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I lived in California most of my life then moved to Washington in my early 30’s. I thought I knew what BBQ was, boy was I wrong.

In my former life I WENT to (and hosted) many a BBQ. This meant:

  1. You may or may not need to bring a chair.
  2. Sometimes BYOB.
  3. You will have chicken, hamburgers, or hotdogs cooked outside on A BBQ…in actuality we are grilling.
  4. There will be potato salad.
  5. You will get a plate, fork and knife.
  6. There will be a sporting activity of some sort.
  7. You will sit outside…and possibly get eaten by bugs.

This kind of BBQ is about community, connection and relaxation.

I’ve been in Austin since August of 2011 and thus started my schooling in the art of the BBQ.

I have eaten at few BBQ joints in Texas, and I make no claim to be an expert. Some places have been fancy like Lambert’s, some are in a trailer as in the case of J. Meuller’s. House Park Bar-B-Que claims “Need no teef to eat my beef”. At Franklin’s (Scott, my husbands favorite, he’s the true BBQ expert in the bunch) you need to get in line an hour before they open, then spend another 30 minutes or so in a moving line before ordering. Then there are the places you have to drive almost an hour to get to like The Salt Lick, and Kreuz Market.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of BBQ places. Seriously, that would be a VERY LONG list.

Anyway, here are some RULES I have come to know about getting BBQ in Texas:

  1. If it smells like a bonfire when you walk in it’s bound to be good. Yes, I know I will smell like a campfire when I leave, but that’s a small price to pay for a party in my tummy.
  2. TRUE BBQ takes a very long time to cook.
  3. You don’t always get table service, water refills, or in some cases, even a plate. You do get a piece of butcher paper to eat off of.
  4. If they say NO SAUCE, then DO NOT ask for it.
  5. If they say NO FORKS, don’t be upset just use a spoon.

True, there are many BBQ places in Texas where you get sit down service…and a plate, but the best BBQ has no frills attached.

Brisket and sausage from House Park, plate included.

The brisket melts in your mouth and really doesn’t need sauce. When BBQ is this good, no sauce is necessary. It’s like good coffee that you can drink black because it is THAT good.

Truth is my favorite is Rudy’s. And many say this isn’t the best. Perhaps because it’s in a gas station convenience store. But I don’t mind. Bring on the butcher paper plates, baby back ribs, and brisket and I’ll eat to my heart’s content.

Not that we don’t BBQ at home. I love grilled steak, chicken, veggies and seafood.

The difference is BBQ versus GRILLING.

I have not seen this but Scott tells me many people have special smokers in their backyard. Ones where if you were going to have people over for Texas BBQ you may have to get up at 3 in the morning to get the fire going to be ready for the eatin’ at 5 in the afternoon. There is no impromptu, hey guys come over for a BBQ when it comes to Texas BBQ. It takes time and commitment.

And now I’ve been schooled.

What’s your favorite BBQ spot in Austin?