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Hubbers and I keeping with our objective to try someplace new at least once a month, hit Lambert's this weekend while it was raining. Started off right by getting a space directly in front (parking could easily be a pain there).

Space is very "new Austin" and is a gutted warehouse with very minimalist décor, very long and slender with a long row of very closely placed parallel tables along one wall (wouldn’t want to sit there). Again, lucked out and got the last booth.

“Upscale BBQ” showed in the draft beer selection and hubbers and I both ordered Chimay ($6 pint). While we waited a bread plate was served with rather bland little corn muffins, some okay wheat bread and some better than average white bread, all thick sliced and homemade.

Hubbers ordered the Maple/Coriander Ribs with collard greens and potato salad while I ordered the Chopped Beef (asked them to sub the hoagie roll for the Texas toast, which didn’t happen but was probably a good thing cuz I didn’t end up needing the bread anyway) with mac & cheese. Both ran about $8.

Firstly, the mac & cheese was da bomb! Both of us agreed we’d be back for it if nothing else. It’s how I remember Luby’s being when I was a kid but it obviously wasn’t (does that make sense). It was served al dente with lots and lots of cheesy goodness, heaps of flavor and a crusty crunchy cheesy shell…yum.

Hubbers collards were chock-full of pork fat (which rules by the way) and while the ribs were fall-apart moist and seasoned well, I wasn’t keen on the coriander overpowering the flavor of the ribs. Potato salad was pretty standard, white version with scallions and skin-on potatoes.

My chopped beef was better than most, being more cubed than chopped and had a flavorful, slightly spicy sauce (not the sweet sauce served in bottles on the table – speaking of which the homemade mustard on the tables is quite yummy on the bread). It did, however have more than a few bites of solid fat, which isn’t appealing to me.

Service was very friendly without being intrusive and prompt with what looked to be a pool system of everyone helping everyone.

Two more comments about this place; first, they had sal picon on the menu and I’ve never seen that served anywhere but El Paso so I must go back and see if it’s authentic. Second, the peach cobbler served to the table across from us looked absolutely AMAZING. No, really. This thing received “oohh’s and ahh’s” as it passed through the restaurant.

So, all in all it was a pleasant meal that, while more expensive than most bbq joints, was worth the money and worth another trip back.

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  1. Chimay in a pint glass or a smaller Chimay-branded goblet or tulip glass? Chimay at $6 pint is a steal, only about 10% above retail. The goblets are quite a bit smaller than a pint though.

    Oh, which Chimay was it? White (Cinq Cens), probably? No one seems to offer Blue (Grande Reserve) on tap.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kent Wang

      White, and you're probably right. The glass was a Chimay goblet, but didn't feel like a pint (but was advertised as such). Thank you for the correction.

    2. I notice that they take reservations. Interesting, is it "that nice" of a place, or are they just assuming it will be that busy? Glad to see that their choice of team service is working, it often doesn't in Austin. Too many students, too many slackers, not sure why. :-) I heard from someone that their deviled eggs were quite tasty, if I get the holiday jones I might have to stop by the bar for a few.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ahaley

        I wouldn't say they are "that nice" but at the same time they are nicer than any other Austin BBQ place you have been to. I went on a Friday night (Jan 12th) and waited about 30 minutes for a table for two (was able to sit at their awesome bar and have an appetizer while we waited). I would recommend reservations to avoid waiting but by no means are they required.

      2. "Upscale BBQ" - a result of cityfolk wants. Lambert's architecture is a copy of a chain of upscale BBQ places in Cali, Ari, and NM.

        1. To ahaley: When we went there at about 9:30 pm on a Friday (during the cold spell).. they were surprised we didn't have a reservation.. but not rude about it. There was a 20 minute wait. Staff was excellent all around.. they came and got us from the upstairs area when our table was ready.

          And to Kent Wang.. yes it's Chimay white in the standard Chimay tulip glass.

          I didn't think the corn muffins were bland though.

          Try the Root Vegetables and the Cauliflower Gratin. Creamy mashed potatoes were ok.

