Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Austin >
Jul 10, 2012 07:05 AM

NY/NJ Hounder coming Labor Day Wknd- BBQ questions and other food Recs.

Hello, I am a chowhounder from NY/NJ and coming to Austin for the Labor Day weekend. Get in late Friday, and leave Tuesday about 11. The bulk of the trip will be barbecue, needed help adjusting my itinerary or places to hit up and have a lot of questions. I am pretty much set on going to the SaltLick(only place my friends know) in Driftwood, Franklins, and Lockhart. I would like to go to Louie Mullers, and City Market in Luling.

1. Should I make the effort to go all the way out to Snows?
2. I am planning on hitting up Franklin around 9am which day is more bearable, Saturday or Sunday to wait? Follow up, my friends are not as adamant/crazy as I am about food, how big of a faux pas is it if the join me in line later around 11?
3. Also, I was planning of getting some breakfast tacos before waiting for Franklin, besides Torchys any other recs or breakfast tacos places near franklin I can hit up?
4. From general reading consensus, seems the only other worthy place to hit up within Austin is J. Muellers, Stiles switch for the beef ribs anybody got any other suggestions?
5. As I understand, bbq is about 11-lunchtimeish and going later, though most places say they are open till 6-8 would not be a great idea am I correct on this? Example, showing up to Kreuz Market around 5 is not a great idea.
6. Donuts. Besides Gordoughs other worthy spots to go too?

Thanks for advance for helping me out. I am deprived of bbq here in the NE except for some few places and the once a year Big Apple BBQ block party and I am excited to come to Austin. Staying around the convention area, close to 6th street and will have access to a car. Also, weird question, do you have Dukes Mayo in the supermarket? Another thing I am deprived of here in the NE.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. 1. Snow's - if you want BBQ at 9am, you should go. I haven't done it, but those I know who have, have raved. Personally, I don't want fatty brisket as a breakfast food, but that's just me.
    2. I don't think it'll be that different between a Saturday and Sunday at Franklin's, but I haven't been in awhile. If you're there by 9 either day you'll be near the front of the line. How many friends will be joining you in the line? If it's 1 or 2, no big deal. If a cluster of 6 people join, it's possible someone will say something rude to you, because that's rude to do.
    3. Opinions on breakfast tacos are like belly buttons here in Austin, everyone has one and nobody wants to see yours. I'll leave this one to someone else.
    4. Stiles Switch and J Mueller's trailer are good choices. I like Lambert's downtown, but it's a different type of place - fancier restaurant, full bar, coriander rubbed ribs type of scene. Ruby's BBQ on Guadalupe and 29th is a longtime staple and worth visiting.
    5. Yeah, the later in the day you go, the more likely they are to run out. But mega-volume places like Kreuz and especially the Salt Lick are more likely to still have most or all of their items.
    6. Other than Gordoughs, I don't think anywhere in Austin's donuts are too special.

    bonus question: One of the big grocery chains here is HEB, and they definitely carry Duke's mayo because it's what I buy. The closest one to where you're staying is either South Congress and Oltorf or East 7th at Pleasant Valley. That one is probably a bit closer to the convention center, but you'll probably need to drive there.

    11 Replies
    1. re: heyzeus212

      thanks for the quick response! I figured that much bout Franklin. I guess since I do not have much of a basis on breakfast tacos, I cant go horribly wrong in just finding some good ones. thanks for the info on Dukes, I will be bringing a few of those jars back.

      1. re: jester99

        I personally wouldn't make the long trip out to Salt Lick for at best average BBQ, Lockhart is closer and you can take your pick from Black's, Smitty's and Kruse. As far as tacos go, Franklin's is on the east side, go for the real deal, Tacos El Rico and La Michoacana Meat Market both open at 8 and are close, don't fall for those gringo tacos.!! Ken's Donuts on Airport is pretty old school and tasty.

        1. re: whoalilponie

          Mrs. Johnson's on Airport maybe? Ken's is on Guadalupe.

          1. re: willtryanythingonce

            Oops, yes indeed, that would be Mrs. Johnson's!!

