A hunk of brisket at VooDoo BBQ & Grill begins its journey suspended over a bed of pecan and oak logs. Coated in a dry rub of local spices, the meat slowly turns on a rotisserie rod for up to 16 hours, its skin crisping while the inside stays a warm pink. The chefs smoke all their beef brisket and pulled pork over logs from Louisiana-based trees to lend them the region's unique smoked flavor, even at the risk of confusing passing botanists. They lightly coat grilled sausages, chicken, and burgers in three signature sauces inspired by the state's Cajun recipes. To complement their menagerie of smoked and grilled meats, they sling a variety of southern sides such as corn pudding, greens, and potato salads. At each of the 13 locations, the aroma of roasting meat fills a space of dark-stained wood and wrought iron; dining rooms awash in a palette of reds, greens, and oranges buzz with the sounds of jazz and blues.
If the Aue family didn’t put Texas on the map, they at least made it tastier. Max Aue founded the town of Leon Springs, Texas in the 1800s. Years later, his son Rudolph founded Rudy’s, a country store and barbecue joint that eventually spawned more than 30 outposts throughout Texas and the American Southwest. Each one of them possesses a 100% oak-fired BBQ pit that slow cooks tender slabs of meat, adding a smoky flavor and tender texture to every bite. St. Louis pork ribs, lean and moist brisket, and jalapeño sausages are a few examples of the succulent morsels that emerge from the wood-fired pits straight to the plate. Classic sides such as potato salad and corn on the cop prove delicious accomplices, while banana pudding and peach cobbler grant every meal with a sweet and satisfying coda.
Travis Dickey opened Dickey's Barbecue Pit in 1941. To keep things simple but delicious in the early days, he created a minimalistic menu with only seven items such as beef brisket and bottled milk. By the time the '60s rolled up in a Volkswagen van, Dickey's two sons had grown up and taken over the enterprise. Using their father's hickory-smoked recipes, they expanded the business from a single restaurant to a franchise. To this day, each location uses the same tried-and-true barbecue techniques employed by the founder all those years ago. From the original seven items, the menu has grown to include spicy cheddar sausage and complimentary ice cream as well as sides such as macaroni and cheese and jalapeño beans.
Resting on Barton Springs just off South Lamar, Green Mesquite BBQ and More has been “smoking the good stuff” since 1988. And it’s not just a clever, colorful name: the stools at the bar to the left of the entrance, plus all the seats and booths – not to mention the awning outside – feature some amount of forest green coloring. The restaurant is also straightforward in its specializes of all things barbecue. Diners can dig into brisket, pulled pork, sausage and other traditional meats – but it’s the signs intriguing “more” that often keeps customers coming back. Sometimes, it’s a Green Mesquite cheese steak taco basket, made up of two ribeye tacos with Swiss cheese, grilled onions and pico de gallo. Other times, customers call for a po’ boy, bowl of jambalaya or chef’s salad. There’s a little bit of everything found inside Green Mesquite.
Barbecue in Texas is serious business, and locally-owned Iron Works BBQ has some of the best brisket and dry-rub meat in the state. The downtown building, originally an iron shop that has now been designated a historical landmark, is an easy walk from the excitement of Sixth Street. It's also a magnet for local and out-of-town celebrities, many of whom can be found chowing down at the next picnic table over. Iron Works also offers local catering and a "BBQ Express" service that provides shipping of ready-to-eat feasts. It's not just an Austin phenomenon: between press attention and word of mouth, foodies worldwide try to recreate Iron Works’ recipes, often using the same signature sauces and seasonings that the company sells on site.
At Bone Daddy's, they do things the old fashioned way: pit-smoked meat and Southern-style barbecue sides. Start off a rib-sticking dinner with a pile of marinated and smoked Messy Wings or tortilla chips with smoked bacon and roasted red pepper queso. For the main course, meats collide in such featured entrees as beer can chicken, pork spare ribs, baby back ribs, and chicken fried steak. Or, if you've just got to go your own way, you can. Dinner platters can be designed from the plate up, with meat choices including brisket, pulled pork, turkey, and sausage. Make it a complete meal with sides such as classic macaroni and cheese, Roadhouse Spuds, and Skillet Beans and an ice-cold beer to wash it all down.