The Salt Lick BBQ: A Smoky 40-Year Family Tradition

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Barbecue Texas

My father attended grad school at The University of Texas in the late ’60s, long before urban sprawl began encroaching on the surrounding Hill Country. Every spring, my father, brother and I converge on Austin to gorge on barbecue, driving through Hill Country to eat at many of the same restaurants that were available to my father forty years ago. Before driving to the airport and heading our separate ways, we always stop at The Salt Lick, a now legendary barbecue restaurant that has reduced two family members to tears.

Last year, we visited the Salt Lick on Mother’s Day, which led to almost an hour wait. This time, we arrived earlier and got a seat right away.

Barbecue Texas
The Salt Lick has become a Hill Country tourist attraction. As a result, they’re happy to usher diners (including myself) behind the hand-built pit to take photos.

Barbecue Texas
We ordered family style dinner ($18.95 per person), all you can eat pork ribs, brisket and pork sausage. As always, the brisket was luscious. The ribs could have been meatier, but were practically lacquered, with caramelized skins. The sausage had taut skin and massive flavor.

Barbecue Texas
For “dessert,” we requested refills with burnt ends, the prized outside pieces of brisket that are caramelized and chewy from smoke-buffeted applications of sauce.

Side Salads Texas
The dinner comes with helpings of German potato salad (with mustard and onions), cole slaw (with celery seed), pinto beans and white bread.

Barbecue Sauce Texas
We received a bowl of the Salt Lick’s classic vinegar and mustard-based barbecue sauce, plus a habanero version that was a lighter shade of orange, with more kick.

Cobbler Texas
For dessert, my father insisted on ordering a peach cobbler. After downing burnt ends, I could only manage a bite each of cobbler and vanilla ice cream.

After eating five other barbecue meals at some of the most highly lauded spots in Texas Hill Country, we still have big respect for The Salt Lick. Sure, the Lick is developing a national presence, and they even have a booth in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport food court, but consistently high quality has kept the original location a deserving gastro-destination.


Joshua Lurie

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

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