Ronnie’s Ice House Barbeque

Worth a detour

On the side of a busy stretch of 281, Ronnie’s is easy to spot. If the big sign out front isn’t enough, just look for the smoke billowing up from the right side of the restaurant. Here, Ronnie Weiershausen burns his logs down to coals—the “old fashioned” way—as opposed to using an off-set smoker or rotisserie. He uses direct-heat cooking, a Hill Country method that’s become more rare. Probably because it’s so very hot in Texas.

We walk into the cafeteria-like dining room, lined with wood-paneled walls and glossy wooden tables. Stacks of styrofoam cups wait next to the soda machine. At the check-out, shelves filled with chips and a tall case of bottled drinks are all that remains of Ronnie’s original market for beer and snacks, which he opened in 1976 with his wife Cindy.

After he added barbecue in 1985, it was immediately obvious there was no turning back. Everything in here is affordable, and when we order the $22 sampler plate, Cindy is aghast. “You must be hungry!” Yes, and we also want to try everything. Ronnie himself cuts our ribs, slices regular and jalapeño sausages, then asks if we want light or dark chicken meat. Dark, of course. Add to that some turkey, pork, and “sliced beef,” two sides, and white bread. It’s a feast for at least four.

Everything is good, but the turkey is the immediate standout. You’d think it might be dry out sitting on direct heat, but it’s super flavorful. It has been sitting next to the ribs, after all, and tastes as if it’s soaked up some of that smoky goodness. The “sliced beef” is cooked for 12-hours; it’s juicy if a bit tough, with layers of fat around the edge. It’s better than brisket, in my opinion.

Sausage has a satisfying snap; both the regular and jalapeño versions are delicious. Sausage is the one thing that isn’t done here: They’re from City Market in Schulenburg, about 120 miles southeast.

The ample ribs are chewy and thick, best with a touch of the sweet-and-tangy barbecue sauce that sits in red squeeze bottles on each table.

Beans are simmered with bacon, salt, butter, and garlic. Corn salad is cool and refreshing. Both are simple and good.

We manage to sneak in a few bites of the Nilla wafer-topped banana pudding with thick slices of banana and a creamy filling. It’s served in a small styrofoam cup with a convenient take-home lid.

The entire time we’re eating, there’s a steady stream of locals coming in for take-out. They know Ronnie and Cindy by name, and catch up on family news. One of the waitresses tells me that Ronnie learned most of his techniques from his father. He’s hoping to pass them down to his son (though that’s not set in stone, yet).

After clearing our own plastic silverware and packing up our very heavy Styrofoam to-go box, we receive a kind goodbye from the group, but Ronnie is nowhere to be found. I spot him outside, where he opens up the grill so I can see the huge slabs of meat inside. He shakes my hand and wishes me safe travels, then turns back to the business of barbecue.

What to Eat
Ronnie’s Ice House Barbeque, Sampler Platter
Sampler Platter
Half of the sampler: sliced turkey, pork, beans with bacon, and corn salad.
Ronnie’s Ice House Barbeque, Sampler Platter
Sampler Platter
Ribs, chicken, and sausage are piled high in half of the sampler plate.
Ronnie’s Ice House Barbeque, Banana Pudding
Banana Pudding
Whole Nilla wafers add nostalgic touch to creamy banana pudding.
Directions and Hours
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner, Dessert
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Salt Lick

    Driftwood, Texas

    In the Hill Country west of Austin, the Salt Lick is a theme park of BBQ, serving a full range of smoke-cooked meat with all the fixins. A Texas legend!

  • Matt’s El Rancho

    Austin, Texas

    A bustling south Austin Tex-Mex landmark, Matt’s El Rancho is the place to come for chilies rellenos, huevos rancheros and legendary Bob Armstrong Queso.

  • Opie’s BBQ

    Spicewood, Texas

    A family BBQ in the small town of Spicewood, Opie’s is a perfect example of the no-frills Texas attitude for which people drive miles away from the metropolis.

  • Billy’s on Burnet

    Austin, Texas

    Billy’s is an Austin favorite restaurant where wings are superb and the Uptown Burger, topped with bacon marmalade, avocado and blue cheese, is unforgettable.

  • Texas Pie Company

    Kyle, Texas

    The Texas Pie Company bakes individual as well as full-size pies. Lemon chess is a standout, as is strawberry cake crowned with fruit-flavored frosting.

  • Dean’s One Trick Pony

    Austin, Texas

    Delicious modern burgers and popular frozen cocktails make Dean’s One Trick Pony a unique dining experience in Austin, Texas.