          1. I went to Lambert's for my birthday last week, and I was more than impressed(then again, i guess i'm 'city folk' -- the idea of fancy barbecue in a beautiful setting excites me). I thought the fried shrimp appetizer was excellent; i had a salad that was memorable, a rare thing since salads usually don't stay in my head long after the meal -- i think it was called candy cane beet salad; and the cajeta dessert (i forget what it was called exactly but it's the last dessert on the menu) is well worth ordering, even if you're full. the only thing i didn't love was the meat; friends and i shared the prime rib, and it was pretty fatty; I probably should have gone with the waitress' recommendation on the more pricey piece of meat. I thought the service was excellent; the waitress had that actress-y but not obnoxious manner about her, there when we wanted her to be, totally excited about the food, not at all austin slackerish.

            1. I went a few weeks ago on a Sunday night (nice to see more places open on Sunday) and was moderately impressed. We sampled the brisket (mild smoke taste but not tender enough), pulled pork (not bad) and stuffed quail (tastiest option). We also had the mac & cheese and were impressed. This place doesn't compare to Taylor/Lockhart but for a trendy place we were impressed. I'd like to investigate more of the grilled options as I think the smoked ones aren't too smokey. I also like the space upstairs for music.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Carter B.

                Busted into Lamberts last night and had some very good food.The Queso Flameado was rich with chorizo and served with grilled gordita rounds,corny and charred and tasty.Delivered to the table engulfed in flames.YAY.I love flaming foods delivered tableside.The broiled oysters were good and plentiful with loads of molten cheese,spinach and artichokes.The fried green tomatoes were the weak point,I had not noticed the tables were sans salt and pepper til this point.Once dusted with Kosher salt they were good,topped with lump crab meat and frisee.The beer list was satisfactory and the pricing not egregious,environment was good and service amicable.I look forward to going back and working my way through the very well thought out menu.

              2. I went there a couple of weeks ago, just for drinks and snacks at the bar, and was very favorably impressed. Husband got the beef salpicon, which was excellent (smoky, super-flavorful, great with the salsa) and I got the charcuterie plate, which included a duck rillette, foie gras custard, rabbit pate ... and headcheese. Yes. And it was all really, really good. Good selection of cheese, too -- locally made ricotta and goat cheese, plus two others that I can't recall right now. We'll definitely be going back for dinner.

                1. We are going to be entertaining my wife's niece soon and were looking for a place for dinner and thought that Lambert's might fill the bill, especially since we have not been there and would like to try it. This is what I need to know. We would like to have a place that is quiet enough to allow some visiting and conversation. How is the noise level in Lambert's compared to other restuarants. Honestly, the only other place we have conssidered is the "wine room" at Vespaios. Thanks for you help.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: singlemalt

                    It's not a quiet place. I have been there for both lunch and dinner and it is quite loud.

                  2. There is an upstairs area you can reserve for private parties (donno the size restrictions). However, keep in mind this is an old warehouse - stone walls, hardwood floors, not much insulation). There are no noise dampers, so you could be facing some volume issues.

                    1. There is always free parking directly across the street from Lamberts at Austin City Hall! Makes a trip downtown MUCH easier.

                      1. My impressions of Lambert's:

                        • fried green tomatoes: really nice.
                        • caesar salad: really nice. in fact I loved it.
                        • ribeye: nice flavor, way too fatty. left half the steak on the plate/inedible.
                        • salmon: very fishy. incredibly acidic. sent both back.
                        • I ordered a Live Oak IPA. I knew when I saw it they had poured the wrong beer. Wrong color. Server agreed. Taste confirmed. Bartender defended, insisted it was IPA. I would bet my house it wasn't. I drink it all the time and it was plainly a different beer.
                        • service: friendly and attentive but why are you reading off cue cards? too informal for the prices.
                        • atmosphere is this a brewhouse with the lights turned low. hard to get oriented. where is the kitchen?
                        • why are you serving $14/glass wine in thick rimmed bistro glasses? what's the deal with the feature beer specials when you don't brew it on-site (see "brewhouse with lights turned low" above). And why do I still have a lingering question in my mind about whether they brew beer here?
                        • Do they brew beer here?
                        • No, really, are we at a brewhouse?
                        • why, after sending 2 salmon orders back and commenting on the unusually fatty ribeyes (there were 3), didn't someone (a manager?) come to the table to discuss?

