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Best BBQ - Heavy on the PORK!

aburns May 17, 2010 08:15 AM

My husband and I are visiting Austin Memorial Day weekend. We'd love recommendations for great BBQ - with lots of pork options (I'm not a huge brisket fan). We don't mind a drive and are staying just south of downtown.

Appreciate any suggestions!

  1. drdelicious May 26, 2010 04:29 AM

    I know this is not a super-duper never-heard of idea, but I had a pulled pork sandwich at the Whole Foods flagship BBQ restaurant stand inside that was FINE. They'll even dress it with coleslaw (here, they give you weird looks, but I give them right back). I was looking to give you downtown suggestions, but there is better barbeque outside the city limits.

    1. Alan Sudo May 21, 2010 11:33 AM

      You really should take a drive out to Lockhart, Llano or Taylor for the ultimate Texas BBQ. BUT if you can't make it or if you do make and still want to try something Austiny, here are a couple of alternative suggestions:

      Why not grab some pork ribs at Sam's Bar-B-Q (2000 East 12th Street) around 1AM after you leave the bars? Open until 4AM-ish Mon - Sat, Midnight on Sunday. It's a rough neighborhood, so don't flash your big diamonds and just tell the working girls and dealers no thanks (I'm assuming) as you keep walking and you'll be fine. Late hours and tasty Q have made Sam's an institution. http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=sam's%20barbecue%20austin&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

      Or you could get your pulled pork in taco form. Torchy's Tacos has a special pulled pork and chipotle BBQ taco this month called the Washingtonian. Add a Democrat (Barbacoa) taco and you've got a nice lunch. I should add that I've had 2 great meals and 2 mediocre meals at Torchy's, so either they aren't consistent or I'm not - probably both. But the atmosphere of the trailer park location (1311 South 1st Street) adds a lot of fun to an Austin visit, and I wouldn't hesitate to take out-of-town company by that specific location for a meal. http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&am...

      Both places have been described to death on this board, and by writers more eloquent than I, so do a search and see if they are what you're looking for.

      1. f
        foodiegal71 May 21, 2010 08:03 AM

        We went to Snow's in Lexington a couple of weeks ago and while we were there for the brisket (OMG), we decided to try some of the pork as well. At the risk of getting virtually flogged, I dare say that pork was even better than the brisket. And my family is all in NC, so I know from pork. This was INSANELY good. Truth be told, it was the best I've ever had (not pulled though, just sliced).

        5 Replies
        1. re: foodiegal71
          uarent May 21, 2010 09:32 AM

          I've got to interject here and comment that the 1st time I went to Snow's, at least a year ago, maybe closer to 2, we got nearly every meat product on the menu, including the pork (I can't remember if it was shoulder, chop, or loin, but I think it was shoulder). The consensus was that it was pretty uninspired and bordered on bland, particularly when compared against the brisket and even the pork ribs. Maybe it was a different cut or they have upped their game in the pork arena (ribs excepted as they have been krunk every time I have been). I have been back on a couple of occasions since then and have not gotten anything but the brisket and the ribs due to the excellence of these 2 meats and the relative mediocrity of the others that I had tried. Maybe I'm due for another trip to Snow's to reevaluate...as if I need a reason.

          1. re: uarent
            foodiegal71 May 25, 2010 08:39 AM

            Wonder if we just hit it on a good day? Although, I do feel like I read something somewhere recently about another lover of the Snow's pork. I am pretty sure it was butt, but don't hold me to that!

            1. re: foodiegal71
              hlk May 25, 2010 02:29 PM

              I've only been to Snow's once, but the pork was great when I had it.

              1. re: foodiegal71
                brentwood May 26, 2010 09:08 AM

                Snow's serves pork shoulder. We only tried it once, and it was almost as tender and moist as their brisket. Definitely try it again!

                Snow's is a tough place to recommend to a stranger, though. You have to be wiling to get up early, drive a fair ways away, and stand in line for a while. It's always worth it in the end, but I grumble a LOT on the way there.

                1. re: brentwood
                  foodiegal71 May 26, 2010 09:48 AM

                  Thanks for the clarification on the pork shoulder. OMG it's so good!

                  We decided that with Snow's, we love it and we'll get up and drive for it, but if we're taking people to eat BBQ when they visit, we have to know they're hardcore because you've got to be pretty hardcore to get up that early and drive out there for meat in the morning. If the people we're taking aren't as serious about meat, we'll take them to Cooper's in Llano which we also love and the drive is prettier, especially in the spring.

          2. s
            stephanieh May 19, 2010 05:02 PM

            I come from a long line of bbq pork lovers and had to totally rethink bbq when I moved to Texas five years ago. Some of the places mentioned here do a really great brisket, but you just don't ask them for pork. You will see some big bushy Texan eyebrows raised if you do.

            I've given up on pulled pork completely and now make my own. Lambert's pulled pork was really good, but their sauce was mustardy, which isn't my thing. Plus, Lambert's calls themselves "fancy bbq" and they are pricey. If you do like mustardy sauce on your pulled pork, do give them a try. And make sure to get their mac and cheese. It's rather famous around here. The only other pretty decent pulled pork I've had was at Green Mesquite.

            For pork ribs, I highly recommend Texas Rib Kings. I love these things. It's the only ribs I'll eat in Austin. I haven't tried Franklin yet, but I think I've tried every other rib out there. If you're going to Texas Rib Kings, be aware they close at 8pm. Same advice if you go to Mann's. I've been there around 8-ish only to find "sold out" sign on their door. Those two places are in the same part of town, and I prefer TRK, but Mann's is also pretty good.

