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Please review/critique my plan and logistics

  • j

Hi all,

Los Angeles hound here and I'm making a bbq pilgrimage. I've never had bbq outside of the West Coast except for one meal in Lexington KY years ago. I've got a week and I'm determined to expand my knowledge and palate. I'm sure what many of you consider just average would be sublime to me.

I'll be staying near University of Texas, will have a car and an adventurous spirit. I'm landing at noon on a Wednesday and flying out at noon the following Wednesday. Taking into consideration hours of operation and crowds, my current plan is as follows:

Wednesday – Triangle Market, Iron Works
Thursday – Lockhart Smitty's, Kruez's, Black's
Friday – Franklin
Saturday – Snow's, Luling's City Market
Sunday – Sam's evening
Monday – Artz's
Tuesday – Louie Mueller (Taylor) Mann's
Wednesday – Rudy's before flight.

I plan to order at least a half pound of brisket, a few ribs and a link at each place. Unless it's a place like Sam's which specializes in mutton, then I'd swap out something else. I would appreciate any other suggestions for the places listed, such as if I'm better off getting beef or pork ribs or staying away from a particular item. I really don't care much about sides. I'm about trying the meat. Any sides I get will be more of a palate cleanser, got to save room for all the meat I plan to eat.

My plan has some holes in it and I'm still searching a bit for things to fill. I'll be doing some walking tours an generally just exploring Austin in between meals. I'm used to walking a lot and just exploring cities.

Some other thoughts I had was possibly breakfast taco's since that's another Austin specialty. Perhaps Mi Madre's?

Thank you for any help and advice.

Mi Madre's
2201 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 78722

City Market
633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

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  1. I would put Franklins on another day as Friday would be the most crowded and the biggest hassle for you. I'd also not go to Iron Works.

    3 Replies
    1. re: amysuehere

      Agreed, get it on any weekday but Friday.

      1. re: Lixer

        Monday too since they're closed. When are you coming? Looks like Franklin's will be closed Nov.1-10th as well.

        1. re: Lixer

          My visit won't be in that span. Thanks for the Franklin tip, maybe switch it with Tuesday then. Sounds like the mid week would be best for it.

    2. Have you mapped out Saturday? It sure will be a lot of time driving. Acc'd to google maps going from UT to Snows, then to Luling then back to UT is 183 miles (over 4 hours accd to them). I'd re-think those logistics, if it were me.

      Also, you might want to add John Mueller's new BBQ place. Acc'd to those that have been there it is good. And it is in town.

      2 Replies
      1. re: TroyTempest

        My thought about Saturday was to hit Snow's first thing in the morning when they open after 8. I'd have it for breakfast, the drive to Luling would be a good break and it could be lunch. Then drive back to Austin in time to do stuff for the afternoon. 183 miles in one day doesn't sound too bad to me if I'm breaking it up with a couple of stops. I was thinking I'll only be driving an hour or so in between stops. But I've never driven in Texas, so maybe that's not realistic. Being from LA, driving for an hour at freeway speeds with no stop and go traffic is heaven, I just put some music on and an hour will fly.

        But again, I've never driven in Texas so maybe that's a wrong assumption on my part.

        1. re: Jase

          You won;t have any problems with traffic on that drive especially on a weekend. Should be a nice, and before our recent drought, scenic drive. You won't be on any interstates, IIRC.

      2. I've always been partial to Cooper's in Llano, but it's a pretty good drive from Austin.

        2 Replies
        1. re: heyzeus212

          There's Coopers in New Braunfels...but still a 40 minute drive one way.

          1. re: heyzeus212

            Yeah, I did have Cooper's on my research list but really waffled about how far it was and nothing else as part of the trip.

          2. Cooper's has ALWAYS been my favorite. Lambert's also gets good reviews.

            Don't waste your time with Iron Works.
            Salt Lick is a fun trip as well, especially if you're with friends or a group.

            1 Reply
            1. re: amykragan

              Okay, seems like everyone is saying no go on Iron Works. I had read mixed things about Salt Lick so was unsure. Also I'll be by myself and wasn't sure how that will work with Salt Lick. Thanks!

            2. ditch Iron Works, sub Live Oak BBQ (all is good)
              on Lockhart leg ditch Black's, and go 15 miles down the road to City Market in Luling (especially pork ribs and sausage)
              on Sat hit Snow's (be sure and get some pork loin) and then Louie Mueller's and Taylor Cafe (especially turkey sausage and fatty brisket) on the way back to town
              on Tuesday hit JR Mueller's new spot on South First (since you will have already been to Louis Mueller's)
              check Franklin;s schedule online, and get there by 10:30 am at the latest

              City Market
              633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

              3 Replies
              1. re: chowmick

                I haven't been to Live Oak, so I can't comment there, but rest of your recs are good *except* for skipping Black's. The last few times I've been to Lockhart, Black's outshone Smitty's and I've just given up on Kreuz.

                cm, your advice to hit Snow's and the Taylor joints on Saturday makes much more logistical sense. To the OP, if you still want to hit up Luling, you're better off doing so on your Lockhart jaunt.

