Friday, January 7, 2011

The Salt Lick, Round Rock Texas

The Salt Lick

3350 E Palm Valley Blvd
Round Rock, TX 78665

photo by Jack Wier

The Salt Lick is everything a destination barbecue joint should be.  There are a few locations, one in the owner’s home town of Driftwood, Texas, another in Round Rock, Texas and a two others at  the Austin and Oklahoma City airports.  I went to the Round Rock location. When you park in the huge parking lot your mouth starts to water because the scent of smoking meat is everywhere.  Walking in the door you see a huge open pit barbecue with several cooks working around it.  The apparatus can probably cook a dozen beef briskets at once, which is good because they are in great demand. The Salt Lick is not an establishment that that worries about decor. The only decorations on the walls were a framed Texas Flag and an awesome picture of Nolan Ryan holding a guy in a headlock while punching him.   The Salt Lick is known for its beef brisket. When my family sat down at our table, we asked the waitress for her recommendations.  She said that the ribs and brisket were fantastic.  She also mentioned that the Point was her favorite cut of meat and went on to tell us a bit about the smoking process that the brisket goes through at the Salt Lick. This woman knew her barbeque.  My Dad ordered the brisket and said it was the best he’d ever had.  This statement is important because before we went to the restaurant my Dad had all but given up on smoking brisket; saying that he just couldn’t seem to smoke it in a way that keep the meat from drying out.  I should also say that my father is no novice when it comes to barbecue.  He is a devotee of the Smoke Ring, knows about the Bullsheet and I got him a Ro-Man Porkpuller for Christmas. My Mother ordered the pulled pork sandwich and she said that it was very good as well.  The pulled pork at the Salt Lick is Caroliona Style; bun, pork, coleslaw, sauce and bun. I had the half a chicken and got a half with all white meat.  All of the chicken I had was moist and flavorful.  Accompanying each meal was a side of coleslaw and potato salad.  The coleslaw was bland but it, like everything all on your plate, I really enjoyed it with lots of sauce on it.  The potato salad was actually a brick of yellow mashed potatoes served at room temperature which I really enjoyed.  Traditional Texas barbecue has no sauce just a rub.  It is only in the last few decades that barbecue restaurants there have started including sauce on their meat. At the Salt Lick all of the meat was served dry though each table had a good-sized bowl of both sauces. Though it’s a relatively recent phenomenon; the Salt Lick has a tasty pair of barbecue sauces, Regular and Hot.  The sauces are mustard based which is something I had not tasted before.  Both sauces were also heavily flavored with sugar and onions. Depending on your personal point of view the sole drawback to these sauces was that the hotter one was not very hot.  In my opinion “Hot” barbecue sauces should be approached cautiously, used sparingly, and blow your head off while bringing out the flavor of the meat.  I used both sauces liberally on my entire meal and it wasn’t until my plate was almost empty that I was sweating and my nose was running. Whatever you choose to eat, The Salt Lick deserves all of its acclaim as a great barbecue restaurant.  Any barbecue aficionado should go there in you’re in the neighborhood.  

As always, may your pits inspire awe. - Jack

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