My brother in law (Hector Esparza) lives in Temecula, CA. He is an expert in BBQ and beer, which makes him a quality human being. Apparently, the Texas Hill Country is famous for BBQ. And Austin is right in the middle of the Texas Hill Country. So Hector has charged me with the task of investigating the BBQ establishments around here. He will visit some time in the future and I best have done my BQQ prep work. So I have accepted this challenge. I will thus make sure and post the notable BBQ that I discover.
So first up is the The Salt Lick in Round Rock. The Salt Lick originated in Driftwood and then upon success, opened another store in Round Rock. Round Rock is about 25 minutes North of Austin. The Salt Lick is about 15 minutes East from the freeway. It is located in Dell Diamond, which is home of the Round Rock Express. The Round Rock Express is the Texas Ranger’s AAA baseball team. So the Salt Lick is about 45 minutes from B-Haven.
Simply put, The Salt Lick is am amazing place. This place is very crowed and very popular and I can see why. It is very down to earth. They had a local Country and Western singer doing his thing on a guitar. The BBQ pit is something to behold. One could stand in front of it for hours with a suitable beverage, lost in awe and contemplation. They even have their own vineyards and winery – Salt Lick Vineyards and Cellars. I did not try this wine yet, but I certainly shall. I was a bit overwhelmed with this place.
My wife and I were so impressed that Evelyn demanded that I purchase their cookbook -The Salt Lick Cookbook. And I readily complied. This book is a first edition and it is signed by the author and current owner of the Salt Lick – Mr. Scott Roberts. I would highly recommend this book. It is a wonderful history of the restaurant and his family. And its has The Salt Like recipes. I intend to incorporate a lot of these recipes into my cooking. Apparently, Mr. Robert’s grandparents emigrated to Driftwood, TX in the 1870’s. His parents created an open pit BBQ stand in 1967 that evolved into The Salt Lick of today. Their recipes originated with his grandparents.
I apparently have a bit of a connection to Scott Roberts. In his book, Scott Roberts mentions Betty Jo and Raymond Whiesenant. He states that these folk were a part of a family that had been in the Driftwood area for a long time. And that most of his vineyard is part of the original Whisenant Homestead from the early 1800s. Scott is very close to these people. I will let you read his book to determine why. He is close to their son Ray and refers to him as a brother. Well my mother’s maiden name is Whisenant. Her name is Josephine. And she was born and raised in the Raymondville. She has always claimed that her family were Texas pioneers and I guess she is right. I do know that there are a whole bunch of Whisenants in Texas. They fought on both sides of the Civil War. My mother’s father was Henry Whisenant and had four daughters. One of them (Jo Anne) lives in Fredricksberg.
But enough background. Time to get on to the food. So how was the BBQ? We purchased three meals – The Rancher, The Pulled Pork Sandwich, and the Pulled Pork Meal. Each meal comes with cole slaw, baked beans, potato salad, onions, and pickles. First of all, each meal will fill you up. The cole slaw is made old style with vinegar and NO mayonnaise. Apparently, this recipe if from Scott’s grandparents. And traveling to Texas via a covered wagon does not lend itself to perishables like mayo. Be that as it may, I like the slaw very much. The added toasted sesame seeds were a nice touch. Very tasty. The baked beans were made without sugar, which is great. The onions and pickles were good. The potato salad was good – no mayo.
Evelyn was very impressed with the Pulled Pork Sandwich. It was manly. And I was impressed with Pulled Pork Meal.
Now on to the Rancher Meal. It consisted ofPork Spare Ribs, Sausage (beef and pork), Brisket, and Turkey. The meat was awesome, very tender and lots of flavor. If I had to chose, I would say that the Brisket was my favorite. But the Spare Ribs, Sausage, and Turkey were right there too. The BBQ sauce was excellent and quite interesting. Vinegar and mustard based. The have three kinds of sauce – Original, Chipotle, and Spicy. I had the Original, which was good. But I am looking forward to the other two.
The Salt Lick also offers Prime Rib on Sundays. I will have to try it. They also offer Pickled Jalapeños. I am sad that I missed them. For desert they have Peach Cobbler, Blackberry Cobbler, and Pecan Pie. I guess I will have to sample them all.
As I said earlier, I was overwhelmed by this place. It is very popular and very busy. So we took our food to go. They supposedly serve 6,000 people each weekend. I have nothing against their success, I just was not in the mood for a lot of noise and rucus. I mean I do live on a farm after all. Nice and peaceful and quite. But the service at The Salt Lick was great and the staff was very friendly and helpful.
We will be back.