A Vegetarian’s Guide to Texas BBQ

2M Smokehouse

(San Antonio) We arrived at 2M at 10:30 on a Friday, and there were three or four cars already in the parking lot. By the time they opened at 11, there was a line of forty or so, but the line moved fast, and by the time we left, there was no line at all.


Sides

They offer coleslaw*, potato salad, macaroni and cheese (hold the cicharones on top) and fresh tortillas.  The potato salad was tasty…chunky red potatoes that are spiked with some Mexican spices. Same for the macaroni and cheese, but heavier on the spices, which I liked but might not be for everyone. Tortillas were heavenly.

Desserts
No desserts offered. (Some days they have Tres Leches, but not the day we went.)

Iced Tea
No iced tea. They had a good selection of sodas.

The Intangibles
The small crowd and fast moving line were definite pluses, but the best thing about this place is the ambience. Despite limited seating (we sat outside at a long picnic table with a family), the place feels like an authentic labor of love.

My Recommendation…
GO! Get the potato salad, coleslaw (I know, I know, I hate coleslaw), and tortillas and make yourself a couple of potato salad tacos. I had water, but when I go back, I’ll try one of the unusual flavors of soda.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
The potato salad taco is a rival for my Salt Lick potato salad sandwich. Missed the dessert though.

Corkscrew BBQ Corkscrew BBQ

(Spring) We went on a Tuesday for lunch. Got there at 10:30, and we were fifth in line.

Sides
They offer mac ‘n cheese, potato salad and coleslaw. I tried the coleslaw because it had spinach in it, and for coleslaw, it was pretty good. The mac ‘n cheese was passable, but the potato salad was the bomb! Completely different from any other we’ve had, which I suspected was due to some sour cream mixed in. I asked one of the guys there, and he confirmed. They also offer baked potatoes and a spinach salad that sounded perfect for a vegetarian.  (I didn’t have either and instead focused on the sides.)

Desserts
They offer peach cobbler. Very good, but I’m ready for a flavor other than peach.

Iced Tea
Perfect.

The Intangibles
When you arrive, you pick up a number on the porch and then wait at a picnic table or in your car or wherever you’re comfortable instead of standing in line. A huge bonus! They also have lots of great seating both inside and out.

My Recommendation…
Go! Get the spinach salad with a side of potato salad and an iced tea. Split a cobbler if you’re still hungry or wrap it up and take it home for later. Then take a stroll around old town Spring.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
For sides (and other options), definitely, but the Salt Lick wins on cobbler (helps that they usually have peach AND blackberry).

Franklin BBQFranklin Barbecue

(Austin) We arrived around 2:30 on a Friday afternoon, and there was a short line because they had announced they were going to run out of brisket. I’ve been to Franklin several times before, and we always arrived before 8 and ate sometime between 11 and noon. And when I say “ate,” I mean ate barbecue. This is the place that makes me give up vegetarianism…at least every now and then when it’s my birthday…or someone else’s birthday and they invite me along. Because my main objection to eating meat has to do with animal welfare, I make an exception for Franklin because they use the meat of humanely raised animals.

Sides
They offer potato salad and coleslaw*. No one goes there for the sides.

Desserts
They offer mini pies made by Cake and Spoon, an Austin bakery, and they are so good! I convinced the members of my party to wait in line in hopes that they would have some pie left. My husband wasn’t thrilled about waiting for pie until later that night when he ate his key lime pie. Even he agreed it was worth the wait.

Iced Tea
I always get a local beer.

The Intangibles
These people are beyond nice. They let people standing in line come inside to use the restrooms. They find out what people are ordering ahead of time, so they can tell people at the back of the line how likely they are to be disappointed. On the day we went at 2:30, they told us the sliced brisket would be gone, and even after we said we were just hoping for some pie, they came back and said they were going to make some chopped beef sandwiches just to make sure no one went without lunch. My husband told the slicer he just wanted a link of sausage, and the guy wrapped it up and said, “It’s on me.” And this was at the end of their work day when they’d served hundreds of customers non-stop.

My Recommendation…
Make an exception and eat the BBQ. Then have a pie…any flavor. (Key lime is my favorite.)

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
No on sides, but yes on BBQ and desserts.

Freedmen’s

(Austin) We went on a Wednesday at 4:30 for happy hour and got the last table inside (no AC, but fans keep it cool).

Sides
They offer potato salad and coleslaw*. I ordered the coleslaw because it was “grilled,” but it was really just the same old slimy stuff, and the potato salad was flavorless. Fortunately they also offer appetizers. We had the roasted beets with goat cheese (excellent) and jalapeno pimento cheese (a little too spicy).

