Wednesday, March 31, 2010
AUSTIN: Ruby's BBQ
512 W 29th St
Austin, TX 78705
Open Daily 11-Midnight
You won't find Ruby at Ruby's since this joint is run by Pat Mares. In addition to being a pitmaster and smoked meat proprietor since 1988, she is also a board member of the Central Texas Barbecue Association. We didn't get to meet on this rainy Sunday afternoon, but a pleasant staff member (probably a UT student from next door) took my order from the counter just inside the door. I then sat at my table with my order number proudly displayed. I wish I could have gotten a glimpse of the offerings from the counter, but this full size menu requires a full kitchen. Of course you get all the standard BBQ meats and sides, but there are two kinds of beans, cole slaw and potato salad in addition to the salads, cajun, and tex-mex favorites, all made fresh.
When my standard order of ribs and brisket arrived with the simple sides of cole slaw (vinegar rather than creamy) and beans (BBQ rather than black beans), I knew the brisket had some serious potential. From their website I learned the reason for this. Their "all natural beef brisket comes from Dakota Farms and is processed in their own plant in South Dakota. The cattle are fattened without the use of hormones and no antibiotics are used at critical stages. While this beef is leaner (20-25% less fat) than other U.S. beef, it is juicy and retains a great smoky flavor. After the briskets are prepared with a dry rub of mixed spices, they are smoked with oak wood in brick pits for 12 - 24 hours." You can visit those all brick pits, fashioned after the pits at Smitty's, if you ask nicely.
Those brick pits are full of nicely smoked meats, of which I got a good sampling. The brisket was indeed leaner than I'm used to, and the fat was mostly trimmed away. What was left were adequately moist, and incredibly smoky beef. The deep smokering was enveloped in a beautifully thick crust which cracked beneath my teeth. The meat had minimal seasoning, but great natural flavor. The ribs ha the same smokiness, but they had been cooked dry. The flavorful meat had little bark, and it took some work to get them off the bone. What they seemed to lack was rendered fat of any sort to keep things moist. Given the quality of the brisket, these ribs may have been an anomoly, but they cost them in the rating.
If you're interested to learn more, you can find and excellent oral history of the joint that was put together by the great folks of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and this history was also documented in the recent book Republic of Barbecue. Happy reading.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 7:15 AM
Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT