Now, I’m no barbecue expert by any means. But I do know that my heartbeat accelerates when I spot the words “pulled pork” on a menu. Plus, when I was a college student, my mom would unabashedly bribe me to visit by promising a plate piled high with ribs upon my arrival. (It worked.)
Though Austin City Limits may have been the initial reason for my trip to Austin, Tex., satisfying my deep craving for authentic Texas barbecue was, in truth, my top priority. Before my flight, I read more than one dozen articles and Yelp pages breaking down the city’s BBQ scene, and Franklin Barbecue was recurrently helmed as the top place to go. But, regardless of the hype, I couldn’t justify its six-hour wait in a destination I had just four days to explore.
Fortunately, our No. 2 pick, La Barbecue, proved to be all I have ever dreamed of and then some. In fact, La Barbecue’s owner and “pitmaster” John Lewis actually worked at Franklin Barbecue for more than two years before funneling his expertise into his own endeavor in 2012.
La Barbecue opens at 11 a.m. every day except Monday and Tuesday. Get there early, and enjoy samples and sips of beer (bring your own, or enjoy free Lone Star Beer on weekends). This alleviates the wait, which, for us, was only an hour long. Ordering the brisket is a must — it’s cooked for 12 to 15 hours at roughly 275 degrees, falls apart from all that TLC and tastes mouthwatering with pickled vegetables on a slice of white bread. The beef ribs are tender, flavorful and, admittedly, slightly fatty, but it’s OK because you’re on vacation and you deserve it.
Tip: You can get your fix much more quickly by preordering your grub at least three to four business days prior to the pick-up date. Just don’t overestimate how much you can consume — or do, as the kindhearted gentlemen at our adjacent picnic table did and then generously shared their bounty with us.