Desserts
I shared the banana pudding and chocolate mousse, and both were excellent. Banana pudding with vanilla custard, slices of banana, and vanilla wafers, and the chocolate mousse was smooth and not too rich (although they’d sprinkled a bit too much salt on top).

Iced Tea
Tea? Why would you drink tea when a Lone Star is $2 and a whiskey is $3?

The Intangibles
They have happy hour, and they’re located in a really cool old building (which is hard to tell from the photo of the front). Also, they serve everything in mason jars…not really my kind of thing, but I know a lot of people enjoy that.

My Recommendation…
Go for happy hour, but get there early because the place was packed when we left. Have a couple of drinks and the beets and goat cheese appetizer,  watch your companions eat their $5 BBQ sandwiches, and then share both desserts.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
Sides, no. Desserts, yes.

Hutchins BBQHutchins BBQ

(McKinney) We arrived at a little after they opened at 11 on a Sunday and waited in line for less than a half hour. The line was about twice as long when we left.

Sides

They offer coleslaw*, potato salad, fried okra, white rolls, and jalapeno cornbread.  (Unfortunately, the broccoli salad and mac ‘n cheese had bacon bits hiding in it.) The potato salad was one of the best with a nice balance of dill, and the white roll was soft and tasty (reminded me of Luby’s roll), but the okra was PERFECT! In fact, it was so good, I would wait in the line, by myself, just to get some more.

Desserts
Peach cobbler, banana pudding, and soft-serve ice cream were all complementary. I’d be hard pressed to say which was best, the cobbler or the pudding, because both were great. The cobbler had a nice, slightly salty crust, which went well with a bit of vanilla ice cream on top, and the banana had real bananas, whole vanilla wafers, and vanilla custard.

Iced Tea
Ice tea was a little on the sweet side.

The Intangibles
The food was so good, nothing else really mattered. They were undergoing an expansion of their seating area, but we still found a comfortable table (in the AC).

My Recommendation…
Go…even if you don’t have a carnivore to accompany. Get the potato salad, a roll, an iced tea, and a double (or triple) serving of okra. Follow up with both desserts!

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
Yes.

La BarbecueLa Barbecue

(Austin) We arrived a little before 2 on a Friday afternoon, and there was relatively short but exceptionally slow-moving line. For now, they’re in a trailer, but next month they move into a brick and mortar location. It was miserably hot, so we got food to go.

Sides
They offer potato salad and coleslaw*, and the potato salad wasn’t anything special.

Desserts
No desserts, but there is a trailer right next to them with an assortment of desserts, one of which was strawberry short cake. I didn’t try it but sounds like a good option when eating outside on a summer day.

Iced Tea
Didn’t get tea since we got food to go.

The Intangibles
They’re moving into a storefront, which has to be better than a trailer when it’s 105 degrees outside.

My Recommendation…
Wait until the new location opens and enjoy watching your carnivorous friends eat while you snack on some potato salad. Check out the nearby Star Wars mural.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
Nope.

Lockhart BBQLockhart Smokehouse

(Plano) We arrived around 5:30 on a Sunday. No line at all, but they were also out of most of the sides.

Sides
They offer potato salad, coleslaw*, a blue cheese coleslaw, deviled eggs, and mac ‘n cheese. I had mac ‘n cheese because that and coleslaw were all that was left.  It was passable.

Desserts
None available.

Iced Tea
Only unsweetened (although they do sell some local beers).

The Intangibles
The guys who worked there were nice.

My Recommendation…
My carnivore partner said the brisket was so salty is was almost inedible and the Kreuz market sausage was dry, so I’d recommend skipping the food entirely, sitting at the bar and having a couple of local beers.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
Not in any universe.

Louie Mueller’s Barbecue

(Taylor) We arrived around 11 on a Saturday (after having breakfast at Snow’s), and there was a short line outside. Unfortunately, the line continued inside and moved at a dead snail’s pace because one woman was both discussing orders with customers  and cutting the meat (while another young woman wrote the orders down, another grabbed the sides, and a third just stood there watching). We thought it would be better inside, out of the sun, but we were wrong. It was like a sauna inside, and by the time we got to the drink station, people were desperate. After an hour and a half in line, we had lost our appetites and got our food to go.

Sides
They offer baked potatoes (which I didn’t have), potato salad, and coleslaw*. The potato salad was just okay. If we’d eaten there, I would have gotten the baked potato.

Desserts
I got both the banana pudding and cobbler. They were both gummy, and I didn’t finish either.

