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Best Barbecue Only You Know About...

Preferably within 90 or so miles of Austin.

I'm looking for the tarpaper shack style barbecue joints.

I've been to the ones that are relentlessly celebrated and they are good.

But it's time to branch out....down the county roads....near the railroad tracks....under the overpass....out by the quarry.....only open on Sunday....sideyard of a mobile home court....from a converted steel drum.......you get the picture.

Bad part of town?Not a problem.No telephone?Couldn't care less.Cash only?Perfect.

Just point me in the general direction.Give me a vague idea of what to expect and I'm racing out there and will report back with great haste.

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  1. On our way back from Austin going to Houston, we stumbled upon Peter's Bar-B-Q. It was on Hwy 71 (301 Hwy 71, Ellinger, Tx) and we stopped because it said Jerky, but it was just that Oma's brand, which we aren't crazy about. But they had a buffet lunch for $6.95, and if you wanted it with Bar-B-Q it was $7.95. I am still kicking myself in the rear for not spending the extra dollar for the bbq option. Someone else got that and gave me a couple nibbles, and it was really good. The buffet had an odd assortment of thing, like fajita meat, that was delicious, but no tortillas, enchiladas, some of the freshest tomatoes (no seasoning on them at all) I have ever had, but it was in July, many other offerings, and sweet rice! Good old cooking. The man behind the counter, Peter maybe, was a grump and seemed very unhappy even being there, but a couple of the cooks came out to refill trays, and they were on the old side and sweet as pie. I have no idea the hours, but it was packed with locals. Call 979-378-9115. If you look at reviews, and there aren't many, you will not get a good feeling about this place, but I would go back in a heartbeat. And it is pretty much a shack type place.

    1. Well, I'm not the only one who knows about it; plus, it's more than 90 miles from Austin. But I'll still recommend Austin's BBQ in Eagle Lake.



      The brisket's good; they raise their own "cabrito" (which is an occasional special on the menu, though they always sell live goats); and their sausage is just lovely. Even the sides and desserts are tasty, which is more than you can expect from most barbecue joints. I've been going there for years—though less often, now that I'm living in Austin. I'd say the chow's just as good as ever.

      By the way, they seem to have a website now (http://www.elc.net/austins/Menu.htm ), but don't hold it against them! I'm guessing that you'll enjoy the drive, the converted-gas-station ambience, and the delicious sausage.

      1. There is a Cooper's in Mason north of Fredricksberg. I don't know if it is the same as the one in llano but it is good. You wait outside at the pit to make your order. The guy opens the giant grill and you pick out your meat, they also have cabrito. Then he goes in the room, cuts the meat and weighs it. You pay inside where he cuts the meat and the room is the size of a medium sized walk-in closet. They have a couple tables outside and might have some inside seating but I didn't see it. It was good but the exprience was fun. I think the pork and the chicken are supposed to be good. I had brisket that was good the sauce was interesting.
        I like The Smokehouse in San Antonio for a decent place without driving to lulling. Their brisket sandwich is good but not awesome. It's not really a dive, but it looks like a dive that grew a bit. It is across from Ruben's Tamales on Rigsby.

        1 Reply
        1. re: wendileigh

          The Smokehouse on Roland is the Old Bob's BBQ. Same pits...not same BBQ. Bob's Would smoke meats for you there at .65 a lb.. Bob's pulled pork sandwich was my favorite.

          The Smokehouse has updated alittle, Bob's was a old place.

        2. I'm not the only one that knows about it but I loved Salt Lick. It's so good I don't care if others know about it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

            Be sure and go to the one in Driftwood. We used to live in San Antonio and went about once a month. I am from North Carolina and grew up on Eastern North Carolina BBQ. When we lived in Texas I missed North Carolina BBQ. Now that we are back in NC, I am missing Salt Lick BBQ. We are planning to move to the Austin area in 2009. I am looking forward to being able to go back to The Salt Lick.

            1. re: swe

              Yup, that is the one we went to in Driftwood. I wasn't aware that there was another location. I've only been to Texas once so what do I know?

              1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                Salt Lick now has an outlet at Bergstrom Airport in Austin. Haven't eaten there, but I have in Driftwood. I was not impressed. Not near as good as the L towns: Llano, Lexington, Lockhart and Luling.

