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Uncle Billy's - anybody been?

Looks like Uncle Billy's BBQ is open on Barton Springs. Anybody tried it yet?

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  1. I haven't been, but I'd like to comment on UB's approach to opening a new spot. Even before the front doors had swung on the restaurant, they were trying to sell schwag on their website (hats, tees, etc.) which makes me very wary of investing any time in trying them out. It reeks of marketing savvy, which may or may not be exclusive of culinary care, but IMO, the approach doesn't instill much faith. I hope someone tries it out and proves my hypothesis wrong, however, but I won't be the first to make that leap.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Twill

      I ate there with the woman a couple weeks ago and enjoyed our meal. The brisket was great... a lot of flavor and just the right moistness. I would definitely go again.

    2. I recently went to Uncle Billy's, against my best intuition (a BBQ "concept" restaurant run by a coffee company [Austin Java] being sacrilegious to me), only because I had heard that Brian Peters was going to be the new brewer there. Formerly of Bitter End, Live Oak, and most recently Maine Root, Peters has had his fingers in some of my favorite brews in town in the last 10 years. I was disappointed from the moment we sat down and found out that the Peters brews will not be ready for a few more weeks. This was only a minor disappoint which was soon ameliorated by a pint of Real Ale/Katz Coffee Porter (out of season now but still delicious.) The beer was the best part of my meal.
      The menu, IMO, is minimalist to a fault, and I don't think people eating on Barton Springs Rd. are going to spring for the "family style" service--who wants to sit down and calculate how much of what everyone wants? If I want a sandwich, I have to add my meat to the group's order, and assemble my own. Bulk ordering works at the big, destination BBQ palaces like Kreuz and Smitty's, but it seems affected here. And it is the least of their problems.
      When the food arrived I could tell by looking at the brisket that I wouldn't like it, dry and rubbery as it was. The ribs were likewise dry--even crunchy?, if slightly more flavorful. The macaroni & cheese was so bland it tasted barely more exciting than plain noodles--unsalted (I should mention that when I brought this to the attention of the manager, he returned with a much more saucy and tasty version. The manager was very polite and helpful, which is good, since the place needs a lot of help.) After being less than thrilled by the main course, we ordered dessert, hoping to end on a good note. The banana pudding that I ordered was almost as flavorless as it was textureless, no banana pieces and no mushy 'Nilla wafers. Just a glob of goo that tasted more like vanilla than banana. Nothing like a broken pudding topped by canned whipped cream. My partner ordered the buttermilk pie, of which he almost spit out the first bite--the crust tasted almost raw, the filling like cornstarch. And for a final touch, I thought it odd that a restaurant run by a coffee company doesn't offer coffee with dessert, but that is just me.
      I will go back to Uncle Billy's one more time to try some of Brian Peters' beers, but I will stop off at Green Mesquite for a bite to eat first. I would rather eat at a real BBQ joint any day than a highly conceptualized, disneyfied reproduction of one, which is what I think Austin Java has successfully opened in "Uncle Billy's."

        1. Not good. Boring. The sausage was greasy and boring - no snap to the skin, nothing good. The pork ribs were meaty and not too fatty, but the rub was sooooo...I don't know....noticeable, I guess...not integrated, just a flavor on its own above the meat, and not a very good flavor at that. The chicken...at first I was marveling at the incredibly moist breast...and it WAS extremely moist...but essentially flavorless (no smokey flavor...I would sacrifice a little juice for some BBQ chicken FLAVOR!) and suffering from the same disconnect with its rub. The potato salad was boringly pleasing...nice chewy chunks of red potato in an unassertive mayo with scallions...the ingredients were good and blended nicely, but again...boring! Service was spotty too. It was a roll of the dice anyway, not a destination...but nothing about our experience there will bring us back.

          1. I had an increadible experience at Uncle Billy's. The staff was nice and the food well exceeded my expectations. The ribs were delicious and the brisket was very tender and smokey. I spoke to one of the managers on duty and he turned out to be an owner. He told me th other partners and himself were all long time Austinites. He mentioned the menu was created by Shane Stark a CIA (New York) grad who was most recently at Kenichi...(a bit weird but he obviously knows what he is doing). He mentioned the time and care they put into the food. Everything is made from scratch. The owner mentioned their beer will be available Tuesday, May 23, but was nice enough to give us a couple of samples. It was delicious as well. I look forward to returning to Uncle Billy's.

            4 Replies
            1. re: kira1999

              Kira1999,Welcome to the board.Just for a frame of reference what are some other area barbecue restaurants where you like to get delicious ribs and brisket.Were the ribs at Billy's beef or pork?Was the brisket lean,fatty or a mix of the two?How deep was the smoke ring?What were the types of beers proffered to you?Ales,lagers,pilseners or something else?The 'hounds need to know so when we spend our barbecue dollars at somewhere other than Sam's,Ben's or HousePark we know what to expect.Thanks.

              1. re: kira1999

                Wow that sounds good. Do you think that it is good enough to where I won't ever have to drive out to Lockhart to get barbeque anymore? It would be incredible to not have to drive so far for barbeque.

