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Jan 16, 2009 09:56 AM

Vegetarian options at BBQ pits?

Apologies beforehand if this question is just too ridiculous to be taken seriously...

My boyfriend and I are going to be in Austin for five days on Saturday, and would like to check out some of the legendary BBQ places, either in Austin proper or in Lockhart, Luling, etc.

I don't eat meat (though I do eat fish). Do any of the famous BBQ joints offer meat-free but nonetheless delectable side dishes? Or will I just have to settle for the vicarious thrill of watching everyone else chomping on heaps of brisket and sausage?

Thanks so much for your advice!

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  1. It depends on how much you love potato salad and cole slaw. (Most beans are made with beef or pork).

    Side dishes are really besides the point of going to these pits. Most of these places started as meat markets and didn't offer sides historically. Kreuz Market used to brag about not offering sides. However, most have developed the technology to split the potato. Kerry Bexley of Snow's BBQ in Lexington told me his sides are made by a 92-year-old woman. Still, I didn't get to Snow's at 9:30 on a Saturday Morning to eat cole slaw.

    Basically, a visit to a Austin BBQ pit by a non-meat eater is like a visit to an ice cream factory by someone who is lactose intolerant.

    1. To clarify a little: given that we'll only be able to go to one (or maybe two) of the BBQ pits, -- Kreuz Market, Smitty's, Mueller's, Luling City Market, Black's, Sam's, et al -- the availability of a non-meat side dish (especially anything involving okra) alongside the main attraction could play a factor in deciding which one(s) we try. However, the deliciousness of the meat is far more important than the presence of vegetarian-friendly accompaniment.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ferdydurke

        black's has a good selection of sides.
        i'm a sucker for sweet potatoes, theirs are practically a dessert (not that there's anything wrong with that).

      2. try the grilled veggies at Artz Rib house
        They are awesome.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Dave Westerberg

          Except that they are looking for delicious meat. So skip Artz Rib House.

          Kreuz has german potatoes (vinegary soft sliced potatoes, kind of like a casserole), and I think they started offering beans a while back, but I'm sure those beans contain a little meat. They offer whole avocados, tomatoes, and onions. I really don't think you'd be happy with those sides.

          Smitty's is basically the same as Kreuz, extremely limited sides.

          Black's has more sides, and some people like the meat. I personally don't like the meat there, and I didn't like any of the sides at all (they leave them under a heat lamp, like a buffet line, at least they did the last time I was there about 6 years ago). I would skip Black's.

          I recall liking some of the sides at Luling City Market, and I thought the brisket and sausage were both great there. I actually can't recall what sides I ate, even though I visited only a couple of months ago, but I think it was cole slaw that I liked. They do not have a large selection of sides, and I'm almost positive that they don't have any okra.

          If your companion really is looking for the best meat, I'd recommend going pretty early in the day (lunchtime) to Kreuz, Smitty's, or Luling City Market. I don't think you're going to be overjoyed at any of the choices of sides, but Luling does offer a bit larger selection than the others. Truly, if I were you, I'd just suffer through and then make my friend stop somewhere else so you can eat.

          1. re: angusb

            I was just at City Market and the only sides were beans and potato salad. I'm pretty sure the beans aren't vegetarian.

            1. re: angusb

              The country style ribs at Artz are excellent. No one else serves grilled veggies like they do. Add in some bluegrass and a few beers, and you are good to go.

              1. re: angusb

                I like the meat at Artz--the beef ribs are excellent. And I can't imagine eating in Luling these days. No matter how great the food is, the natural gas smell is really bad.

                1. re: Dave Westerberg

                  I heard today that Artz has a sign up that says "Closed temporarily. Hopefully". I haven't confirmed. Anyone know if this is true and what's up??

                  1. re: ftf

                    It's true and it's reportedly for tax issues and health care costs.


            2. Iron Works has a small salad bar and veggie sides. ANd it's one of the better places in town to get beef ribs and brisket.

              1. It sounds to me like your boyfriend is looking for a "holy grail" type experience with BBQ while he's in town, and that is NOT going to happen at Artz rib house. I live about a 5 minute walk from there, and I haven't been there in 5 years. I've had good ribs there, sometimes quite good, but I really think your boyfriend will be happier eating at another place. Others may have different opinions, but I feel compelled to warn you. Good luck on your quest!

                1 Reply
                1. re: angusb

                  Sadly for vegetarians (I once was one myself) most BBQ places are slim pickings. Honestly it wouldn't take all that much to throw some ears of corn over the burning wood to catch some of that smokey goodness. Pretty much the rule around here (at least in the good BBQ places) its all about the meat. I don't care how good the potato salad at Sam's is, I'm saving room for MORE BBQ mutton. (though I am a bit surprised you don't see BBQ catfish--that's something I've seen in a large number of downhome backyard cookouts round here)