                Salt Lick Restaurant
                18300 Fm 1826, Driftwood, TX 78619

          2. I'm very partial to Spyke's BBQ in Kingsland. It's about 15 miles west of Marble Falls on FM 141, just before you cross the river into Llano county. Daily specials (ribs on Wednesday, 4 ribs/2 sides for $6.95) pork tenderloin on Fridays. We live in Marble Falls and it's the only BBQ we ever eat any more.


            1. I like Roadhouse BBQ in Lampasas. Pretty consistently good brisket and ribs. Sometimes they have live music on the weekends


              1. On a sunny Fall afternoon with a deep craving for smoked meat I point mi moto south towards Lockhart,not to Smitty's or Black's,they're good and great,respectively but I'm in the mood to go a place I've never been:Eureste's Grocery in downtown Waelder Texas.

                I hop online,get a good image burned into my brain of the roadways,gas up and hit the open highway.Somebody needs to figure out a way to show the Google folks how to dilineate between a road and a goat path.As I'm hammering down 304 I see a sign for County Road 151 and remember this to be an excellent shortcut.

                My bad.

                With recent rains turning the county road into a series of red mud gully washes I begin to wonder how sane my decision is.Normally driving down a dirt road to get barbecue is one of my very favorite things to do.In this instance,with images of famous Dakkar Rally wipeouts clouding my vision I begin to question the wisdom of this option.

                Powering the beast out of potential wipeout #27 I see blacktop;glorious,sweet blacktop buckling up out of the yellow Texas sunshine.I'm completely turned around at this point[I'd begun haphazardly driving down whatever goatpath looked the least threatening]so I guess left and 10 minutes or so later I'm parking in front of Eureste's in downtown Waelder Texas.

                The building is a thing of beauty.Bordering on ramshackle with a faded white paint front,plenty glass and a couple teevee antennae sticking up here and there.Probably hasn't changed much in the last 50 years or so I inwardly reckon.
                Walking inside is like walking into countless old-school small Texas town markets.A full array of dried goods and sundries are on the neatly stacked shelves.Big coolers filled with beers and pops line one wall and there's a nice deli case in the right rear.With 20 foot ceilings and the wonderful smell of roasting flesh mixed with tobacco smoke permeating the air it's truly a step back in time.The puritans haven't made it out to Waelder just yet,I exult to no one in particular.

                At the rear of the room is a small door,the entrance to the barbecue joint portion of this full service wonderland.I enter and nearly begin bawling.Thick blue smoke,the kind you get off fatty young steers that are being carefully roasted over good American Hardwood,fills the eating room[3 nice picnic tables arranged in the tiny space].Another door to the left is your entry point to intense deliciousness....barbecue greatness is found here.The pit is a big ol' iron contraption,rolling smoke and stuffed with briskets and handmade sausage links.

                I'm greeted warmly by the assistant pit boss and place my order:a pound of outside slice brisket and a couple links of the ruddy sausage links.I adjourn to the eating room and begin to feed.The Post Oak smoked brisket is tender,fatty and filled with delicious flavor...the sausage is wonderful.I wish it was greasier but it's certainly not lacking in tasty cholesterol.I sit quietly inhaling the wafts of blue smoke off the pit,a rooster insistently crowing off in the distance.

                The lone decoration on the wall is a framed Bienville Democrat newspaper dated Thursday May 24th 1934.The headline:Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker Killed By Sheriff Jordan and Posse "Bonnie and Clyde Ambush...It's Death For Bonnie and Clyde"

                I collect myself briefly.Savoring the delicious meat,reflecting on a great American tragedy,this moment is really bearing down on me.I shoulder my way through the emotion by concentrating on the barbecue.

                DAMN Sheriff Jordan's sorry hide.

                I wreck myself back to the here and now,eat some more meat and make my way to the front of the house.Dan Eureste is holding court behind the cash register.We begin to converse.Mr Eureste has been in charge of this joint since 1974.He took a little 10 year break in the 80's to go and make some money in Houston while his cousin ran the business...cousin did less than a superlative job so Eureste made his way back to Waelder and rescued the operation.

