Food Insider makes the rounds at some of Austin’s best barbecue spots before declaring a winner.
Description: Austin is one of the best places in the country to get barbecue, especially if you’re looking for Central Texas-style. These are the best places to get brisket, ribs, and sausage from the most popular spots to the hidden gems. 1:20: Louie Mueller Barbecue 4:25: Micklethwait Craft Meats 7:35: Franklin Barbecue 10:14: LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue 13:25: The winner
Rudy: With a light day and some free time, I decided to make my way to Micklethwait Craft Meats, a barbecue food trailer that has received lots of high praise over the last couple of years. It has made appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live the past two years when he has brought his show to South By Southwest, plus numerous other write-ups. Plus, Mrs. Rudy had given me a gift card for my birthday, so I really had no excuse not to try it out for the first time.
Monk: Wow, good job by Mrs. Rudy. She really knows the way to her man’s heart.
Rudy: I showed up shortly before they opened for lunch and found a small line, but nothing too bad. That seems to be what is to be expected at most of the good barbecue places now in Austin. However, once the line started moving, it took forever! This is my biggest complaint with Micklethwait, the speed at which everything seemed to move. It took about an hour to move through the 15 or so people in front of me in line (add to that fact, you are standing in the heat the entire time you wait). That might not be that bad if it weren’t for the fact that it took 15 minutes after ordering for your food to be ready. Most places cut the meat when you order and hand it directly to you, but not here. I don’t know if it is due to the lack of space or help, but La Barbecue has a similar setup and ran like a well-oiled machine compared to Micklethwait.
Even though it is a food trailer, Micklethwait has picnic tables with permanent shade constructed over it. That definitely helps with the heat while you are eating. When my food arrived, I was very hungry and ready to dive right in. First was the brisket, and it did not disappoint. It had a great bark with lots of smoke, but the meat was very juicy and tender. It pulled apart easily without a need for utensils. They offered a sauce on the side, which added to the meat, but was not needed.
In order to not have a meal of meat on meat, I next moved to the jalapeno cheddar grits. These were fantastic. They had a great jalapeno flavor and tasted of smoke, but the heat was not overwhelming. I think they were the star of the meal. They were so thick that I didn’t eat all of them for fear of filling up too much on sides.
Lastly, I moved to the beef rib. I had not ordered a beef rib in a long time, usually opting for sausage instead, and usually because of price and the sheer size of the ribs. But Micklethwait has had good reviews of their beef ribs, so I decided to give it a shot. This was a mistake. The flavoring was good, which is the reason for it getting 3 hogs, but it was way too fatty. They had also either not let the fat render long enough, or had let it sit and reset, because there were large sections of hard fat throughout the rib. You can tell from the picture that there is a big ribbon of fat that is not rendered running through the middle.
Monk: Yeesh, that is not so appetizing. So, question, upon finishing your meal, did you have any regrets in having waited so long? And where would you rank them in the Austin barbecue hierarchy. Clearly, it does not seem to be at the same level of Franklin or La Barbecue.
Rudy: The wait seemed long for how long the actual line was. And their efficiency seemed poor, especially for a place that has been established for a couple of years. One of the positives for Micklethwait is that they are open until 6:00, so you can get barbecue later in the day than some of the other places that are only open until they sell out, which is normally early. However, they do sell out of some of their meats early in the day, so they might not have everything available later. The overall quality was not on par with Franklin or La Barbecue, but the brisket and sides were still better than most places.
Overall, the barbecue was good at Micklethwait, and merits a return visit, especially because they have such good reviews elsewhere (maybe I just got a bad rib). However, I think next time I will get more brisket and try some of their artisan sausages. I also hope that their service is able to speed up, or it might not be a great option going forward no matter how short the lines could be.