Lockhart got me excited. Those places I tried in Atlanta and Birmingham were decent, but not wow. Admittedly, as things got busy, I didn't get to many places in those cities, so I don't consider my sampling to be ample enough for a scientific study.
But if ever there was a control group, it would have to be Central Texas. When I started this book tour, I made a point to leave some time in each city to chow down on the local barbecue. Austin required a longer stay, in part because I hadn't seen my cousin in ages, but also because of the sheer number of restaurants I wanted to hit was staggering.
I reached about half of my list. In Austin, I first went to Ruby's BBQ, which I reviewed here. Next on my list was Iron works BBQ. This place by far got the most thumbs up on twitter, so it was on my must-go list.
When El and I went to lunch at Iron Works, the first indication that it would be good was the full parking lot. The second was the deep smoke that hit us as we walked in.
To be honest, I don't love these smokers. They are the standard for restaurants, but I often find something lacking in the 'cue. If you know me and my book, you know I don't take a hardcore stance on smokers. I also know what it is like to run a barbecue restaurant in a city, that has fire and health requirements that don't necessarily allow for a wood pit. But whenever I go to a joint with Southern Pride smokers, I find the meat to be on the dry side.
I hoped Iron Works would prove me wrong.
First taste went to the brisket. It was a center of the deckle cut (again!), so no bark on my slices, nor any lean. Like, Ruby's, it was good, but not great. I was beginning to think that this is what they throw at the tourists, and give the best stuff to the regulars.
That's why we only do them as a special on Fridays at Smokin' Pete's (though, to be honest, we have them more than that. We only promise them on Fridays).
The pork loin sandwich, which was dirt cheap at $4.50, was three slices on a naked bun. The meat was on the dry side, no matter how much of their tangy sauce I put on it. HOWEVER, the next day, slathered with mayo and pickles, by golly that sandwich was tasty. So what if it was on the dry side, it's pork loin! It still was flavorful and smoky, and...let me say it...gutsy.
But wait, there's more! Cobbler. Blackberry cobbler. Is there a photo? No. We dove into to that before I remembered to take a shot of it. Cobbler isn't all that photogenic anyhow. Not if it's good. Pretty cobbler never tastes as good as the messy homemade stuff. That's what this was. Messy, just the right of sweet to counteract the tartness of the berries, warm and gooey.
I'll be guest blogging a review of The Salt Lick on Man Up BBQ soon. My next post on Central Texas will be at the famous Kreuz Market. Is it all they say it is? Find out here.