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Need opinions on 4-day BBQ-plus plan

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  • glang Sep 1, 2011 04:09 PM
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Austin hounds, will you weigh in on my mostly-BBQ plan for our upcoming 4 days in the area, and my choices for the other meals? Do you think we have chosen the right highlights at each BBQ place? I realize this is not a true crawl, but we have to work it around my husband's business trip, and are trying to fit in a few other things where 'cue is not an option. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Tuesday 9/6 - arrive Austin mid afternoon, dinner at Tacos El Rico. Where to go for a good margarita or cold beer?

Wednesday 9/7 - Once Over Coffee; in line at Franklin's by 10:30 am, brisket, ribs, pulled pork. Wednesday dinner sake social at Uchiko for just light nibbles.

Thursday 9/8 - Frank's coffee; 11 am, pick up take-out at Black's for 15-person work event: brisket, sausage, beef ribs, beans, potato salad, coleslaw, pickled onions; banana pudding or peach cobbler? Anybody wanna argue for choosing Smitty's (no online menu so couldn't see options) or Louis Mueller's instead? Dinner, Parkside happy hour.

Friday 9/9 - Medici coffee, then drive to Luling by 10 am for brunch at City Market: brisket, pork ribs or pork shoulder, sausage. On to San Antonio for husband's work day, then return via New Braunfels for dinner at Coopers at 6 or 6:30; is the cabrito worth the expense? I hear the chicken is really good at Cooper's. Thoughts?

Saturday 9/10 - Houndstooth Coffee; Snow's by 8 or 8:30 am, brisket, pork shoulder, anything else? 1:30 or 2 pm, late lunch before airport; should we go to Chen's Noodle House, dim sum at Pao's or somewhere else? Fly home at 5:30 and eat steamed broccoli for weeks!

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City Market
633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

Chen's Noodle House
8650 Spicewood Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78759

Uchiko
4200 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78756

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  1. Hate to monkey-wrench...with a sweeping judgement, no less. But..

    Can I suggest killing Coopers and going to Live Oak in Austin when you get back in town? Take a look at my past posts and you'll see I've had a turn-around.

    Live Oak was a very pleasant surprise and Coopers depressed us the last time.

    Mobile phone typing. If you want details, say so and I'll expand tomorrow.

    Otherwise, damn! Perfect trip!

    6 Replies
    1. re: amysuehere

      Barbeque opinions vary and the quality can change day to day (unfortunately that is the nature of the beast. (If you prepare fifty+ briskets there will be a few that are not as good as others [thickness, toughness, meat flavor, etc] )

      While in Lockhart, I would chose Smitty's or Kreutz long before Black's. My last visit was so disappointing in multiple categories that it will be tough to pass the other two to go to Black's. Black's definetely has its fans on this board, but I prefer the other two by far.

      Based upon many visits over five years, when eaten in different order on the same visit, Black's would fall after Smitty's and Kreutz.

      My summer has been busy and I have also been too lazy to post a review for Cooper's in New Braunfels. The location in Llano outshines by far in ambience and overall food quality, but my one visit to Coopers in NB was really awesome for two reasons: The Big Chop and IMO best beans at any BBQ establishment ever.

      The Big Chop is a pork chop that was incredibly juicy with the right amount of saltiness and mesquite flavor. It is also freaking huge and may provide a break from many of the other brisket and sausage meals. Side dishes at Central Texas BBQ are very often overlooked or not considered worthy of response, but these beans with pork and jalapenos was incredible (better than in Llano). I also like the large pot where you can help yourself to an additional helping. When we were there Brisket was a solid B+ with Ribs B- and sausage a disappointing C.

      Snow's.....They will offer some smoked pork, ribs, and sausage, but I would ignore all other meat offerings and get the brisket exclusively. The texture is different than most; almost like well-prepared pot roast where the fat renders perfectly into the smokey exterior. My two visits out there did not require arriving before 10 to get everything I wanted.

      My two bits may just make it more difficult to decide.