                1. re: agoodbite

                  Okay, I guess Snow's and Taylor's on Saturday is more logical.

                  Luling with the Lockhart jaunt. I still want to hit the big 3 Black's, Smith's and Kruez's even if it's to poke my head in and get a small portion. I figure I owe it to myself to at least try it, especially since this is trip is to expand my knowledge and palate.

                  If I'm hitting all four within the span of a few hours, I'll only want to order lightly at each place anyway. Although I will have a fridge in my room. How about some cold bbq for a late night snack or early morning breakfast? haha!

                2. re: chowmick

                  I was planning to do Luling City market after Snow's breakfast on Saturday. Is that not a logical set up?

                  My thought for Lockhart was I'd just hit all three in one trip.

                  Thanks for the tip on Live Oak, Mueller's and the items.

                3. The last time I went to Mann's, I was underwhelmed by what I got, and somewhat surprised at how much it cost me.
                  There are two places in Elgin (Southside Market, Myer's) that you would be able to hit on your way back from Taylor, too. Elgin's big claim to fame is sausage, so don't expect the best brisket you've ever had.
                  Kreuz is a ghost of its former self. Try maybe just a quarter pound there, and see if you agree.
                  Finally, if you can still waddle into your rental car after hitting Lockhart and Luling, you might just keep going south to the Gonzales food market. It's maybe another 20 minutes down 183. I really like the sausage here, and the rest of the meats aren't that bad, either.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: gilintx

                    If I don't eat sides I can eat a fair amount of meat. Thanks for the tip on the logistics and what to get.

                    Do you have more details on Gonzales? Address? If it's that close, I'll put it on my list and see how it goes. Thanks!

                    1. re: Jase

                      Gonzales is actually a food market (ie you can buy cold cuts, white bread, convenience store fare) that also has a barbecue. The address is 311 Saint Lawrence Street, which I actually had to Google to learn just now. It's right across the street from the courthouse. For whatever reason, in small town Texas, the local barbecue joint is almost always just across the street from the courthouse (Snow's is actually just a block down from the cattle auction).

                  2. Skip Rudy's and hit JMueller's on South 1st instead.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: achtungpv

                      Agreed, now that I've heard JM is a "quick stop"

                    2. don't go to Rudy's. go to Ruby's right north of campus on 29th and Guadaloupe. get the chopped beef-spicy and delish!

                      1. If you decide to go to Live Oak Barbecue, there are two things you should know. They have Saturday specials of items not on the menu, like goat, lamb, beef ribs. etc. Also they are open 7 days a week from 11am - midnight. Yes, I am a huge fan! http://www.chow.com/restaurants/92342...

                        Live Oak Barbecue
                        2713 E 2nd St, Austin, TX 78702

                        1. Just so you know, we'll all be expecting a report once you're home and able to get us one. We love to hear what people think about our beloved 'cue.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: gilintx

                            I'm pretty good about writing reports. If you look at my profile, I've written reports for my visits this year and past years. Still working on my Boston and NYC reports.

                          2. Okay, here's my revision based on everyone's great feedback. I also put down what I should get at each place, I'd appreciate it if someone let me know if I'm missing a place's specialty. Finally looking for a place to hit on my way out of tow to the airport. I have to be there by 1 to drop off the car and get through security.

                            Wednesday –
                            Triangle Market - Is this worth going?
                            Artz – Beef ribs

                            Thursday – Lockhart
                            Smitty's – Pork ribs
                            Kruez's - quarter to half pound brisket, 1 sausage, smoked ham
                            Black's - quarter to half pound brisket, 1 sausage
                            Luling City-market; pork ribs and sausage
                            Gonzales market if I have room, get sausage

                            Friday –
                            Jmueller – brisket and sausage

                            Saturday –
                            Snow's - pork loin
                            Live Oak - Specials

                            Sunday –
                            Sam's evening - mutton

                            Monday – Taylor
                            Taylor Cafe - turkey sausage and fatty brisket
                            Mueller's - brisket and sausage

                            Elgin Possibly?
                            Southside Market, Myer's - sausage at both places

                            Tuesday –
                            Franklin - Brisket, Ribs and suasage
                            Ruby's - Chopped Beef and Brisket

                            Wednesday – Have to be at airport by 1 p.m.
                            Mi Madre's - breakfast taco's
                            Need a bbq place on way out of town

                            Thanks again everyone. I hope I can do all this meat justice.

                            Mi Madre's
                            2201 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 78722

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Jase

                              While working in the town famous for the Coupland Dance Hall, I was discussing lunch at Louis Mueller's in Taylor just a few miles north with some locals. They smiled and said that it's good (I know... I've been several times) but they said that the locals have a secret favorite...Davis Grocery and BBQ. They said something about brisket and gospel. What I've read on google search looks interesting but I haven't stopped by yet.

