Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008: The Salt Lick (Driftwood, Texas)

With just one night left on my sister's 3-night visit and with another work week hours away, making the peaceful 22-mile drive down to Driftwood for a Sunday-night dinner at The Salt Lick with Caroline and Russell just seemed right. I had previously made just two trips to Salt Lick. Always the contrarian, I guess I had been trying to avoid jumping on the Salt Lick bandwagon (even though I thoroughly enjoyed both of my trips).

Around here, dining at Salt Lick is an Austin/Hill Country rite of passage, even, on par with seeing the bats, swimming at Barton Springs, or floating the river (none of which have I done, btw, unless you count the time I saw the bats one night when I happened to drive by as they took off from the Congress Avenue bridge). To me, Salt Lick always seemed cliché. But, sometimes, there's good reason something is cliché: This is true of Salt Lick. If I am now a Kool-Aid drinker, so be it. Salt Lick is justifiably a Hill Country institution.

Salt Lick has two buildings: the main restaurant and an overflow restaurant that doubles as a venue for receptions, banquets, etc. Between the two is a waiting area with picnic tables and often (on the weekends, I assume) live music. Expect a wait, but don't fret. In the wise words of Russell, "A relaxing wait for a little awhile in the Salt Lick’s oak-treed, country-fied environment is part of the allure." Also, bring cash (or an ATM card). That's all they take.

My favorite part of Salt Lick is the open-pit BBQ to your right, as you enter the main restaurant. Fantastic. A sight and smell of utter barbecue bliss.

Russell took advantage of the all-you-can-eat option, but Caroline and I slapped around a brisket meal and a half chicken. Both excellent. I cannot complain about anything on the table, including the incredible sausage that I took off Russell's plate (presumably in violation of all-you-can-eat protocol). Also, I am not a potato salad fan, but theirs is pretty good. It doesn't seem to be potato salad. More like mushy boiled potatoes, with some sort of sauce. At any rate, it doesn't matter. They're good. (View the menu.)

Russell gives Salt Lick a ringing endorsement: "in all sincerity, this place makes me really happy….can't beat the atmosphere, sauce, ribs and sausage…the grizzly, yet flavorful brisket was the only thing that kept this from being a perfect 10 on this day."

Russell's rankings – Ribs: 10; Brisket: 7.2; Sauce: 10; Overall: 9.9

Drew's rankings – Brisket: 8.2; Sauce: 10; Sides: 8.5; Sausage: 9.6; Overall: 9.7

Caroline's rankings – Brisket: 8; Sausage: 9.5; Slaw: 5; Potato salad: 8.5; Sauce: 10; Peach cobbler: 7.5; Blackberry cobbler: 10; Overall: 9

Overall Man-Up Ranking: 9.53

The Salt Lick Bar B-Q on Urbanspoon


Joel Moore said...

Saltlick is absolutely a top 5 or 10 bbq place in all of Texas. The sides really add a lot to the overall table opportunity. And the family style and endless supply also adds to table opportunity. The more table opportunity, the more excitement in the meal, because after every bite of something you are eager to get into the next thing. Table opportunity is something I think separates Saltlick from other top notch bbq spots.

I will say Saltlick's sauce is not my favorite, and I would rank them under the top 5 or 10 for sauce, even though I'd easily rank them overall in the top 5 or 10 in the State (from where I've been thus far). The reason for my lower sauce rating here is because of my general preference for sauces that are more spicy than sweet. However, Saltlick's sauce is a refreshing change of pace from my normal favorites that are more spicy than sweet, like at Rudy's.

If I can figure it out, I will provide you with a couple close ups of the bbq pit at the Saltlick to add to your most excellent selections already on the post.

Drew Thornley said...

Joel, get your fill of C. Springs and head on back to Texas.