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Oct 22, 2006 11:59 PM

bbq near U. of Austin

Going to a conference next weekend at U. of Austin and would love bbq. But I am going to have had an exhausting week before I get there and I'd love to not have to take a cab to get wherever the bbq is. I'm staying at the Marriott and my dream for a bbq would be something good enough and then a quick walk back to the hotel to conk out. Any suggestions?


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  1. You're going to need a cab. Austin's just too spread out of a city. Really, you're not going to find any food other than a gas station without a cab. Well, which Marriott is it?

    Sam's BBQ is within a $10-15 cab ride of campus and downtown. While you're in the area you can score some crack if that's your thing. It's definitely in a shady part of town. Your cab ride is also going to cost more than the food.

    I've also heard good things about House Park BBQ, which is also centrally located.

    There is downtown BBQ at Iron Works but don't bother. I'd rather you eat a gas station than think this is what Texas BBQ is about.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Kent Wang

      Actually, it's not the Marriott but the Doubletree on IH-35 near the University. My mistake. Is there really going to be nothing in that area? I know my energy limits and know I won't want to venture far from the hotel.

      1. re: adorno


        The nearest BBQ might be Scholz, an absolute Austin landmark. Their BBQ is capable Green Mesquite fare.

        I recommend sampling their chopped beef: the Bubba Taco basket, one beef and one brisket will give you a great sampling, along with two sides.

        Another kickass item is the Pot Chop Baker, a baked potato loaded with chopped beef. You'll miss the brisket experience if you go this way.

        Their beans are probably the most disappointing thing about the place. Whether green or baked, they are all fairly bland. When selecting sides, go any other way. The fried okra is decent, the chili-cheese fries are also OK.

      2. re: Kent Wang

        Of all the joints mentioned so far, Sam's is by far the best. And puhhhhleeeeze, the neighborhood, though not cleaned up like Giuliani's Times Square, is ok if you take a cab to the door, then have another pick you up there...i've been there at noon, nine and midnight and never felt unsafe...I mean, a guy was snipered at a pizza joint out here where I live in the 'burbs, so, don't go in like Pollyanna, and yer fine. The food is worth it, thought it's BYOB.
        Iron Works is overrated, but so is Ruby's, I would avoid both. Hyde Park is fine, but is lunch only. Stubbs is for out of towners or those still in possession of their BBQ is ok, but the food? I didn't even like it when Stubb was still around, sorry. Bert's is likewise second tier.
        For sure, the best is out of town. But Sam's is the real's about 5 minutes by cab from your hotel. Go with the right spirit and you'll waddle out a happy camper. And they're open till three a.m. if you decide to stay out late! As for the crack comment, I imagine you can get that about anywhere, even out here in the 'burbs... i doubt the kids out here bother going all the way to the area around Sam's to get their thrills. In fact, I remember some violent muggings in the immediate UT area in the last month or so... some folks can't get past the stereotypes...i used to live east of the Interstate and my own sister was leary of my neighborhood...even though it was the eastside equivalent of Tarrytown.

        1. re: Kent Wang

          Sam's is good. Sort of the Tamale House of BBQ. However, to call it the best in the world is (in my opinion) probably an overstatement.

          You can learn more here:

          1. re: tom in austin

            Oh, I'm not saying anything of the sort. It's not in my Top 10, but those joints are all out of city limits.

          2. re: sambamaster

            ~~ "Stubbs is for out-of-towners or those still in possession of their BBQ is ok, but the food? I didn't even like it when Stubb was still around, sorry." ~~

            I agree wholeheartedly with this. Stubb's is fun for the music when somebody good is on stage. But the food? Thoroughly below average, especially when compared with other central Texas barbecue.

            And I really do not get all this "Austin icon" and "local landmark" stuff. Stubb's opened there in 1996. 1996! That's TEN YEARS! Certainly you can open a new restaurant and have it be good and worth patronizing, but I sure don't think you gain "icon" and "landmark" status in ten years. I mean, compare that to central Texas 'cue joints that opened around the turn of the LAST century. Over 100 years serving barbecue. Now THAT'S "icon" and "landmark" status.