                The building we're standing in has been around for over a 100 years.It was a bank for a good long time before it became a Super-ette and it was a Super-ette for a good long time before it became Eureste's.The history is glorious,the meat delicious and this man's handprint is large on everything he surveys.Talk turns to the future and I inquire as to which of his favored children will carry the business into the new century.His voice turns down,things don't look so good for the long term.His kids have outstripped the earning potential of this humble little business with their big city doin's in Houston.

                We walk onto the front porch and look out over the once busy Hwy 90. I-10 was a death knell for many a family run operation when it came swinging through awhile back.If you weren't near an exit ramp you got left behind by progress so it's a real testament to Dan Eureste that he's still going strong after all these years.

                We say our goodbyes and I point my bike back towards Austin,the Fall sun burning down behind the good farmland as I make my way back north toward home.

                7 Replies
                1. re: scrumptiouschef

                  I get the impression you enjoyed the visit???? (lol). I fell in love with the place on my first visit and had fantasies of buying just such a place for myself. I've certainly erred in not getting back over there and trying some more of what they have to offer but it's kind of hard to stop there when Luling beckons just 20 minutes away. I will rectify that on my next trip to C-Tex.

                  For those travelling on I-10, take the 97 exit and Eurestes is just off the intersection of 97 and 90-A.

                  Head north out the back way from Waelder on 1115 to Cistern and get yourself some V and V sausage (made from an old Czech family recipe) to take home.

                  1. re: brucesw

                    Sad day in Waelder.

                    Dan Eureste has retired.

                    After a long afternoon of eating barbecue at Black's,Smitty's and City Market we decide to roll on over to Waelder and have some great homemade Eureste sausage and set a spell with Dan.

                    I get a bad feeling when the facade of Eureste's is sporting a fresh coat of paint,walking inside there's no Dan behind the register.

                    We're greeted warmly by the nice cashier,make our way back to the meat room and more sadness awaits.The formerly dim,alcove sized dining room is brightly lighted and the great newspaper clipping of Bonnie and Clyde's demise is gone.

                    The era is over.

                    We shuffle on into the pit area to at least pay our respects to one of my favorite joints in Texas.

                    The barbecue is actually good.Out of all the sausage we sampled on this afternoon I would say Eureste's[now Waelder Grocery]is the funkiest.It has this deep,soulful flavor I find really appealing.Ever been to a busy soul food joint when they were cooking up a mass quantity of chitlins?That fortified barn-like smell is all in these links.

                    The nice cashier lady confirms my suspicions.Dan fell ill,sold Eureste's[now Waelder Grocery]and took his leave.We say our goodbyes and make our way to the front porch.

                    I miss sitting out there on a warm Fall afternoon with Dan watching traffic go by and hashing out the affairs of the day.Waelder Grocery still puts out some good barbecue but the heart of the joint is just not the same.

                    1. re: scrumptiouschef

                      I've not been there and after your praises I don't know if I want to go to a place who's lost its soul. Perhaps the new one is worthy of communion with.
                      I was born not too far away and I bet what you were tasting was the sage in the sausage. I love it.

                      1. re: scrumptiouschef

                        Waelder is my home town, I go there every few weeksAs i have a 20 acre spread in waelder, Man You bring back fond memories of Dan Eureste, You see , he passed away last year. I drank many a beer with Danny, He is missed. His joint is in a big bar-b- book at Barns n Nobles. So he lives on. Thank you so much for the story.. I have a friend who opened up a place just off the waelder exit coming from Houston,, Gilbert Martinez, We call him Blue. Been in buisness about 6 years But he Cooked for Dan for a while, Makes great food and the same sausage, Let me know when you head that way again, And i will have him cook some extra juicy waelder sausage and keep it smoking till you get there. So long for now

                        1. re: BoDean

                          Are there any other spots right around Waelder that are good?

                          Particularly looking for homemade sausage and top flight brisket.

                          I miss Dan too. Had some great afternoons on the front porch of Eureste's wool gathering and passing the time of day.

                          What's the name of your buddy's joint?

