Since I made the move to Texas 3 months ago today, barbecue has probably become my favorite meal. Within the past week I visited two bbq joints, one in Houston and one here in Austin.
When researching things to do during my mini-vacation in Houston, I made sure to find a bbq place to visit on the way back home. One restaurant that received near unanimous praise was Gatlin’s BBQ which is located about 10-15 minutes outside of downtown. Gatlin’s is a small family bbq restaurant run by a former football player from Rice University, Greg Gatlin. All the workers were very nice, including the owner Greg who visits each table to make sure everything is ok.
Gatlin’s is a very small place, as there are only about 3 or 4 tables inside and 4 picnic tables outside. We were 2nd in line at 11AM so luckily we were able to get a table inside. We went with a pound of brisket and a half pound of pulled pork, each meal also comes with pickles and onions on the side. The brisket was really good, had a nice smoky flavor, good texture and well rendered fat. I also liked the pulled pork, but not quite as much as the brisket. Not a huge surprise as this is beef country, but I was happy to see a Texas ‘cue spot with pulled pork on the menu. If I get another opportunity to visit Gatlin’s I’d probably go with the ribs instead of the pulled pork.
Live Oak BBQ and Beer is located on the East Side of Austin and is one of those rare bbq spots that also has dinner hours. Before a night out on East 6th, we decided to stop here for dinner. Live Oak is a hole in the wall restaurant, it is fairly dark inside, but it’s clean and has the appropriate feel of a bbq joint. However, I guess a lot of the smoke must get trapped inside as we strongly smelt like barbecue the rest of the night.
They serve their food market style, which is everything is by the pound. Even though they are open til 8PM, there is no guarantee that everything will still be available. We got there around 6, but unfortunately they were out of ribs, so we just got brisket. The brisket was good, but not great like the others we have tried so far. It did have a good smoky flavor, probably the smokiest we have tasted. That smoky taste definitely stuck with me the rest of the night and into the morning. They did give us more of the delicious burnt ends than anyone else, so that is a plus for Live Oak. Their one major downfall would be the fat could have been rendered more. There was some gelatinous fat here, so I think the brisket should have been cooked just a little longer.
Overall I did enjoy Live Oak and I might return, but places such as Franklin, JMueller and Stiles Switch are superior and would be my first choices for great bbq in Austin.