The Salt Lick

Ahh the Salt Lick, used to give nutrients to animals like cows! What a great name for a BBQ restaurant. My cousin and their friends all recommended this place as awesome BBQ in Austin. CitySearch proclaimed it the best BBQ in Austin. That’s a tall order considering Texas is famous for its grilling prowess. So it’s Saturday night, and here I have a craving for dead animal. Where do we go? In Harold and Kumar fashion (minus the weed), we go on a road trip to find the best BBQ in Austin: The Salt Lick.

We get in our car and put the Salt Lick into our GPS. Our jaws drop to find it 25 miles OUTSIDE of Austin in a small city called Driftwood. Well, when you’re on a mission to eat BBQ, few things will stop you. As we drive out of Austin, I notice that the area becomes increasingly rural and fast. The final road to the Salt Lick is a windy one-lane road that tours through farmland, with rich farm estates that would be worth millions in a city like LA/NY. Driving by these massive estates, I began to see things moving…. Animals. How Strange.. live cows. Looks good! Must mean that the meat I’m about to eat was shot prior a day earlier. *Sniff, ahh smell the freshness

For a good 10-15 miles, the road gets windier, the estates bigger, the area more rural, and the amount of cows increase. This is the Middle America you always hear about, the Heartland. Upon arriving at the Salt Lick, my eyes expand wide open in amazement at the vastness of this place. Barely anyone was on the road, and here at the Salt Lick, were hundreds of people waiting for a taste. The parking lot is all dirt, Texas sheriffs are here to keep the peace, traffic control personal are on the scene to keep things flowing. The parking lot is the size of a Costco. Two tour buses had dropped off people. Damn this must be awesome.

Upon stepping out of the car, hickory smoke fills my nostrils. My stomach growls, yearning for meat. The carnivore in me roars. There are two buildings with stacks of smoke bellowing. As we enter the entrance to put our name down, we see about a hundred people outside on benches waiting for their turn. The most amazing thing is that most people here have coolers overflowing with beer. It’s a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bear) place. Texas, props for public BYOB.

With such high expectations, could the BBQ be that great? After 40 minutes of waiting at the Salt Lick, and a 30 minute drive, how was it? For an affordable $20, you get a feast of all you can eat pork ribs, beef brisket, and sausage swimming in Texas BBQ sauce in addition to coleslaw, beans, bread, and of course potatoes. Biting into the sausage, spices dance on my mouth, something that is rare for me as I usually am not a sausage fan. The sauce has the texture of light gravy with just a subtle but noticeable hint of smoky BBQ. I eagerly move onto the beef brisket, thinly cut, drenched in sauce. Sadly, the sauce is the only thing that makes it good as the brisket is too dry, however tender. Finally, the ribs have a crunch but not potato chip hardness that makes each mouthful quite a combination of crunchy with tender pork. Each bite is a little taste of heaven on earth, being pretty good but a few stops short of god like. Too bad the ribs were not baby back, as they really could hit amazing.

Driving back stuffed with three dead animals, I pondered was it worth it? For a first time in Austin, I say it’s a good experience. Don’t get me wrong, it was very good BBQ. However, the question is: would I spend over an hour just for that BBQ again? I don’t think so unless certain conditions arose:

1) I brought my own beer (The Sheriffs are drinking too lol).
2) I had over 8 friends with someone being a designated driver.
3) I had run prior to driving out. (Gotta pack in more dead cow).

Now with all the pondering done, excuse me as I try to walk from a full stomach.