                        Maybe we caught them on a mediocre night?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: latoaustin

                          latoaustin, if you caught them on an off night then so did I. My wife and I went there a few weeks ago for dinner and had pretty much the same kind of experience that you did. Though we liked some things, overall we were NOT impressed, esp. for the prices that they charge. Upscale BBQ? It's just a way to try to justify their prices; my impression was that they are mediocre at best. I don't think we will be going back.

                        2. S.O. and I went a few weeks ago for their 25 dollar-ish brunch. I particularly but really only enjoyed the caviar topped deviled eggs. The ribs were dry, the brisket tough, the server behind the "slaw bar" aloof, the "house smoked salmon" I'm quite sure is what wrecked me later that day, and I left wishing I had only ordered the chive goat cheese omelet, which was nothing special but "clean". We won't return to Lambert's. Oddly enough, they were cited for their health inspections just days after we were there.

                          1. I've been there three times for lunch. I like it for what it is, I don't try to compare it to the old school BBQ restaurants in Texas.

                            I really like their caviar deviled eggs.

                            Their collard greens are among my favorite versions of this dish in Austin.

                            Their mac and cheese is satisfying.

                            Their ribs are inconsistent. I've had moist, delicious ribs and I've had dry ribs clearly from the end of a rack and left to dry out.

                            Their brisket is OK, not a heavy smoke flavor but very tender and moist.

                            I like their pulled pork. It's pulled and then mixed with sauce so it isn't that authentic but I like it.

                            1. We had dinner at Lamberts last night. The most fun part of the whole evening was the ride home as we laughed hysterically at the attempts to doll up six slices of brisket or four pork ribs and charge $14 for it. The Kentucky Club Margarita was very good (lots of real lime juice), and I agree with many others that the mac and cheese was very good. The meat was OK, but could barely compete with our already-established (and much less expensive) BBQ "institutions" here in Austin. We had tres leches cake (à la mode) for dessert. Neither one of us could distinguish any flavor at all in the cake or the ice cream. It was a very strange sensation. There was absolutely no flavor at all. I want very much to see local businesses succeed, but cannot in good conscience recommend.

                              14 Replies
                              1. re: gafoodie


                                Please do tell your BBQ institutions ratings in Austin.....I will be going to Barton Creek Resort in a few weeks and I have received recommendations for:
                                County Line, House Park and Opie's......your thoughts...thanks.

                                1. re: fourunder

                                  Opie's is great. Similar to Cooper's Cowboy style BBQ, but they have much better sides as well.

                                  I enjoy House Park, but they are never open on weekends, which is when I can make it down there. Either that or I have bad luck.

                                  County Line is ok, but you could do better. I would choose the Salt Lick over County Line if Opie's wasn't an option.

                                  Luling and Lockhart are amazing, but might be a trek if you are staying at Barton Creek Resort.

                                  1. re: Homero

                                    The guy at Opie's used to work for Coopers. Don't forget there is a new salt lick in Round Rock by the Dell Diamong. They take credit cards and have a full bar. Food is the same as the driftwood location.

                                    1. re: Homero

                                      What's that phrase they yell out when someone tees off......You da man!!!

                                    2. re: fourunder

                                      I definitely would start with Salt Lick. Expect to eat on a table with splinters and a roll of paper towels. They tried an upscale version (Salt Lick 360) and it was unsuccessful. County Line is perfectly respectable BBQ as well. I think people get too far into having to try something different that they become snobby about the tried and true. If you are entertaining and have to eat at a more upscale restaurant, I would recommend Z Tejas or Jasper's. While these are "corporate" and therefore not completely "Austin" businesses, they are fine representatives of the Tex-Mex tradition of cooking. I am unable to recommend upscale BBQ places because the mere concept is just absurd and embarrassing. Please let me know if you have other questions.

                                      1. re: gafoodie

                                        I have to respectfully disagree about Salt Lick. It was the single most disappointing food experience I've had since moving to Austin. After a 40 minute drive and a 2 hour wait for a table (outside), we were so hungry the food should have tasted pretty good, right? Nope. The meat was fair and the sides were terrible. I hated the sauce. The pie was really good, but not worth going for just that.

