Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jax Neighborhood Cafe (aka Artz Ribhouse North)

You heard me lament my sorrows over the recent passing of Artz Ribhouse on South Lamar. For years, it has been my go-to BBQ joint, a) because the baby back ribs were killer, and b) it was 5 minutes from my house. I have taken many an out-of-towner there for BBQ and bluegrass music, and they too were charmed by its South Austin ways.

But Art Blondin has risen up through the ashes of his BBQ smoker, and flown north of the river, landing at Jax Neighborhood Cafe at 29th and Rio Grande, just off Guadalupe, north of the UT campus. It's a spot that has housed a number of restaurants over the years, and I must admit I knew nothing of Jax's before I heard the news that Artz was born again. I have been itching to go, but wanted to give it a little time for the pitmaster to settle in. A trip for an early dinner this week has confirmed it for me -- Art(z) is back.

Jax opens at 5 pm, and that's when I arrived, ready for a happy hour beer. Their amusing chalk board has beers categorized from cheapies to expensive, and several in between. I think everything is on tap (no bottles), and wine is available as well. I saw Art as I was waiting for my friend to arrive. He said the transition to Jax was going well, and he felt good about it. They're working on more menu items as well as some actual you can see, the current menus are nothing fancy, but they do work! Art also assured me that he did have baby backs available.
The current menu at Jax looks VERY similar to that at Artz. No complaints from me, because I knew I was getting the half rack of baby back ribs, and it still comes with beans, slaw, and potato salad. Looks like old times! Funny, this one didn't come with sandwich bread, which was fine by me, because I never ate it anyways! The ribs were pretty much just how I remembered them, great flavor, sauce with a little bit of kick. The meat wasn't as tender, fall-off-the bone as they could be, but given that they were meaty and not too fatty, I am okay with that. Happiness is a nice piece of pork.
Fortunately, a lot of the regular musicians who played at Artz are now migrating to Jax. They've got a nice stage area, and the first band was getting set up for their 6:30 pm jig. See their website for a listing of music; neither the website link here, or the Facebook one above has their menu currently listed. And if you're going on a music night, you may want to get there on the early side to ensure a seat, though ample picnic tables are on the patio.
I should have taken a picture of the large banner on the east side of the building where the patio is that announced the Jax/Artz union. They've also got a couple of food trailers in their parking lot, including Curly's Perfect Pig, a Carolina-style pulled pork BBQ one. Art said they were trying to make it a community there, welcoming all. Art and Jax seem to have a good thing going, a welcome sight and happy belly by me! Artz Ribhouse is back!

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