Thursday, September 15, 2011

Live Oak BBQ

My friend Squidley lives near E. 2nd and Pleasant Valley, and had alerted me this spring to the opening of Live Oak BBQ. He had given me good reports on the meats, and now it was time for me to see for myself. Walking in around 6pm on a Saturday, I felt like I was opening the door to a total dive (which it was...the former Mis Amigos beer joint), but the smell of the smoker immediately made me happy.

Squidley had recommended the pork steak, and you know me, pork makes me happy. But pork steak? I asked the guys working there about it, and they said it's a shoulder cut that is smoked, and he likened it to a smokey pancetta. Umm... yes please!  So we got some of that (the back left in the picture) and some brisket, along with potato salad, slaw, and of course some pickles.
So I am now definitely a convert to this pork steak creation! It was juicy and tender, meaty and a bit fatty.... oh yeah, and smokey! The brisket was good, but not as juicy as Franklin's, and the sides were okay. Live Oak does some meat specials on the weekends, but unfortunately, we missed out on the Korean short ribs that day. Their bbq sauce was different too -- in a good way. It's dark and vinegary looking, but it doesn't have the strong bite that vinegar does. I can't figure out what's in it.... secret's in the sauce, I guess!

Here's a close up of some leftover pork I ate the the next day; you can really see the pink smoke ring! Yes, as good as it looks. And as their painted fence and website say: eat meat!


Sometimes your choices of where to eat are pretty much made for you, like when you have an expiring coupon. Such was the case for last week's lunch trip to Garrido's, on the street level of the 360 Building at 3rd and Nueces. While the choice was *made* for us, it proved to be worthwhile!

Even though it was a hot day, we decided to sit on their patio; it was quite comfortable out there! It was partially covered, and overlooks the Shoal Creek trail (I think that's what that's called....). When we arrived around 11:45 am, we were some of the first diners there for lunch, and the place was at least half full when we left. We started with the lamb pops, served with plantain chips and an ancho sauce. While they had a very strong grilled flavor, they were delicious! Off to a good start!
Garrido's had some nice $12  lunch specials: pick an app, main course, and a dessert, and while the choices were from an abbreviated menu, it was still a good deal.  There were three of us, and three appetizer choices, so we got one of each the guacamole, salsa, and a mushroom and corn quesadilla.The guac could have used a bit of lime, and the salsa was a touch flat, but the quesadilla was tasty.
I ordered the tilapia fish tacos, which was a decent sized portion, and very nicely breaded and fried. The rice had a slight greenish cast to it, and I asked the waiter what was in it, and he said they put in a touch of tomatillo sauce. Neither the beans nor rice were particularly special, but the fish made up for it.
One friend had the pork carnitas tacos, with nice pineapple chunks; she chose a salad rather than beans and rice. The pork was tasty.
And the other originally ordered the brisket tacos, but the server came back to say they were out of brisket, so he picked the beef picadillo relleno. He enjoyed it. Looking back at the picture now, they shoulda wiped that plate down! ;)
There were two dessert choices, creme brulee, with mango habanero honey, and a chocolate truffle on top of a chocolate mousse, and buttery cookie. Both were really really delicious! The topping on the creme brulee was a nice twist on the standard, and the flavors really popped. Would love to try their chocolate tres leches next time.
We were very pleased with the food, and I would happily go back, even with no coupon/groupon to dictate the necessity. As it should, the food speaks for itself. Oh, and the guava and watermelon margaritas would be nice to go back for as well!