Iced Tea
Iced tea was excellent…especially when served in a sauna.

The Intangibles
I was so miserably hot and frustrated with the slow-moving line, I didn’t really notice much else.  Even forgot to take a photo on the way out.

My Recommendation…
Go in the fall. Get the baked potato and iced tea, and after lunch, walk around town and do some antique shopping.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
Nope. Neither the potato salad nor the desserts came close.

 

Micklethwait Craft MeatsMicklethwait’s Craft Meats

(Austin) We arrived around 1 on a Friday afternoon, and there was a short line. Unfortunately, they’re in a trailer, and so on a hot Texas summer day that means you sweat while you eat.

Sides
They offer potato salad, lemon poppy seed coleslaw, potato salad, and jalapeno cheese grits. The potato salad wasn’t anything special, but the coleslaw was surprisingly good. I got it because I just had to try slaw with poppy seeds and lemon. Once you get over the fact that it tastes nothing like your typical coleslaw (a good thing), it’s oddly refreshing.  Now about the grits…they rival the okra at Hutchins for best side of all. As with the okra, I’d go here by myself just to get the grits, and my heart starts beating faster at the thought of getting that okra and those grits at the same place. That’s a BBQ joint I’d go to all the time!

Desserts
No desserts.

Iced Tea
Sweetleaf in a bottle. Yuck.

The Intangibles
You have to appreciate the effort they put into their sides.

My Recommendation…
Wait until the weather cools and go for a double serving of the jalapeno cheese grits and try the coleslaw. It’ll be interesting if nothing else. Take your own water.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
Yes on sides, especially with those grits. No on dessert since they offer none.

Roegels Barbecue Co.

(Houston) We arrived around 3 on a Monday afternoon and were the only ones there.

Sides
You’ve gotta love a BBQ joint that offers a “veggie plate”! They make  coleslaw*, potato salad, mac ‘n cheese, and Texas caviar (black eyed peas, black beans, corn–all spiced up). Everything was delicious.

Desserts
They were out of bourbon banana pudding, unfortunately, so I got a pecan pie thing to go. Had it for my late dinner, and it was also excellent. Pretty much a piece of pecan pie in a square shape with crust only on the bottom.

Iced Tea
Iced tea was just right.

The Intangibles
The fact that they offer a veggie plate says it all.   Also they have some really great homemade pickles.

My Recommendation…
Go! Get the same veggie plate I got (potato salad, mac ‘n cheese, and Texas caviar), and  hopefully you’re fortunate enough to get the banana pudding. If not, get the pecan pie thingy.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
Yes on sides, due to variety. Dessert is a close call.

Snow’s BBQ

(Lexington) Snow’s was ranked #1 by Texas Monthly and is open only on Saturdays, so it comes as no surprise that there are long lines. They open at 8, so we left home at 5:30, arrived a few minutes before 7, and were eating breakfast BBQ at 9. A little weird, to be honest.

Sides
Coleslaw* and potato salad are all they offer. Unfortunately, it’s not good potato salad. It’s that mushy stuff with sweet pickles.

Desserts
Given that I was eating dessert at 9 a.m., I guess it was understandable that the pudding hadn’t yet set up. Despite the fact that it was runny, it had real bananas and vanilla wafers, and the pudding was a nice vanilla custard, no sign of that awful artificial banana flavoring. I assume it would have been better closer to lunch time.

Iced Tea
Just the right amount of sweet! Also, for a donation, you can get a cup of beer while you wait. Downside? It’s Bud Light.

The Intangibles
The line is part of the experience (much like Franklin), and once you get inside, the people who work there are super nice. The have some tables inside and some outside. This place has a lot of character.

My Recommendation…
Get some breakfast tacos on your way, visit with the people in line, watch your friends eat, and then get a banana pudding to take home and eat later when it’s set.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
The potato salad doesn’t come close, although the banana pudding might be as good as the Salt Lick’s cobbler if the pudding was set.

Stanley's BBQStanley’s Famous Pit BBQ

(Tyler) We arrived around 10:30 on a Monday. A few people were already waiting in their cars, and a dozen or so were waiting when they opened at 11.

Sides
They offer potato salad and coleslaw*. The potato salad was mushy and flavorless.


Desserts
They had peach cobbler and ice cream. Of course, I got both. The cobbler was yummy…good crust and lots of cinnamon…and the ice cream was Bluebell…’nuff said.

Iced Tea
Iced tea wasn’t sweet enough (on the borderline of being unsweetened).