      1. re: Chefdavis

        i am with chef davis regarding blacks, its terrible. they cook their brisket too hot and it shows, dry and chewy. its never a pleasant experience to have meat expand in your mouth as it rehydrates...

        kreuz and smittys are definitely better options, though they tend to be inconsistent in my experience. one trip will provide you with a phenomenal experience, moist tender brisket with the perfect balance of smoke and pepper. the next trip you'll get an untrimmed packer brisket that tastes and chews like it has spent two decades in the pit. i've found that the earlier you get to either the quality is generally improved...

        i wanted to like live oak but it was a major disappointment as well. between the steamy room and the over smoked brisket that was texturally akin to chewing on a rubber duck i felt like i was child in the bathtub. ribs were terribly undercooked and hadnt had the membrane removed from the back. sausage was acceptable however.

        go to franklin and enjoy everything you get there. its damn tasty.

        in lieu of blacks or even lockhart head to taylor and get brisket and beef ribs at louie mueller, you wont be disappointed. or maybe head down to south first street and enjoy john mueller bbq, if its open by the time you arrive!

        1. re: zephyrus446

          I'll third this, that Black's is not very good, and that the brisket at Live Oak (admittedly in the one time I went there, several months ago) was not nearly as good as some of the other options on the table.

          1. re: zephyrus446

            On any given day, I would say that either Smitty's or Black's has the best brisket in Lockhart. It's been a year since I went to Kreutz, but the last time I went (and it will probably remain the last time), the brisket was dry and had no noticeable smoke ring.
            It's also been last summer since I was last at Louis Mueller, but my impression was that they were using way to much pepper in their rub. Maybe it was a bad day, but I didn't see why they should be considered a top-tier contender.

          2. re: Chefdavis

            "The Big Chop and IMO best beans at any BBQ establishment ever." I had Cooper's beans a couple of years ago & still crave them. I posted below that I'd love to have the recipe or a regular mail delivery of them.

            Chefdavis, my daughter & I will be in Austin for 2 days in June & I'm trying to simplify our bbq quests. I know I want to drive to Cooper's in New Braunfels (maybe float the river again) & try Franklin's. We'd also like to drive to Lockhart & pick up a little bit of food from each of the 3 places & find a shady spot to eat. I need to know what time we need to show up in order to get some food. I hear Franklin's sells out quick & has long lines. What about the places in Lockhart?
            We'll also need one dinner while we're down there, but honestly I'm not sure what to have. We both like all kinds of food and are pretty adventurous. We'll have a car but I don't want to drive in a ton of traffic if I can help it. Is there any place that is a must have while we're in Austin?

          3. re: amysuehere

            Coopers was so horrendously salty last time I was there it was inedible. I would have returned it but we were already back in Austin. Absolutely TERRIBLE. Never, ever again. Somebody in the kitchen needs fired because no SANE person would use that much salt. I'd wonder what other psycho things they're doing to the meat if they're that disgruntled.

            -sw

          4. I think Wednesday is your strongest day. Franklin's rivals anything in Lockhart.
            Might want to get there a tad earlier just to majke sure you get in. Uchiko is great. The early "social" menu is fantastic and a great value. Try the brussel sprouts.

            -----
            Uchiko
            4200 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78756

            1. Skip Louis Mueller, it's crap... Seriously, the place gets a 10 on atmosphere and smell, but a 4 at best on the Q.... no flavor. If you're going to Taylor the only place worth your $$ is Davis Grocery.

              If you're going to be in Round Rock, check out Johnny T's on 620.

              Otherwise, I see no gripes with your plan.

              1. I'm one of the folks who likes Blacks a lot. The other places are good too, for sure, but I get great food at Black's and find the folks there much friendlier. I appreciate that.

                Honestly, too, if you're new to the area, you'll find bbq at all these places delicious. People who are lucky enough to have a big sample size at all the popular places can quibble about differences, but you'll get good food at all of them. I take people new to the area or visiting to all three (and the Chisholm Trail too....) and everyone loves the trip. Always a fun day (or two, sometimes we stop at two places before and two after on drives to and from the coast from Austin).

                1. not sure if Pao's has dim sum. I would maybe try dim sum at Chinatown or Shanghai.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: lixlix

                    Thanks for all the replies, folks. I had a feeling this would be confusing, but since my last trip to Austin was a decade ago and we are BBQ geeks I want to make the most of this visit!

                    The challenge with Thursday is that the only way we can try any of the places at lunchtime is to pick one and get take-out for my husband's work event, so we can't crawl around Lockhart, which would have been my preference. Can anyone tell me what is best at Smitty's, since they have no menu on line? I would have to know exactly what to get for the work lunch. I kinda ruled out Kreuz's because in all the threads I read about Lockhart, it had by far the most negative comments... I was torn about Louis Muellers because it seems like a real love/hate thing in the threads.

