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Stiles Switch BBQ

On my way down lamar headed to Lucy's Fried Chicken from up in the NACA hood I passed Stiles Switch and saw with delight patrons, so I changed my lunch plans and we tried it.

Best: Brisket: I order the money cut every time - fatty crusty beef please! It could have used a touch more salt (and I think Rudy's is too salty for my palate), but other than that it had a deep well developed crust and a nicely penetrant smoke ring. This stuff melted in my mouth and I think is well on par with the best this town has to offer up at Franklin's and John's place. Dare I say better? Who cares, when it's this effing good, we're needlessly quibbling. The pic of my lunch is attached.

Almost best: Sausage: They have three varieties, all of which I think they make in house. I had the "thorndale" link, they also have a jalapeno variety and another, the switch I think it's called. Anyway, the thorndale was just as I like it, pretty grainy / meaty and not too greasy, lovely flavor and smoke. I'm pretty sure it was beef (embarrassed I can't say for sure it wasn't a combo of meats). I quite enjoyed it and so did my lunch date, she doesn't usually go for smoked sausages. I found it to be reminiscent of southside's in texture, another fine link.

Mediocre: Pork Ribs - St. Louis style ribs. These had decent smoke flavor, and couldn't be eaten with spoons as you can with Franklin's. But for those that like a little more bite to the meat in terms of texture, these were not tough by any means. My problem with them: bland. just bland. Sadly. They'll need to step up the flavors for these to be on par with their other offerings.

Sides: The potato salad was really eggy and made with French's mustard, I enjoyed it. The cole slaw is savory not sweet, with a light mayo dressing and strong on the black pepper. I loved it.

Sauce: was good too, just a tad sweeter than John's and slightly thicker. Not as inventive as the espresso sauce, but solid. I usually don't eat sauce, but needed it on the pork.

Verdict: Solid A- performance out of the gate! Nice work fellas. But fix those ribs up.

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  1. I ate there also. the pork sausage is made in taylor. the beef and jalapeno sausages are made in thorndale special for him. i only had the pork. it was pretty good.

    I had the beef ribs. they are a "chuck" cut and were spot on.

    The brisket didn't blow me away. but hell, its his first day. He's got time to work it out and its so close to my house i have to bump him up on the curve.

    I'd like to see him step up the caliber of beers over time. They did great work on the buildout.

    Looking forward to this place maturing.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ieathereforeiam

      pretty light feedback on such a solid new bbq joint in an area of town that so needed one.

      1. re: slowcoooked

        It has just been been opened 4 days at most (assuming open on Sunday and Monday). Even yelp only has two reviews. Still, I hope to go in early January and will report back.

        1. re: slowcoooked

          I'm eager to try it, thanks to your review.

        2. re: ieathereforeiam

          I've been 4-5 times now. My favorites to date are the chop beef sandwich and the sausages. I've had some good pork ribs there. They are sometimes fall off the bone tender but personally I like a little sweeter bark on my ribs. If I'm going to be that picky I'll just make it myself. I also like the sauce

          the people that run the place are super friendly and always there. The brisket is getting better I think as he gets more time with the smoker rig. I really enjoy the open space and the fact that they are open for dinner.

        3. 2nd visit 9 days after grand opening was different. They had maybe 20 folks dining and were apparently training a new cutter. He cut the brisket the wrong way grain wise and the boys overcooked it to boot. It was stringy, roast beefy, and the edges were inedible. The flavor was there, but I feared for a moment I broke a tooth on one bite. Far from the melt in your mouth experience from the first day. I still loved the sausage, but am hopeful to see the growing pains turn around.

          4 Replies
          1. re: slowcoooked

            Funny, I just went today for lunch and had a different experience. The brisket was most definitely melt in your mouth (and cut the proper way by one of the owners) and flavored so well. What we had was very delicious. Hopefully the consistency will get better. We also tried the jalapeno cheddar sausage, which was 50/50 combo meat and not overly greasy. The flavor was nice, with the jalapeno spicy without actually burning you. We also tries the chopped chicken (not sure why I ordered that!), it was fine but boring.

