Stubb's Bar-B-Que - 801 Red River, Austin TX 78701
I had the great fun of going to Austin, Texas this week for work. Visiting this city once before, I knew what I was in for--friendly folk, unbeatable live music and of course amazing bbq. On our first night, we tried an awesome local 'q spot called Stubb's.
Although Stubb's doesn't seem like much in terms of atmosphere, it's pretty famous--especially in the music world. Back in the 70's, Stubb's served as the place for respite and song for legendary musicians such as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt among others. Today, it continues to be the venue for local music acts, showcasing different live bands each night. We caught some action at the end of our meal, as music infiltrates all corners of the space--both in the dining room and in the lower-level amphitheater. Overall, the atmosphere is casual and relaxed--you can walk in wearing your oldest pair of jeans, a comfy t-shirt and no one will look at you twice.
Stubb's came recommended by a fellow co-worker and Texan, Jackie. She raved about its tasty food--and she was so right. Blue Smoke and Hill Country, watch out!
Red River Rita - We started the evening with a typical Southern drink--a margarita. Our expectations were high, as we craved a 'rita with the freshest ingredients, rimmed with the coarsest salt. While I thought that Stubb's' version tasted fresh, it was too sweet for me--the sugar biting the back of my throat. I kept pouring water into my glass to dilute it yet it was still too sweet.
Fried Green Tomatoes - I've heard a lot about this Southern snack but have never had the opportunity to try it--until now. My co-worker Abby and I devoured 6 large green tomato halves. Served with a tangy tartar sauce, the tomatoes were firm and sort of sweet on the inside with a beautiful crispy crust on the outside. What I loved about them is that they weren't messy and seedy, like your standard red tomatoes. I'd reorder this dish in a heartbeat--and Abby would too.
Stubb's Minor Combo Plates - Abby and I got two of these and shared everything on our plate. We ordered four types of meats and four types of sides.
The Meats - We chose a little bit of everything--brisket, chicken, pork ribs and sausage. Out of these, my favorites were the ribs and chicken--they were marinated in Stubb's smoky bbq sauce. The chicken was tender with delicious crispy skin while the ribs were topped with a tasty dry rub that Texas is known for. I thought that the brisket was too dry and I had to use more of Stubb's' bbq sauce to give it flavor. The sausage was yummy yet it didn't have enough spice. I wouldn't have minded a little more seasoning.
The Sides - This was the most exciting part of the meal, in my eyes. I couldn't wait to try Stubb's' version of creamy mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, cole-slaw and Serrano cheese spinach. Abby and I both agreed that the mac and cheese reigned supreme--it was silky smooth and really cheesy without being heavy. The cole slaw was another favorite because it was crunchy and not drenched in mayo. I could've done without the spinach, which sounded amazing on the menu but was way too spicy in real life. The mashed were good but uneventful--I really couldn't see anything special about them. They came with a side of gravy, which was so needed--without it, the mashed were too dry.
Service and Cost:
Our waitress was really quick--almost too quick because it seemed like she couldn't wait to serve the next table. She brought out the drinks even before we had a chance to start up a dinner conversation and our main dishes appeared a mere 8-10 minutes later. I'm not complaining--we were super hungry and the fast service was appreciated. However, I didn't get a taste of the Southern hospitality that I was hoping for.
We couldn't believe how affordable this place was. Our fried green tomatoes were just $5.95 and our combo meals set us back $13.95 each. With drinks, the whole dinner ended up being well under $60. This is simply unheard of at NY BBQ joints--especially at Blue Smoke. I'd surely come back the next time I'm in town.