Friday, October 19, 2007

Louie Mueller's BBQ, Taylor, Texas

Our last stop on this year's C&C tour was Louie Mueller's in Taylor. It was tough to pass by Vencil's, but we did it anyways. We stopped about 11:15, just before the main lunch rush hit. There were about 20 people in line when we left.

I have to say I was pretty disappointed at Louie Mueller's. The brisket was very tough, chewy even, and had little flavor outside of the crispy peppery rind. No smoke flavor at all. The ribs were tender and had the same problem. Great crust, but no penetration of the meat. The jalepeno sausage was excellent with perfect texture, snap, and fine spicy flavor. If the line hadn't been so long I would have loaded up on some extra links to take home. Next year. The potato salad was nice and creamy, a solid 4 out of 5. The sauce was a bit vinegary for my taste. Scott swears the brisket was kick-ass last year so we'll just put this one down to the vagueries of BBQ and try again next year.

Sam's BBQ, Austin

Sam's is a legendary Austin joint best known for their late late hours. They're open til 2 am on weeknights and 4 am on weekends. Located just a few miles east of the 6th street music area downtown, we just had to check it out after a night at Antone's. We stopped by earlier in the day to get a daylight photo, but ate after midnight.

I can understand why this place has such a great reputation with late night music folks. Very friendly folks behind the counter and extra grease and fat included at no extra charge. Most helpful after a night out on the town and maybe a little too much alcohol. The brisket was very tender but a bit heavy on the fat content for my taste. Not a lot of smoke flavor, either. The sauce helped some but it was pretty thin and didn't stick to the meat too well. Heavy on the vinegar, too. The beans and tater salad were average, but for midnight on a Tuesday night you'd be hard pressed to find better. They also had several kinds of cake to choose from but we did not partake. I think if I lived in Austin this would be a regular late night haunt. Where else are you going to find late night BBQ?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

House Park BBQ, Austin, Texas

This place is only open for lunch and we hit it about 11:30.

Another place we had been told was pretty average Q, but I had to go there just because of their motto, which is shown below.All around good average Texas BBQ with very tender brisket. Falling apart when you poke it with a fork, tender. Not a lot of smoke flavor in anything, though. A good lunch if you're in the area, but not worth a special trip.

The coolest thing about House Park BBQ has to be their motto, which hangs on their street sign. It's pretty accurate, too. :)

Iron Works BBQ, Austin, Texas

We hit this place around dinner time on Sept 18. It's convenient to the 6th street music district in Austin so it's a nice way to start off your evening. They do have their own little parking area across the street, which is essential.

I'd heard good and bad things about this place and it ended up being about average. Nothing spectacular, just good average barbecue. The patio setting just above the creek was very nice, but nothing good or bad to really write about the food. Just your good ol' average Texas BBQ joint in a better than average setting.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Southwest Market /Woody's, San Marcos

This joint has a weird story. It seems to go by two names, Southwest Market and Woody's BBQ. Neither name is on the sign outside the non-descript industrial looking building. The sign that is out there says "mesquite smoked BBQ", yet there is an awful big pile of oak piled up outside the pits. If you read about the place online, you'll find that this place was bought by one of the cooks at Smitty's after the big family squabble that resulted in the split of Kreuz and Smitty's. If you call them on the phone, they answer "Woody's", but the official name is supposedly Southwest Market. We stopped by at lunch time on September 17.

Man, this was some good eatin'! I don't care what they call this place, there is some great BBQ here. The brisket was outstanding. As good as anything at Black's or Luling City Market, which is top of the heap in my book. Very tender and wonderful smoky flavor throughout. The hot links were spicy and not too dry, not too greasy. Just perfect. The only miss on this trip were the ribs. They were downright onery things. Chewy as boot leather. There was good flavor in there, it just took a whole lot of work to grind it out. Probably just a bum rack that had been on the grate too long. Sides were average. Definitely worth a stop for the brisket alone, but we'll be back and give those ribs another shot.

They have really a strange sign. I know they just "inherited " it, but I wonder why they have a fish doing the grilling. Pretty weird.

Kreuz Market, Lockhart, Texas

We've reviewed Kreuz before and it's one of the standard "greats" of the BBQ tour. Consistently excellent. This time was no exception with everything being top notch food. So good, when the pit man gave me a full pound of shoulder instead of just 1/3 of a pound, I didn't bat an eye and knew I could just wrap it up for later. Which I did!! The hot jalapeno cheese sausage rings were still outstanding so I got me a case to go. Outside photo in previous reviews.

Animal cruelty!!

