Austin area bbq
I'm back in Austin searching for the best bbq. Have been to Lockhart and Luling (my preference is Kreuz Market overall, but Black's brisket was awfully good) and have time for one more road trip. Any suggestions appreciated. Found the best enchiladas at Dart Bowl, if that gives you any indication of what my tastes are.
Having spent some time in the East, I generally take issue with many Texans' take on bbq.
I say this as fair warning, not an instigation of a flame war. To each his own, and all that. But I generally find Texas sausage links to be either too fatty (Kreuz's) or too gritty (Black'). Brisket is by far my least favorite meat and can always be best used in making pastrami, so I won't comment on that. Pork, in my addled mind, is the epitome of bbq. I love ribs where the meat falls off the bone. I love butt when it has been cooked until it falls apart at the merest touch of a fork. And I love a good sauce that is more vinegar and hot pepper than anything else.
These are my preferences.
Today for lunch I went to Ben's Long Branch on East 11th for the very first time. I have to say that the main reason I went is that I have been craving mutton for a month and a half now.
And wow, if Sam's has equally good mutton, I may spend the next year trying to put a dent in the American sheep population.
We ordered the mutton plate and the pork plate.
Since I commit the cardinal sin of enjoying some sauce with my meat, I tried Ben's and was surprised. A bit on the mild side for me, but it had the distinct flavor of apricots. I may have been hallucinating, or I may be right. Either way it was good on both of the meats.
The mutton was small ribs, not very fatty, with a definite sheep flavor, but that overpowering funk you can get from an old, old sheep. The meat was generally tender, and the crusty outside bits were worth killing for. Be prepared for grease. Get twice as many napkins as you think you'll need.
The pork butt was pretty good. I'd eat it again, despite the fact that I more enjoy pig-pickin' style shredded butt with a spicy sauce on a trashy, white bun with a mess of coleslaw on top.
The sides were nothing to write home about, but the meat sure was.
As we were licking the remnants from our fingers and sucking the last scrap from the bones, Ben himself came out to the porch where we were sitting.
When he found out that we were there for the mutton, he took a seat (and a phone call) and began a nice long chatty conversation with us about his meat.
He brought us out a coupla his pork ribs to try. I was impressed. He said they were Kansas City style ribs (which to someone who's lived in the South and in texas means nothing). They were excellent. i think copious amounts of black pepper are one of the best friends smoked meats have.
I guess I will have to forgo the butt next time to try something else. Smoked chicken is something that I have a hard time finding done well and I guess since this is texas, I'll have to try the brisket.
The mutton, however, is a must. Ben was saying that the local mutton is pretty inconsistent and that he has to order from up north. I guess that makes sense. He did say that he had, just this past shipment, found a source for the best mutton and he was gonna try to stick with it. Especially since it was bringin' in an odd segment of society, young white fellas who like the taste of sheep. I guess I'm not the only one.
And to think, my Momma always told me I was one of a kind...
It's a little far, but I think a trip to Cooper's in Llano would be well worth it. It's a different style of barbeque where the meat is cooked directly over mesquite. I've never had good luck at Louie Mueller's, but a lot of people love it.