              1. re: Kent Wang

                Stubb's doesn't deserve this sort of hate. It is absolutely an Austin landmark: a great place to catch a show while jamming BBQ and overpriced beer. Just because it opened in 1996 doesn't mean a bunch of food hipsters should start taking potshots at it from various rooftops.

                As I said, the food is good. Not great. If there is a band playing that you like, this makes it a definite two-in-one. Enjoy!

                1. re: tom in austin

                  "...this sort of hate?" Huh? I didn't read where anyone said that they "hate" it. I certainly don't hate it.

                  I suppose that like most things, what constitutes a "landmark" is up to the beholder, but if I'm judging (and I am) by the standards that most people use to determine a central Texas BBQ "landmark," I think it falls short. Waaaay short. I mean, seriously, it's not even in the same league.

                  I agree with you (and I said as much) that it IS a "great place to catch a show." It's fun, and I'd recommend it for that. But NOT when somebody specifically asks where they can get good BBQ. The BBQ is decidedly mediocre and absolutely not the reason to go there.

                  My recommendation to anyone coming to Austin and wanting great BBQ is to go to a true BBQ "landmark" and get some great barbecue.

                  And then go to Stubb's for a great "show...and overpriced beer."

                  Food Hipster

                  1. re: ChrissieH

                    First of all, Stubb's BBQ is erratic. I've had good stuff there, many times. Also, their sides can be downright awesome. I've had their serrano cheese spinach and thought, "Hells yeah!" I've also thought it tasted gluey and bland.

                    However, I do agree that I was inaccurate, and may have given an impression that seemed to say, "OMG everyone hates all BBQ ZOMG LOL!11!1"

                    What I should have instead said was, "Stubb's is inconsistent, but sometimes quite good. In my humble opinion, my fellow Chowhound posters judge this establishment perhaps too harshly. If you're staying near Stubb's on a short visit to Austin, it wouldn't make a bad choice; many in Austin consider Stubb's a point of pride, to some extent symbolic of their city's distinct attributes."

                    Then again, perhaps it is too soon to drive the wahmbulance all the way to literaltown. When someone says that you're "hating" or "hating up", they often don't mean that you are filled with hate in the "I hate racism" sense of the phrase. Rather, they are implying that you are being perhaps overly negative or maybe offering criticism that judges something in a manner too harsh.

                    Food Prole

                    1. re: tom in austin

                      Thanks for the contrasting opinion on Stubb's, tom in austin. The more opinions on Austin ‘cue, the more helpful this thread will be to visitors.

                      To the OP: If you're looking for good BBQ close to UT, you should try Ben's Longbranch at 900 E. 11th Street. I believe they're open late on Friday and Saturday nights and until 4 P.M. other days (except Sundays, when they’re closed).

                      Ben's brisket, pork ribs, and side dishes (pinto beans, potato salad, slaw) are comparable to Sam's, if not better, though I like both places. Both also serve mutton, sausage, pork butt, etc.

                      Ben’s also makes a GREAT peach cobbler. If it's on the menu, order it, even if you're too full to eat it after stuffing yourself with 'cue. You can always get it to go.

                      You may still have to take a cab, but Ben's is much closer than Sam's.


                      1. re: MPH

                        love ben's! they also have grape koolaid! long live purple drink!

          3. re: Kent Wang

            House Park is good, but it will be closed in the evening: it isn't an option for you.

            What did you have at Iron Works that sucked so hard? Did you go back and give them another chance? I've had some mixed results, to be sure, but I've also had really excellent BBQ.

            What do you think of Cooper's in Llano? Kreuz in Lockhart? Just trying to gauge where your taste lies.

