Name: Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q
Location: 2451 South Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, Texas
Order: Rudy: ½ pound brisket – moist, ½ link jalapeno sausage. Mrs. Rudy: Regular sausage link, potato salad, cream corn (link to menu)
Rudy: Rarely do you eat food from a gas station and leave thinking, “that was a good idea.” But strangely that has not always been the case with barbecue (Oklahoma Joe’s in KC anyone?). Rudy’s is a chain, and not all of their locations are at gas stations, but this one was… and for a chain, Rudy’s has some pretty good barbecue.
Monk: I think I really like the idea of a barbecue joint inside a gas station. Somehow makes the barbecue that much more appealing.
Rudy: The atmosphere is one place that Rudy’s really stands out. There is a winding line to get to the front, but as you are waiting, they have a large cooler where you can pick out your drink (see photo below). Above the drink cooler is a glass case holding a cattle prod, which says, break in case of slow moving lines. This Monday night, it was not needed, and we proceeded directly to the front of the line. When you place your order at the front counter, the guy asks if you have been there before. If not, they let you sample all of their meats before you order. Fantastic.
Monk: …love this idea, too, by the by.
Rudy: When you do order, the guy cutting the meat pulls a huge chunk of meat from a smoker, cuts it right there for you to see. They even have a ‘cutter cam’ which shows an overhead view of the butcher’s block. They then pack your entire order into a plastic crate for you to take and eat at their picnic tables. Also adding to the atmosphere is a large communal hand washing station, complete with trough sinks.
Monk: Sounds like on atmosphere and ambiance alone, this is a fun and worthwhile place to check out.
Rudy: But I didn’t come here for a examination of their decor, I was here to review their food. I ordered a half pound of their brisket and opted for a moist cut. This is pretty standard for me, and how I try to get a reading on how good a restaurant is. Rudy’s uses a strong pepper rub on their brisket, so the crust around each piece brings a tremendous amount of flavor and don’t require Rudy’s signature sauce. The slices that I had were very juicy and tender. The only complaint that I had was that there was no consistency between all of the pieces of brisket. Some were great and some seemed like average end pieces that were a bit dry. But because of the rub that they use, even these pieces had loads of flavor.
I have become a big fan of sausages and Rudy’s makes a pretty good one. I got the jalapeno, which was nice, but many places make jalapeno and cheddar sausages. The cream of the cheese cuts some of the heat from the peppers. I enjoy hot foods, but the sausages with cheese are still better. That is why I will count off some for Rudy’s, but their sausages are still pretty good.
Normally if the best thing on the menu is a side item, that does not say much for your barbecue. But the best item at Rudy’s is their cream corn, and it isn’t even close. And that is not an insult to their brisket. I am sure it is the least healthy item that has ever been associated a vegetable, but it is amazing. They also serve potato salad, green beans, and (don’t tell Monk and Speedy) mayo-based cole slaw.
Monk: I’m guessing mayo slaw is the norm in Texas, or am I wrong here?
Rudy: There doesn’t seem to be too much consistency on that. Places are either mayo based or some vinegar base, but nothing like the typical barbecue slaw that you are used to in North Carolina. As far as the other sides, don’t bother yourself with these, the menu might as well serve 1 side. That is the only complaint, that there isn’t a great amount of variety to their sides. But when you make one of them perfect, it doesn’t really matter what the others are.
Monk: It’s cool that there is an amazing sounding side, but also kind of lame that the other sides aren’t worth bothering. Guess that makes my choice easy if I ever make it Rudy’s.
Rudy: Rudy’s slogan is “Worst Bar-B-Q in Texas” but don’t believe that lie. It might be a chain, and it might not be the best in the state, but it is still pretty good. The atmosphere doesn’t make you feel like you are at a chain, and their convenience and good prices make it my go to place when I need some good quick barbecue. That, and they also have a pretty catchy name, if I say so myself.
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4.5 hogs
Brisket – 3 hogs
Sausage – 3 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs