My crew at work ordered some famed Franklin BBQ two months ago and we finally got to dig in today.
A lot of first timers and full bellies all around.
The guy who picked it up said there were a lot of death stares from people in line in front of whom he was able to cut to grab our ‘cue. I know that feeling. I’ve given that death stare before.
My crew at work ordered some famed Franklin BBQ two months ago and we finally got to dig in today.
Brown’s Bar-B-Que Reviewed.
A barbecue trailer is nothing new. A barbecue trailer that operates smack dab in front of a car wash…..yeah, I suppose that’s new, and that’s exactly where Brown’s Bar-B-Que does business on South Lamar. It was freezing cold and rainy on this particular lunch outing, but Brown’s doesn’t have anywhere to sit at so the plan was to take our food to-go back to my office. The menu was pretty standard, advertising mostly plate options and combo’s. We weren’t exactly thrilled that meat by the pound wasn’t advertised, but a quick question confirmed that they indeed did. So out of the car and to the window counter, I put in an order of ½ lb. of fatty brisket and a sausage link. We waited towards the back of the trailer in front of the firebox for warmth while our orders were put together, and I only ended up spending roughly $10. The guy putting our orders together and ringing us up was really nice and even threw in a free pork rib and a free piece of chicken.
We drove back to my office with our food wrapped in aluminum foil and a brown paper bag, and once settled in, I started with the brisket. I won’t lie, it was a little overcooked but it was moist with an impressive smoke ring and an even more impressive crust. The sausage had a crispy snappy casing but the inside was wholesomely filling and lightly peppered. The pork rib was so tender and succulent, with a sweet BBQ sauce mop that gave the exterior a caramelized crust nicely contrasting with the fall off the bone pork. The chicken, like the rib, was treated with a BBQ sauce mop and was insanely juicy and tender with not a dry piece to be found. I generally refrain from poultry at BBQ joints just because it’s such an easy meat to dry out, but these guys really have their craft down. I didn’t have any other trimmings with my meal or sauce, and it really wasn’t necessary given the quality of all the meats. From the 4 meats that I had from here though, I really have to champion their ribs and chicken. The brisket and sausage was pretty good, but the menu items that will have me coming back are definitely the ribs and chicken.
So, here is my summary. The location was a little odd but not out of the ordinary in Austin, TX. The facility was definitely not “dine-in” friendly as there really isn’t anywhere to eat, but if the idea is wholly take-out, then you really can’t complain. I just hope that these dudes get a more established location down the line, whether it be a bigger lot setup or even a small brick & mortar place. The service was exceptional, with one guy running the whole operation when I went but still friendly given the weather conditions and even giving me a free rib and piece of chicken. The food was seriously good, and I got a good taste of most of their meats. The brisket was a little overcooked but still juicy with a nice crust; the sausage was thick and filling with a snappy casing; the pork rib was king with a sweet exterior and a tender interior; and finally, the chicken was easily the best BBQ chicken I have ever had before. I had my own drink at my office so I can’t really offer much here in terms of soft drinks, but overall, Brown’s Bar-B-Que gets my praise for an overall enjoyable meal consisting of well smoked meats.
Score ranked from 1 (Poor) – 5 (Best)
Location/Facility – 2.5
Service/Staff – 4.5
Food – 4
Drink – N/A
A short time ago, I vowed to never go to another new BBQ place that I didn’t already know was excellent. I got burnt one too many times with subpar food and I didn’t ever want that to happen again. Then I joined this blog. I can’t very well write reviews of the same places over and over again, can I?
This might help explain why my first reaction to eating at Brown’s Bar-B-Que was apprehension. I was afraid to be let down again. I mean, this trailer is in the parking lot of a car wash, right next to a Jiffy Lube. I prepared myself for the worst. It was frightfully cold day when we ventured out to Brown’s. We parked our car directly in front of the trailer because we literally didn’t know where we should park. No one else was at the trailer, so it seemed like an okay thing to do. I was quite dismayed that there was no ‘by-the-pound’ option on the menu outside the trailer. The friendly dude running the place that day told us they do, indeed, sell all their meat by the pound. I’d venture to say the menu should be changed to reflect that, instead of only advertising sandwiches and plates.
When we approached the window ready to order, our man in the trailer handed us each a hunk of an end of brisket, Mueller family style, and at that point my apprehension faded away. This is brisket that can hang with the big boys. I ordered half a pound of moist brisket and a link of sausage.
The brisket, wrapped in butcher paper and foil for a to-go order, was dense and flavorful. The fat held up the tasty crust well, but the fat line wasn’t quite as well rendered as I prefer. The lean section of my portion was a little thin, but it still tasted fantastic. It was a little overdone and fell apart into chunks very easily but it still slid down my throat and satisfied my hungry little belly.
The sausage was peppery, but a little squishy. It had a snap, but not a clean neck-breaking kind of a snap that I like. It was a good little sausage though and a nice complement to the brisket.
We also snagged a pork rib and chicken thigh for free, which was nice. In my opinion, these items are what the pitmaster grew up eating and/or cooking. He’s really got his craft down on these. The rib was tender, and while it slid off the bone perhaps a little too easily, it was easily the best part of the meal. It was slathered with a sweet sauce and exploded with juicy flavor. The chicken was covered in the same sauce and was deliciously moist throughout. I don’t usually mess with anything but the Texas Trinity when I hit up BBQ joints, but this chicken might change things.
I quite enjoyed Brown’s and I am forever grateful to not be let down by what they offer. I’ve got a new place I can refer visiting friends to, and that’s always nice. The facilities need to be improved though. This guy is too good to be stuffed next to a car wash. Dedicated parking would be nice. A place to sit and eat at the establishment itself is non-existent and should be corrected. The location in the city itself, in the middle of a bustling South Lamar, is fantastic but the facility could use the freedom of a different, more viable location.
Score ranked from 1 (Poor) – 5 (Best)
Location/Facility – 2
Service/Staff – 4.5
Food – 3.5
Drink – N/A
The Burnt Ends crew smoked some BBQ last weekend.
The results were mixed, but pretty delicious all-around.
The brisket could have done with a little more fat trimmed off. The flat end had a huge slab of fat covering every slice. The basic salt and pepper rub we used turned out great, however.
The brisket was put on the smoker at about midnight on a pretty cold Saturday night. It was a roller coaster ride keeping the temperature around the 250 degree sweet spot. The oak burned hot, but was easily brought back down by the frigid temperatures, requiring more fuel on the fire.
On the point of the brisket, some of the fat seemed to get too hot, leaving it brownish and a little tough. This is probably due to the varying temperature of the smoke.
We spritzed the brisket with apple cider vinegar to lock in moisture and ended up wrapping it in foil, or a “Texas crutch,” for the last hour or so of the smoke.
The pork ribs had a rub consisting of salt, pepper, garlic and cinnamon. They were pretty tender, but didn’t slide off the bone. The ends of the rack got quite burnt, leaving a small bit of charred meat on a black bone.
The sausage was store-bought and already smoked. We just threw them on the smoker for about an hour. They added a nice complement to the meal, with a spicy kick and a snappy casing.
All in all, the experience (my first time smoking) was fun and rewarding as I bit into that first burnt end of brisket that was sliced off.
- Jayce Beasley
Kerlin BBQ Reviewed
Kerlin is a relatively fresh face in the Austin barbecue scene. Located on East Cesar Chavez, it’s a bit off the beaten path in a slightly sketchy part of Austin’s rapidly mutating east side. To kick off the new year, the trio decided to trek over to Kerlin’s unassuming white trailer and have a lunchtime feast of ‘cue. Here’s what we thought:
So…the location. If anyone asks you what east Austin used to be like, you can send them down this way. As you creep further and further down Cesar Chavez to reach your destination, the atmosphere transforms into one of slightly unwelcoming listlessness. This area is definitely not as gentrified as what you find farther north on, say, East Sixth or East 11th. That’s not always a bad thing, but I will say I’m glad Kerlin doesn’t have hours after the sun goes down. The lot itself is very well-maintained with the smoker out on proud display and parasol-covered benches providing ample seating. As with many Central Texas BBQ joints these days, country music can be heard blaring from somewhere behind the smoker. (In fact it’s almost at a point to where when I hear old-style country music, my mouth starts watering for some tender brisket Pavlovian-style.)
At this particular time, we were the only customers at Kerlin, but unfortunately it took a bit longer than I would like to get my food and starting chowing down. The employees are super nice, but if this place ever starts to get a following, this could become a problem.
Now, for the most important part. Dat ‘cue. As you begin to see as I post more here, I am a brisket man through and through. Throw me a sausage link or a rib here and there, but when it’s time to get down and dirty with some barbecue, my mind, heart and tongue are focused on the brisket. On this front, Kerlin definitely does not disappoint. The brisket is quite tender with a flavorful fat line that doesn’t overpower the taste of the meat. Kerlin uses pecan wood to smoke their meats and you can tell through the tinge of sweetness you get in every bite. There was no real smoke ring to speak of on this day, but the bark was crisp and peppery. Even the ends weren’t that tough and it was a gratifying experience biting into those flavor pockets and letting them slide down my throat. I was very satisfied with the brisket. My only complaint is that it may have been a little TOO tender in some spots, as the meat fell off in strings a little more often than is preferable.
I debated going brisket only for this meal, but I ended up getting a link of the hot guts-style sausage. I sure am glad I did. This sausage met all of my standards for a good link. The casing snapped like a rubber band, which I love. The sausage was juicy and flavorful with a kick of spiciness behind it, but not too much as too overload your taste buds. It also wasn’t extremely greasy, which is nice. Kerlin offers only this one style of sausage but it’s a treat you shouldn’t miss out on.
Kerlin offers standard white bread, red onions and some lightly pickled, but very refreshing cucumbers. They also have jalapenos sliced in half if that’s your bag. (It’s mine.) The sauce is a sweet, vinegar-based sauce. It’s good, but nothing to write home about. All your delicacies are given to you on a butcher paper-topped tray. Kerlin also has a small selection of sodas and bottled water to wash it all down with.
In summation, Kerlin offers a delcious, well-rounded barbecue experience. It’s in a sketchy neighborhood, but the atmosphere of the venue makes up for that a little. For myself, I’ve found a new place to curb that brisket fix when waiting in line isn’t an option. Kerlin looks to be one of my go-to’s and I definitely recommend scoping them out.
Score ranked from 1 (Poor) – 5 (Best)
Location/Facility – 3
Service/Staff – 3
Food – 4
Drink – 3
Trailers seem to be the mainstay for Austin barbecue joints these days, and to a certain degree, it’s quite fitting. After all, BBQ competitions and backyard barbecues are held outside, so the trailer environment is a familiar and welcome one. My only beef with it is during cold winters, where the elements affect the quality of your food. Nevertheless, Texas winters only last a few weeks, and luckily, the harsh winter cold that we had been subjected to so far this year was taking a break on the day that my pals and I headed out to Kerlin BBQ; a newer BBQ joint, both to us and to the Austin barbecue scene.
The location was like most ‘cue places calling Austin home nowadays, on the East side. Specifically, on East Cesar Chavez, a good ways down, going well into the hood. This is the part of town that makes you roll up your windows and lock your doors when you come to a stop light, but all is forgotten as you drive up to the quiet destination of Kerlin BBQ. There’s no formal parking lot, just a dirt lot and a fenced in location with the trailer where you order and another trailer housing the pit. The eating area consists of covered picnic tables, and plenty of country music is played over the speakers, with more Willie and Waylon than you can shake a stick at.
We were the only ones here, well into the lunch hour, which was nice considering that the BBQ places we normally go to require some level of waiting or a bit of a crowd. Ordering at the counter was somewhat slow and tedious, which was okay for a slow day like today but could use some work on busier days. The girl taking my order was friendly and courteous though, a stark difference from the “soup nazi” style ordering that I’m used to at busier places. I had saved my appetite for lunch today, and I went for 1/3 lb. of fatty brisket, a sausage link, homemade pickles, onions, bread, a side of sauce and a bottled coke. Sitting at the picnic table, I sunk my teeth into the fatty brisket, smoked with pecan wood and boasting a crispy blackened crusty exterior. The meat was moist and fell apart easily; one could say that it may have been smoked too long, but I think it held together enough to just barely pass the pull test. The cut was thick, with more meat than fat, and the fat was well rendered. The crust contrasted beautifully with the tender meat, and while a dominant rub was hard to pick up on, the meat more than held its own. The sauce was equal parts tangy as it was sweet, but I barely used it since the meat didn’t warrant it. The sausage was really good to, with a perfect snap to it, and just greasy enough to get the right kind of messy. Well, greasy enough to use a slice of white bread to create a makeshift wrap, but still far from being dominated by grease. Rich with beefy goodness and moderately peppered, this sausage was filling and perfectly smoked. One thing that really made Kerlin BBQ stand out was the homemade pickles. While more cucumber than pickle, it was refreshing to have something other than store bought pre-sliced hamburger pickles out of the jar. Onions complimented the whole thing, and overall, the lunch was surprisingly excellent. My Coke a bottle washed the whole thing down, and before you knew it, I was stuffed and ready to pop.
This was my first time at Kerlin BBQ, and I was surprised. Location aside, this place has some food well worth the trip out here. Both brisket and sausage were outstanding, and I’m curious to see how they treat their ribs. These guys keep the menu simple and the tradition alive. While pecan wood is nothing new for Texas barbecue, I like that they promote their use of it instead of taking the failsafe route of oak like most BBQ places you come across. The soft drink selection can use a little more work and the facility is pretty standard for a trailer, but the service, just like the food is really good. Heck, they even treated us with free dessert after our lunch. Kerlin BBQ will definitely get my business again and I suggest that that if you haven’t been out here yet, to make your way out here when you can.
Score ranked from 1 (Poor) – 5 (Best)
Location/Facility – 3
Service/Staff – 4
Food – 4
Drink – 2.5
ANNOUNCEMENT: New Year, New Blog Changes -
For about 2 years now, I have maintained Burnt Ends on my own, contributing in depth barbecue reviews, a mini-series about root beer, punk rock festival coverage, bigfoot writings and other content. A lot of work has gone into keeping up this site, and while it’s been an exhausting labor of love, I am happy to say that Burnt Ends is now growing, alleviating some of the personal deadlines that I have set for myself in delivering content.
Effective January 2014, I have staff members; two of my close friends, Jayce Beasley and Jon Bejarano. They will be contributing to Burnt Ends, helping to expand the potential of this site. While the site will be changing in the coming weeks in an effort to “de-personalize” it, I feel confident that it’s a great move for this project. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that Burnt Ends is also on Twitter now (@BurntEndsTX). Content will be syndicated to the Twitter account, and conversely, tweets made on the account will feed into the main Tumblr page.
I’m looking forward to all of these new changes and excited to see Burnt Ends develop into something bigger in 2014. Thanks to everyone who has bothered to give this site their time and we’ll see what cool stuff the new year has in store for us.
Carlos Montoya aka TheSauceSquatch
Top 10 Austin Barbecue Joints: Not that long ago, to get first-rate barbecue you had to cruise the barbecue belt from Taylor and Elgin thro
Here’s what the Austin Chronicle considers to be the Top 10 BBQ joints in Austin. Burnt Ends agrees with almost all of it.
2013 Year End Review: Top 10 in Music
10. Grouplove – Spreading Rumours
File Under: Indie Rock/Pop
Smart, sweet and charming. Grouplove delivers their second album with more electronic touches but pack plenty of catchy hooks. I missed them at Emo’s this year; hope to catch them sometime next year.
9. AFI – Burials
File Under: Alternative Rock/Punk
Easily their best effort since Sing the Sorrow, AFI return from a hiatus with some polished, radio ready “gothy” rock tunes, some mid-tempo punk, and a smidge of death rock. I saw them at The Mohawk in October, and they were just as good as I’ve seen them in their post-Art of Drowning era.
8. The Rival Mob – Mob Justice
File Under: Hardcore. Just hardcore.
Vicious Boston hardcore played by guys in Mind Eraser, World War 4 and the Boston Strangler just to name a few. 80’s style hardcore with just a hint of American Oi!. I saw these dudes at Chaos in Tejas this year and they never fail from delivering on their live shows.
7. Deafheaven – Sunbather
File Under: Black Metal/Shoegaze
Beautiful black metal is all I can really say. Deafheaven craft a style of metal and shoegaze unlike anything you’ve heard before, and only get better at it on this second full length.
6. Shai Hulud – Reach Beyond the Sun
File Under: Metalcore
These guys have always been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. Shockingly, this release didn’t top my list this year, but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular. The return of Chad Gilbert on vocals makes this a landmark release in the Shai Hulud canon (albeit just on this recording), and his production skills amplify the magnitude of the Hulud sound on Reach Beyond the Sun.
5. All Pigs Must Die – Nothing Violates This Nature
File Under: Hardcore/D-Beat/Crust
Members of The Hope Conspiracy and Converge reconvene on a second full length for a sheer crusty D-Beat onslaught of unrelenting riffing. The playing is technical, almost leaning more towards a complete metal recording, but not far removed from their previous efforts. Always an amazing act to catch live.
4. David Bowie – The Next Day
File Under: David Bowie
I have to say, I was looking forward to this record for a bit, and picked it up the day that it hit stores. I wasn’t let down in the slightest. While many will argue that Bowie has hit his high notes in his career already, it’s unfair to think that this musical genius isn’t capable of something new and worthwhile. The Next Day is a thinking man’s album with plenty of dark overtones and mood but set to full throttle rock and roll that takes little breaks in between. Granted, these breaks can be a little long winded but ultimately, what you have at the end of the day is a worthwhile entry into the massive, enduring and influential catalog that only a mind like this can craft.
3. Coke Bust – Confined
File Under: Hardcore/Fastcore/Punk
There’s not a whole lot to expect from Washington D.C.’s Coke Bust other than raw production, pummeling hardcore and songs so short that you question the claim of calling their release a full length. Still, the fact that these guys manage to release interesting material (see the feedback laced intro on Red Line) that stands out from the pack speaks volumes of their mastery of this genre.
2. Laura Stevenson – Wheel
File Under: Indie Rock/Punk
This record absolutely marked a shift in direction from the last album, Sit Resist. Definitely more of rock album with a whole lot less pop, but it takes no time to grow on you. The riffs are great, the songwriting is on point and Laura’s voice is just as beautiful and remarkable as always. I got to see her a handful of times this year (both solo and with her band) but I missed her recently when she came through town in October.
1. John Fogerty – Wrote a Song for Everyone
File Under: Country/Rock/Folk
I first saw John Fogerty on TV as a kid on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in the early-mid 90’s. He played one of his many classics, Susie Q, and I loved it so much that I bought his live album that he was promoting at the time. I kind of worked backwards, discovering Creedence Clearwater Revival after John’s solo material; and the word “timeless” really is appropriate considering that a kid so far removed from 70’s rock found himself in awe of such gems like Bad Moon Rising, Lodi & Proud Mary. Wrote a Song for Everyone sees John Fogerty revisiting some of his signature work with everyone from Foo Fighters and Tom Morello to Bob Seger, Keith Urban Jennifer Hudson and almost everyone in between. The songs hit just as hard as the originals and we’re even treated with a couple of new ones. Although not a new album per se, it’s a refreshing way of having fun with old classics and celebrating them with current and influential artists. I haven’t had this much fun listening to an album in a long time, and this record is easily my #1 pick for 2013.
Smitty’s Market - 12/18/2013
Smitty’s Market is hit or miss when it comes to the food as of late. They didn’t make the Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ Joints this year, and the meal that I had on this day was a testament as to why. The brisket was dry and tough, which is all you really have to say when talking brisket. The potential was certainly there, but arriving at noon-ish, one would think that they would be met with prime cuts recently off of the pit. The sausage and ribs however, were good and up to par. Brisket is the crown jewel in Central TX though, and I was a little bummed out that I took three friends with me on a 45 minute drive from Austin, only to have them all disappointed. I’m still a fan of Smitty’s Market though, and I just hope that on my next visit out here, it’ll be a worthwhile visit.
Pictured above is a classic Central Texas market style staple…..brisket, sausage and ribs alongside avocado and sharp cheddar cheese; all served atop some solid brown butcher paper. Read better things that I’ve had to say about Smitty’s in the past at the following link…..
…..and note how brisket doesn’t seem to be their strong suit lately. I still love you though Smitty’s, let’s just work on making the top of that Texas Monthly list for next time.
La Barbecue - Thursday 12/5/2013
Here’s some amazing BBQ at the new location on 6th & Waller. No need for a review since I’ve covered this place plenty of times in the past, but it’s worth mentioning since they have a new place on the Eastside to call home.
November, fall, winter…..my favorite time of the year; the only few months that I get a break from the ridiculous weather that is Texas heat. So it’s no wonder that my November consisted of a ton of blog activity. My most active month as of late for sure saw me visiting three new places that I hadn’t yet been to yet: First John Mueller Meat Company, then Iron Works Barbecue and finally The Blue Ox BBQ and Pancake House. John Mueller Meat Company is located way east on 6ixth Street, and was a great experience. An outside trailer, not too far removed from his previous effort, JMueller BBQ, offered me some mouthwatering brisket and some amazingly crafted sausage alongside the signature Central Texas Market style necessity; a hunk of cheese. Definitely some good eats out here, put together by The BBQ Master John Mueller and carried out with his trademark snark. Next was Iron Works Barbecue in downtown Austin, which left me far from impressed. I won’t rag on this place any more than I already have; I’ll just say that this place carries some significant Austin history along with it, and that’s likely all that you pay for in their prices. Finally I made it to Blue Ox BBQ, another trailer out on East Riverside. I had two failed attempts at lunching here in the past, but on this day, I was able to get the full experience and I left convinced that these guys put out some quality smoked meats. All three places I visited were all within the city limits, but I had never been to any of them before, so it was good to get to try each one out. For music, I attended the annual FunFunFun Fest…..well, just two out of the three days of the festival. I got to see a ton of punk, rock, comedy and other good stuff from the start at the festival grounds and way into the night during the Nites club shows. Some highlights were Judge (twice), Quicksand, (members of Black) Flag, Television and Patton Oswalt just to name a few. The weather was perfect, much nicer than I could ever recall in all of the years that I’ve attended and no need for the obligatory bandana to shield all of the dust from my face (thanks to the last two years’droughts). I won’t go into too much detail about any of these mentioned events, because all of my posts are still available below for you to read or my photosets for you to see. In some long overdue bigfoot posts, I uploaded a Thanksgiving image with a sasquatch that seemed to get lots of likes and reposts (probably the most reposted or most liked thing I’ve ever had on my site). But no specific bigfoot posts in November; and even no entries into my mini-series Hear! Hear! Root Beer! Yeah, I know, pretty shocking, but like I said before, November was a really active month for me that barely left me with any open time for blogging. December will likely have a big lack in activity too because I picked up a second job for the holidays, so free time is insanely hard to come by now. I have a few BBQ trips planned out, and likely a “best of 2013” music list, but don’t expect too much out of me in the coming month. Also, I’m planning to reformat my BBQ posts for 2014. Less writing, more emphasis on ratings and picture sets. In the almost 2 years that I’ve been blogging on this thing, I am getting no indication that anyone is really reading my reviews, so I’m going to try and keep it shorter, sweeter and to the point. That should open up the ability for me to visit more places more often, covering more ground more often. So there you go guys, November in a nutshell. John Mueller Meat Company, Iron Works Barbecue and The Blue Ox BBQ & Pancake House plus two days’ worth of Fun Fun Fun Fest; now go and check out my archives, drink some root beer, eat some cue, and until next time, happy moshing!