                          1. re: scrumptiouschef

                            yes gilbert martinez is his name if you are coming from luling, pass waelder go one mile and look to your left before you hit 1- 10 going to houston They sell all the mesquite wood to goode bbq in houston, also you probably know of family tradition, Jerry Fogle, just south of the tracks in waelder, out of sight... all these men are well versed in que, that old waelder sauage was made famous by rev. brown when millers store was open enjoy

                    2. Galvan's Sausage House just east of Richmond on Altternate 90 has incredible fatty brisket plus great beef sausage. The ribs can be very good, but aren't as consistent. A hole in the wall right across from the railroad tracks, great for an old kid like myself that still loves seeing trains.

                      1. My 10-year old son and I did a Central Texas tour of barbecue a couple of weekends ago, and handsdown the best brisket and chicken is at Snow's in Lexington - actually, everything was as good or better than any of the other places we tried over the weekend. Snow's is only open from 8:00 a.m. until noon on Saturday's, and you better get there early. They often close before noon, once everything sells out, and when we arrived about 8:40, the line built behind us all the way out the door - and way beyond the door by the time we left. One guy had driven all the way from Dallas that morning just to pick up barbecue and immediate return with it to Dallas for a party. ... Smitty's prime rib in Lockhart was unbelievable, and the "Big Chop" at Cooper's in Llano (not related to the Cooper's in Mason) might bring tearns to your eyes it is so succulent if not occasionally a little over seasoned.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: pschweizer

                          My husband and I were at a Corporate Retreat in Glen Rose, TX over the weekend and discovered Hammond's BBQ-pretty damn good BBQ, especially the chopped brisket and hot links. This is more "East Texas" style BBQ-not the stuff you find in Central TX (which we are both big fans of) but it really surprised us how good it was.

                          If you are ever in the Glen Rose, Granbury, Stephenville area-check it out :)

                          1. re: shannydiva

                            While on a journey to an incredible camp site, we passed through San Saba, a beautiful little town in central Texas that boasts the birth place of Tommy Lee Jones and being the pecan capital, we ventured into Gage BBQ. Small place next to the last chance grocers that served up some fine barbecue.

                            Gage had the fires stoked on the front patio for all to witness and comment on technique and talents of cuetender. Pork was my choice of the day, as any new-to-me place, since the pig is the most difficult to mame. Tasty, moist, delicious. And now no longer my little secret.

                            I'll be damned if I give way to my camp site secret.

                            "I think; therefore I am" - Rene Descartes"
                            I'm pink; therefore I'm Spam" - Porky the pig

                        2. Driving from Lum's in Junction to Billy Bob's in Hondo (both among the "relentlessly celebrated" places you reference, I happened across, The Garven Store at the intersection of Hwys. 83 and 41. The selection of BBQ is limited - only brisket and sausage - but both were extraordinary. I have visited all of the generally accepted five-star BBQ joints, most of four-star locations, and several others over the past several months/years, and the brisket at Garven's is on a par with Snow's, my other favorite spot for brisket. Also, the sausages were local and beef-pork mix. Absolutely delicious.

                          Anyway, just wanted to suggest that you add it to your list of places to try. See http://www.garvenstore.com/aboutus.html for details.

                          Best - PAS

                          1. Cranky Franks in Fredericksburg is the best BBQ I've had so far... so good we had to try back for a couple of days cause they kept running out. Best part is you get ALL the sides, not just two. Just hop into Fredericksburg and ask where it is. It's by that old drive in theatre, I forget the name of that road tho. They have another location that I've never been to, think it's in Fredericksburg too.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: kimrobards

                              1.7 miles south from Main Street. Friendship Lane intersects 87 at the old drive-in theater and used car lot. Cranky Frank's is 1/2 mile further south. Google maps says the other location is closed and Cranky's site doesn't mention it.
                              1679 S. US Highway 87
                              Fredericksburg, TX 78624-5068
                              (830) 997-2353

                              1. re: Scargod

                                Now isn't this thread what Chowhound is all about??

                                I feel a road trip coming on.

                                God bless you all, and God bless Texas.

                                1. re: zorra

                                  Yep, it is. :) Just a Texan Chowhounder trying to help folks out.
                                  I feel one coming on, too!

                                  1. re: Scargod

                                    You know I never thought about googling it... thanks Scargod! Good way to help me sound less stupid! :-) All the sides to you! All the sides!


                              3 Replies
                              1. re: db3784

                                I'll cosign on what db3784 said about Pat G's. That may very well be the best bbq that I have ever purchased.

