Texans pride themselves on the quality of their barbecue, and there are plenty of great places to grab some ribs and brisket all across the state.
According to Scott Roberts, owner of Texas’ famous Salt Lick BBQ restaurant, “The United States is the best damn country in the world, and Texas is the best damn state in the country — doesn’t that just logically mean that we would have the best damn barbecue?”
The Salt Lick has three locations in the Austin area: the original in Driftwood, another in Round Rock, and a newer stand at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The restaurants are regularly ranked among the best BBQ joints in the country.
When the first branch opened in 1967, it was just a limestone pit built into the Roberts’ family land. Over the more than 50 years since then, they have built an entire restaurant around the original pit, adding indoor lighting, running water, and all of the other amenities necessary to a functional restaurant.
Roberts’ family roots are in South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi, but, according to Roberts, their Southern recipes have been “Texafied” over time.
“When they left that region in the 1870s, their recipes didn’t contain ingredients such as chilli dulce and cayenne pepper. Those were added after they got to Texas,” he told Business Insider last June.
There’s a lot of stuff to choose from at the Salt Lick, but Roberts says there’s one meal that stands out.
“Definitely the Family Style Dinner (all-you-can-eat beef brisket, sausage, pork ribs, potato salad, cole slaw and beans, for $US19.95 per person), which gives you a taste of everything, followed up with peach or blackberry cobbler with ice cream, and a slice of pecan pie to go,” he said.
According to the Salt Lick, a normal year will see over 750,000 pounds of brisket, 350,000 pounds of pork ribs, and 200,000 pounds of sausage smoked to perfection on their enormous open-fire pit. That’s a lot of barbecue.
Roberts released a book in December 2012 called The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love, where you can read more about the Roberts family history and get some recipes to try out yourself.
Check out the fire pit in action in this episode of Man v. Food from 2009.