                                        I was fooled by all the hype (I hadn't clued in to CH at that point, but had seen Salt Lick on Rachael Ray's show... my bad). Also, those "in the know" had brought six packs for the 2-hour wait outside and were making a party out of the wait. So, maybe the food tastes better after that much beer.

                                        Fourunder, a quick note about Texas BBQ. In Texas, BBQ = Brisket. You won't find as much pork on menus down here, and when you do, it won't be the star. You may find decent ribs, but if you see pulled pork, don't order it. Go with Brisket, always. And if you fancy a combo, do Brisket and sausage. Also, not being from here, you may be surprised by the sauce (there are some places that don't offer a sauce at all). It's thinner than a lot of BBQ sauces "north" of here and not usually sweet at all. I've acquired the taste for it, but it's vinegar based, tangy, and usually has noticeable black pepper in it. They vary, but you won't find the sweet. And they don't usually baste the sauce onto the BBQ as they do "elsewhere". Like I said, I've acquired the taste for it, particularly on Brisket in small amounts. Maybe that's why the pork isn't as great here... Pork needs sweet.

                                        Anyway, I was following your other thread and there seem to be some good suggestions there. Hope you have a fun trip and enjoy our town!

                                        1. re: stephanieh


                                          Thank you for your polite and informative comments. While I enjoy all types of food, Barbecue has a special place for me.....and unless the meat (any type) is dry and tough.....to me there is really no bad barbecue. I am aware of beef being the meat of choice.....both Brisket and Ribs......ever since I read an article on Sonny Bryan's and Texas BBQ many years ago. Since that read, it has been a goal of mine to enjoy the whole Sonny Bryan's experience. I've only been through Texas once...and through Dallas while driving home from college at the University of Arizona 30 years ago, but I was too green to know about any food...and too broke to have any extra money to pay for it....like everyone else during our lean years. A couple of years back, a fellow originally from Albany , New York opened a BBQ place near me. His history included learning how to become a pitmaster and he trained and worked in Austin for nine years.....Regrettably, I did not ask him where he worked previously and he has since closed his restaurant.....but his Brisket was good, not great.....but his Beef Ribs were great.

                                          With regards to Beef Barbecue....I have had some very good Barbecue in the New York City places that have sprung up in recent years....but it just goes against what my ideas of Barbecue should be......totally over the top expensive, but it is understandable considering the high rents they have to pay to be in business. Barbecue Brisket is not a common item in the Northeast....in fact, there are few places that offer it...Brisket is usually only available in diners and Jewish Delis.....and usuaally not very good... as it is mostly braised and rendered flavorless. I have become a big fan of slow roasting meats....and nothing is finer than barbecue...beef or pork....but I lean towards pork, probably due to the limitations I have had available to me in the past. I remember once eating in a Sonn'y BBQ, not to be confused with Sonny Bryan's, and the Beef Barbecue being Smoked Eye Round....absolutely dry and tough meat,

                                          With regards to the sauces available for BBQ....I got the rude awakening there were different regional styles when I had Barbecue in North Carolina for the first time....mustard based. like I mentioned earlier above above my love of barbecue and the varying styles....it my mission on any trip across the States in my travels to go to at least one venue.....for the food...but also to see the operation and how these landmark institution stand the test of time.

                                          1. re: fourunder

                                            Ahhh, fourunder, you're a BBQ enthusiast. You want the quintessential Texas BBQ experience while you're here, but you have a conundrum because the best places are outside of town and you have time constraints. There's the rub (a little BBQ pun).

                                            I used to think there was no bad BBQ until I had ribs in Canada. I swear they were boiled and had never had a relationship with smoke at all. And I too found mustard-based sauce shocking.

                                            We don't have a Sonny Bryan's outlet in Austin for you. I ate at one in Dallas once, but I don't think I got the full experience. They've become a chain, and this one didn't smell like smoke at all. I think the joint needs to smell like BBQ to fully enjoy it.

