1700 East Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702
Hands up if you prefer not to line up for things? You will never catch me lining up to get into “da club” (probably because I refer to it as “da club”) and I have a huge issue with lining up for food when it isn’t being handed out by international aid agencies. What I’m saying is, yeah, I love great barbecue but I hate lining up for it.
And so, folks, meet Kerlin BBQ. I’m not saying you won’t have to wait a little, but I am saying that you can get some of the best BBQ in Austin right now for a reasonable 15-25 minute wait, rather than a “bring a chair and camp out for the morning” schlep. You know what else I kinda like about Kerlin? Bill Kerlin has kept a very low profile indeed. There are hardly any “check out this pitmaster!!” profiles about him, hell, I’m not even sure what the man looks like (and I’ll spare you the rant about how so many bbq articles these days are about people instead of food…). Needless to say, it’s damn refreshing that he allows his food to do the talking for him, and it tells a sweet, sweet story indeed.
Divine black-barked brisket is the stuff of central Texas legend, well seasoned and fabulously tender. Uniform pork ribs are lacquered with a sweet dark glaze which is balanced by a healthy dose of smoke. Sausage is sold by the link and retains the awesome snap that lets you know all the delicious fats and juices have been sealed in for your eating pleasure. The beef rib, while tender with a visible smoke ring, tasted vaguely of an oven roast and for some reason wasn’t quite as punchy as others I have had. It somehow lacked the intense beef fat flavour that makes the beef rib my usual favorite. Doesn’t really matter, it’s not part of the permanent menu anyway.
As an overall experience, Kerlin is amongst the best in town, and a highly respectable choice if you only had time to eat at one place in town to try “Texas BBQ”. A few tiny points can be deducted because the sides aren’t particularly memorable, although the bleu cheese coleslaw is an unusual offering. But as I’m sure most of you are thinking, who picks a BBQ joint by the side dishes? No one, that’s who. Unless you’re vegetarian, and in that case, stop.
You don’t need another reason to go try Kerlin BBQ, but just so you know, they also offer their patrons free Lone Star.
God bless Texas.