                    Coopers remarks duly noted; thanks for the specifics, Chefdavis, it's extra nice to know about the sides cause unlike a lot of BBQ folks I actually care about them (southern thing as opposed to Texas thing maybe?). One of the reasons I chose Blacks was because I read good things about some of the sides. You gotta balance out all that meat!

                    Dave Westerberg, props for the positive attitude. I love that. Anything we get will be vastly better than what we have here (Boulder CO), but like I said, we are geeks.... so I'm willing to fuss over the choices some.

                    lixlix, I will check out those two places. Pao's does have dim sum, I called to check; and apparently they also have a Chinese menu that you can request.

                    Other thoughts welcome, I love reading everyone's comments.

                    1. re: glang

                      PS, lixlix, this is a whole other discussion, but I am a bit nervous about the Chinese food in Austin thing - here at home we have almost no edible Chinese food, so I am always looking when I travel.... but having lived next door to Chinatown in both SF and NYC, I am looking for something reasonably authentic and well-prepared. I was also thinking small dishes after all the meatfests, ergo dim sum.

                      1. re: glang

                        You'll have a great time. Visitors I've taken love all the BBQ places. (Truly: Any of the Lockhart Big 3 would be the best restaurant in 99.9% of the cities and towns in the US, and they are all with in a few blocks of each other in one fairly small town, and that is pretty amazing.) The ones that geek out have favorites and everyone else just eats like they are getting executed in the morning. I only regret I can't eat like that all the time without consequence-- as I could in my youth.

                        One comment: City Market in Luling has a huge following, and you and you pals will likely love it. Me? I can't get through Luling fast enough, and never stop, unfortunately. I can't handle the natural gas smell. I wish I could cuz I hear the food is awesome at CM.

                        -----
                        City Market
                        633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

                        1. re: Dave Westerberg

                          Never noticed the smell when I went to Luling for CM. Guess I hit them on a good breezy day?

                          If sides are important, then you should probably stick with Black's. They're an afterthought at Kreuz and likely at Smitty's too since they come from the same origins, though I could be wrong.

                          1. re: verily

                            Awesome, I hope I miss the gas someday. The city calls it "the smell of money," and I'd likely learn to love the odor if I had the rights to the gas.

                            http://www.cityofluling.net/about.aspx
                            Excerpt:
                            "Many tourists that travel to or through Luling notice that the community greets you with the “smell of money” before you ever reach the City limits signs. A proud community with a history rich in oil, Luling’s first discovery of Oil was made on August 9, 1922 by Edgar B. Davis. The Raphael Rios well struck oil on that date and began the oil boom for Luling. The town became a “tent city” over night with rough necks and oil producers actively drilling for “Texas Tea” the Oil wells and pump jacks are so much apart of our everyday life that years ago the Luling Chamber of Commerce commissioned an artist to decorate characters that spend their days and nights entertaining tourists and the community with their perpetual motion."

                    2. If you want to do one of the great but nearly unknown BBQ joints, hit Woody's in San Marcos. It is fantastic. On its good days, which are frequent, it's better than anything in Lockhart or Luling.

                      19 Replies
                      1. re: achtungpv

                        Great info, thanks you guys. I am going to see if I can check out Woody's on line. I know we are going to have a blast everywhere - I admit I am most excited about Franklin's, Snow's and City Market!

                        -----
                        City Market
                        633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

                        1. re: glang

                          If you find yourself out by Lakeway (don't make a special trip, the lake is not much to see this year),I can recommend Buster's. Used to be at the legion hall but got their own digs last year. I posted this in another thread a few days ago:

                          If you are in Lakeway, it would be a shame to miss Buster's BBQ. I have not eaten in their new digs, but back when they were at the legion hall, I enjoyed a garlic H-Bomb regularly. That is one unique IMPOSSIBLY good sandwich. Not for the timid, tho. Your belly will feel like the Enewetak atoll circa 1952--but in an awesome, mind-melting, "What hath God wrought??" kinda way.

