We’re in Austin, Texas for the weekend to visit family and enjoy that great Texas tradition of barbeque. If you stop a couple on an Austin street and ask where to go for the “best barbeque” you’ll probably get two answers, maybe three, and – on rare occasion – trigger a divorce.
I said it was Texas and they do take it seriously. With literally hundreds of choices here in Austin, it’s hard to pick your next barbeque spot. The online reviews, available on countless sites, are rarely decisive. Right after a “best I ever ate” plug you are just as likely to read a “disappointing” assessment.
Near downtown, just below the lake, one spot, Green Mesquite, caught our eye. It’s seems almost everyone loves it. As you drive up, you get quite a site. An old wooden building with slopping sides – not a shack but not new – sits on a lot embraced by tall trees with branches extending over very grey shingles. Exit your car, and you smell meat and wood smoke with the first breath.
Walking through the door, there is an exceptional Texas-style boast: “Best Coffee in Texas.” Suzen ordered a quick cup, took one sip, and nodded yes with a smile. We sat back with confidence, took our time ordering, and had full confidence. The owner came by to chat and explained how he loves coffee and waged war with his staff until he got just the flavor he craved[he’s onto Seattle’s Best!]
Green Mesquite comes through on every level. Great meat, great side dishes. The ribs were dark red from long smoking, full of flavor, and yet incredibly juicy and moist. The secret? Fat. These pork ribs were not “lean” or mostly meat. They were very fatty and that fat engendered flavor and kept them moist.
It’s a lesson to apply in your home cooking. You are not just buying meat, you are really buying flavor. It’s the combination of fat, cooking technique [time, heat, …], and meat that generate the final flavor. Just shopping for red meat alone is liable to leave you wanting.
If you do get to Austin, then try Green Mesquite. There are multiple outlets, a passion for the best in food, and the skills to give you a great meal on an old picnic bench under a shady tree. The buttermilk onion rings are just as God designed them. The cole slaw has tang, the potato salad offers smooth comfort.
Just remember to grab some napkins. It may be good, but that moistness does dribble.