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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. http://www.blacksbbq.com/restaurant/r...
        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)

                2. I, too, am a vegetarian with a bbq-loving husband. I've been to Lockhart for the bbq pilgrimage - this was before the great Black's/Kruetz's split - and I ended up eating a pickle and slab of cheddar cheese. The legendary bbq joints just aren't for us. I'd either resign yourself to so-so potato salad & beans (with a chance of bacon) or consider hitting Central Market or Whole Foods to make a nice little picnic for yourself.

                  1. As a vegetarian, I'm not sure where it ranks as far as "famous BBQ joints" go, but Ruby's has a few substantial vegetarian options, including a vegetarian jambalaya.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: smilezok

                      Ruby's sides are great. I like the creamy coleslaw. It tastes a bit like it has curry in it. And really the BBQ is pretty good. Maybe not as good as Lockhart, but considering that you don't have to drive...

                    2. Rudy's BBQ scattered between Austin and San Antonio has really good creamed corn. They also have butter drenched greasy potatoes which they call new potatoes, as well as banana pudding. This place might have the largest selection of sides compared to other BBQ joints out there, but the meat is not going to be as good as the rest and it does have a reputation of being a chain of sorts

                      here's the menu: http://www.rudys.com/menu.aspx

                      Also, the Salt Lick has really delicious coleslaw made with crisp cabbage and lots of sesame seeds. The german potato salad is pretty good too, no mayonaise at all. The meats suck as does the BBQ sauce.

                      here's the menu: http://www.saltlickbbq.com/menu.htm

                      1. As others have mentioned, good veggie sides at the really good barbecue places are sparse to nonexistent. However, I really don't think any of the places in Lockhart would mind if you brought in a sandwich or something to eat there - they're pretty laid back, probably wouldn't even notice if you didn't make a big deal about it. So stop at Evangeline Cafe on your way down there, get a catfish or shrimp po' boy to go for yourself, drive down to Smitty's (my personal favorite of the Lockhart places), get a big pile of brisket, ribs, and sausage for your boyfriend, and you'll both have a meal to remember fondly for a long time.

                        1. I may draw some ire. But I've been on both sides of your veggie/meat conundrum. Rudy's Country Store BBQ has some enjoyable veggie sides..new potatoes,potato salad,creamed corn is WICKED(beats NinI's...sorry Nini),cole slaw- and pickles,cheddar cheese segments(sorry,no better explanation)...grrrreat banana pudding,totally medium chocolate pudding. The loop 360 location has a nice backyard..esp for a gas station...it has grass,picnic tables,and a "water feature" that makes a nice sound. And,well, cold beer. I like the turkey and the chopped beef,husband likes turkey and brisket. A plus: its by the greenbelt and by the good mall.In closing, I apologize for saying white bread is good dipped in BBQ sauce.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: alysabeth

                            Just out that way this year and some .... some offer a vegetarian alternative. Not much but better than nothing, and the beer is good. Beans, Beef, coleslaw, potato salad just don't fall into that realm of healthy cooking and especially. I would look them up online. Most of them have menues posted. Take a look. But good luck, just enjoy the whole experience never the less!

                          2. For an out-of-towner, I will definitely second the recommendations for Artz and Ruby's. While they lack some of the markers of authenticity found in the other mentioned restaurants, these are both VERY GOOD Texas-style BBQ joints. The ribs at Artz are good, and I can't imagine a vegetarian that would be dissatisfied with the grilled veggies. Likewise, Ruby's is excellent, serves hormone-free meat, and has several veggie options, including black bean and cilantro tacos, veggie chili and veggie jambalaya. Their sides are incredible--especially the potato salad, cole slaw, and BBQ beans (the eans contain meat).

                            I can't recommend the Iron Works for veggies, the salad bar is pretty pathetic.