                          http://www.busterslakeway.com/

                          1. re: Dave Westerberg

                            Your plan and this whole thread are great. We like the steak at Cooper's, as well as the chops which were already mentioned. The steaks are kind of backyard bbq like but they are different from the rest of what you'll find on your trip. The beans are good too. And free, free is good. They make a pecan cobbler that just rocks. Sounds odd but the stuff is crazy good. Black's has lots and lots of sides, some are pretty good. Luling has the sausage. Better than anybody's in my opinion. You don't mention Sam's. Hard to do a bbq tour without seeing Sam's.

                            1. re: BTAustin

                              Sam's is closed, shut down for buying stolen meat.

                              1. re: brentwood

                                Looks like they reopened:
                                http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/i...

                          2. re: glang

                            Please report back. It's always good to hear the opinion of a self-professed BBQ geek coming to Central Texas.

                            1. re: gilintx

                              Thanks BT, yeah, I looked at Sam's but just had to somehow narrow things down... re alt meats, one of the reasons I was interested in Cooper's was the cabrito, which no one has commented on...

                              Dave, the H-bomb is on my list for next trip (hope it's not another decade).

                              gilintx, I will report, but fair warning, this geek was raised on NC pulled pork! (Eastern NC type sauce.) Having said that, I have never met a regional style of BBQ that, when properly executed, I don't love.... including my previous experiences with Texas brisket and sausage. I do prefer a rather dry sausage (a point I read lots of opinions about here), but honestly, if it's well made, I like it all.

                              Re sausage, I noticed in another thread that supposedly if you ask for the "worry link" at Black's you get the spicy jalapeño sausage - without cheese - that another poster raved about, so I was going to try for that...

                              1. re: glang

                                ...and as long as I'm blathering on here, what about the question of drinks on Tuesday evening - if we eat at Tacos El Rico, where should we go before or after (or both ;-)) for beers and/or margaritas? We like the style of marg with just tequila, fresh lime and a little cointreau...

                                1. re: glang

                                  People may complain about their food here on Chowhound, but for the kind of margarita you are describing, it's hard to beat Guero's on South Congress.
                                  If Guero's is too crowded, maybe head over to Contigo in East Austin.

                                  -----
                                  Guero's
                                  1412 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

                                2. re: glang

                                  You'll love it. When they ask you if you want extra Jalapeños, nod vigorously--and buy the lanolin baby wipes on your way home.

                                  1. re: Dave Westerberg

                                    Y'all, for our Saturday lunch, I'm considering bagging dim sum for Tam Deli. Thoughts?

                                    -----
                                    Tam Deli & Cafe
                                    8222 N Lamar Blvd Ste D33, Austin, TX 78753

                                    1. re: glang

                                      Some may argue, but Tam Deli rocks the Bahn Mi in my opinion. I've had several there, and never disappointed. Their other dishes, including the shrimp and yam fritters and the dessert cream puffs are awesome too. No real great Dim Sum in Austin...so good swap in my opinion.

                                      -----
                                      Tam Deli & Cafe
                                      8222 N Lamar Blvd Ste D33, Austin, TX 78753

                                      1. re: MattC02

                                        Thanks MattC02, that's just what I was hoping.

                                        1. re: glang

                                          ask for extra jalepenos on the bahn mi.

                                      2. re: glang

                                        I was going to suggest perhaps swapping out Dim Sum for a pile of vegetables along side a tasty dish at a Vietnamese place. Tam's is great for Bahn Mi, and there are other dishes, but it is kind of small (many just walk up and take out). If you want more of a sit down meal with a much broader menu, Try Sunflower (closed Tuesdays) or La Soleil. There are others as well, but I won't get into detail, as you can probably find a couple of comprehensive threads on Viet.

                                        http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/11/142201...

                                        http://www.lesoleilrestaurant.com/

                                        Seems like the latter has a much more varied menu than they had last time I went.

                                        1. re: rudeboy

                                          Thanks for the suggestion, rudeboy. Am taking under consideration! Big pile o' veggies would be great; sandwiches or small dishes may be practical right before heading to the airport. I'm going to keep researching and monitoring responses, if they keep coming. Vietnamese and Thai food are often too sweet for me, which is why I like banh mi. I am also looking at some of the food trailers, like Eastside Kings and Chi-Lantro. Odd Duck is not open early enough or I'd plan for that.

                                          Alan Sudo, thanks for the recs - are they near Tacos El Rico?