          2. re: whoalilponie

            I heartily agree with you about Salt Lick. IMO, it's a tourist trap. The meats are pretty good, but you really go there for the vibe....Sitting outside, byob, etc. In fact, given the choice between Salt Lick and Rudy's, I'd prolly go with Rudy's.

            1. re: Lucky_Skunk

              I'd much rather enjoy the Salt Lick Vibe than the cafeteria style, fake homespun Rudy's vibe

              1. re: TroyTempest

                If it is a Saturday vs Sunday decision for Salt Lick, go on Sunday. I have some ordering instructions posted in another thread for Sunday Salt Lick.

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    thanks for the tip, i was think bout saltlick on saturday night, but maybe we will do that Sunday. My friend is obessed with the sauce from there and wants to bring back bottles of it so we are pretty set on going here. I feel that Saltlick is to people in Texas/Austin what KAtz deli is to us in NY.

                    1. re: jester99

                      This is kind of old(to most Austinites), but it should give you some insight. ;-)


                      1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                        Holy Shitte, that's the first time I've seen that video. Hilarious. Who made it?

      2. thanks for the input, the main reason for the SaltLick is that we had some of there stuff when they come up here to NY for the Big Apple BBQ and we have always liked it and wanted to visit the original location. Also, I guess it will be like a "control" for us when eating other places.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jester99

          The Salt Lick can be pretty fun. It is a nice scnic drive in the country, and remember it is BYOB (you have to supply your own alcohol, you can't order a drink off the menu), so you can bring a cooler full of beer, and sit out under the oaks while waiting for your table.
          Also, HEB's Central Market is good for buying the Duke's Mayo. It is more fun than a regular HEB.

        2. I did a trip a few years ago and many recommended Sam's. It's a dive type place, but the recommendation was spot on. The Brisket, Ribs and Smoked Sausage I thought were exceptional. ...although, .there was a funny episode with my friends outside while waiting for me while I purchased the take-out order. The following thread I started had some very good information on Austin Dining options. I'm sure many of the comments are still relevant .

          I also enjoyed the Sampler at County Line...particularly, the Brisket

          8 Replies
          1. re: fourunder

            i was thinkin about maybe going Sams, heard mixed reviews though ilike their mantra of " dont need not teeth to eat our beef" is quite enticing. Correct me if i am wrong dont they do mutton or something there real well? Seems like a place I would personally like, it looks like a dive.

            1. re: jester99

              With regards to the mixed no attention. You are on a personal mission and Sam's is worthy of an experience for you to decide for yourself. I've eaten in many recommended food establishment with mixed results as well......but I can tell you this. BBQ is one of my favorite food searchs. I been all over of the country on vacation and have tried many of the best and recommended places in various styles of BBQ in the various locales. Sam's did not disappoint.

              As for the was not available the night I was there, so I cannot help you ......but I have read it is very good in the opinion of others.

              1. re: fourunder

                thanks for the heads up on Sams, I try not to pay attention to mix reviews, it is more of a matter of physical stomach space. Unfortunately, I got only one stomach and i do not have Joey Chestnut food capacity so as much as I would like to eat basically....well everywhere, you gotta do triage and pick and choose some places over others. I think i will try and hit up Sams at some point.

                1. re: jester99

                  Jester, did you know that Amazon will ship Duke's Mayo to you?

                  1. re: redhatcharm

                    i do, i like Dukes, just dont like it for a 4 pack avg. 8 bucks a jar.

                    1. re: jester99

                      Be forewarned.....unless you are flying First Class, the bags have weight restrictions if not mistaken and then there's an up-charge.. With carry-on bags, you are allowed two bags only.....I've seen staff refuse to allow flyers bring on a bag of food purchased in the same terminal for a bag lunch on the plan. They consider it a third bag.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        sigh, what has become of air travel? I am aware of stupid rules that apparently exist at 30,000 feet but thanks for the heads up. as for over weight bags, spread the weight, that is what travelling with friends are for.

                        1. re: jester99

                          look on your carrier's website for luggage. Continental, I believe is 50 lbs......$25 for the first bag and $35 for the second. I probably travel 4-5 time a year playing golf across the country. I used to bring everything in, but now I bring as little as possible. I also leave home unnecessary things like cologne and shampoo , as the liquids add up fast in weight. Besides, the hotel offers the latter for free.

