Tuesday, January 13, 2009
One of the well-known barbeque meccas around these parts is The Salt Lick. Located in Driftwood, about 25 minutes from downtown Austin, it's still out on a sleepy country road, but as I noticed on my drive out there last Friday, it's not going to be that sleepy for much longer. Civilization is creeping closer and closer, with new housing communities popping up. Fortunately, these folks have been doing BBQ right for years, and it doesn't look like anything is going to interfere with that anytime soon.
A friend of mine is getting married at Thurman's Mansion, just up the hill from the actual restaurant, and where the corporate offices are located. As our 10 am appointment finished just before 11 am, we cruised on over to the restaurant, which opens for lunch at 11. You walk in, and there's a big round smoke pit that looks a bit like a water well. Or maybe a wishing well, 'cause you're just wishing you could eat EVERYTHING on there! It smells gooooood! Smokey meats, all just ready for the taking. The wait staff all seem to be well-mannered local college kids, and they said to seat ourselves, so we grabbed a picnic bench past the food prep area. We both ordered ice tea (if you do ever go, it's a BYOB place.. no liquor license) and the combo plate. Our waitress brought us some nice soft white bread.... really the only time I'll eat squishy white bread like that, but this IS a BBQ joint! And within 5 minutes of taking our order, there were big ole plates of 'que in front of us. Tender brisket, with a really nice dark pink smoke ring, one pork rib (they weren't baby backs, my most favorite.... St. Louis cut?), and some incredibly juicy, tasty pork sausage. The sausage with its medium grind was certainly my favorite. As I love baby backs, this one didn't quite cut it for me... just wasn't tender or tasty enough. And the brisket, while never my first choice in a BBQ place, was quite good. Their's isn't totally falling apart at the appearance of a fork, but it was smokey, lean, and moist.
Accompanying the plates were pinto beans (which needed some kick), a good simple cole slaw, and a really good warm potato salad, with perhaps nutmeg in there. And what's a good BBQ meal without cobbler? We got the peach/blackberry combo cobbler, warmed, with a scoop of ice cream. Yum. So what if it's canned fruit. A bit of sugar and a bready topping make anything good!
It's worth the semi-scenic drive out to The Salt Lick. If you go in the evening, apparently they often have live music, so you can take a beer or two, eat some grub, and relax. Oh yeah, and take cash... no plastic accepted here. (There is an ATM at the door, but if it's down, you may be outta luck!)
Lucky me, though, I'll be back there on Saturday for a BBQ buffet after my friend's wedding!