                                            I saw nosh's comments on your other thread, and would certainly encourage the Lockhart three. My favorite is Smitty's, but don't choose just one. Get some from all three. On any given day, the brisket can vary, and even the cut you get from it can be more or less tender. Oh, and it is very different from the Jewish deli brisket. But, you know that.

                                            Theres a thread on the Texas board that will make your head spin if you want to read everything there is to know about our BBQ joints down here.


                                            I wish you luck!

                                            1. re: stephanieh

                                              stephanieh -- enjoy reading your posts, and thanks for backing up my recs. my email is listed on my chow page -- say hello if you get the inclination. it is so funny but also understandable that you like smitty's best of the lockhart bbq trio; black's was a narrow winner over kreiz's for us, on that particular thurs afternoon in late december. good times!

                                              i was overly critical in my neighboring post -- County Line is a fun place, a great scene, a good place for a beer or four, and the bbq beats 90% of what you get in most of the country. Iron Works has its positives closer in town. Rudy's would be a wondrous place anywhere (I hope I'm not mistaking it for Ruby's -- not the chain, the independent not far from downtown). it is sorta like Chinese food here in L.A. -- s much better than most of the country, we can criticize anywhere that isn't the regional center in the San Gabriel Valley and even say the stuff in Chinatown is crap! but still, find the time to sample Lockhart or hit Sam's in Austin.

                                              1. re: nosh

                                                Thanks nosh! Would you believe I've never been to Sam's? It's high on my list, but I haven't made it there yet.

                                                You're thinking of Ruby's (the independent). Rudy's is the chain. I loved the vibe at Ruby's, but I ordered badly. I got the turkey and it was dry and not smoky at all. Like bad Thanksgiving turkey. Hubby had the brisket, which was bland that day, and sausage, which was the best thing I tried and should have just ordered that. I loved their mac n cheese. I'd certainly go back. I'd just order differently. Hubby hasn't been enthused about a repeat visit, though.

                                                You can be as critical as you want about County Line. We like it, but I wouldn't recommend it to an out-of-towner, unless they said they wanted someplace they could take a gaggle of toddlers and grandma. It's certainly not representative of our best BBQ in the state. We go because you can't go to Lockhart every time you want BBQ. It's somewhere we can have a sit down meal, with sides and wait staff and such. I love their homemade wheat bread, their beans are some of the only ones I've liked in a restaurant, and you can order fries, which I like with BBQ and most BBQ places don't offer, but the garlic mashed potatoes are even better, if you're in the mood for that. Oh, and I usually order the quarter chicken, which has a really nice charring on the skin and is really moist. I don't think the brisket is exceptional there, but the chicken is really good. Different BBQ for different occasions...

                                                As for Rudy's (the chain), we have one close to our house and we've eaten there three times in three years. Odd thing is, last couple of times, we've commented that it tasted pretty good and wondered why we didn't eat there more often. Then we promptly forgot about it again. I do love their cream corn. I could eat a gallon of that!

                                                1. re: stephanieh

                                                  stephanieh -- You gotta get to Sam's, now, today, tonight. Have you done the roadtrip and visited the big three down in Lockhart -- Black's. Smitty's, and Kreiz's? Well, that is what Sam's reminds me of. A lot smaller, just a shack and a window to order through, but the brisket had that crust and smoke and moisture and fat and deliciousness. Treat it like the civic obligation it is -- you have tasted the rest, now it is time to sample the best.

                                                  I'm sorry if I came off too critical about County Line. We had a Fri night dinner there for my nephew's bar-mitzvah this past December -- the people were great and the place had atmosphere and the chow was generous and tasty. But my bro and I had been to Lockhart the day before. It is like Chinese food here in L.A. -- on Chowhound they savage the places in Chinatown -- "tourist traps" "garbage" -- and it is better than that available in 99.9% of the rest of the country, but not the regional authentic specialties that true afficianados love in the SGV further east. County Line is fantastic, an allstar -- friendly, fun, super -- but it just doesn't compare.

                                                  1. re: nosh

                                                    You really don't have to apologize for what you said about County Line. It's a whole other animal from Lockhart. And I certainly wouldn't want to eat at County Line the day after I'd been to Lockhart. That would be like coming back from Italy and eating at the Olive Garden. (Ok, County Line is better than Olive Garden, but you wouldn't think that if you'd just been to Lockhart).

