definitely have to get to Austin to help with the reviews.