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Green Mesquite - Review (Part of my "chow-tour" of Austin)

Bababooey Jan 11, 2007 12:51 PM

Preface- I'm new to Austin and to Chowhound. After having read this site for a few days, I decided it was incumbent upon me to eat my way across the city and then tell you all about it. Your welcome. I am starting with lunches (as this is most convenient for me) and I'm starting with the places closest to where I work. I may skip restaurants entirely (national chains, or stuff I just don't want to eat), and I will go in no particular order (I'm in a BBQ and Taqueria phase right now - deal with it!). I love feedback, and recommendations. I don't like ankle-biting or sniping. I'm not an expert on any particular cuisine, but I know good food and I know enough about cooking and ingredients to annoy those of you that are experts. Anyway, on with the show:

Green Mesquite - I felt like BBQ today. I had Artz Rib House on Monday (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/358266) and I drove by Green Mesquite (GM) to get there. I didn't feel like driving all around Austin looking for another place and even though I knew GM was not on many folks' top 10 list, I thought it was worth a visit. I noted to myself as I walked up that there was no smell! No smoke! Well, there is a breeze, maybe I'm upwind. I ordered my favorite three meat combo (brisket, sausage, pork ribs) with a side of cole slaw (also standard for me) and fried okra. The brisket looked like it had been steamed (explains lack of smoke in the air). The meat was tender, but very little flavor away from the crust, which just tasted like burnt fat. The sauce made it workable (and still better than BBQ in Los Angeles), but nothing to order again. On to the sausage. This was much better, though texturally it was a bit soft - like the innards had shrunk while the casing remained firm. Taste was good, and sauce complimented well (just a few drops). The pork ribs were utterly disgusting. Greasy, oily, fatty and completely tasteless. There wasn't enough sauce on the table to doctor them up. I stopped eating them.

Cole slaw was ok - lots of dressing which lacked tang, but good hand-cut cabbage which appeared fresh. Fried okra was good - freshly fried and came out hot and crispy.

I'd go back to order off their non-bbq menu. They have "bakers" which are baked potatoes stuffed with various ingredients. Also like to try their chicken fried steak and catfish dishes.

Their dessert menu reads "Same recipe since we started in 1988". My opinion is you reserve the "...since xxxx" title for things that have been around for 50 years plus. I had a slice of pecan pie that was quite good, though I could have used a dollop of real whipped cream!

Overall, I would recommend AGAINST GM for BBQ. Jury's out on the rest of their menu.

  1. tom in austin Jan 11, 2007 02:45 PM

    Their chopped beef is usually pretty good. I like the "Bubba" tacos w/ chopped beef and the pot chop "baker". Their sauce is good.

    Green Mesquite's charm isn't in their BBQ. This place survives on atmosphere. Sit outside with friends on a cool spring day, sip a pint of Shiner, and hang out.

    1. s
      saticoy Jan 11, 2007 05:26 PM

      I think there are only something like 12 restaurants in Austin that have been around longer than 40 years....gotta cut 'em a little slack for being here almost 20! I agree that their brisket isn't the best - I like the catfish poboy at Green Mesquite (and the draft Shiner), and the burger at Artz... and go elsewhere for BBQ.

      1. Ken W Jan 11, 2007 09:41 PM

        You guys are being kind. GM's food has been bottom of the barrel for several years. Ate there just a few months ago hoping it had gotten better, it hadn't - with one exception being the fried okra (but who can't bread okra and drop it in a deep fryer). Some of the people I was with enjoyed their dishes, but only those who got something other than BBQ. No one who got BBQ felt it was any good.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Ken W
          MPH Jan 12, 2007 01:41 AM

          Agreed, Ken W. Too many Austin "institutions" serve bad chow. You can't eat nostalgia. Or maybe you can, since that's all these places serve up. But it sure doesn't taste very good.

          I applaud the desire to try things firsthand, Bababooey, but I'll warn you that Green Pasture's CFS is not good. At all.

          By the way, if I were you, I wouldn't act defensive about being a newbie or having different opinions about what’s good in town. Personally, I think the civil co-existence of disparate opinions is what makes this board so useful.

          In the end, everyone benefits from an active board.

          Best,
          MPH

          1. re: MPH
            tom in austin Jan 12, 2007 04:42 AM

            Bingo. "Eat what you like!" is the key; open your senses to your dining experience and relate it. "Different strokes for different folks", aka "Your mileage may vary" rules the land of food.

            P.S. I think you meant Green Mesquite, not Green Pastures. And while I agree that their CFS is far from awesome, Green Mesquite isn't totally worthless. As I said, their chopped beef is usually good. In sandwich, Bubba taco, or pot chop baker form, you are in for a treat.

            As much as I love the place, I wish I could defend their side dishes. But they have some of the most bland beans; green beans, pinto beans, what have you. Their other sides don't fare well either. Their side salad is a sad, cheeseless green affair. Their "famous" fries change from visit to visit: sometimes they are soggy and miserable; other times they are crisp, oversalted, and burnt. Their fried okra is absolutely better than Luby's or Furr's.

            Other highlights include: Their sauce is pretty good. Their Shiner schooners are great. Their quarter or half roasted chicken isn't bad -- although not as good as lots of other places (for instances, Chongo's, which is cheaper). Their chicken fried chicken is passable. Did I already say that their Shiner is good?

            1. re: tom in austin
              MPH Jan 12, 2007 05:32 AM

              Thanks for pointing out the typo. I did mean Green Mesquite.

              I like your approach of describing the best and worst of GM's menu. Sharing plenty of details here ultimately makes bad chow less likely to happen to good chowhounds.

              Best,
              MPH

            2. re: MPH
              Kent Wang Jan 12, 2007 06:15 PM

              Of the bad "institutions" I'd have to put Green Mesquite at near the top. Other contenders: Rudy's BBQ, Threadgill's, Top Notch.

              1. re: Kent Wang
                tom in austin Jan 13, 2007 04:57 AM

                Aw, you're probably being to harsh. For what it is, Rudy's ain't bad. Hybrid gas station-minimart-BBQ place; serves pretty good brisket and turkey.

                It isn't epic BBQ or anything, but you can snag a quick breakfast snack or a working-week lunch there and be fairly satisfied.

              2. re: MPH
                j
                jwynne2000 Jan 12, 2007 07:49 PM

                May I be so bold as to throw Hoffbrau into that category

                1. re: jwynne2000
                  tom in austin Jan 13, 2007 04:55 AM

                  Yeah, and how sad that is. Might as well add Matt's El Rancho to the hopper as well.

                  1. re: tom in austin
                    s
                    saticoy Jan 13, 2007 02:22 PM

                    Yeah, I only meant to cut them slack on using the tag "serving since..." not their admittedly sub-par food. Since people always seem to want to go to the Green Mesquite, I think a discussion of what is serviceable there is helpful. In fact, I think finding what is GOOD about different places and discussing that in depth is most helpful in a search for great chow.

                    Re: Austin institutions...when i first moved here (from SF) I was shocked at the lack of ethnic options and established family run places with some staying power. I investigated a few, and made the quick determination that it wasn't the quality of deliciousness that keeps Matt's El Rancho and the others in business.

                2. re: MPH
                  Bababooey Jan 13, 2007 12:37 AM

                  Thanks MPH...I just wanted people to know who was giving their opinion...Full disclosure, and all...Thanks for the heads up on the CFS. While I certainly want to give these various restaurants and "institutions" a chance across their menu, I don't want to waste time (or money) either. Given it's proximity and the number of out-of-town colleagues I have to entertain, I'm sure I'll end up at GM again, so I'll get another taste - whether I want it or not!

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