HouBBQ Weekend 2013

It should be obvious by now that I love barbecue. But on the weekend of March 23 I’ll be taking it to a whole new level. I’ve been to festivals before and I’ve been on barbecue tours. However this will be my first time spending three days eating and writing about barbecue. No other distractions.

Here’s the line up for Saturday, 3/23

Here’s a map of the trip.

Of course, on 3/24 I’ll be at the Houston BBQ Festival sampling tons of BBQ all day long. I can’t wait to see if Houston can serve up anything even remotely close to what Austin/Central Texas is doing. I’ve been to Gatlin’s, so I know there’s definitely hope.

Finally, on Monday the 25th I’ll be hitting a few more joints on my way back to Austin. Here’s that line up:

And here’s a map for this leg of the trip.

If you add up all the different joints I’ll be eating at during HouBBQ, that will put me at TWENTY ONE for the weekend. Damn, that’s a lot of eatin’!

Drop me a line in the comments if you’ll be at HouBBQ or connect with me on twitter.

Four Places To Eat Right Now

It’s late and you’re starving. Where should you go eat? Even if you’ve lived in Austin for years that’s a tough question.

Here’s my (short) list of late night joints where you’re guaranteed a win.

  • 24 Dinermap – 24 has everything you want in a diner. Except better than all the others. I’d go with a bacon Gorgonzola or bacon avocado burger. If you want something sinfully delicious, try the chicken and waffles. Want breakfast food? Get 2 fried eggs, a side of veggie sausage and a side of real sausage. Oh, and drink some coffee. Hell. Drink all the coffee.
  • La Mexicanamap – In the mood for Mexican food? One of the only 24 hour taco joints in town is on S 1st and is chock full of greatness. I enjoy the barbacoa and carnitas tacos. Skip the quesadilla here. It admittedly sucks. However, definitely eat up all the Mexican baked goods you can. Everything is made in house and it is awesome. I love the pink cookies and anything with frosting.
  • Magnolia Cafemap – There are two Magnolia Cafe locations in Austin, but for some reason I swear the Lake Austin location is better. I love the omelets, particularly the T Rex. The migas are also very good here. If you’re in the mood for TexMex, try an enchilada or quesadilla: they’re all packed with flavor and are guaranteed to hit the spot. But let’s face it: the best thing here are the pancakes. I love the gingerbread, but the default buttermilk are great, too.
  • Kerbey Lanemap – There are a couple Kerbey Lanes in town but the South location is nice and new. I always end up with a hamburger or an enchilada. This is yet another great place for migas. If you’re looking for something sweeter, get the French toast platter. Oh, and drink plenty of coffee here as its a little weaker than other diners in Austin.

The Birth of Brisket Man

A couple years ago, I was just some foodie. I had eaten at a million great restaurants all over America and Europe. I even ate at Michael Symon’s Lola before anyone even knew who he was (he went on to win Iron Chef). I’m not trying to brag, but rather offer evidence that I’m not some waterhead with no food experience. If anything, you could call me a gourmand.

However, I had an experience that changed me. My cousin had just moved to Austin, Texas from Los Angeles and my wife and I came to visit him in July, 2010. One day I told Britt (my wife) that she and I needed to go find some good barbecue because that’s the “rage” in Central Texas.

(It’s important to note that this wasn’t the first time I had eaten barbecue in Austin, but I’ll tell you more about that another day.)

Now, I’m from Kentucky where barbecue is pulled pork (maybe mutton) and everything else is smoked feces. I thought brisket was simply colored saw dust, compacted and flavored with beef bouillon. I had never heard of a “beef rib” other than the bones I gave my dog. And pork ribs were chewy masses of fat or braised and piled with goopy, sugar sauce.

Basically, barbecue was tasteless food for idiots.

So on a beautiful summer day, Britt and I set out to eat Franklin Barbecue. Would it be everything the reviews proclaimed? The best barbecue in America?

We showed up to Franklin…and waited. A line for barbecue? Insanity!

After 45 minutes, we were greeted by the smiling face of Aaron Franklin, pit master and owner. He cut off the very tip of a fresh brisket, handed half to me and the other half to my wife.

The moment I sunk my teeth into that brisket, everything changed. I had just tasted the first bite of real Texas barbecue. The smokiness of post oak. The perfect, slightly seasoned bark. The sweetness of the caramelized fat mixed with the beefy fullness of the lean.

After tasting Franklin, I knew that I would never be the same. I was destined to hunt down the best brisket. I had to find the greatest ribs. I must search for new kinds of barbecue, new flavors, textures and experiences.

Thus, Brisket Man was born.