La Barbecue – Austin, TX (Speedy’s take)

IMG_1608Name: La Barbecue
Date: 7/20/17
Address: 1906 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702
Order: ½ lb brisket, ¼ lb pork, 1 sausage link (link to menu)
Price: $19

Speedy: After a quick work trip to Dallas, I thought it would be a good idea to pop over to Austin to visit Rudy. We both had to work my first day there, but I was able to get away for lunch and head over to La Barbecue, which Rudy previously raved about.

I got there about 11:30, and there was already a decent line. A guy behind me in line asked how long the wait was from the end – he was told 15, but the reality was 40. After 15 minutes, his order was taken (but no one else’s), so as to not make the worker “a liar.” Also, there was no free beer as there was on Rudy’s visit. Combine this with the hot weather and the business casual attire, and I was a little annoyed. The lack of urgency from the staff to serve people added to my annoyance.

Monk: I know the answer to this question, but you were mad because it was hot in July in Texas and they didn’t offer you free beer, something they aren’t obligated to do? Really?

Rudy: I believe that the free beer is only on Saturdays. You were actually able to visit La Barbecue on one of their last days as a food truck because they have since moved into a brick and mortar location. So while the wait might not be less time, but it could possibly be inside.

Speedy: At long last, I got to the front of the line, ordered ¼ pound brisket, ¼ pork, and a sausage link. Before cutting, the homie cutting the meat handed me a small chunk of brisket, which I popped into my mouth. Every annoyance, and truly every care I had immediately went away. The bit was so peppery and moist and simply divine. I quickly upped my order to ½ pound of brisket, got my food, paid, and went to find a shady spot to sit.

Rudy: They got me with the taste test too. Works every time.

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Speedy: Every bite of brisket was just as the first. This was, without a doubt, the best brisket I had ever tasted. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. It was absolutely perfect. There’s nothing I would change about it. I’m not an eloquent enough write to justly write about this brisket, so I’ll just say if you ever get a chance, get it.

Monk: I had similar thoughts when I tried Lewis Barbecue in Charleston earlier this year, which we all know is the joint that former La Barbecue pitmaster John Lewis opened about a year ago. I’d be curious how Lewis stacks up to La.

Rudy: Being a North Carolina boy, I didn’t have high expectations with the pulled pork, but digging in, I was blown away. It was tender, smoky, and tangy. I don’t know what was on it, but there was vinegar involved. It also came with pickled onions, which was a perfect pairing. Overall, this was in the top echelon of pulled pork I’ve ever had. I was shocked. If you ever get a chance, get it.

The sausage was disappointing. The flavor was fine, but it was a little dry and fell apart pretty easily. It wasn’t by any means bad – in fact, in a vacuum, i’d probably call it good. But compared to the brisket and the pork, it’s not worth ordering.

I didn’t order sides – I didn’t feel the need to.

In thinking about La Barbecue, my biggest regret is not getting a beef rib (in addition to, not instead of the other things). Yes, it’s expensive, and there’s no way I could eat it all, but damn it looked good.

Overall, my meal at La Barbecue was incredible. The next day, Rudy and I had plans to hit up Franklin’s, so I was pumped to be able to compare the two. Leaving La Barbecue, my only thought was that I had a hard time understanding how it would equal or exceed what I had just eaten.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2.5 hogs (bumped down due to heat, lack of free beer, and slow service)
Brisket – 5 hogs
Pork – 5 hogs
Sausage – 3 hog
Sides – N/A
Overall – 5 Hogs (the brisket and pork were good enough that nothing else mattered)
La Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Linkdown: 7/26/17

– Congrats to Carolina Bar-B-Que in Statesville on being open for 32 years!

– Jon G’s BBQ (our current Charlotte #1) is moving up in the world with their spiffy new trailer

– As previously announced, the next location of Midwood Smokehouse will be in Birkdale Village in Huntersville in the old Smoke location

– John Lewis names his pitmasters of the future in Tasting Table

– Tasting Table had their list of America’s Top 11 BBQ Joints from an article back in May, which I don’t believe I saw until now

– Is it ever too hot to eat barbecue? Never.

– Atlanta’s gotten a 4 Rivers Smokehouse (the first outside of Florida) in its burgeoning westside

– A GQ feature on the Austin barbecue scene

– AV Club’s Supper Club explores Alabama’s white sauce, “smoked chicken’s best friend”

– The best barbecue sides in Austin

– Filing this away for future reference…

Linkdown: 7/19/17

– From Joe Haynes, the author who brought us Virginia Barbecue, comes Brunswick Stew: A Virginia Tradition out in October:

– Grant finds some decent cue but some great fries at Love That BBQ in Knoxville

– Elliott Moss’s favorite spots for hash in his home state of SC

– The supposed golden age of Texas barbecue means “waiting is the price you pay for transcendence”

– In search of great barbecue at last weekend’s Windy City Smokeout

– Aaron Franklin with tips to improve your backyard smoker in Esquire

– Stubb’s (the restaurant) will be changing names after settling a lawsuit with Stubb’s (the sauce)

– From the G&G archives

Linkdown: 3/8/17

– As part of its Project 543 (named for the 543 miles between Manteo on the coast and Murphy in the mountains), Visit NC has a short profile on Lexington though it curiously says you can “go whole hog” in a city where they smoke pork shoulders

– Pitt County (around Greenville, NC) is working on lining up barbecue joints for a beer and barbecue trail

– Mississippi barbecue isn’t just Memphis’s lesser cousin

“Gas station barbecue is a phenomenon in the South and especially Mississippi,” Hatten said. “It’s servicing a population of the state that otherwise probably wouldn’t have lunch because they have to get back to work … a family-run joint is the archetype in the state.”

