Salt Lick

Review by: Michael Stern

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.

What To Eat

Family Style Dinner

Cobbler a la Mode



Salt Lick Recipes


What do you think of Salt Lick?

One Response to “Salt Lick”

Elizabeth Wilson

March 9th, 2008

I was glad to see Salt Lick reviewed as our version of Roadfood (the book) did not include it. It is a great place that we visit every year as we RV in Texas in the winter. My husband prefers Cooper’s but Salt Lick has the best sauce going.

Order the all-you-can-eat “Family Style” meal and they will keep it coming, although the single plate isn’t too shabby and you can order whichever meats you want. I’m not a big fan of the ribs, but the sausage and brisket are very good. If you feel too full to order the cobbler, get some as takeout (even with the ice cream). We managed to finish it on the way back to the RV.

Don’t worry if the lines seem long; it doesn’t take that much time. We also bought rub and sauce to take back to Upstate New York to share with friends during the summer. The one thing to know is that the restaurant does not serve alcohol, but you can bring your own. Beer is especially good with the BBQ, but we’ve also had red wine.


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