                          I also learned to invest into some travel specific clothes that do not wrinkle and can be washed and hung dry easily. The good thing about golf specific they are stylish and are made of performance fabrics that wash and wear well. i used to bring 10 shirts (two a day), 6 pairs of pants and shorts. Now I'm down to 4,2 and makes for a much lighter load and I can carry them on the plane without any added fees......Most of the golf resorts I stay at...we stay in there's also a washer and dryer.

                          As for the clubs.....I now FedEx them to the destination.

          2. Jester99

            You have already been given some excellent advice regarding BBQ joints, so I will not waste your time re stating the great info already received, but would like to add a few other recommendations to add to your itinerary for Austin.

            If you are looking for donuts, or a great place to go after a night of enjoying 6th street, you MUST go to Mrs. Johnson's Donuts (4909 Airport Blvd) Absolutely the best sure to go late night/very early mornings to get them warm off the belt. Nothing like fresh warm donuts after a night out on 6th street. If you go in the morning the kolaches make a good breakfast on the go. Be careful though, their hours are different...7:30 pm until noon the following day...fresh donuts start being available around 8:30/8:45 pm. Don't just take my word on them, google them for more reviews.

            As far as breakfasts, you should also add the Omelettry (4811 Burnett Rd) to your itinerary...very unique, quintessential Austin place. I have not been in a while, but they used to be fantastic for breakfast or lunch. I loved their pancakes. Bring cash, they do not take credit cards.

            If time allows, and for something other than BBQ, try to get to the Noble Pig (11815 620 N Austin, TX 78750) as well as Foreign & Domestic (306 E. 53rd Street Austin, TX 78751)

            As a fellow NYC/NJ foodie who lived for 5 years in Austin and misses it so, Can I talk you into bringing an empty suitcase on your trip so you can fill it as a care package on your trip back? Or better yet, just fill it with some great bagels and real Brooklyn style rye bread to bring down for all the ex East Coasters now in Austin - lord knows you cannot find either of those in Austin. :-)

            11 Replies
            1. re: PuniceaRana

              haha thanks for the tip. As for an empty suitcase, i thought that is the way that most CHers travel! I already plan on attempting to bring back some sausage and brisket back with me either as a carry on or find a way to freeze it.

              As for non-BBQ options, Noble Pig and F&D are on my radar as well as Drink.well and Barley Swine.

              1. re: jester99

                I wouldn't recommend driving way up to Noble Pig. They make good sandwiches if you happen to be in the neighborhood, but it's just not all that special and it's in a dingy strip mall (though the NP itself is spotless!) far from central Austin. I am just sure that you can get equally good sandwiches where you live.

                Barley Swine I highly recommend, and you've gotten great info on BBQ and tacos. Enjoy your stay!

                1. re: jester99

                  Since you are already planning on bringing home a care package and are going to HEB for Duke's Mayo, do yourself a favor and pick up some Sabor! (salsa) while you are there - it is hands down the best you will find. I always bring some back in a cooler bag on my visits. Great freshness, well balanced, just the right amount of heat, in a word amazing. No wonder they are award winning. ok, now I'm jones-ing bad for both Sabor! and a warm donut from Mrs. Johnsons....

                  1. re: PuniceaRana

                    I always bring some back in a cooler bag on my visits.
                    You can pack it in your checked luggage, but due to bottled liquid size restrictions, you most likely will not be able to do so in carry on bags and get through the checkpoint.

                    1. re: fourunder

                      Yeah, that is right. I was trying to buy some bottled hot sauce in the airport in costa rica, and they told me i couldn't put it in my carry on. I'm glad somebody said something.

                      1. re: TroyTempest

                        haha thanks for the advice folks, pretty clear on TSA rules so and I am a person that wants to spend as little time in security lines so i avoid anything that will slow me down through check in. Any meats/bbq i will freeze it, shove it in a cooler and maybe for shits and giggles, throw in a pack of frozen sausage to ensure coolness.

                        RT PuniceaRana- funny you should mention the hot sauce, when i travel i like to collect hot sauces from various places and in the US, i like to pick up food themed tee shirts from local places as well (nerdy).