            Artz giant country pork rib is a Fred Flintstone sized piece of meat. Actually, I think they serve two big hunks of meat. I wanted to like this place more than I actually liked it. I've only been once and I haven't been motivated to give it another try. I can't remember why I didn't like it, but I remember they didn't have any decent sides, and as much as I love meat, sometimes I like a little something along with it.

            While you're here, this is off topic, but in the same "slow cooked pork" vein... try some cochinita pibil at El Meson, or carnitas at one of the great Mexican restaurants around here.

            Texas Rib Kings
            9012 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758

            El Meson
            5808 Burleson Rd, Austin, TX 78744

            4 Replies
            1. re: stephanieh
              ieathereforeiam May 19, 2010 05:58 PM

              big ole 2nd to Texas Rib Kings. They have the most underrated and consistent BBQ around. Ribs and Brisket are always solid there.

              Texas Rib Kings
              9012 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758

              1. re: stephanieh
                NWLarry May 20, 2010 08:13 AM

                Stephanie....ditto on moving here and making the Texas BBQ adjustment. I was similiarly underwhelmed by Artz, but I will make a point of trying Texas Rib Kings. In fact, I would say I have been through the 5 stages of Grief common for a deep South ex-pat:
                1.Denial-"I won't even miss Johnny Ray's Pies!"
                2. Bargaining-"Well maybe I can bring my own sauce"
                3. Rationalization "Sweet Tea isn't really that good for you anyway"
                4. Anger "What the hell are these onions for?!"
                and finally 5. Acceptance "I will drive to Taylor any day of the week"

                I have a tip however, a confession if you like: The pulled pork sandwich at Foodheads is sublime, and perhaps one of the best I have ever tasted. You have to put the cole slaw on the sandwich yourself however. And they have Zapp's!

                Texas Rib Kings
                9012 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758

                1. re: stephanieh
                  danny_w May 20, 2010 08:24 AM

                  I was wondering when somebody would bring up Texas Rib Kings. They don't get much love on this board, but they have simply the best pork ribs in town IMHO, and they are consistent. I won't even try the pork ribs anywhere else any more. I usually get the "Young and Old" plate which is usually enough for me and the price ($4.99) can't be beat!

                  Texas Rib Kings
                  9012 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758

                  1. re: danny_w
                    willtryanythingonce May 20, 2010 09:54 AM

                    I third (or fourth?) TxRKs. I probably go 3 or 4 times a month. It's consistent and good, and while i don't think they're gonna put louie muellers outta business anytime soon, they may have one of the most reasonably priced bbq lunches in town.
                    While pickles and onions are standard at the condiment bar anywhere, some places seem to charge for pickled jalepenos (*cough* Rudy's). Since I'm the type that can make a handful of japs a side order in themselves, a sliced brisket sandwich (which is a generous helping of meat), a trip to the condiment bar, and an ice water means a filling and satisfying lunch for $3.50 plus tax.

                2. WSZsr May 17, 2010 11:56 AM

                  Mann's Smokehouse Bar-B-Q
                  8624 Research Boulevard
                  Austin, TX 78758
                  (512) 459-5077

                  1. t
                    TaseT May 17, 2010 11:49 AM

                    As Brentwood accurately points out, Central Texas is not real big on pork (which is a shame). Not as far out as Lockhart (Kreutz) or Llano (Coopers), you could drive 20 mins up to Round Rock and try Johnny T's BBQ. They serve a very respectable pulled pork up there. Also on the menu are spare ribs. I do my own pulled pork and find their's quite good.

                    1. uarent May 17, 2010 11:37 AM

                      I'd drive to Smitty's in Lockhart and get their pork chop. Really one of the best pork chops around. They've got ribs and sausage too, both of which are worthy of the drive. While there, I'd try just a bit of moist brisket too. If you don't like it there then you likely won't like it anywhere.

                      1. b
                        brentwood May 17, 2010 11:23 AM

                        Welcome to Central Texas. You'll like it here. But you should know that the BBQ specialty here is beef. There are places that serve pork, but just like you wouldn't go to Memphis for brisket, you shouldn't expect great pork here. There are some non-brisket beef options, including beef or beef/pork smoked sausage, as well as beef ribs.

                        If you're willing to drive a bit, Cooper's BBQ serves a huge pork steak. They serve cowboy-style BBQ, cooked over a higher mesquite fire than the traditional oak-smoked Central Texas BBQ. They have outposts in Llano in the Hill Country and New Braunfels on the way to San Antonio. Closer to Austin, Opie's in Spicewood has the same style.

                        Artz has good pork ribs. There's also a place called Mann's in north Austin, on Research Blvd/183, that is run by a really friendly couple from Georgia. Their pork dishes are pretty good, and you might get a free brownie or ice cream depending on the day.

                        Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Q
                        1125 Loop 337, New Braunfels, TX 78130

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: brentwood
                          brentwood May 17, 2010 01:14 PM

                          I totally forgot Franklin Barbecue!

                          If you want to try some of the better BBQ inside Austin city limits, as well as get a feel for the current food trailer scene, Franklin is the place. They have pulled pork and pork ribs. They serve out of a trailer on the frontage road of I-35, in the parking lot of Owl Tree Coffee Roasting near 34th street. If you go, get there as close to opening as possible. There are frequently long lines and they occasionally run out.

                          3421 N. I-35, Austin, TX 78722

                        2. drdelicious May 17, 2010 08:24 AM

                          My husband's from Memphis, and he like Artz Rib House near downtown. I'm not a huge brisket fan either... but I'm far from a pork expert.

                          Artz Rib House
                          2330 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: drdelicious
                            chrisdds98 May 17, 2010 10:52 AM

                            http://www.kreuzmarket.com/onlinemenu... haven't eaten the pork here but the brisket was very good. When i lived in north texas I loved the pulled pork but I haven't found that down here at all.

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