                              1. re: Jase

                                There's a Salt Lick actually in the airport. I'm not a big fan of Salt Lick and I wouldn't encourage driving out to the original, especially on your own. But, this would give you a taste of it without the drive. I haven't had the airport bbq, so I don't know how it compares to their other locations. Something unique about them is their kind of orange-y colored sauce, that I think has tamarind in it? It's a love it or don't kind of flavor with bbq. (I don't) I'm only suggesting it because it would round out your comparisons. Plus, like everyone else, I'd heard about Salt Lick and had to see for myself.

                                1. re: Jase

                                  I've had nothing but awful food at Southside in Elgin. I would skip it.

                                  1. re: Jase

                                    Looks like a good itinerary overall, but I have to urge you to get the fatty brisket at Snow's in addition to the pork loin (which also kicks butt). It's likely the best brisket I've ever had. Miss Tootsie really knows what she's doing with a brisket. The first time my husband and I had it, he wept a little after his first bite because it was so good.

                                    I'd probably get a small portion of the wet brisket at Smitty's too for comparison's sake. I've had it when it was outstanding and when it was merely above average, but to really put the Lockhart joints to the test, you should experience a little brisket at all three. After all, brisket is what Texas barbecue is all about. Looking forward to your post-trip report!

                                    1. re: agoodbite

                                      I concur. If you miss the brisket at Snow's, you've missed the best brisket in Texas (and thusly, probably the world). Far less consistent than Franklin, but with much higher highs. On Snow's best day, nobody comes close.

                                    2. re: Jase

                                      Thanks everyone. I'll be out there in the next couple of weeks. Appreciate all the help and I'm looking forward to expanding my bbq palate. I did have a note to make sure to try Snow's bbq. I'll probably do Salt Lick at the airport on the way out of town. It should hold me for the 3 hour flight back and avoid airplane food.

                                      Out of curiosity, no one thinks doing both branches of mueller is overkill?

                                      The days I don't do a lot of bbq I figure I'll just wander around town and hope I get lucky finding something. Exploring Austin on foot should be fun too.

                                      And of course I'll write a trip report. I do try to pay back. Might take me a while since I try not to do a short one after all the help I've received. As an example, here's the Portland one I did for a trip earlier this year.


                                      1. re: Jase

                                        The Whole foods flagship store is a good place to kill time and you can eat there too for a break from the BBQ. (many reviews on this board) You can also walk across the street to Waterloo Records, one of the last true independent music stores in the country, if you are so inclined.

                                      2. re: Jase

                                        Regarding the Triangle Market, I've honestly never been to that particular one and do not know what kind of hot food vendors they've got. However, this link gives you a good idea of who is out there on Wednesday: http://sfcfarmersmarket.org/index.php... .

                                        After you've sampled your way through there, the Flying Saucer in the Triangle has a great variety of beers on tap.

                                      3. I've seen a couple of people say no to Ironworks and was hesitant to give my opinion, but I've been thinking and thought you might like another view. I recently started a thread to discuss beef ribs in Austin and Ironworks was the most recommended (only 3 recommendations, so it isn't nearly as popular a meat, but my favorite). If you are going to be spending time in Austin and walking around anyway and think you like beef ribs, I recommend you walk there and have the beef rib platter. If you are a big eater, you'll definitely eat the sides, so choose the ones you like (if you don't ask, they'll just pick two, or so I experienced). To my taste, they are as good an example of beef ribs that I have tasted. As far as brisket is concerned, I cannot comment as I never order it. Note that it is counter service, no waitresses at least at lunch, but really good beef ribs.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: BruceE

                                          Thank you for chiming in. Taste is subjective and I appreciate getting a different viewpoint. I'm not a big sides person. For bbq ribs, I usually prefer pork, but I don't turn down a good beef.

                                          Maybe a good compromise is I just stop and get a few beef ribs by themselves. A snack and a taste.

                                        2. Jase, your cue itinerary is now as it should be, and I have never been impressed with ironworks beef ribs or anything, but to out of towners it's probably good. if you're going to hit mi madres for bfast tacos, be sure to have a migas taco with avocado and be sure to have a sausage, egg, and cheese taco. their sausage consists of tiny crumbles that are spiced unlike any sausage I've ever had and it's really really good. If you get it and figure out what those spices are let us know.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: slowcoooked

                                            The main thing to remember here is I'm pretty inexperienced when it comes to bbq. I've eaten it all around LA and have been told the best here is only average compared to deep cue country like Texas and other southern states. That's why I want to expand my palate and I'm sure I'm inexperienced in the nuances.

                                            It's probably similar to the experience LA visitors have to Chinese food. The depth and variety here is unmatched. What visitors might find mind blowing, I'd only consider average.

                                            It's all good though, that's why I'm doing this trip. I just hope my trip report does justice for all the help I've received. I may not be able to explain in detail what I found good or bad in each place due to my lack of experience and background.

                                            Thanks for the breakfast taco tips. Between that and Salt Lick at the airport, it should be a good farewell meal.