Salt Lick

Bar-b-q | Smoke House | Southwestern
Memorable
One of the best
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When we first came across the Salt Lick, some 40 years ago, it had neither four walls nor a restroom. It was just a smoke pit and makeshift tables on Thurman and Hisako Roberts’ 600 acre ranch. My, how it’s grown! Located in the Hill Country west of Austin, it has become an immense restaurant, banquet facility, and outdoor pavilion with seats for 2000. It is a veritable theme park of barbecue, its limestone buildings surrounded by rough-hewn log fences, the air smelling of slow-smoked meats. Compared to the region’s back-of-the-butcher-shop barbecue parlors, it’s a fairly civil place with ambience I would call Rustic Deluxe. Continue reading

When we first came across the Salt Lick, some 40 years ago, it had neither four walls nor a restroom. It was just a smoke pit and makeshift tables on Thurman and Hisako Roberts’ 600 acre ranch. My, how it’s grown! Located in the Hill Country west of Austin, it has become an immense restaurant, banquet facility, and outdoor pavilion with seats for 2000. It is a veritable theme park of barbecue, its limestone buildings surrounded by rough-hewn log fences, the air smelling of slow-smoked meats. Compared to the region’s back-of-the-butcher-shop barbecue parlors, it’s a fairly civil place with ambience I would call Rustic Deluxe. There is a printed menu; you are served at your table by waiters; food comes on plates rather than on butcher paper; utensils are supplied; and the kitchen’s repertoire includes all sorts of side dishes and dessert as well as barbecued meats. Fancy it is not, but neither is the Salt Lick primitive.

One other element that separates the Salt Lick from the primal parlors: sauce. Unless you ask to have your meat dry, it comes already painted with sauce. Not that the meat needs it, but it does happen to be really tasty sauce, a tangy-sweet glaze with perhaps a hint of mustard. In fact the sauce is good enough to use as a between-meat dip for the slices of white bread that come alongside the meal. The sausage is smoky and rich, like kielbasa, made from equal amounts of pork and beef. Brisket, slow-smoked for sixteen hours, is lean and polite (unless you request fattier slices); and if it lacks a certain succulence, Salt Lick sauce is an instant fix. Pork ribs drip juice from the tender meat at the bone and deliver a stupendously concentrated smoke-pit flavor in the chewy burnt ends.

Among the worthy side dishes are an intriguing cabbage slaw flecked with sesame seeds and cool, German-style potato salad. And of course, pickles and sliced raw onions are available with every meal.

Dishes to try
Family Style Dinner
Must-Try
A family-style meal at the Salt Lick keeps coming until you have had enough. At the front of the photo is a plate with pork, ribs, beef brisket, and sausage, pre-sliced. Above that, from the left, are German potato salad, beans, and cole slaw. And above them are a plate of pickles and raw onions and a couple of slices of white bread. Not pictured: the bowl of barbecue sauce that comes with the meal.
Sausage
Must-Try
Salt Lick sausage is very porky. All alone on a plate, it might be too much; but as part of a multi-meat barbecue meal, balanced by brisket, it's terrific.
Cobbler a la Mode
Long ago when we first came across the Salt Lick, it was famous for proprietor Hisako Roberts' green tea ice cream. The ice cream is no longer on the menu, but I was not complaining when I sunk a spoon into this excellent cobbler, the dough of which had a rich, almond essence.
Tea
Brisket
Sauce
Directions and Hours
Open Today
Sunday11 am - 10 pm
Monday11 am - 10 pm
Tuesday11 am - 10 pm
Wednesday11 am - 10 pm
Thursday11 am - 10 pm
Friday11 am - 10 pm
Saturday11 am - 10 pm
Information and Policies
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No
Reservations Accepted
Yes
Delivery Available
No
Takeout Counter
Yes
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