Thursday, November 25, 2010
SPICEWOOD: Opie’s BBQ
9504 E. Texas Hwy. 71
Spicewood, TX 78669
Open M-Tue 11-4, W-Sun 11-7
Update: Making it past the new sign outside, I entered into the dining room where I ordered a half rack of the sweet and spicy baby backs, a chunk of brisket and some jalapeno cheese sausage. The sausage had great spice and flavor. The meat was incredibly moist with good snap, and the pockets of cheese provided a good creamy counterpoint. While the baby backs aren't done in a traditional fashion, the combination of sticky sweetness in the rub along with the spicy glaze made for some addictive ribs. They've still got plenty of smoky goodness and the meat is nicely tender and moist. If they were offered in a smaller portion than a half rack, I'd have to order them every time.
During my meal, the owner and pitmaster Todd was making the rounds talking with regulars and welcoming new folks. He sat with me at my table and we talked about smoked meat and the history of the joint. He's a self taught pitmaster which keeps him open minded to change. Take the brisket for example. Since he opened he'd been cooking briskets directly over mesquite coals much like Cooper's. I didn't love the results on the past two visits, but the brisket on this trip was different than I remembered. Todd said he was now using an Oyler smoker, although at high heat, to cook his briskets. This imparts a smokier flavor and requires less seasoning. I prefer this new resulting brisket that retains the signature moistness but provides a much greater smoky flavor which compliments the black pepper rub.
On the bulletin board just inside the front door was a photo of a girl passed out on one of the meat carts in the pits. The owners don't know who she is, and would really like to make sure she's alright, so if anyone knows this girl please speak up.
I might not be willing to spend the night by these pits, but given the new and improved brisket along with all the other quality meats, Opie's has certainly established itself as a genuine destination for Texas BBQ.
2009: Two years ago, Opie's moved from their original location a block off of the highway to their new metal building right across busy Texas Highway 71 from a road sign that reads "Austin 34 (miles)". The smokers are front and center as you pull into the gravel parking lot, and the smell proved to be appetizing even after my lunchtime feast at the BBQ Crash Course in Austin. Just inside the doors is a large black pit with meat displayed just below the heavy lid. Ordering is done with fingers held just this far apart...a few inches of brisket...just this much sausage, and so on. For the sausage, just hope your fingers can spread far apart, because you'll want more than a few bites.
My options were limited due to the fact they were closing in less than an hour after I arrived. I ordered a thick slice of brisket, a big chunk of jalapeno sausage, and a large spare rib. I tried to get some of the sweet and spicy basted baby backs, but they're available only in half or full slabs, and my stomach would have seriously revolted at that request. As I sat down in the weighty chairs of knotty pine, I couldn't wait to tear into the wrapped up butcher paper. The brisket slice was extremely fatty, but I did get the last of the day's brisket. Once I picked off some of the fat, what was left was extremely smoky, tender meat reminiscent of the brisket at the Hard Eight. Salt and pepper clung heavily to the deep crust, and the flavor really packed a pleasing punch. Talk about punch, the jalapeno sausage is not timid with the spice. This link had a medium grind with excellent flavor and good snap. Fat dripped down my chin and onto the paper below with every delicious bite. The rib had deep red flesh below the smoky, well formed crust. The tender meat mingled with the rendered fat to create a moist and well balanced hunk of pork. Next time, I'll get there early enough to get my pick of the protein litter, but I certainly wasn't slighted by the end-of-the-day offerings.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 7:05 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