Salt Lick Barbecue, (near) Austin TX
The Dish: Barbecue Ribs Platter
Salt Lick is really more about a great rustic, summer-camp atmosphere than earth-shattering barbecue. Nice little plate of barbecue will fill you up; the sauce is tasty. The brisket, sausage, and pork ribs are good, and the portions acceptable for the price. I liked the more mustard-driven potato salad and the other sides are OK but they don’t have any demanding, distinctive sense of homemade flavor. If you said they were from a vat, nobody would disagree (unless they work for Salt Lick and know better). With Salt Lick’s eternal popularity, maybe they’re both homemade and from a vat. Still a fun place and decent grub for the price.
The Damage: Platter (your choice) for $11.95
Includes either beef, sausage, pork ribs, or a meat combo, with potato salad, cole slaw, beans, bread, pickles, and onions.
If you go in a group, it’s easier to just get the $18.95 all-you-can-eat platters. They keep comin’ round the bend with more food until you say, “Whoa.” (See plate below for example of heapin’ helpin’…)
The Grade: Very Good (food) but Great (experience)
A lot of why you’ll like Salt Lick Barbecue is due in no small part to the laid-back, way in-the-sticks atmosphere. It’s like a big summer campground: big old WWII-era cabins with long picnic tables, and an outdoor seating area that busts out with local live bands on weekends. You’re encouraged to tote in your own coolers full of beer (or whatever), so it’s a nonplussed party atmosphere that’s also somehow family friendly, with kids romping around all over. It feels like a Southern family reunion you got invited to, actually, with lots of distant cousins who you don’t know so well at the other tables. The barbecue itself is actually more ‘very good’ tasting than great, but the vibe at Salt Lick Barbecue should provide a fun afternoon or evening for a group.
The Spot: Salt Lick Barbecue
Salt Lick is really fun and worth the trip to its hot, dusty boondocks, so I highly recommend you go out there with a group of hungry friends and while away an hour or two and some giant plates of barbecue. Salt Lick is a fun, rustic place from another generation, with neighborly friendly service and very decent (but not phenomenal) grub. It’s an icon of the Austin area, and a must-see for you hungry tourist folk.
Toothsome: Cobbler (Peach or Blackberry Pie)
You must, must, must get a slice of fresh cobbler. In fact, get one to eat there and one to take home for breakfast. Salt Lick BBQ’s blackberry pie is insane. In fact, I remembered the pie with more drool than any of the BBQ.
A whole heap of pies are lined up along a counter next to the cash register, like some super-long Aunt Bea windowsill in Mayberry, RFD. Salt Lick may have peach and other kinds of fruit or berry pie, depending on the season, and pecan pie is a staple. I suspect that any Salt Lick BBQ pie along the line is pretty darn good. Salt Lick BBQ is like that, no nonsense and down-home sweet.
The Skinny: Salt Lick Barbecue
18300 FM Rd 1826, Driftwood, TX 78619
Phone: (512) 858-4959
Note 1: Salt Lick is cash only, so bring a heap if you’re a group. No credit cards accepted.
Note 2: Be sure to go to this Salt Lick in Driftwood; there’s another Salt Lick (from the same group) that’s more like a chain restaurant than the rustic, cool outpost of the original Salt Lick.