                                          brentwood, stolen meat??? Seriously?

                                          -----
                                          Odd Duck
                                          1219 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

                                          1. re: glang

                                            Hi Glang - both places are about a 10 minute drive from Tacos El Rico, and both have great margaritas in the style you describe.

                                            Guero's Taco Bar is at 1412 South Congress - http://www.guerostacobar.com/ - it can get crowded, but that makes for great people watching.

                                            Contigo Austin is at 2027 Anchor Lane - http://contigotexas.com/ - a relaxed setting with picnic tables on an outdoor patio area near a quite neighborhood and a park. If you are at all hungry after Tacos El Rico, Contigo has tasty bar food and small plates as well. One possible hitch is that they do not open until 5PM.

                                            -----
                                            Guero's
                                            1412 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

                                            1. re: Alan Sudo

                                              As an added plus, Contigo has really good food. Guero's fare is meh at best.

                                              http://contigotexas.com/austin-menu-food

                                              1. re: tom in austin

                                                Alan and Tom, Contigo looks perfect - sit outside, good stuff to drink... my guess is we will go straight there after my husband's work day, have a drink or two, try not to eat to much of the yummy-looking food, then go to Tacos El Rico and try one of everything! Thanks for the detailed info. This is now added to the Tuesday agenda.

                            2. I've only been once, but the chicken was very moist, ribs were done to perfection. However, the potato salad was a bit mayo/eggy for me and the slaw was more just cabbage, oil, s&p. Seasonings weren't my bag, but my husband proclaimed them his new most favorite. And let's face it; how many bbq joints get better offerings later in the afternoon.

                              Mine still is Franklins, but the whole line/sell-out is just soooooooo frustrating.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: amysuehere

                                The new pit is being tested this week. He will be doubling his capacity very soon.

                                1. re: achtungpv

                                  Hopefully, they've taken advise and added some more cutters as well. Increased capacity doesn't do any good if there's still just one guy cutting the meat.

                                  1. re: amysuehere

                                    if they still sell out every day the increased capacity does a lot of good for them! shorter lines mean less hype so maybe one cutter is the smart financial move. granted it sucks for customers unless they hire line waiters...

                                  2. re: achtungpv

                                    The new pit goes live on Saturday. He anticipates not selling out until at least 6pm.

                                    1. re: achtungpv

                                      (*See below)

                                  3. re: amysuehere

                                    this is snow's you are talking about?

                                    1. re: TroyTempest

                                      Franklin, I think.

                                  4. Try the chicken at Snow's. Just get a half. If you hate it, nothing lost, (but I don't think you will.) It's unique and not dry like most bbq yardbird.

                                    Stop around out back and meet Tootsie and Kerry. Great, great people.

                                    At Cafe Medici, get a Breve' Latte' . Best cup of coffee I've ever had, (and I'm really old).

                                    Uchiko is awesome. (But I guess you already knew that.)

                                    -----
                                    Uchiko
                                    4200 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78756

                                    1. I'm envious my friend. At Snow's the wet brisket is all you will need, eat a yard bird if you have to, they are damn good eating, but lets face it, when you went to an Elvis concert it was to see the King, not some opening act. At Franklin its a little different, his ribs and his turkey are world class, simply world class, so don't miss them. If you are hauling your fat butt to Lockhart, take a few extra minutes and make it all the way to Luling and enjoy the City Market. However, with Snow's and Franklin there is no need whatsoever to travel down 183 for unbelievable BBQ, in fact those places are in the minor leagues compared to Snow's and Franklin. As for me, I'm getting hungry and I think I'll run down to the Rib King on Burnet and 183 and have a chopped beef sandwich to go, (lots of sauce, onions and jalapenos for me). Not world class, but still good, cheap and if I wait till 12:30 there probably won't be a line. Good, just not in the same class as Franklin or Snow's, not really even fair to compare.

                                      -----
                                      City Market
                                      633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: gntlmn6464

                                        Hi folks, here is the (long!) report.

                                        After all that planning, my husband's work schedule, which dictated everything else, resulted in our only trying two BBQ places. I hope we'll remedy that soon!

                                        So, straight from the airport we went to Jalopy. We got the Folleto (sp?) and the BBQ sandwiches (wanted to order the original instead of BBQ, but they were out of the onion marmalade). Two super-nice guys made the sammies for us on the new house-made flatbread, and gave us a free cookie from the bakery of one of their friends. The Folleto was our favorite, great savory/acid/spice balance, but both sandwiches were fresh and delicious and we enjoyed every bite.

