[Pigging by Wilfrid: November 29, 2016]
Austin, Texas is a BBQ city. Even if you weren't forewarned, you know as soon as you step off the plane and catch the aroma of smoked meat from the terminal outlet of Driftwood's Salt Lick.
And just walking around town, you just keep getting the scent: like Durian fruit in New York Chinatown or curry in Murray Hill.
That's what led me to Stubb's, a veteran joint on the Red River Road strip. It does at least serve food until 10pm: I assume the (very loud) live music goes on even later.
Doubtless an over-simplification, but when I think of Texas BBQ, I think beef. I ordered a combo plate of two meats and two sides: brisket, chopped beef, potato salad and collards. The slice of white bread and dish of raw onion and peppers come free.
The brisket looked great. Nice smoke ring, a streak of fat, oozing juice; but the flavor wasn't transporting. By which I mean literally that I could have been eating decent in one of New York's better BBQ places: something I couldn't have said, for example, of the pork I'd eaten in Memphis. It was just not especially well-flavored or especially tender. The chopped beef, described on the menu as having "robust Texas flavor" was certainly very rich. Fatty, seasoned, and better shared between a couple of people. Think smoked beef hash. Potatoes were fine too, but the collards were a soggy disappointment.
Price of the platter, around $17. Beers are cold and cheap.
I went to Stubb's because it was convenient. I had a recommendation for Iron Works, so I took time out to head down there in the day time. It was maybe a twenty-five minute wait (on a regular weekday around noon). The wait isn't for tables, understand. Like every bar, club and restaurant I saw in Austin, space was plentiful. You wait in line to get to the cutters to order your meat.
I don't know if there was ever a time I could put away a pound of meat at lunch and not want to go to sleep. I went for a moderate option here: the $7.25 brisket sandwich. I wanted to find some good brisket, and I did. Maybe that shows you can't trust the look, because where's the color, where's the smoke ring?
But it was delicious. Really smoky, falling apart at a bite. And there was plenty of it (the slices are kind of stacked in that first photo, which makes it look--misleadingly--as if the sandwich was under-filled). Some sweet pickle--it didn't need sauce.
If Franklin is better, it must be really great.