Our third-Monday-night-in-a-row dinner landed five of us at Artz Rib House in Austin. The company was great. How could it not be with Jenny, Julianne, Russell, and Todd.
The food was good, if unspectacular. I had the smoked chicken plate. The chicken was quite good, and the sides (beans and slaw) weren’t bad. I tried some brisket and pork ribs, the former of which was fine, and the latter of which I found moist and very flavorful yet not at all fatty. Word to the wise: If there’s live music, don’t laugh or enjoy yourself or really even speak, or you might experience the wrath of what I presume to be some regulars who apparently congregate at a BBQ restaurant primarily for the music.
Jenny joined us for the second time: “My second man-up experience did not compare to my first. In Artz' defense, Louis Mueller is extremely tough competition. Who can beat Muellers, really? Plus, elite bbq doesn't really exist inside the city limits. You all know it’s true. The food was pretty good though, no doubt. I had the pork ribs and they were very tender, practically falling off the bone and the beef ribs were similar. I was not impressed with the sauce. It didn't have much of a kick but excellent consistency. The sides were good, probably the best thing Artz had going for them but very low on my decision making totem pole. Potato salad deserves high remarks. It was almost pureed. Delicious. I enjoyed the company of Julianne, Russell, Todd, and Drew immensely despite our differing political views. They were very gracious to allow the hippie nurse to come along and all jokes were in good humor. I've never enjoyed being made fun of so much. Thanks Russell! Now to the dirty. I did not like the atmosphere. Let me reiterate that: I did not like the atmosphere. There was a coldness felt in the place from the moment I walked in and if I had not been in such warm company, I may have left. Maybe it was because it was a Monday. Maybe because it was the day before the election. Maybe it was because we were sitting dead center right in front of the band. I don't know for sure. We also definitely had gratuity added to our check even though our party of 5 was under 8 (they're rules not ours). Interesting. Maybe someone should moonlight on a different day to evaluate the atmosphere (the highest level of my decision making totem pole)...that person will not be me.
Julianne speaks: “Ribs - they were perfect in flavor, no sauce was required (In fact I never even tried the sauce). Beans - love the black cracked pepper that is an added quality to these beans. Brisket - too dry for my liking, but not all that bad (right up Drew’s alley, there was fat on it at all). Atmosphere - nice roomy, laid back atmosphere that lends itself to create conversations and fun times with friends. But to be honest, I think we could be anywhere and have fun. Service - not too prompt at first and missing a few things along the way (pickles, silverware, etc.) but did offer us some nice chocolate cake from the birthday cake (of the guy at the next table). Overall, I will be back but I think next time I won’t sit right in front of the music, thus I won’t have to talk loudly and then get reprimanded by the next table.”
Todd gives Artz high marks: “Artz is a great little ribhouse located on South Lamar in South Austin. During our recent visit, we were not only welcomed by great food, but by live entertainment...only in Austin can you find live music on a random Monday night. The food was great, the atmosphere authentic, and the music entertaining! my only real complaint was the service. They definitely pride themselves in food over service; however, the live music more than made up for it. Pork Ribs - The pork ribs were incredibly tasty, just a little too fatty for my taste. Brisket - This brisket was quite good. Nice and lean! Chicken - This chicken was amazing. So moist, it reminded me of my Grandpa's famous BBQ Chicken! Sweet Potato Pie - This was interesting, but quite good! While it wasn't the best dessert I have ever had, it was still grrrrreat! Overall this place was great. The ribs were good, and the live bluegrass music was fabulous. Todd signing out.”
Russell, never one to shy away from Manning Up on a review, closes us out: “Artz on S. Lamar in Austin was, as you might expect in South Austin, kind of weird, especially on this particular evening. The food was very good, the music was fair, even if a little different. The company our group brought was great and we had a fun time. That said, the other people who we were being served by and who were eating around us were - to put it kindly - just a little "off". Anyone who has spent much time dealing with service/hospitality in the obamanation that is South Austin will understand what I mean: Let's just say it's not exactly Texas Hill Country kindness and hospitality at its best anywhere on S. Lamar, including Artz. There may have even been a hint of bitterness in the air wafting our way from our fellow patrons and hosts. That said, Artz was not as smoky on the inside as I'd remembered; but the brisket, beef ribs and pork ribs were just as tasty as ever. The sides, including the slaw and potato salad, and the sweet potato pecan pie were also outstanding. Beef rib: My Man-Up recommendation at Artz is the big ole' juicy beef rib -- get you one of those -- they're "daddy" by south ATX standards! Pork rib: Close second to the beef rib - very moist and meaty). Brisket: Could have been a little more moist, but was still tasty. Chicken: Their bird was just average, I thought. Sauce: Good, rich tomato based sauce...you don't need much! Sides and desert: Excellent. Overall ranking brought down slightly mainly on account of the atmosphere and service being a little subpar...but bringing along good friends makes up for a lot!”
Drew’s scores – Pork ribs: 9.3; Brisket: 8.7; Chicken: 8.9; Sides: 7; Overall experience: 6.5
Jenny’s scores – Pork ribs: 6.5; Beef ribs: 6; Potato salad: 9.75; Sauce: 5.21, Atmosphere 1.01; Overall experience: 3.75
Julianne’s scores – Ribs: 9.86; Beans: 8.95; Brisket: 6.78; Atmosphere: 7.89; Service: 8.97; Overall experience: 8.25
Todd’s scores – Pork ribs: 9.12; Brisket: 9.15; Chicken: 9.51; Sweet potato pie: 8.99; Overall experience: 9.25
Russell’s scores – Beef rib: 9.25; Pork rib: 9.15; Brisket: 8.25; Chicken: 6; Sauce: 8.95; Sides and desert: 9.33; Overall experience: 8.25
Overall Man-Up Score: 7.2