            1. re: tom in austin

              My tops in order are:

              Cooper's (Mason) - Those in the know that I know (Mick Vann (Austin Chronicle), Mark Schmidt (Cafe 909)) claim that it is better than the one in Llano. I'd like to compare it myself someday, though.
              Louie Mueller's (Taylor)
              Black's (Lockhart)
              Smitty's (Lockhart)
              John Mueller's (Austin, temporarily closed)
              Kreuz (Lockhart)
              Southside (Elgin)

              Only major one that I haven't been to yet is Luling City Market.

              1. re: Kent Wang

                I went to Cooper's in Mason maybe 2.5 years ago and wasn't that impressed, but who knows how much it has changed good or bad since then. Lord it was a long drive.

                I'm curious if anyone has been to Gonzalez meat market lately? I heard they dropped their beef ribs a while back and that is a shame. Just hard to drive through Lockhart then Luling to get there...

                Luling, Louie Muellers and the 2 places in Lockhart (still haven't been to Black's) are still my top places.

                1. re: Carter B.

                  Carter B.,

                  Did you see this thread that was first posted in September?


                  The original post is detailed and very informative, and the poster specifically mentions Gonzalez Meat Market as an underappreciated gem.


          4. Specify a Marriot? There are a bunch.

            Northwest campus: Ruby's BBQ. I like pretty much everything here. Not my favorite brisket in town, but has the highest "average score" on all of their items.

            Southwest campus: Bert's BBQ. Order a Turbo T-Man. I promise that it will bust you straight in the face.

            Northeast downtown: Stubb's. In my opinion, more of an Austin icon than a place for amazing BBQ. Still, you'll have a blast. Good side dishes.

            Southeast downtown: Iron Works. I love their sausage, but lots of people don't. I probably have too much affection for this place.

            1. I recommend Stubb's. It's a local landmark and the food is excellent. We've had guests from across the US and as far away as Sardinia there and it is universally beloved.

              There is better barbecue in the area (though too far out of town), but I prefer the ambiance and charm of Stubb's.

              Your hotel is at 18th and I-35. Stubb's is located about 10 blocks away at 7th and Red River. Cab it down and back. It's close but the walk would be harrowing.

              After dinner, you can wander past the rock and punk clubs on Red River and down to 6th Street. Head west to take in some local nightlife (although it's very college-y), then cab it back to your hotel.

              1. In follow-up to my original post, I remain unsure from all these posts if there are any bbq places in walking distance of my hotel (Doubletree on 35th, not Marriott as I originally indicated). I really, really don't want to take a cab so is there absolutely nothing near even partially decent in safe walking distance of my hotel?

                I leave tomorrow evening for Austin and will be off-line from then on so let me know beforehand.


                2 Replies
                1. re: adorno

                  if you insist on walking, good luck. You might get stuck at Stubbs which will be about a mile from the hotel, maybe a bit won't be a pleasant walk, but should be safe enough. But really, really, a five buck cab ride to Sam's is the way to go. You are limiting yourself terribly by wanting to walk. So have fun... Oh, the Scholtz recommendation is fine for some foods, but not for BBQ...but it is within walking distance if I am not mistaken. What's wrong with a short cab ride, by the way?

                  Oh, one more thing: the name of the university in question is the Universtiy of Texas at Austin.

                  1. re: sambamaster

                    Yes, yes, I know it's U. of T. at Austin. My error from rushing to do the post. I've been travelling too much lately and am tired and so typos abound. But it's also why I don't want to get in a cab. I've seen too many lately. Is there really nothing closer?

                2. Unfortunately, the best option might be to walk across I35, travel through Waterloo park, and pop out on the other side and go to Scholz's. It might give you a good feel for Austin, and try some of their BBQ and or German fare (there still exists a slight German influence in central Texas). Drink a couple of beers, have some food, walk back through the park, and conk out.

                  If you go to Google maps, type in 1617 N I35, and then search for "restaurants," you get a real good idea of what you are dealing with. Walking east can be sketchy at night, and anywhere else is too far of a walk or not good enough to consider.

                  Here's the menu - the thing I like about Scholz's is that you can get some good kraut and german potato salad as a side with BBQ. Most places have the ubiquitous tasteless beans and slaw.