The Salt Lick - Driftwood, TX (Austin)
I was finally able to make a weekend trip to Austin happen so I was super excited at the opportunity to have some BBQ. I had plans to try Franklins at first, and even had a friend willing to adventure with me by getting to Franklins at 9am to stand – or sit – in line and have their famous BBQ. However, the weather didn’t play nice and the day started out with pouring rain in some areas. I’m all for food adventures, but standing in the rain was not something I wanted to do.
I’m actually glad it happened because it gave me the chance to go to the original Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX, which is about 30 minutes southwest from Austin. I’ve had Salt Lick BBQ before, both in the Austin and Dallas Forth Worth airports. I had the chopped brisket both times and loved it. But any foodie knows that you should always have “the original”. Plus I wanted to find out if the airport BBQ was just good for airport food or truly good because it’s Salt Lick. It is cash only (but the airport takes credit/ATM) so be prepared, but they do also have an ATM if you forgot.
You walk in and you can’t help but smell the BBQ cooking. They offer everything from brisket to ribs and turkey. I ordered the Marino’s Triple Chop sandwich, which came with their chopped brisket, sausage and ribs. It was seriously the best BBQ sandwich I have ever had. All the meat was moist and smoked full of flavor. The best part was the bits and pieces of chopped pickles and onions that were mixed in. It added small bursts of flavor that went well with the BBQ. And even though I'm sure their BBQ sauce is tasty, I didn't try any because it didn't need it.
I ordered a sandwich plate, which came with a side of potato salad, cole slaw and beans. None of the sides were what I expected. However, it was so unexpected and delicious that I kept eating, grazing if you will, until it was all gone. The cole slaw had a sprinkling of celery seeds that added a nice crunch and freshness. It was also lightly coated with a vinegar “sauce” instead of being covered in a mayo based sauce. The potato salad also had a twist to it, but I couldn’t really put my finger on it. It almost had a curry-ish spice to it. It was tasty, whatever their secret ingredient is.
I will say that the BBQ offered in the airport is almost just as good as what you get from the original. But nothing truly beats driving out to almost the middle of nowhere and finding this not-to-hidden gem. It was busy for a Saturday morning and obviously lots of people make the drive out. The Salt Lick Cellars is on the same plot of land and you drive in among the grapevines that have been planted over the years.
You should take the trip if you have the opportunity. They do have another location in Round Rock, which is north of Austin. You should at least try the airport locations if you can’t make it. You will be very pleased with whatever you end up with.