            As for sides, we only had the potato salad. It is mustardy and eggy (as someone else has described it), which happens to be exactly how I like potato salad.

            After we ate, we ordered a half pound of brisket, potato salad and mac-n-cheese to go for dinner. Cannot wait for dinner.

            1. re: missmitzi

              I went for lunch today with the Mrs. and concur completely with missmitzi - the brisket was great - tender, flavorful, wide smoke rings. The jalapeno sausage was really nice. Would just add that even the turkey was really nice - moist...must've been brined before smoking. Will definitely return.

            2. re: slowcoooked

              This brisket experience was similar to mine. I went a few days after they opened and while the brisket was certainly cut the right way (c'mon, a Texas BBQ joint would actually screw that up?!), but it tasted like underdone roast beef. My wife's chopped beef sandwich was just so-so.

              I can't believe someone would say this place is up there with Franklin's! Maybe I'll give them another shot in a few months, but then again, by that time the weather will have warmed up and I'll be making my own melt-in-your-mouth brisket on my Big Green Egg...

              1. re: pwang

                I was completely underwhelmed by Franklin's and can't understand the hype. The brisket was just okay, not betther than the two good Lockhart places or a couple of other places in town. I think this place's claim to fame is the beef ribs though. Unique experience, outside of Taylor.

            3. I went at 2:30 on Monday and two people were in the dining room. Ordered 2 slices moist, 1 Thorndale sausage link and a pork rib to go.
              Brisket was awesome - competitive with Franklin, Meuller (x2), Smitty's etc. Lots of smoke, moist - really, really good.
              Sausage was also very good. Coarse texture, good snap, not too greasy (which I prefer). Excellent flavor.
              Pork rib was a dud. Not enough salt and pepper. Reasonable smoke but way too chewy. Hard to believe it was the same pit/pitmaster.
              Total tab was $18.62. Even the cashier did a double take. Turns out the 2 slices of moist was 2/3 of a pound - $10. I have no issue paying this for the quality of the brisket but be forewarned.
              I really, really want this place to make it.
              Oh yes, the beer choices need to improve. If the word "Brew" is in your name...

              4 Replies
              1. re: galcala

                Indeed, I'm curious about their selection of brews. Was it in the Dozen Varieties of Budweiser category, the Shiner Is Local And Heineken Is Imported league, the New Belgium & Sam Adams class, or better?

                1. re: ret3

                  the latter beer description is accurate

                  1. re: ieathereforeiam

                    They do have Austin Amber on tap so it's not quite as pitiful as described.

                2. re: galcala

                  I went to Louie Mueller's in Taylor last weekend and their brisket was $12.99/lb and I'm positive Rudy's moist brisket is right at $13/lb as well. I guess those were two generous slices, but $10/lb is actually very reasonable for good quality smoked brisket. I am looking forward to trying this place.

                3. What kind of a wait can I expect at lunchtime?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: amysuehere

                    2 minutes. We walked in and there were only 2 people in front of us. The line stayed that way the whole time we were there.

                  2. Tried to go yesterday and they were closed. Oh well. I'll try again.

                    1. Went brisket is good. Sides are decent for an Austin BBQ place, a rare quality. It warrants a return.

                      1. Stopped by for lunch today. The best part was the great customer service. Not only did they ask how I'd like my brisket and give me a little extra, I heard them ask another guy how he liked his mac and cheese ("Do you want more pasta or more cheese?"). Unfortunately, the fatty brisket was on the dry side today and definitely needed some sauce to get it going. Not at all in the same league flavor or texture-wise as Franklin and running either $13 or $13.99/lb. I also had one of the Jalapeno-cheddar sausages, which was tasty, and the slaw, which used pleasantly little Mayo, but could be improved with more spice. Mainly tasted salt and pepper.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: thereman

                          I tried them today for lunch as well. The customer service WAS very nice. They seem committed to good customer service. The guy explained the different sausages to me without me asking, and seemed both genuinely happy to be there, and to have me as a customer. Got the brisket, some sausages and a Diablo sammich, which is brisket and sausage. Sides: mac and cheese and potato salad. Had just a bit of the brisket, and it seems quite nice. The sausage in the sandwich was the jalapeno, and seemed really good. Haven't had the other links yet. The potato salad was pretty good and the mac and cheese was terrific.