                                        Later, to Contigo for drinks; good margaritas and draft beer, crispy house pickles (okra, shishito peppers and green beans), and we loved the laid-back setting. (We ended up going back again for drinks because we enjoyed it so much, and wishing we had a chance to try more of the food, which looked really good. Next time...)

                                        Tacos El Rico - it was kinda late and we were the only customers. Yolanda was warm and patient with our halting Spanish. We got enchiladas con guilota, a sope with beef, and four kinds of tacos. The enchiladas were a knockout - we practically came to blows over the last bite of quail. Wonderful, fresh, flavorful corn tortillas, bright, balanced chile, lovely toppings. Yummy sope too. Risking the wrath of scrumptiouschef - we found the taco meats and salsas very good but not mind-blowing. Maybe it is because I am used to New Mexican tacos... El Taco de Mexico in Denver is our go-to local place for super-moist and tender tacos (carnitas, pastor, etc) and house-made salsa that makes your scalp tingle. The meats at El Rico were tasty but comparatively a bit dry, and the salsas were on the mild side. But these are quibbles.... overall the food was terrific and we wished we had room to try more. We'll go back for sure.

                                        Next day we had outstanding coffee at Medici, and were in line at Franklin by 10:45. I can't even come up with adjectives for the brisket. I am practically tearing up just thinking about it. It was mind-blowing. We got a pound of moist end-cut, plus a pound of pork ribs and a bit of pulled pork to try. The pork ribs were as good as any we've had. The pulled pork was good, but speaking as an NC native it was not life-changing. We loved the espresso sauce, and the vinegary sauce was great with the pulled pork; the third sauce was not exciting to us. The slaw was fresh and tasty, but the beans were oddly musty-tasting, and, to a southern girl, a little on the firm/dry side. Bottom line: best brisket I have ever tasted, by a country mile, and among the best pork ribs ever.

                                        Uchiko for dinner, the sake social. Great, friendly service. Fabulous unfiltered sake. Raw scallops, salmon handroll, japanese eggplant, crispy brussels spouts and sweet potato fritters with sweet chile sauce - all insanely good. On the desserts, I thought they over-reached, but I'm not as much of a sweets as a savories person, so I am awfully picky about dessert. We had the fried milk, and the riffs-on-corn thingy. Compared to the seemingly effortless success of the other dishes, they seemed strained. Overall though, we loved Uchiko and wish we had a place of comparable sophistication at home.

                                        Next morning we had very good coffee at Frank. The bacon-topped cinnamon roll was fine after we scraped off the 3/4" of superfluous frosting - crispy bacon, fresh yeasty roll. (I confess that we went back to Medici for coffee the next two days, because it could not be beat. We never even got to Houndstooth, and although I stopped at Once Over for a Dublin Dr Pepper one afternoon and loved the vibe, we just couldn't tear ourselves away from Medici's coffee.)

                                        I picked up Black's BBQ for my husband's work event. The customer service at Black's was great. Re the food, I really wanted to love Black's but was already spoiled by Franklin - should have had them in the opposite order. However, the Black's beef ribs were terrific, and the sides were excellent - really good beans and slaw. The brisket and sausage were good but not awe-inspiring. The banana pudding and peach cobbler were marginal at best, over-sweetened and gooey, but cobbler is one dessert that I can make better than anything in a restaurant, and my mom made the best banana pudding ever, so I am not a fair judge!

                                        As planned, we went to Parkside for a happy hour dinner. To me, this was the biggest disappointment in the line-up. It was a great deal on oysters, so we got 3 dozen. The assortment was nice, but most of the oysters were very under-developed, big shells with hardly any meat in them. (Still better than no oysters at all!) When asked, the server could not tell us anything about the food or the house cocktails; and neither she nor the bartender understood when my husband asked for a margarita up. Tho we explained, it arrived on the rocks and was pretty light on the tequila. The fried okra was tasty but came with a totally bland dipping sauce; the Caesar salad, described on the menu as "classic", was limp and overdressed, topped with one small anchovy, a paper-thin shard of toast and a grating of bland cheese. Sigh.

