Austin barbecue is getting the recognition it deserves, taking up three spaces on Texas Monthly's top best BBQ joints list.
While Fort Worth's Goldee's Barbecue topped the list, coming in second was Austin's Interstellar BBQ; in fifth, LeRoy & Lewis; and in seventh, Franklin Barbecue. Four more Austin joints made the unranked list.
The list, which is the sixth of its kind to come out since 1997, was formulated after 411 barbeque locations across the state were visited by Texas Monthly and narrowed down by barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn and food writer Patricia Sharpe. The writers made note of a new generation of pitmasters that are challenging tradition and giving tried and true places a run for their money.
Interstellar BBQ, 12233 Ranch Road 620 N.
Much can be said about Interstellar BBQ, which beat out Franklin Barbecue in their list debut.
Interstellar opened in 2019 from John Bates, 46; Carlos Cruz, 43; and Warren McDonald, 53; serving up all the usuals with some traditional methods while also experimenting where they can.
Their secrets behind the goodness? Texas Monthly writes: "(Bates') brisket is simple: salt, pepper, garlic, and obsessive heat management. For his pork ribs, he eschews the usual glaze but, knowing diners expect a little sweetness, adds brown sugar to the rub. He also smokes what he calls the Tipsy Turkey Breast, which marinates overnight in hefeweizen."
LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue, 121 Pickle Road (food truck parked at Cosmic Coffee)
Another newer kid on the block is LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue.
Serving up "new school barbecue, old school service," LeRoy and Lewis opened in 2017 from pitmaster Evan LeRoy, 35.
What does new school barbecue mean? Texas Monthly writes: "At LeRoy and Lewis, the new-school approach means Evan LeRoy eschews pork ribs (though on Saturdays he does offer "bacon ribs"—massive pork ribs with the belly still attached) and turkey (except around Thanksgiving) and serves brisket only on Saturdays and Sundays."
Franklin Barbecue, 900 E. 11th, Austin
It's not a barbecue list without the iconic Franklin Barbecue.
Since 2009, Jordan Jackson, 39; Megan Nesland, 38; Matthew Van Orden, 46, have been serving up masterful barbeque that saw lines stretch around the block pre-pandemic. In 2013 and 2017, it captured the number one and number two spots, respectively, on the Texas Monthly list.
Should it still be in the top? Texas Monthly writes: "Franklin's drop into the bottom half of our top ten isn't a sign that the beloved establishment has diminished—no one does the traditional barbecue lineup better. But it is a sign that the new wave is reshaping the scene in ways we couldn't have imagined a few short years ago."
Honorable Austin mentions from the list (unranked)
- Distant Relatives
- La Barbecue
- Micklethwait Craft Meats
- Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ
- LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue, 121 Pickle Road - austonia ›
- Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, 6610 N. Lamar Blvd. - austonia ›
- BBQ season: A guide to Austin's best brisket, ribs and good ol' sides ›
- Franklin Barbecue's reopening had fans lined up overnight - austonia ›
- Where to find the best barbecue in Austin - austonia ›
- 11 restaurants to experience Austin's best brisket and fixin's - austonia ›
- Austin ranks as No. 2 best barbecue city in US - austonia ›
By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.