Since Janet and I stayed at the Aloft this past weekend in Portland, we were situated directly across the street from a Famous Dave’s BBQ joint. After living in Texas on and off for about fifteen years, I hesitate to order BBQ in other states, but especially in the Pacific Northwest. We are known for a lot of things but BBQ and Ice Tea (which go hand in hand, really) are not two of those things.
Janet and I decided to try Dave’s because it’s been a really long time since we had our BBQ fix. Eating at Dave’s made me realize just how much I missed Texas BBQ. Famous Dave’s was fine but can’t hold a candle to our favorite Austin BBQ spot: Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q – where you can get BBQ and fill up your other tank with gas!
If you live in Austin Texas, you will have a favorite BBQ spot because I’m pretty sure they have a committee who won’t let you live there if you don’t like BBQ. A lot of folks will join one of three bandwagons: Rudy’s BBQ, the Salt Lick and County Line BBQ, and faithfully eat at their favorite choice. (There are lots of other BBQ joints, lots, but I’m narrowing my choices to these three and Austin only.)
Same thing goes for iced tea. You either like sweet tea or unsweetened tea and you’ll rarely meet anyone who will tolerate one if they prefer the other. Usually you’ll hear, “Oh, you don’t have unsweetened tea? I’ll just drink water,” and it won’t be in the ‘oh, goody, I LOVE water’ tone.
Why do Janet and I worship at the alter of Rudy’s? Let me just tell ya: it’s mostly the brisket, sause and setup. When you first walk in to Rudy’s, they have a large winding area you go through, to get to the counter (kinda like Disneyland), which is lined with glass bottled sodas and beers. Right after the drinks are the usual BBQ sides in a giant refrigerated display case. So, before you even order your meat, the drinks and sides are already in your hot little hands!
You order the most important part of the meal, the meat, at the counter and watch while the professional slicers cut your meat right in front of you. No need to sit down and have a waiter slowly make his way over to take your order, the front counter crew will have loaded up your food and removed a big chunk of change from your pocket in no time!
Since Janet can only eat regular brisket (wet) and I can only tolerate lean (dry) we both get what we like without annoying the other because Rudy’s has them both. Because, you know, if Jenn ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! And the BBQ sause (not sauce)! It is, without a doubt, one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth (right behind their delicious, melt in your mouth brisket). There are some camps, in the BBQ world, who swear any kind of sauce should be banned from BBQ, but I think a truly great sause only enhances the meat.
I’m sure other states make great BBQ too I just haven’t found it yet. Famous Dave’s must be pretty good because it’s a chain and if it were terrible nobody would eat there, eh? And in defense of Franklin’s on the Eastside of Austin (within walking distance of our house), we haven’t tried it yet. Something about a line 30 or 40 people deep, waiting to get in every single day, lets me know something exceptional is happening there. I just don’t want to stand in line (it’s hot in Texas) because I’m lazy and I’m usually at Rudy’s.
So, if you are anywhere near Austin, please visit each and every BBQ joint in town, and a couple hugging the county line, so you too can jump on a bandwagon. If I’m in town, you might see me at Rudy’s, crying tears of joy, while eating lean brisket on squishy white bread drowning in Rudy’s sause. Either that, or I’ll be at Chuy’s…don’t get me started on Tex-Mex!