                                        Because the work demands changed we never went to San Antonio and so didn't get to Luling or Cooper's; and it just about broke my heart that our schedule also prevented us from going to Snow's on Saturday.

                                        We did get to Tam Deli before we flew out. Really nice people. On the strength of lots of written praise we ordered the yam and shrimp fritters, the garlic butter shrimp banh mi and the char-grilled pork banh mi. The shrimp banh mi was delicious. The fritters had great flavor but were saturated with grease through and through, as though the oil had not been quite hot enough. The pork banh mi was just okay. (For those who can get to Chapel Hill, NC, may I recommend the slow-cooked pork banh mi at SandwHich? It will rock your world.) The cream puffs lived up to their good rep, and we tried a palmier too, which was pretty decent. On the way out we saw a plate of the wide rice noodles, which we should have ordered - they looked amazing. Next time I would also try the Vietnamese pancake.

                                        So altogether, some super highlights, some solid pleasures, a couple of let-downs and a long list of things to get to on our next visit, which I hope will be soon.

                                        Thanks to all of you for the great info! Holler if you are coming to Boulder/Denver area.

                                        -----
                                        Tam Deli & Cafe
                                        8222 N Lamar Blvd Ste D33, Austin, TX 78753

                                        Uchiko
                                        4200 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78756

                                        1. re: glang

                                          Great report.
                                          You hit the highlights.
                                          Next time don't miss La Fruta Feliz for superb goat tacos and the best agua fresca sandia in town.

                                          1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                            Added to the list! Thanks!

                                          2. re: glang

                                            Thank you for following up with such a detailed report. I always love to hear honest feedback from visitors. Come back soon.

                                            1. re: glang

                                              glang, I live just north of you in Laramie. My family spent some time in San Antonio & New Braunfels a couple of summers ago &had alot of fun. We floated the Comal River all day then ate at Coopers. I'm seriously in love with their beans! What I would give for the recipe or regular mail delivery!!! It was the first time I had blackberry cobbler & that pretty much sealed the deal for me. We drove into Gruene one night & had at dinner at the Gristmill. The food was ok, good but not something to write home about, but the view & ambiance really made it. We also drove to Lockhart one day & ate at Blacks. It was alright, the brisket & sausage were flavorful but I didn't care for the sides at all. Smitty's & Kruez's were already closed so we missed out on them.
                                              My daughter & I will be in Austin in June & I'm trying to plan what we're going to eat. We definitely have to get our fill of bbq. I hate to drive all the way to New Braunfels but there is no way I'm gonna be that close to those beans & not get some!!! I imagine we'll head to Franklin's & down to Lockhart again.
                                              A little closer to home...have you eaten at Nordy's BBQ in Ft. Collins or Loveland? I like it, it's not "official" Texas BBQ but it's pretty good especially when you have a craving. I'm not crazy about the beans, coleslaw or potato salad but that's not why I go. We ate Smokin' Dave's(not to be confused with Famous Dave's) in Estes Park a few weeks ago & were really surprised. The brisket had a great smoke flavor & the chicken was super moist.
                                              Russell's smokehouse in Denver was also pretty good. I wan't sure what to expect since it's in Larimer Square but Frank Bonnano puts out quality food at all his places.

                                              1. re: jcattles

                                                Hi jcattles, what a nice note, thank you for all the info. I have put your recs on my list.
                                                You will love Franklin BBQ; the second time I had their beans they were better, but their sides are not the best ever. They're all about the brisket and the ribs. Absolutely the best. All their meats are good, but the brisket is the star of the show. Make sure you get moist, with end cuts.
                                                Personally, I would totally drive to New Braunfels, but I am also very picky about beans, being a southern girl - we take our beans seriously!
                                                Snow's is top of my list for my next trip to Austin.
                                                My husband also brought back solid take-out from John Mueller's on another trip; the food was good and the service was outstanding - he obviously really cares about his customers' experience. It's not really fair for me to comment extensively on the food because it took a plane ride before I ate it; but if it was that good reheated hours later, it's worth a try on-site for a real evaluation.
                                                If you get down New Mexico way, stop at El Paragua in Espanola. Their pintos with chicos are wonderful, as is the rest of their food - outstanding carne adovada and carnitas, chiles rellenos, posole... everything I've had there is excellent.
                                                Austin is a wonderful food town, have a great trip - and report back!