When we came out of Kreuz Market this dog was sitting in the back of this pickup with his tongue hanging out. I would be too, if I had to sit out there and smell all that great BBQ without getting any! Hopefully his owner brought him a snack. :)

Kreuz jalapeno cheese sausage

Mmmmm. This year I made it a point to take my cooler to bring back a case of Kreuz hot jalapeno cheese sausage. I'll be munching these for a day or two and thinking of that poor dog.....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Clem Mikeska's, Temple, Texas

In a word, DON'T. Food-wise this was a sub-par experience. The brisket was chewy with little flavor, the ribs were leather tough, and I've had better sausage from a chain grocery store. The sweet sauce was positively weird and it took me awhile to put my finger on it. It tasted exactly like the sauce pork and beans come packed in. Blechh! Not my idea of BBQ sauce at all. The potato salad exuded some watery fluid (see the photo) which was most unappetizing. The only item worth mentioning was the bread. That was perhaps the best piece of bread I ever had. It came out of a clear wrapper so it must be some local Temple bakery. Outstanding, but a sad commentary when the best thing in a BBQ meal is the bread.

We saw another outlet for Clem at a gas station/truck stop and their sign indicated thay are opening another location in Belton. Beware. The Mikeska family has different joints in 5 other cities. Rudy's in Taylor, is definitley the best we have sampled so far.

Cartwright's BBQ, Bastrop, Texas

We had heard good things about this place and another in Bastrop so we decided to give them a try. The other place, Old Town BBQ, seems to have disappeared. No sign of it at the corner of Pine and Main, so we doubled back and hit Cartwright's on the freeway. We had a nice lunch around noon on September 16. They were doing a steady business at their drive through the whole time we were there. This place has a long history as Bastrop Meat Market and only recently (relatively) moved to their new digs to concentrate on BBQ.

The first bite of my brisket and I knew this was a great joint. Tender with smoke flavor through and through. I was starting to think I didn't get enough brisket, then I tried the ribs. Nope, I needed room for ribs, too, because they were delicious. Tender and smoky with a nice crust. The only problem was they were not hot through. Sort of as they had been sitting off to the side somewhere and not in the pit. Same problem with the hot sausage. It was neither hot in spice or temperature, but very flavorful and the right mix of wet and dry. The tater salad was the best I had this trip. Sweet mayo base with just a hint of mustard. Lockhart and Luling had better look out. Bastrop is on the BBQ map and Cartwright's put them there.

A lot of joints aren't open 7 days. This is a great stop when other places aren't open. Come to think of it, this is a great stop when they ARE open!

Black's BBQ, Lockhart, Texas

We've reviewed Black's before and they are another of the gold standards in BBQ to our senses. Consistently great, every trip. The brisket is tender with wonderful smokiness throughout. Last year the ribs were just a bit chewy, but not this year, back on form, melt in your mouth, and full of smoky flavor. This year the hot sausage was just a tad dry but still better than most of the places we sampled. I like the fact they have a little more variety on the sides and I had the mashed potatoes and the mac and cheese this trip. Pretty average stuff, but just a nice change to have options beyond the usual tater salad, slaw, and beans. The only disappointment this trip was when we got some Bluebell for dessert. It seems they are no longer scooping and instead have gone to the little single serve cups. Not a big deal, but a slight step down in the overall experience. Outside photo in previous reviews.

All watched over by the knowing gaze of a central Texas jackalope.

Monday, October 15, 2007

2007 Calories and Cholesterol Tour!

This is the third year my buddy Scott and I have headed to central Texas for several days of BBQ haj. We mixed things up this year, hitting a mix of our favorite places from previous years and new places we'd heard about or had been recommended to us. We based out of Lockhart for the first 3 days, then headed up to Austin for the last day and night. All in all, 10 BBQ meals at 10 different joints over 5 days.

As usual, these are my opinions only and, yes, I am well aware of the vagueries of reviewing BBQ. At any time you can have a bad or great experience that is not repeatable on your next trip. However this is what we experienced on this particular outing and the resulting opinions.

Note that if you click on the photos, you get to see a larger photo. If you're not hungry now, you will be. GO EAT SOME BBQ!!

Luling City Market, Luling, Texas

We've reviewed LCM before and it is another of the "greats" in the BBQ biz to our taste and this time was no exception. Melt in your mouth brisket, ribs, and decent sausage. All full of superb smoky flavor in every bite. Everything that place in Temple is not. I'm still not crazy about their mustard based sauce, but with such great Q, you don't need any. Be sure and click on the photo for the large version to see the wonderful "shine" on those ribs. Positively glowing with goodness!!