There’s no one item at La Barbecue you must order, because you have to try it all.
The entire “Texas BBQ” scene and concept has been enjoying a renaissance of cool amongst the foodie scene worldwide. The cuisine has also experienced a hyper-local renaissance, with Austin challenging Lockhart for the crown of “BBQ Capital of Texas” (yes, that’s a real thing). Big name Hill Country stalwarts such as Coopers, Schmidt Family and Blacks are all opening Austin locations, and the number of incredible new joints that have swung open their doors and trailer windows is growing at a pace nearly as frantic as the Cali-to-ATX immigration rate. For context, consider that half the joints that populate mostTop 10 BBQ joints in Austin weren’t even around the previous year to make the list.
And so, amongst all this choice and competition, it must take a very special joint indeed to consistently and continually dominate the “best of” lists. Meat lovers rejoice, La Barbecue is here.
I don’t believe that pitmaster John Lewis knows how to have “off days”. There is also nothing on the menu I wouldn’t recommend you try. You will not be steered wrong with anything, and all the options are paragons of what happens when you actually give a shit about what you’re cooking. Me? I am a beef lover, so if you simply must choose two desert island La Barbecue items, make it the beef rib and the brisket. Fatty or GTFO.
Please allow me to share with you an obscene close up of what makes a perfect beef rib a religious experience:
Oh but dat bark y’all! That peppery crust, those golden nuggets of crisped fat, the gluey, unctuous collagen (that is so lovingly referred to in our industry as ‘snot’) all concealing a shamelessly fuchsia-hued smoke ring and tender, rich beef. Good lord, I think we all need a cold shower after that. If you do not have this sort of visceral reaction to eating beef rib, you’re either eating one that hasn’t been cooked to potential, or you have no soul.
Are the meats alone not enough for you? Fine, we can cover that too. Tangy house-pickled red onion slaw crowns the El Sancho sandwich, which you can order with all three meats, because you’re worth it.
There is always a line, but it’s not the type of line that will have you paying someone else to stand in it for you (as is the black market trade at Franklin BBQ) and the beer is plentiful and free. As always, my pro-tip is to hit it up earlier in the week for tolerable waiting time.
Note: Despite much protest, La Barbecue’s generous owners insisted on providing the above tray for free, so I left a commensurate tip as barter.