Austin’s Smokey Offerings

    The world of BBQ is growing by the day.  Recently, I had read about the next big thing in culinary Scandinavia is American style BBQ.  Gastronomically it somehow maps on the Scandi sensibility.  In South America in places, traditional asado has mutated to resemble more of the American version of the slow cook.  And of course in Brooklyn, where I live and formerly the furthest place culturally from the origins of the tradition, BBQ is everywhere.

    American BBQ started in coastal Carolina but where does the heart today reside.  Texas edges out all other claimants, though all modern variants are legitimate and worthy.  Texas saw BBQ and said, “We want this.  This is ours.”  The boldness of the flavors and the sizes of the cuts of meat suits the Lone Star State.  In Texas, right now, there are probably over 300 BBQ establishments to sample if one is driving around the state.  Thats a lot of work to do and a lot of naps.  Austin, the state capital, is a good place to start though.  The city and its environs has the highest density of BBQ spots in the state, and many of the best.

    The top 3 BBQ joints one has to go to when in Austin are, Franklin Barbecue, Louis Mueller Barbecue, and Micklethwait Craft Meats.  One cant go wrong with any of these spots, although there are favorite offerings and standouts at each of them.

    Louis Mueller, located just outside of town, is a place that has been transported through time and space from 100 years ago.  Once a basketball gymnasium, layers of smoke and char have been applied to the walls and surfaces of the building as well as to the meats over its long history.  The jalepeno sausage is rediculous and something I’ll be trying to mail order to Brooklyn sometime soon.

    Franklin Barbecue, which stands atop the BBQ world, thanks to the work of proprietor Aaron Franklin, has the best brisket there is.  I can’t tell you from experience myself, because it was sold out.  The 100 yard line that started 3 hours before opening on a cold and rainy thursday morning meant there was going to be no more brisket. And that happens everyday they are open.  If you dont want to wait in line, you can order over the phone for takeout, but the food sells out there just the same.

    Micklethwait Craft Meats is the most modest in presentation of these 3 spots, but stands out the most in my memory for the deliciousness of its BBQ.  A trailor and some tent covered picnic tables is what you pull into.  And then what you sit down with is a plate of heaven.  We only sampled half of what they had on the menu, so I dont know if we just got lucky or if everything was equally good.  The pork ribs were great.  Maybe 3rd best of my life, and they aren’t even known for their ribs.  The barbecoa was the best of my life and for sides, I had the best beans of my life and the best grits of my life.  Wow, that’s 3 bests!!  This list was supposed to be a top 4 but after visiting Micklethwaits, I couldn’t eat anything else for 36 hours.  Oh well, so here are your top 3.