                                In East Texas, for some odd reason, everyone seems crazy about the ribs at the Country Tavern. The people that know good bbq head out to a shack in east jesus nowhere to get a to-go order at Pat G's. If you go on a Saturday you will see old black people and old white people patiently waiting in line for the food. That sounds like an odd measuring stick, but trust me, it works. Old folks going that far out of their way for take out usually means taht you are finding something special.

                                The lack of a phone sucks. I will be headed to Tyler over Christmas and would really love to load up on the stuff on my way out. Hey db, do you remember the way out there? Someone else always drives when I go and I bet I'll blow right by the turn off if I go alone.

                                1. re: down73

                                  I just re-read the original post and realized that you were asking about a place within 90 miles of Austin. My bad. Pat G's is between Tyler and Kilgore. Its not exactly a shack either. Just file it in the memory bank and hit it up if you ever find yourself in East Texas. You'll be glad that you did.

                                  1. re: down73

                                    ok not sure how u go into tyler but you need to get to hwy 31 and go all the way down until u get to county road 21 and make a right go all the way down cr 21 until u see a church on ur right hand side as soon as u pass that church take a right and pat g's is right there to the right

                                2. Well, it's nowhere near Austin, but there's a place in Slaton (15 miles SE of Lubbock) called Klemke's BBQ Joint that is pretty doggone good. They are known for their sausage and justifiably so. I like the jalapeno sausage myself. I also like the turkey, and the beans and tater salad are also top-notch.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                    Heading out of town tomorrow [Austin] tomorrow to escape SXSW and it's nightmarish hordes.

                                    A jaunt up hwy 79 out of Round Rock heading northeast through Franklin, Marquez, Buffalo, Palestine, Jacksonville and Henderson.

                                    Definitely stopping in Palestine to load up on baked goods at Eilenberger but everything else is open.


                                      1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                        Maybe too far out of your way but I've heard of this one in Belton:


                                        Not exactly unknown - I think it was written up on Roadfood a few years ago. I've never been.

                                    1. If you're in Waco, even though they recently renovated, stopping in at Vitek's fora gut pack is a must; won't find something like it anyplace else. Also Mama and Papa Bears on 12th (opposite side of 35 from Baylor) is suspiciously delicious, sauce unlike anything I've ever had. It's almost like eating BBQ soup.

                                      Papa Bears
                                      3015 Gholson Rd, Waco, TX 76705

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: frostmo

                                        Despite what chowhound thought for me, I'm talking about "MAMA AND PAPA BEARS"

                                      2. Bunkhouse BBQ in Clifton, Texas...

                                        1. After hearing so much about Salt Lick in Driftwood, we were very disappointed in the Q. The setting is great though, so maybe that's why people flock there with their coolers of beer. After eating there, we looked it up and found it's not even in the top 50 on Texas Monthly's best BBQ list. And no wonder. And while sides hardly matter in this context, the "potato salad "was an odd concoction of mashed taters that seemed to be seasoned with beef fat. Nothing else. Not bad, just not potato salad.

                                          Salt Lick Restaurant
                                          18300 Fm 1826, Driftwood, TX 78619

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Lambowner

                                            Couldn't help but smile after reading that...

                                            I would never put Salt Lick in the "Best Barbecue Only You Know About."

                                            In fact, just the opposite.

                                            I'd put it in "Worst Barbecue Everybody Knows About."

                                            The potato salad has German origins. Not really as tangy as many German potato salads, but along the same line. Lots of people really love it. I'd say it does take some getting used to.

                                            And you nailed the reason why the Salt Lick is always busy - ambiance.

                                            That, and the fruit cobblers for dessert.

                                            Like so many retail establishments, when the original owner started the business, it was wonderful. Then he died. Then the son took over.

                                            And it's been pretty steadily downhill ever since.

                                            But hey, you can go to their website and get your "Fall Back-to-School Salt Lick Wardrobe" complete with t-shirts, hats, jackets, etc., right there.

                                            Their merchandising is top rate.

                                            Their barbecue, not so much.

                                            1. re: Jaymes

                                              Worst Barbecue Everyone Knows About, Goode one james. I was lucky enough to go in the late 70's-early 80's and haven't been back since. I'll add Goode Co. to your list.