The Intangibles
The people who worked there were really nice, and the place had a lot of personality. We sat inside in the AC, but they had a covered patio, and, from the looks of it, have live music at night. 

My Recommendation…
Go at night and eat cobbler while listening to music.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
The potato salad didn’t come close although the cobbler was equal.

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew

(Austin) We went on a Wednesday evening. There was no line, and they still had some of everything. Since we’d just had happy hour at Freedmans, we took our food to go and had it for lunch the next day.

Sides
They offer potato salad, corn casserole, macaroni and cheese, and coleslaw*. I didn’t have the corn casserole (I like corn casserole only slightly more than coleslaw), but both the mac ‘n cheese and potato salad were excellent. The mac had some hearty cheese flavor (unlike most which are mild and creamy like Luby’s), and the potato salad was spiked with sour cream. On second thought, I wish I’d tried the corn casserole.

Desserts
I had the banana pudding. Tastes just like mama made, which brought tears to my eyes.

Iced Tea
Didn’t get the tea since we were getting our food to go.

The Intangibles
It’s in a strip center, but they make the most of it. Nice indoor, air-conditioned seating space with plenty of room. Also, unlike most, they’re still open (and have plenty of selection) at dinnertime.

My Recommendation…
Go for dinner. Enjoy the sides and the company and then have the banana pudding for dessert.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
Yes.

Tejas Chocolate CraftoryTejas Chocolate Craftory

(Tomball) We went on a Tuesday around 12:30 and waited in line for 15 to 20 minutes.

Sides
After reading about the sides in Texas Monthly, this was number one on my list. Sadly, the sides just didn’t live up to the hype. The potato salad was just so-so (mushy and not a lot of flavor), the carrot souffle really just tasted like carrots (no extra spicing to make it interesting), and the cornbread pudding was too sweet (which is normal and the reason I’m not a cornbread pudding fan).

Desserts
We got truffles to go. They were good, which makes sense given that they started out as a chocolate maker.

Iced Tea
I had a Live Oak Hefe instead. They do have an excellent selection of Texas beers.

The Intangibles
They’re located in a cute little house in old downtown Tomball. Would make a cute little tea house that served truffles.

My Recommendation…
Get some chocolates and eat them as you walk around old town Tomball. (My carnivorous partner wasn’t thrilled with the ‘Q.)

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
No.

Terry Black’s Barbecue

(Austin) We arrived at Terry Black’s a little after 11 a.m. on a Friday and had our food at the table ten minutes later. By the time we left, the lunch crowd had arrived, but I’d guess they didn’t wait more than twenty minutes.


Sides
The sides are served cafeteria style, which I loved because it reminds me of the old Underwood’s. They offer coleslaw*, potato salad, green beans, mac ‘n cheese, and creamed corn. The potato salad was good…chunky potatoes, not too much mayo, and lots of dill. The green beans were crisp but the garlic was too much for me although everyone else in my party liked them. The mac ‘n cheese was passable, but the creamed corn was downright weird (tasted like nutmeg or cinnamon had been added).

Desserts
The peach cobbler was okay. The peaches were tasty, but it could have used more crust. You could probably find something similar in the frozen section of the grocery store. As for the banana pudding, it was served layered in plastic cups, the vanilla wafers and bananas were hard to find, and the pudding tasted like Laffy Taffy. One of my traveling companions described it best: “It tastes institutional, like the stuff they serve in the state prison.” (I don’t even want to know how he knows that.)

Iced Tea
Just the right amount of sweet, not overly sweet.

The Intangibles
It’s nice not to have to wait in line, so there’s that. Also there’s plenty of comfortable seating inside in the AC.

My Recommendation…
Get the potato salad and green beans and iced tea. After I finished my meal, I saw that they had an ice cream case. If the line’s not too long, go back for ice cream and skip the other desserts.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
No. Not even the best side (the potato salad), and definitely not the cobbler.

Valentina'sValentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ

(Austin) We went on a Friday morning at 9:30 for breakfast tacos. They’ll soon be moving into a brick and mortar location, but for now, it’s a truck with picnic tables.

 

Sides
No idea…I had an egg and cheese taco.

Desserts
Again…no desserts available that early in the morning.

Iced Tea
After two cups of coffee at home, I opted for water.

The Intangibles
They offer breakfast tacos.

My Recommendation…
Go for breakfast. Who doesn’t like a breakfast taco? I suggest asking for an extra tortilla and making two tacos out of the one. It’s stuffed with a lot of eggs.

Is it really better than the Salt Lick?
That would be like comparing apples and oranges.

* I HATE coleslaw so will not be commenting on it!