Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jacob & friends: Heath's review

Jacob saved us a small piece of brisket from Franklin’s to kick off our trip. It was delicious, even though it had been sitting out for the prior 5 hours. I look forward to trying it out for reals on a subsequent trip to Austin.

Salt Lick
Jacob tried to warn us that “this place sucks,” but none of us had been there before and felt it merited a try. We pull up and see a packed parking lot, complete with 3-4 charter buses parked outside. Mass market meat is usually not that great in my experience.

The good – the BBQ sauce was fantastic and the sides (particularly the potato salad) were good. Also, I had one of the best glasses of lemonade of my life there. Plus, the atmosphere was incredible and the service was awesome (our server got an extra tip for repeatedly referring to Jacob as an Ohio-resident, much to Jacob’s consternation).

Unfortunately, the brisket was pretty plain. The waiter described it as their “moist” brisket, but it felt more like lean. The “burnt end” style brisket was noticeably better, but not on par with Smitty’s, Kruez, Snow’s, etc. The pork ribs were decent and the sausage was good.

Southside Market – Elgin
At 9:30 a.m., Teddy, Steve, and myself stopped at Southside Market for a quick bite. We split one small piece of brisket and a link of sausage. The sausage was so good we bought a pound for a later cook-out. The brisket was moist and left me wanting more. Unfortunately, we were on our way to Snow’s and decided to pace ourselves.

Snow’s BBQ
Easily the highlight of the trip. Even though we arrived at 10:15, they were already out of ribs by the time we arrived. We still loaded up some brisket, sausage, and pork loin. The brisket was just as advertised…excellent. It moved into my top 2 briskets of all time (behind Smitty’s, but strangely ahead of Kruez). I took a half pound home for our girlfriends to sample and it still stood up well with re-heating two days later.

The sausage was great, but kinda generic (I assume it came from Elgin and is not made on premises, but I could be wrong). The pork loin was outstanding and after 2 bites I was prepared to declare it my favorite pork loin of all time (but, see below). As for atmosphere, it was great. Its what you expect an excellent BBQ place to look like (hidden, slightly dirty, and filled with toothless characters). All in all, I think Snow’s is in my personal top 2.

City Meat Market – Giddings
We stepped to the backroom to order our food and initially we decided to get a half pound of everything so we could each have a bit (and still pace ourselves for later in the day). As the pitmaster was slicing the pork loin, however, I noticed how awesome it looked and made the impulse decision to double our pork loin order to a full pound. I am glad we did, because we were able to gorge on the best pork loin I had ever had in my life. It was moist and had a great skin on it. It was perfectly seasoned and flavored. My only regret was not ordering another pound to take home for pork sandwiches all week. I wanted to take that pork loin out behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

As for the rest of samplings, I was left unimpressed. The ribs were good, but they had been talked up so much by Jacob, they couldn’t meet my ridiculously high expectations. The brisket was fine, but unimpressive. The sausage was good, but not great. The atmosphere gets a “Check Plus.”

Prause Meat Market
By this point, the meat pains are starting to set in. So, it was a slight relief when we arrived at Prause at noon and they were already out of meat. We had a small bit of sausage and gnawed on some burnt brisket ends, but not enough to form an opinion. Next door was a place called the “Man Shop,” however, which had a great selection of pearl snap shirts. Our friend Brett bought a beautiful one and looked like a man for the rest of the day.

Austin's BBQ & Catering
While at Buc-ee’s for some much needed dumping and Dr. Pepper Icees, Jacob ran across the street to Austin BBQ to grab a sampling. I was unimpressed with my small sampling. Perhaps it was nothing more than my sampling bias. I mean, I’m sure this place is a good place, but once you’ve had Snow’s 2 hours earlier, it’s hard to be impartial towards another place. I did not get to see the inside, because I was busy with my Dr. Pepper Icee and debating bird law with Teddy.

Any place that has pictures of show steers on the wall gets my vote. This was a pretty cool place, but we just had the smallest of samplings. The samples were good, but suffered from the same phenomenon I observed at Austin BBQ earlier in the day.

After this trip, here is my personal Top 5:
(1) Smitty’s
(2) Snow’s
(3) Kruez
(4) City Market in Luling
(5) Opie’s

I’m visiting Louie Mueller in two weekends, so I reserve the right to change my rankings.

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