                        1. re: jester99

                          Sabor! is more of a salsa than a hot sauce (ie mcilhenny tabasco sauce) - though I believe Fernando the owner does also make a hot sauce - at least he did, not sure if he still does. The sauce is so fresh and well balanced you can use it on about anything to give it a kick. We have been known to go through a whole jar just sitting and munching it with good tortilla chips. You'll love it!

                          1. re: jester99

                            If you find yourself downtown then, check out Tears of Joy hot sauce shop on 6th. They have some harder to find stuff as well as local and self-produced stuff. I really like their "August in Austin" sauce that i picked up at the Chronicle hot sauce festival one year.

                            1. re: willtryanythingonce

                              thanks for that, i think I am staying in that area so I think I will be stopping there. On the note of food souviners, probably a cliche but have to ask, pecan/texas pralines? Worth getting/where?

                              1. re: jester99

                                They're absolutely worth getting. There's two basic kinds: chewy and non-chewy (Mexican). I don't know where to send you for the Mexican ones, but my favorite version of the chewy kind is from Lammes Candies. They're an Austin (and Texas) classic and people from afar adore them. There's a handful of locations around town.


                                1. re: jester99

                                  You can get the non-chewy (Mexican as agoodbite says) at a typical old school tex-Mex place like el Azteca at the counter, or maybe a mexican bakery, i'm not sure.

                  2. back from Austin and I had a lot of fun and a lot of great food. Quick Run down, checked out the farmers market which was cool. B-fast tacos at Torchys, Jo's coffee and Joe's Bakery. tried East side kings at the Shangra-la and burgers at casino el camino. Had donuts at gourdoughs, ken's by UT and fresh fried glazed at Mrs. Johnsons. Had chicken at Ms. P electic.

                    BBQ wise, in the end, only got to 5 places, J. Mullers, Franklin, Blacks, Sam's BBQ and salt lick. the saddest part was the Smittys and Kreuz was closed on Monday. Kinda didnt expect that and friends were too full and needed a siesta so no trek to Taylor.

                    J. Mullers- Great all around, the sausage he is doing is killer. Brisket is the 2nd best I had if I had to do some ranking. Also, a free can of Lone star while waiting in line wasnt a bad thing

                    Franklins- got there at 905. 20 people deep. I hate waiting in lines and I would easily wait again for the brisket. I pretty sure this is a converter meat, like give this to a vegetarian, pretty sure you can convert them. sausage here was okay but the pork ribs were good. Happy i didnt grow up eating bbq brisket, or I wouldve been angry that I have been eating adaquate brisket all my life. Got take out for my friends that were too lazy to wake up, brisket still tasted awesome like....6 hr later

                    sam's- love the place and the whole feel of it, got the brisket and mutton. didnt specifiy the cut of brisket, but it was plenty fatty and juicy, not much smoke flavor. the Mutton is the thing to get and liked here, love the smoky gaminess of the mutton.

                    Blacks was the only one open on Labor day which made a bit sad, but I was looking forward to blacks the most. the brisket and beef ribs were great, the sausage was okay and the jalapeno one fared better.

                    Salt Lick- last of the trip and I realized why I was told to steer clear. its not that it is bad and a tourist trappy place, is that compared to all the other bbq places, the food is just okay and wouldnt be worth travelling for. The sausage I liked, the pork ribs were good, brisket had no flavor really. The sauce is great though.

                    overall, think I did an okay job on sampling and eating around austin and understanding texas 'cue. thanks for all the info, now excuse me, i need like a salad.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jester99


                      You have to tell us what goodies you picked up in Austin to take home with you?

                      1. re: PuniceaRana

                        3 pds of brisket, a pds from Franklins and 2 pds from Blacks, in retrospect shouldve gotten more from Franklins. Asked the hotel to freeze it, threw it in a cooler and shoved it into a check bag. Couldnt find the hot sauce you recommended but I pick up the serrano chili hot sauce from Dai Due at the farmers market and a jar of honey from round rock honey. picked up some pralines and some mexican pastries at la nueva mexicana bakery and joes. I guess half a breakfast taco i couldnt finish that morning counts with something i took home.

                        Loved Austin, cant wait to go back, might be heading to Latin American in in the Winter, going to try and see if i can layover in Austin or something.