                                                    I so need to go to Sam's. I can't tonight, actually, but will try to in the next week or so. Too many people on this board have talked about Sam's. It must be something special. I have done the Lockhart BBQ mecca tour. But, Sam's, Luling City Market, Louie Mueller's and Snow's are still on my "bucket list". So much BBQ, so little time.

                                                    1. re: stephanieh

                                                      Please let us know what you think when you finally get to Sam's. In the meantime, have you been to Casino El Camino? Compared to Hut's? Where do you go for tacos or Tex-Mex?

                                                      1. re: nosh

                                                        I really liked Casino El Camino and Hut's. In fact, we just went to Hut's last weekend. To compare, I'd have to start with how different the places are. CelC is a funky dive bar with lots of character. Hut's is a small family joint with diner-style checkerboard floor, but doesn't stray too far into the realm of kitsch. (But, lots of kids, and high noise level, which is something I hardly ever notice). They are two of only a small handful of Austin restaurants that do cook burgers to order... surprising how "rare" that is (another bad pun).

                                                        The burger at CelC is 3/4 pound, which they manage to fit on a regular sized bun with no overhang, so it goes "upwards" instead of out, and is hard to get your mouth around. (Not a complaint, just a challenge). They got my Medium Rare right, but it did lean toward Medium. Still, I'm always thankful to get some pink. I really wish they seasoned their meat. That was my biggest complaint.

                                                        Hut's menu doesn't say the size, but it strongly resembles a 1/3 pounder I used to get in my hometown. It may be a little bigger. It's a nice, more manageable thick burger. They got the Medium Rare as perfect as I've ever had it. I'm wondering if they add a little water to it, because it seemed "soft", if that makes sense.

                                                        I wish both places had better buns. CelC was nothing remarkable, but I think it was at least toasted (but not with butter). Hut's bun was storebought and not toasted. Hut's has more choices for toppings, and it took my husband awhile to choose his burger. I, on the other hand, am a sucker for a burger with hickory sauce, so that's what I had at both places.

                                                        The fries at both places are awesome. I've written too much about fries already elsewhere on this board, and my love for them is well-known. Both places are fresh-cut and they leave them long and do the blanching stage and the second frying. (Although some others on this board have experienced inconsistent fries at CelC). Hut's fries were slightly greasier (again, not a complaint). Both are generous sized orders which adds to the love.

                                                        In the end, I think I liked the burger slightly better at Hut's. Don't get me wrong, though, I do love sinking my teeth into CelC's 3/4 pounder. I just wish it were seasoned more. (I dug it more halfway through when I found myself a salt shaker). That's just too much beef to not be seasoned. (And yet, I finished it. Yay me!) You'd really choose which place to go more by whether you want to be around screaming drunks or screaming kids, and of course, by how hungry you are.

                                                        Oh, and my favorite burger in town is the "Fat Bob" at Hill's Cafe. (Topped with a fried egg and bacon). I've had this more than the other two, and only once was it cooked beyond Medium Rare. I believe that burger is 1/2 pound. It's served on a "Kolache style bun", and any time I can get my sweet and my salty on at the same time, I'm happy. On the downside, their fries suck, but I can sub sweet potato fries, so it's not a deal breaker.

                                  2. I tried Lambert's for lunch about a month ago. The brisket was very dry and tough, definitely not worth the money. The chicken, however, was excellent. Very moist and tender with great flavor. Had the fried chocolate pie for dessert. I was disgusted at how tiny the fried pies were, literally 2 bites and it was gone.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Madcap

                                      I would generally stay away from the smoked meats at Lambert's. They use an electric smoker that, as many of you have discovered, produces results that are inferior to meats smoked in a traditional wood smoker. That being said, their sides are excellent, the caviar devilled eggs are inspired and yummy, their grilled meats are tasty, and their burger is truly exceptional--one of the best, most underrated in town--, as are the homemade waffle fries they serve on the side. Oh, and the live music performances are consistently solid.

                                      1. re: jackietreehorn

                                        Lambert's doesn't use an electric smoker. They have a really old wood burning rotisserie smoker.