Phil Does a Barbecue Crawl on the Austin Episode of Netflix’s “Somebody Feed Phil”

Monk: I can’t say that I’m all too familiar with Phil Rosenthal outside of work on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” But he’s turned into a sort of Anthony Bourdain travel docuseries guide in his most recent career turn (albeit a less-knowledgeable-but-more-agreeable version of Anthony Bourdain). The show’s clearly been a success for Netflix, as it somehow just released its sixth season of episodes, including one that focuses on the Austin food scene.

Phil starts the episode in a studio talking directly to camera relaying anecdotes from when he was shopping his show to various networks including Travel Channel and Food Network. According to them, barbecue was apparently all that anyone wants to watch these days. So when he finally visited Austin in season six, Phil obliged.

Along for the ride is Daniel Vaughn, BBQ Editor of Texas Monthly Magazine, and together they embark on a barbecue crawl across Austin. But their goal is not to hit the obvious spots in the Franklins or the La Barbecues, but rather to visit the newer joints.

At LeRoy & Lewis (3:55), Phil and Daniel of course get the standard Texas platter but with LeRoy & Lewis’s “new school barbecue” including beef check, sausage, bacon rib (aka pork belly on the bone), smoked burger, and cauliflower. LeRoy & Lewis is located in a food truck park in South Austin and has reached must-visit status for any serious barbecue fans, as evidenced by it #5 ranking in 2021’s Texas Monthly Top 50 list. And word on the street is that a brick and mortar is in the works.

Next on the trail is Distant Relatives (8:30), where traditional southern barbecue is influenced by sauces and spices from Africa in addition to the usual southern traditions. Owner and pitmaster Damien Brockway currently serves at Meanwhile Brewing in an industrial park in south Austin and was recently named to the most recent Texas Monthly Top 50 list as an honorable mention.

Fast forward to 15:38 where Phil and Daniel visit Interstellar BBQ and before eating we get a little bit of Vaughn’s backstory and how he got into Texas barbecue from his former life as an architect from Ohio. At Interstellar, Chef Jon Bates serves a typical central Texas platter of typical barbecue meats including turkey, which Jon jokingly considers a vegetable at his place. Bates honors Texas barbecue with some fine dining touches here and there. While I’m sure its all good (after all, it was #2 on last year’s Top 50), this is the most classic Texas barbecue of the places featured on this episode.

After taking a break from barbecue Phil treats the friends he’s met along the way in Austin to a family meal at Salt Lick Barbecue (43:30). The famed restaurant and winery is located just outside of Austin proper and while its not going to a show up on a Texas Monthly Top 50 list anytime soon, it certainly seems to hold a soft spot in the hearts of many barbecue snobs in Texas. It was one of our first stops as the Barbecue Bros in 2012, and I can understand why.

The Austin episode of “Somebody Feed Phil” was my first exposure to the series, and I will certainly be on the lookout for any more barbecue-related content in future seasons. While no Anthony Bourdain, Phil’s likable nature makes it an easy watch.

Linkdown: 1/24/18

– Three Charlotte barbecue restaurants make this fries list, including The Improper Pig’s sweet potato waffle fries, Midwood Smokehouse’s pimento cheese fries, and Seoul Food Meat Co.’s kimchi fries

 

– Bob Garner’s latest for The Daily Reflector waxes poetic on The Angus Barn in Raleigh

– For these cold we’ve been experiencing the past few weeks, Midwood Smokehouse has seven new soups for the soul including the loaded baked potato with pulled pork and brisket and a brunswick stew

– Men’s site The Manual has a podcast on barbecue and booze

Finally, the conversation turns toward what the panel was all waiting for: booze pairings. Slaughter suggests (and the guys all agreed) the best booze pairing for barbecue is a definitely a whisk(e)y with a smokey, peaty flavor. Scotch is possibly the most appropriate since it calls back to the smokiness of the meat. The group also touches on wine pairings, emphasizing that a bolder, heavier, red wine is best, such as a Zinfandel or a Napa Cabernet.

– RIP

– Bib’s Downtown in Winston-Salem contributed some comfort food recipes for the local Fox affiliate

– Keanu voice: Whoa.

Linkdown: 5/25/16

– Another writeup on Rien Fertel’s latest book, The One True Barbecue, with the tagline “Get to Ayden before it’s too late”…now too late for what, I’m not quite sure

– Speaking of Ayden, this past weekend it became home to the Kings of Q BBQ Cook-off and Festival

– Three questions with The Improper Pig, who started a food truck just in time for the summer

– A very interesting read on how Daniel Vaughn helped Tuffy Stone’s Cool Smoke competition team lose at this month’s Memphis in May

– Vaughn also weighs in with an appreciation of The Salt Lick, which sometimes gets unfairly maligned as “overrated”

– The Wall Street Journal profiles Melissa Cookston, “the most decorated woman in competitive barbecue” (h/t)

– Grant’s latest Georgia barbecue stops: The Butt Hutt in Athens, Tucker’s Bar-B-Q in Macon, Hudson’s BBQ in Roberta, and Piggie Park in Thomaston

– Catching up with Robert Moss’ latest entries for The Daily South: a writeup on The One True Barbecue and the end of a Savannah BBQ legend; here’s an excerpt from the first linked article on whole hog:

Whether the whole hog tradition is dying out or evolving into a new form is left unsettled. By the end of the story, Chris Siler at Siler’s Old Time has switched to pork shoulders after it got too hard to procure whole hogs, and Ricky Parker is gone, dead from liver disease at only 51. At the same time, a new generation of cooks from other walks of life, like Tyson Ho at Arrogant Swine in Brooklyn, NY, and Elliot Moss at Buxton Hall in Asheville, NC, have made the “journey into the madness of whole-hog fanaticism.”

– Always worth revisiting the basics

Linkdown: 9/18/13

– Another week, another top 10 barbecue list, albeit one that doesn’t include a NC joint but instead features a California restaurant that cooks “Carolina pulled pork” 

Queen City Q is one of 9,000 restaurants participating in No Kid Hungry; read details here

– Here’s what it’s like to be a barbecue judge (via)

– Catawba County EMS is holding its annual barbecue and chili cook-off, “Butts-N-Beans,” on October 5 in Vale

– Dickey’s Barbecue opens its Ballantyne location in Charlotte this Saturday (fart noise)

– A Wake Forest man is hoping to get his barbecue sauce made through a Lifetime reality competition called “Supermarket Superstar”

– Watch The Salt Lick this Wednesday: