Southside Market: Sausage and “Beef Made Easy” in Elgin

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Restaurant Sign Texas

Sausage is such a big hit at Southside Market that their links swallowed up Mothers Day.

My father, brother and I meet one weekend a year in Austin, and on Saturdays, we have the most time to explore. This year, we targeted Elgin, a barbecue-haven known for their spicy beef sausage. Our first stop in a three-joint tour: Southside Market, the elder statesman of the group, dating to 1882. We knew we were in good shape when we pulled into the parking lot and saw a sign that read “Happy Sausage Mothers Day.”

Southside Market was originally in downtown Elgin. Ernest Bracewell and Rene Bracewell purchased Southside Market in 1968 and moved to their current location along Highway 290 in 1992.

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Southside Market’s exterior includes iron work bearing the Bracewell name.

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The interior was a sprawling, multi-room affair, a layout common in the area.

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Order at the counter, selecting from pork steak, beef steak, beef ribs, mutton, chopped pork and chicken, all available by the pound.

Since we still had two more restaurants to eat at for lunch, we limited ourselves to sausage, brisket and pork ribs. The pitmaster sliced and hacked the proper proportions, wrapping meat in butcher paper, and we high-tailed it to a family-size table to gorge on ‘cue.

In Elgin, any barbecue discussion begins with peppery beef sausage, and Southside Market is the most famous sausage producer in town. At Southside, they’re known as “hot guts,” since the peppery mixture that fills the casing is unusually spicy. Southside Market smokes their meats using oak. Sausage takes a surprisingly short time: 45 minutes. We bought two links, which were over a foot long apiece.

Sausage Texas

Southside Market’s sausage was greasy, but had flavorful punch. With links this inviting, it pained me to take photos before I could dig in, but duty called.

Rib Texas

Southside Market may be known for links, but I found success with their pork spare ribs. Pork ribs take about an hour-and-a-half of oak smoke. They featured a peppery, caramelized crust, and were a bit too greasy, but had great flavor.

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Southside brisket was buffeted with oak smoke for about 7 hours. It was slightly dry, with a thin smoke ring, not the best meat Southside Market sold. Our outlook improved when we flipped the brisket, revealing a burnt, caramelized exterior with highly-concentrated flavor.

We ordered a pint of cole slaw ($2.55), which was way too large. It featured julienned cabbage and carrots, and too much mayo. Not my favorite slaw of the trip.

Barbecue Sauce Texas

Warm barbecue sauce was available from a dispenser, and a bottle of Elgin Hot Sauce graced each table. Even standard sauce had nice bite.

Iced Tea Texas

Southside Market technically served “sweet tea” ($1.45), but it wasn’t very sweet. Still, it was an improvement on what I can find in Los Angeles. At least the Styrofoam cup featured some funny instructions: “One bite of hot sausage, one sip of drink. Swish and repeat.”

On the way out, grab a gallon jug of sauce, and if you can make it to a refrigerator, swing by the meat market for smoked Elgin hot sausage, rump roast, boneless brisket, or many of the other fine cuts of pork and beef. They also sell T-shirts with catchy sayings like “I love their guts” and “We’ve got sausage, and stuff that goes good with sausage.”

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A photo on the meat market wall commemorates the “first sausage stuffed” at Southside Market’s new location, dated July 1, 1992.

Beef Poster Texas

In case you want to brush up on where your barbecue came from, refer to this “Beef Made Easy” chart near the meat market.

There was an in-house ice cream counter selling several flavors of Texas’ favorite ice cream, Blue Bell, but we still had two more barbecue joints to hit.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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