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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Finger "Lick"in’ Good

Thursday, November 18, 2010 @ 06:11 PM

087We have a back log of restaurants that we still need to feature and I was shocked when I realized a couple of weeks ago that I still had not talked about this next joint.  You all know by now how much we love barbeque, and since we moved back up North, we unfortunately are lacking in that department.  This next spot was so memorable that we couldn’t stop talking or thinking about it long after…even now; and this is why we were so shocked when I realized it has been almost six months and we still had not filled all you PCC-ers in on the awesomeness of The Salt Lick. So here we go…

In the small town of Driftwood, Texas (just outside Austin), Scott Thurman and his wife Hisako opened this pit barbecue spot in 1967.  Starting off small, he and his sons built a huge pit, where Thurman would stay and cook, and stay with that pit until all the meat sold.  Eventually, they built a screened in porch around the pit and The Salt Lick has only grown from there, becoming so popular that they now serve their barbeque to thousands each and every week (actually, the full story of how The Salt Lick and its open pit method came to be is quite interesting, which you can read about here).

So, although we lived in Texas, we were not really familiar with this spot until we saw in on an episode of Travel Channel’s "Man vs. Food"; and we have since seen it on previous Travel Channel shows like "Chowdown Countdown" (#1 for BBQ and #7 OVERALL) and "BBQ Paradise." But after that first feature on "Mav v. Food," we knew it was only a matter of time before we made a road trip to visit our friends in Austin and The Salt Lick.  See for yourself…

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Dang…it just looks so amazing every time!  Now we’ve had plenty of barbeque; and especially when we lived in Dallas, barbeque seemed to be a staple in our diet.  However, after seeing that clip, we knew this place had to be tried to see if it would overtake some of the other great ‘Que we’ve had.  Lucky for us, it was not long after we watched that episode that we were planning a trip to Austin to visit our friends Dario and Jaclyn; and because the Salt Lick is located a little bit outside of the city, we decided we would hit it up on our way out of town after the visit. 

So it was lunchtime on Sunday when we pulled in, and it is pretty breathtaking right from the start.  This is no small operation anymore. In fact, they have two large buildings set up…one is a large scale dining/banquet hall for parties (complete with country store), with the other serving as the main restaurant.  It truly is an amazing bbq complex…

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We put our name in and had a little bit of a wait, but the surroundings are so beautiful and it was such a nice day that we didn’t mind.  But I’ll tell you what…it is well worth the wait, because it made us all the more hungry!  So when our name was finally called, I was so excited I could hardly contain myself!

What is so great about this place is although it has grown in notoriety, it still has the same feeling of a small down home joint.  When you walk inside, you literally walk right by the pit and they even let you back by it to take pictures…I mean how cool is that?  And all the tables are simple picnic tables…nothing fancy. You feel like you are right where you should be eating barbecue, in a backyard!  So after we were seated and quickly perused the menu, we knew right away we would be ordering the “family style” option.  This give you the chance to try all their barbecue specialties and as much as you can stomach…which for us is often a lot; and luckily it was not long before the wonderfulness showed up…

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106 We were definitely sufficiently stuffed after we had our waiter bring us a few different platefuls, but it was well worth it; and although I don’t usually condone over-eating, this was definitely one of those meals that it is hard to stop enjoying the flavors!  So let’s just say that we kept on enjoying long after we probably should….those faces below describe exactly how we felt….stuffed!

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So I guess it’s safe to assume that we really like Salt Lick’s take on BBQ, and a unique take at that. What makes this barbeque so unique isn’t just how the meat is cooked, but their sauce is nothing like any I have ever had before.  This sauce has a very distinct Asian influence, which I guess would make sense since seeing as Thurman’s wife is from Japan, who I’m sure played a large role in Thurman’s famous take on barbecue dishes.  So although sauce is sort of a "no-no" in Texas, the sauce is so unique and flavorful, you definitely want it in every bite…which you get from all the basting that goes on! In fact, we liked it so much, we even bought a bottle to take home. 😉

SIGNATURE DISH: Even if you only checked out the pictures on this post, I think you would have a grasp at what the Salt Lick is known for!  Still, this is not just any backyard barbeque. The Salt Lick is PIT BARBECUE.  And like any good Texas barbeque joint they have it all…sausage, brisket, and best of all ribs!

TASTE: This barbecue is….AWESOME!!!!  It is cooked perfectly over the pit and gets those lovely charred burnt ends (which I LOVE!).  But, along with the meat is their signature sauce that is out of this world tasty and like nothing you have ever had before.  The Asian sauce perfectly complements the fatty crusty meat.  Even their sides are great…but just make sure you save room because the meat is truly where it’s at.

AMBIANCE: I mentioned above that this spot is everything you want a barbeque restaurant to be.  Not stuffy, not fancy…simply just a roof over your head where you can enjoy your barbeque at a picnic table…inside.  Surrounded by hundreds of others enjoying the experience, it really feels like you are all there together enjoying the best "family barbeque” you can imagine.

PRICE: As far as barbeque goes, this spot is a little pricier than others. However, no one seems to bat an eye, cause this place was packed with a line to boot! So, obviously they have realized that their customers will pay for a better product and good quality, which I’m starting to find is a trend at some of these places…gotta love capitalism ;).  On the other hand, it is really reasonable if you go for the "family dining" option and have a good appetite. We paid $18.95 per person for our all you can eat feast, and we definitely got our money’s worth. I mean, for all the meat you can possibly stomach, it really isn’t a bad deal. 

SERVICE: Just like their ambiance, this place is built to be hospitable.  From the hostesses to the cooks (who you can chat with while standing by the pit) to our waiter, everyone treats you as if you are in their home.  Our waiter, especially, was quick, helpful, and promptly kept bringing us more meat. He did a great job of helping us to gorge ourselves….and we are thankful.

Almost immediately, this barbeque spot moved to the top of the list as one of our most favorites; and since dining there we haven’t had anything near as good (and unfortunately likely won’t for awhile).  Still, we know it will be around for a long time to come; and just like Thurman hoped, we will plan to hopefully bring our generations back.  So although we don’t give out a lot of perfect scores on PCC…when we do, you know it is worth it (and it also seems to be somewhat related to barbecue…hmmmm. 😉 So since we loved The Salt Lick so much, we are giving it 5 ‘Little Piggies’!

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One Response to “Finger "Lick"in’ Good”

  1. […] I love good barbecue; and if you if you missed two of our stand out favorites you can read them here and […]

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