[AUS] Artz Rib House BBQ - My Thoughts
Preface - I am new to Austin and, while I love BBQ, do not profess to be an expert nor have I tried all (or even 25%) of the joints in town.
That being said, I just had lunch at Artz Rib House on Lamar - http://www.artzribhouse.com/ - and had their Monday lunch special: Smoked Country Style Pork Ribs (2) with potato salad, cole slaw, pinto beans, and a pickle spear. I was informed by the Central Texas BBQ Association that Artz is famous for their country style ribs: (http://ctbbqa.org/membership/artz_rib...). They were right - as you might expect from such an official sounding organization.
The ribs were moist, not too fatty (though a certain amount of fat comes with the territory) and had what seemed like a 1/2" smoke ring (OK it was smaller that that, but was distinct and noticeable). The crust was well formed and absolutely delicious - no sauce needed...if you could resist it! The sauce was just right; spicy, smoky and flavorful. The side dishes were nothing to write home about, though the cole slaw was crunchy and tangy - but whose eating at a BBQ joint for the salad?
Service was poor but, again, who cares?! The atmosphere was perfect for a city BBQ joint, with just a hint of smoke lingering in the air, so you weren't sure if your glasses needed cleaning, or if the exhaust fan was, well, exhausted!
As I said, I've been to just a handful of BBQ places here in Austin (Rudy's, County Line, Stubbs, Smokey Joes, Salt Lick, Buster's), and a few more around the country (Wonderland Birmingham AL, Rendezvous Memphis, TN, Jack Stack KC KS, several others in NC, TN and GA). This was one of the best BBQ meals I've had. I would recommend someone go 30minutes out of their way to eat here. (this is my favorite method of rating restaurants - better than stars, or 1-10)
choir member comment incoming:
artz is by far my favorite BBQ in austin, and not just their ribs. next time, try their chicken, it s fall off the bone moist. or if you like burgers, they have some of the best in town and are on special everyday during lunch.
on friday, go a little bit early to get an order of their rightfully famous spare ribs, kind of a cross between the country ribs and baby back....meaty, smoke-infused heaven on a plate.
I didn't like it. BBQ is almost a religion in Austin and for good reason, there is an abundance of good places. I like brisket and we have some great brisket makers here, one of which really isn't Artz. I love ribs and I like Artz but I have to say that they are not even in the same league as the ribs at the Rendevouz in Memphis. That place is the Vatican of ribs and having been it is difficult to rave about the offerings here. Artz is fair at best. The experience is old Austin which us long timers appreciate, but really, there are better places to spend a couple of hours in the middle of a smoker.
You're not alone, gntlmn6464. I recently had Artz's baby-back ribs and didn't love them. They were smoky but tasteless, though they were better than the tough brisket and dry, flavorless country-style pork ribs that I've had there previously. On the other hand, I had a fairly good experience a few weeks ago with their jalapeño-cheeseburger. I much prefer the similar one at Poodie's, but Artz's is more than decent. I get the packaged potato chips with my burgers at Artz, since I don't like their sides. (Or any of their desserts.)
On the subject of baby back ribs - I have tried baby back ribs from the following places:
Salt Lick (original location plus Westlake Hills location)
The worst baby back ribs I have had thus far are the ones from Mesa Grill. Are you looking for smoky ribs? In terms of "smoky flavor," Mesa Grill's baby back ribs are unparalelled. The smoke totally dominated the flavor of the meat itself. If you're a fan of "smoky" baby back ribs, give Mesa Grill a try. I'll guarantee that you won't find smokier baby back ribs anywhere.
Personally, I am partial to the "fall off the bone, sauce-focused" style that Jasper's, Houston's, and Dan McClusky's employ, and I still feel that Dan McClusky's offers some of the best baby back ribs in Austin. However, I don't see Dan McClusky's being mentioned much on the boards. I'd give Dan McClusky's a try if you are a "fall off the bone" baby back rib fan. Be warned though - expect the baby back ribs dish to be fairly pricy (comparable to Jasper's prices).
Hello, just wanted to update this post by sharing my dinner experience earlier tonight... I ordered the Grilled Veg Plate, which was well-reviewed in earlier posts but unfortuately not to my liking. The concept was great: two very generous sized skewers of veggie kebabs with thick hunks of carrots, zucchini, onions and squash, accompanied by cole slaw, potato salad, beans, a piece of wheat bread and a pickle spear (all for $9.99!). As I mentioned, though, the taste was extremely bland. The veggies had ZERO form of seasoning/marinade/butter on them, so I had to salt them heavily to satisy my flavabuds, and I really dislike having to salt things at the table. The sides were very average, in my opinon. Again, no real seasoning on the potato salad, except for a smattering of what appeared but didn't really taste like paprika (didn't really taste like anything at all). The cole slaw was vinegar-based and passable with the addition black pepper. The beans had little meaty chunks (pork? beef? what's typically in bbq beans?) swimming in the sauce, which I like, but they had no heat as in from peppers or spices, and I like my beans to swim in a salty broth rather than a sweet sauce.
My boyfriend got the sausage plate and said he liked it, but I noticed he only ate one of the two links and about half his sides--usually unheard of when we go out for bbq (he really likes Ironworks, Sam's, and the County Line he used to work at in San Antonio). Speaking of, I am dyyyying to try the bbq in Luling on the drive to SA some time, but I always have my darn kitty with me, and he doesn't get to eat 'q.
Artz does have a lovely buzz early at 7ish on a Friday evening. Cheery but not irritatingly so folks knockin' back cold ones with friends and family while the band twangs their strings up front gettin' ready for the night. It's relatively nearby, so I might be back sometime for one of them jalapeno cheeseburgers and some music, but NEVER the veggie plate!