Tuesday, June 24, 2014

La Barbecue

I absolutely love the food scene in Austin, Texas.  It seems that everywhere you turn, there is either a restaurant or food truck around.  The city has also become a hotbed for quality barbecue in the last few years and La Barbecue has been getting a lot of buzz lately.  Pitmaster, John Lewis, helped work the pits for Aaron Franklin at Franklin Barbecue prior to coming to work for Leann Mueller at La Barbecue.  With the pedigree of the pitmaster and the owner (sister of Wayne and John Mueller), I had La Barbecue set as my #1 dining destination while I was in Austin.

Last year, La Barbecue made the Texas Monthly list of the Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas and recently the Austin American Statesman rated it number one on their list of The Best Barbecue in Austin.  Another blog I follow, Fed Man Walking, also ranked La Barbecue as the best in Austin.  Considering the outstanding quality of barbecue in Austin,  this is high praise indeed.
View of the line of people  waiting to eat at La Barbecue
A friend and I arrived at La Barbecue fifteen minutes prior to it opening and found that more than fifty people had already formed a line to eat barbecue.  When La Barbecue finally opened at 11:00 a.m., the line began to move at a steady pace.  In recent years, I have waited in a lot of lines that now seem a requirement to eat great barbecue.  Smelling smoked meats and getting to see other people eat barbecue can be torture.  If I am ever sent to a dark cell to be tortured, my captors should forget waterboarding or extracting fingernails.  All they would need to do is just sit there and eat barbecue in front of me.  I would not be able to take it and give them all the information they needed in seconds.
Close up of the terrific bark and smoke ring on the brisket at La Barbecue
We finally arrived at the window, where I placed an order for brisket, turkey, pork ribs, and hot guts (La Barbecue's housemade beef sausage).  It was starting to get a little warm, so we found a nice spot on a picnic table in the shade.  I tried the brisket first and it was simply outstanding.  The brisket had some of the best bark I have ever tasted and every piece was like eating a little bit of smoked heaven.  Both the lean slices and the moist slices melted in your mouth and had great smoke rings. 

I don't always get turkey at barbecue restaurants, but I will try it occasionally.  The turkey was outstanding at La Barbecue and was extremely moist.  Turkey tends to dry out quickly on the smoker, so I am not sure how John Lewis keeps his turkey so moist while also getting the great smoke flavor I tasted in each bite. 
Clockwise from top left-Turkey, Brisket, Spare Ribs, and "Hot Guts", a.k.a. sausage
The ribs were commendable as well.  Although I didn't taste as much smoke on the ribs as I did in the brisket and turkey, the flavor was good and the meat easily pulled off the bone.  The hot guts sausage was the only menu item that I was somewhat disappointed with.  I generally like a little kick to my sausage, but I didn't care for the unusual flavor of this sausage.   Taste in sausage can be very subjective and others I have spoken to absolutely love this sausage.
Still a lengthy line as we were finishing up
My buddy and I both enjoyed our visit to La Barbecue.  Even after waiting in line for an hour, I felt that the barbecue was worth the wait.  The brisket was fantastic and the turkey was some of the best I have ever had.  I personally don't think La Barbecue is the best barbecue in Austin, but it is certainly in my top four Austin barbecue joints I have visited thus far.

La Barbecue
Livin the Good Life Rating=4
La Barbecue Cuisine Texicana on Urbanspoon