– The News & Observer editorial board: Bill Ellis was an inspiration to employees, all

Now here’s a story every North Carolina school child should learn. It is that of a kid who grew up on a Wayne County tobacco farm in the Great Depression, dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help support his family, worked at a variety of jobs and at 29, bought himself a hot dog stand.

– Marie, Let’s Eat! tries the brisket at potentially the best barbecue joint in Chattanooga’s, Shuford’s Smokehouse

– Daniel Vaughn on smoking barbecue in west Texas, where there are no trees

– Euphoria Greenville’s launch event in April will feature Elliott Moss

– Well this looks dang good

– More on Wofford College’s barbecue course held last January

– Barbecue is worth seeing at SXSW; also here’s an interview with director Matthew Salleh

-From an News and Observer sports writer at this week’s ACC Tournament in Brooklyn:

Friday Find: Barbecue Trailer and Movie Poster

Barbecue, a documentary about the art and craft of barbecue, is premiering at this year’s SXSW in Austin (which makes a lot of sense). Earlier this week, IndieWire premiered the teaser trailer as well as the move poster art on its site.

The new documentary explores barbecue as far more than a tasty way to cook up some grub, but as a ritual that binds together whole communities and often serves as a common touchstone between cultures. Salleh’s film was captured in cinematic 4k, shot across twelve countries and comes complete with a rich orchestral score. That mouth-watering desire to chow down? That’s just a lovely side effect of a full meal of a doc.

Check out the poster art below:
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Linkdown: 3/1/17

– NC barbecue legend Bill Ellis has passed away at the age of 83

Ellis was known as a barbecue missionary, carrying the gospel of Eastern North Carolina barbecued pork from coast to coast, and his restaurant was a barbecue mecca.

– His operation was apparently known as the “Microsoft of Barbecue”

– The Wilson Times honored Ellis on their front page yesterday

– City Barbeque has opened its second Charlotte-area location in Matthews as of this past Monday with a grand opening this Saturday; I’ve still yet to check out the Ballantyne location but plan to soon as Speedy had a good impression of the Cary location

– Sauceman’s will be smoking two whole hogs at Lenny Boy Brewing’s patio release party on March 11; you get one free plate when you purchase a 22oz. beer of  SouthEnd MAAgic Yogi, a Belgian Ale brewed with Jasimine Tea & Lemons.

– Rick Bayless details how live fire cooking has influenced him

– The Smoking Ho has photos from The Sausage Kings of Austin Festival in February

– On Jess Pryles, the Austrialian-born now-Austin native

– The latest barbecue stops for Marie, Let’s Eat! are Uncle Gus’s Mountain Pit Bar-B-Que in Decatur, TN and a couple of joints north of Chattanooga

– From Daniel Vaughn and Robert Moss:

The Best Barbecue We Ate in 2016

Whole hog pulled pork plate

Whole hog pulled pork plate from Buxton Hall Barbecue

Q: What was the best barbecue (new or old) that you ate in 2016?

Monk: 

  • Whole hog barbecue from Buxton Hall Barbecue, Asheville – It’s simply a revelation that you can find true eastern NC/Pee Dee whole hog in the mountains of NC. I can’t wait to get back to Buxton Hall.
  • Lamb belly from Hometown Bar-B-Que, New York – I didn’t quite know what to expect with lamb belly. It was pulled similar to their pork but had completely different flavor profile. I don’t know where else I might be able to try it again that’s a little closer to home but I want to in 2017.
  • Hash and rice from True BBQ, West Columbia, SC – Grant of Marie Let’s Eat! said it best about the hash and rice from this West Columbia joint which opened in 2011: “It’s two-hundred mile hash.”

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Speedy:

  • Brisket from B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque, Atlanta – From review: “The seasoning was amazing, and the meat was tender and juicy. Overall, this was in the upper echelon of briskets that I’ve tasted.”
  • Beef rib from Hometown Bar-B-Qu, New York (above) – From review: “It was seasoned well, providing some bark on the outside, and was cooked to perfection – tender but not overly so.”
  • Chopped pork from Lexington Barbecue – Every year.

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Rudy:

  • Brisket and sausage sandwich from Black’s Barbecue, Austin (above) –   From review: “And it was amazing, because the fat from the brisket was soaked up by the bun, giving it a rich moist taste. The spice from the jalapenos also gave the sandwich some great flavor.  The brisket was the same great brisket you are accustomed to getting from Black’s, as was the sausage. “

What was the best barbecue you ate in 2016?

Linkdown: 11/2/16

– This week in “that’s so NC” barbecue: a new barbecue joint called Redneck Barbecue Lab will take over a space that formerly housed a Dairy Queen attached to a BP off I-40 in McGee’s Crossroads

– NY Times’ 13 essential barbecue stops includes Lexington Barbecue

– Speaking of Lexington, the city’s marketing campaign is apparently paying off

– Photos from last week’s 87th Mallard Creek Annual BBQ

– Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew in Austin is expanding but the new location won’t simply be “Stiles Switch 2” according to its owner

– New York Times writer Ethan Hauser: I Hopped a Plane Just for a Barbecue Sandwich. I’d Do It Again.

I can tell you with complete assurance that 532 miles is not too far to travel for a sandwich. That is the distance between my home in Ridgewood, Queens, and theSkylight Inn in Ayden, N.C., where a man in a black apron fills the cutout between the kitchen and the cash register and wields cleavers as if they were weapons from “Game of Thrones,” one in each substantial hand.