                1. re: rudeboy

                  I ate at Uncle Billy's once. That was enough for me. I was bummed because we recently moved into that part of town and I'm getting bored with Austin Java Cafe's menu (the husband loves going there). The brisket tasted boiled at Uncle Billy's. Yeah, it was tender, but it tasted more waterlogged than juicy. The husband who will usually eat any brisket put in front of him couldn't eat it. The ribs were okay, but not exceptional. They were slightly on the overcooked and dry side in my opinion.
                  The sides and all the meats are served family style. We had the cole slaw and the potato salad. Both were good, but nothing stood out.

                  I think the biggest problem Uncle Billy's is going to have is the menu. Given the location and the music, its a place that you want to kick back with some appetizers and beer with friends... food you can easily share without it being too messy. When I was there, I noticed options like that were non-existent for appetizers.
                  It seems like it is trying to be a friendly place for you to go and hang out. However, I'm not convinced the menu is completely compatible with that goal. Too many family style choices that are messy and wet.

                  1. re: shan

                    Does anyone know the exact preparation method for pork ribs and/or brisket at Rudy's? Anybody used to work there? Do they cook with electric and then warm in those smokers where you order? I can't taste any depth of flavor at Rudy's, just the facade. They have a good gig, though...wish that I owned a Rudy's.

              2. I'll start with the good: I had a brisket salad which was wonderful. Fresh greens, nice dressings (I got them on the side so I could sample), good beef. I was equally happy with the ribs.

                But the real reason I went in the first place was to get my hands on the microbrew. I LOVE Live Oak and Real Ale, and expected an ecstatic, fresh brew from someone who came up in those breweries.

                I tried a five beer sample flight. I am baffled at how utterly undrinkable it was. Each beer was progressively worse. Very odd spice notes, incredibly dark flavor, no edge at all. Go for the food if you must but drop by Doc's or Woodland for a couple pints of Live Oak on the way home.

                2 Replies
                1. re: latoaustin

                  We went a couple of weeks ago, and actually really enjoyed the brisket and ribs. The pulled pork was very average. Beers were all light-ish due to the season - the amber was fine, and the pilsner was boring. Hopefully the fall beers will be better. But I'm all for another brewpub in Austin, so we'll give them another look-in this fall.

                  1. re: latoaustin

                    I went only for the beer, a few weeks back, and was quite pleased.(Didn't have any food) Don't know what happened when you were there. I had the 5 beer sample flight as well.(IPA, brown ale, hefeweiss, pale ale, blonde ale) None of the beers was bad. I really liked the Hefeweiss, with the fruity esters really jumping out at you. The IPA was very good as well. There wasn't a pilsner when I was there, maybe tthorn is thinking of the blonde ale.

                  2. I’ve had both food and drink (beer) at UB’s, and yes both have been a disappointment. I’ve made UB’s a regular routine for the past two months, hoping at some point they would turn the corner. But not yet!

                    The beer is a home-brew at best. But then again, I’m still looking for “my” Bitter End to reopen. The BBQ does not measure up to Texas BBQ standards. You can find better BBQ being prepared traveling the Texas back roads and served from a trailer then you will find at UB’s.

                    And worst of all, UB’s “hot” bbq sauce is so hot, it’s not worth sampling. Hot sauce is a main stay here in Texas, but this sauce is bad. It’s so bad it will ruin bad BBQ.

                    I can say the “sides” are worth the money, and do rescue the meal. As for beer, Austin has other choices…

                    I hate to say it, but UB has bought the curse that took out all the other eateries that have tried this location. UB has yet to pack the place. ACL will help the bottom-line, but there are too many vacant tables with an over-staffing issue. The BBQ is lame, and the beer is below average.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chuck_Wagon

                      I went for lunch this week and was not happy. First, our service was wretched and it wasn't even that crowded. Our server never even checked back with us when we were served. When we had finished, no one was to be found to get a check (by this time, we were the only ones in the place). One of my friends went to the bar to ask for the check and they said only our server could get it for us. She was on the patio, hangin' out with some friends. She finally sauntered on in a bit later.

                      As for the food, I had the pulled pork, which I thought was flavorless and dry. The BBQ sauce was weak. If my sauce is going to be thin like that (which I prefer) then I don't want it to have the sweetness comparable to KC Masterpiece. It was a weird combination to me. My friend got the ribs which he proclaimed were OK, but they looked really dry to me.

                      Another friend ordered the veggie-que, which we assumed would be tofu or seitan or something, but it was vegetables that left her feeling pretty gross later that day as well. I tried the green beans which were bland and boring, even with the addition of bacon.

                      We requested tortillas with our meal and they came out in foil yet crispy instead of soft like they should have been. All in all, I was thoroughly disappointed and doubt that I'll be back.

                    2. Had a terrible experience there yesterday.

                      Got there at 1:10pm, ordered our barbecue, got some beers and started waiting and waiting and waiting. All the tables around was were doing the same thing. They brought out "free" chips and salsa but no other food. Some tables started getting their food around 2pm. Others got their food and had to put it immediately into to go boxes. We finally cancelled our order at 2:30 and as we were leaving the manager brought out our food. Too little, too late.

                      How hard is it to slice meat and put it on a plate?