Name: La Barbecue
Address: 1200 E. 6th St., Austin, TX 78702 (link to menu)
Order: ¾ pound of brisket, ½ pound of ribs, 1 sausage, side of potato salad
Rudy: After spending hours in the classroom, minutes in the library, and many thousands of dollars earning a graduate degree, what’s the only thing I wanted to do on graduation day? Go pick up great barbecue instead of going to pick up my degree.
Monk: Congratulations on all that learning, Rudy!
Rudy: I have been hearing great things about La Barbecue for well over a year, but haven’t had the time to go wait in the line (much shorter than at Franklin’s, but still a line). So I figured this would be as good of an occasion as any.
La Barbecue was originally established LeAnn Mueller who is the granddaughter of the famous Texas pitmaster Louie Mueller. She has moved on, and in her place John Lewis has taken over, keeping the name and raising the level of barbecue that’s produced.
It still operates out of a trailer, but it has set up permanent residence, so they have plenty of picnic benches and shade tarps. They opened at 11:00, so I got there at 9:30 hoping to snag a good spot, which I did, 3rd in line. As the line grew, everyone sat on the picnic benches creating a makeshift queue. Adding to the atmosphere was the offering of free beer on weekends. Let that sink in, free beer, not some bread for the table as a freebie. FREE BEER!
Monk: Uhhh wow, best idea ever. Who is going to bring this idea to NC?
Rudy: La Barbecue is known for their massive beef ribs, but I decided to opt out of that and try as much of the other meats as possible. When I got up to the front to order, Lewis (who was taking the orders and cutting the meat) handed me a piece of brisket to try. This is a dirty trick, because I immediately upped the amount of brisket that I was planning on ordering. I started with the brisket, which was amazing. It was so juicy with a great amount of smoke and crust. They served two different sauces with it, but I have no idea what those even taste like because the meat was perfect by itself. La serves thicker slices than many of the other places, and that helps to keep the pieces super juicy.
Next I moved on to the ribs, which were the best I’ve ever had. Very meaty, super moist, and extremely tender. The problem that I have had with most ribs is that they are usually tough or they don’t have much meat. These had a similar rub to the brisket, but they also had a glaze that had just a hint of sweetness and spice. They were perfect.
The last meat that I had was one of their sausages, which they called “Hot Guts.”
Monk: Hot guts? Sounds appetizing…
Rudy: This was the least impressive meat I had. The link that I had was a bit dry and a bit disappointing. They make their sausage in-house and make it from 100% beef, which causes some of the dryness, but it was still more than I cared for.
I also ordered a side of their buttermilk bacon potato salad. It was better than most efforts at potato salad, but it still wasn’t anything to write home about. What’s still my complaint about Texas barbecue is that they put so much time and effort into cooking the meat, and then put little effort into the sides. Most places offer the same ones, which means I usually just end up ordering meat.
La Barbecue pitmaster John Lewis has completely mastered Texas barbecue. For my money, this is the best in Austin. This shouldn’t come at any surprise, because Lewis’s first job as a barbecue cook was to help Aaron Franklin open Franklin’s. He then cooked for them for 2 ½ years before taking over la Barbecue and transferring what he learned at Franklin’s and adding his own touch. It doesn’t have the hype that Franklin’s does, but it also doesn’t have near the line. When you are weighing taste and length of wait, it isn’t even close.
Atmosphere – 4.5 Hogs (Half Hog bump for the free beer)
Brisket – 5 Hogs
Ribs – 5 Hogs (because 6 isn’t allowed)
Sausage – 3 Hogs
Sides – 3 Hogs
Overall – 4.5 Hogs
Bonus photos after the jump