                          My palate isn't sophisticated enough to say it's better or worse than Franklins or the Lockhart joints, but there is definitely no comparable place in North Austin. Better by far than Rudy's, which is a low bar, but still. Easily the best in the area. It's close to my home. It will be my go-to BBQ joint for when I get a jones for Q.

                          Definitely worth a trip there. Especially if you live in the Allandale/Burnet Road/North Lamar vicinity.

                          Edited to add: Thereman, did you see that yellow stuff in the saran wrap by the register? Do you know what that was? Too embarrassed to ask...

                          1. re: Rice Checks

                            I went Thursday night. Brisket was tender and of good quality but didn't have much taste from rub/spice or smoke. Nice people. Nice sausage. They didn't have any hot sauce said they were working on it. I might bring my own next time....

                        2. Went this weekend for lunch and we were second in line, so the wait was minimal. Wow! How refreshing NOT to have to wait an hour plus for some bbq! That alone put me in a better mood to enjoy.

                          Everyone at the counter was extremely helpful. You order your meat to cut (of course) first and then proceed down the cafeteria line to get your sides, pickles, onions, etc. They offer both bread and crackers. Nice. Prices were right along with everyone else in Central Texas; didn't strike me as expensive in the least.

                          On to the meal. Brisket was as described above. On par with all the big boys - nice, flavorful crunchy smoke ring and a lovely melt-in-your mouth interior.

                          We got the jalapeno/cheddar (50/50) and the house (90/10) sausage. Both were yummy, but I favored the house more, as it was less greasy. Husband's the sausage person and he really liked the consistency .

                          The pork ribs were my least favorite, but were still quite good. Texture and moisture was spot-on, but I like a little bolder flavors.

                          What completely blew me out of the water was the beef ribs. Seriously, I am not one to get beef ribs. They're clunky, chewy, messy and just meh to me. These were crave-worthy, heaven-on-a-bone! They were served lollipop style, with the lower portion bone scraped and the top half was this incredible jet-black crunchy, peppery crust, a thick smokey ring and tender melt in your mouth meaty heaven. Wow...just wow.

                          Sides: Cole slaw is a very unique, very lightly mayo peppery blend. No sweetness at all, but not a vinegar slaw either. Very different. Mac and cheese was a wonderful "old school" velvety-creamy blend with a wonderful chewy cheese crust on top. Brought out my inner six year old in a good way.

                          Shane stopped by and chatted us up (and gave us a few tastes of some of the stuff above). He was super nice and even gave us a tour of the mega-pit behind the store. Man, that thing is a beast and it was full-up with plenty of smokey goodness.

                          Final verdict, I'm hooked. Just out of the gate and they're producing some mighty fine product and they get you through the line in excellent time, unlike some of the ungodly waits we suffer through with other places, but without making you feel like cattle as some of the bigger joints do.

                          Rah, y'all and welcome! I'm sure we'll soon become regulars.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: amysuehere

                            agree about those beef ribs. it's like steak on a stick.

                              1. re: amysuehere

                                I ate here today for lunch and really enjoyed it. I only had the brisket, a link of the Switch Original, and the potato salad. I asked for a fattier cut of the brisket and thought it was very good. It was extremely tender and flavorful and the peppery crust was outstanding. I've only had Franklin BBQ one time and I do think I liked it better, but they are very close. The Switch Original had great flavor and texture, but it was a little spicier than I like...still very good, though. The potato salad had a good taste and the cool, creaminess was nice on the palate after the spiciness of the sausage, but I do prefer my potato salad to have some bigger chunks of potato in it.

                                All in all, this place is solid. Even better, it's only about 5 minutes from where I work. It does seem that the word had gotten out pretty good at this point. The place was packed today and there were at least 30 people in line ahead of me. However, the line moved fast and I was in and out in maybe 30 minutes. I can't wait to go back and try the beef ribs!

                            1. re: amysuehere

                              I agree the Beef ribs are as good as Louie Mueller and 45 minutes closer. No more trips to Taylor. This is now THE place in the Austin city limits for beef ribs. No place else is close. The mac and cheese, on my second visit, was actually perfect.

                              1. re: Rptrane

                                I had the beef ribs today at lunch...wow. Very good! One rib was the size of a brick and the guy said they were actually smaller than usual today. Two ribs weighed a pound. Very nice flavor and the course pepper crust on them was fabulous!

                            2. Finally tried this place today. We ordered some stuff to go. Brisket, Sausage, Chicken. Mac and cheese and pinto beans.
                              It was good, not great. I thought the sausage links were a bit over cooked but the guys liked them. The brisket was very good, nice and moist. The chicken was ok, it lacked flavor. The sauce was awful. Thin and runny, it just didn't taste good. I had bbq sauce in the fridge so I used that instead. The pinto beans were very bland. The mac and cheese was probably the best thing we got..

                              Will we go back ? Maybe, Rudy's is still better.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: ssnclrk

                                I ate there last week for the first time, too. Overall I thought it was pretty solid, but it definitely wasn't my favorite in town. The brisket was definitely the best thing I had; the beef ribs were ok. Cole slaw (with the vinaigrette vs. mayo dressing) was tasty, but the potato salad was really bland. I had a bite of my friend's corn casserole, and it was great– I'll definitely be getting that next time I go. I didn't care for the sauce too much, either... it was kinda tomato-y and flat.

                                So next time I'll definitely have to try the pork vs. beef ribs, and some of the sausage as well. Overall I liked it, and the employees were extreeeeeemely nice. I'll go back for sure.

                                1. re: popvulture

                                  I took some out of town guests there last week and they were absolutely floored. Now I have to temper that with the fact that three are from Virginia and one is from San Diego and they think that Rudy's is the bomb. But after the beef rib and brisket at Stiles, they sang a different tune.

                                  1. re: ericthered

                                    They've become my go to also. Amazing beef ribs and the brisket is way up compared to earlier. Only Franklin and Mueller in town are better, imo. Sides I'm not so taken with. Saturday went for meat from Stiles and sides from NW Rudy's. That worked out really well. Sauce is with drippings like Cooper's. I do like it but do supplement it with La. hot sauce....

                                    1. re: BTAustin

                                      I'm going to assume that my husband and I went there on an off day. We were the only people there and the beef ribs were so hard, they were nearly impossible to eat. I'm all for giving a place a second chance, but they're going to need to do much better. Did we do something wrong? Did we go at the wrong time?

                                      1. re: tdombrow

                                        Are we talking crust or actually tough meat? Tough meat Id send it back if eating there. I've eaten there many timea never a tough rib but they did forget my mac and cheese.

                                        1. re: Rptrane

                                          Throughput always seems to work with BBQ. Its usually fairly well attended, but not predictably packed. I've had some very good brisket and some fairly dried out burnt ends. Let's all continue to frequent this place and tell your friends. It is accessible, which I like because of the kiddoes (sorry Amysue).!

                                          1. re: Rptrane

                                            It was the beef ribs that my husband ordered. It was just very dried out to the point of being inedible. We didn't send it back because there was so much food, we didn't feel it needed.

                                            1. re: tdombrow

                                              In general I think bbq gets dry if you order late in the day, remember nothing is made to order it's made as much as 8 hours in advance. The one benefit of Franklins running out is that they don't have to keep bbq warm for 8 hours, leading to drying out.

                                        2. re: BTAustin

                                          I think the sides are where they shine in terms of the mac, the corn casserole and the mayo slaw (haven't tried the vinegar slaw yet). The tater salad was good if a bit mustardy. Not a huge beans fan so don't usually order those. Favorite meats are the beef ribs and turkey. Sauce is meh but I'm partial to sweet/smokey BBQ sauce that doesn't seem available in atx.

                                  2. I thought the pintos were a bit weird, too much garlic and way too much salt, otw, a good place in a central location. FYI, posted elsewhere but not viewed, S.S. is only 0.3 of a mile from the Crestview Metrorail if you care.