For most of us Austinites, Rudy's is a staple of our BBQ diet. It is one of the places that you point visitors and new residents to get a feel for what Texas BBQ is all about. In fact the 183/Duval store was the first place I was taken when I moved to Austin in 1998. Although, in all of my years in this area I hadn't ever made the trek down to Leon Springs to eat at the original Rudy's. What a better way to remedy that than to setup an EatsBBQ.com outing to the Original Rudy's.
Rudy's is a bit of a trek for us in Austin. It's about an hour and half South of Austin on the outskirts of San Antonio just off of IH-10 in Leon Springs, TX. To date this is the furthest we have traveled for a BBQ outing. That being the case I was a bit worried about the participation. In the end though we had a great turnout. In fact it was our largest to date with 16 people showing up. There were even several first time participants that came with us.
The building is an old convenience store that has an attached BBQ pit. There's a fair amount of banquet tables and folding chairs available to sit inside the store, or larger dining area just behind the store. There is also wooden picnic tables around the outside of the building for seating. This particular Rudy's is situated in front of a creek, and over the years has experience several floods. There is a large mural in the larger dining area that is depicts the floods and what was done in those situations. As a reminder there are also water mark to show how high the flood waters came and into the building.
When you enter the pit area it's lined with standard ice cover sodas and beers in troughs. These help to form the path to work your way up to the counter to place your order. Unlike the other Rudy's we've become accustom to the counter area is not air conditioned. The employees are working in a pit area and it's quite warm on a Summer day. The area itself isn't as large as I would have expected to output that much food. We started in line around 1:30pm, and it wasn't nearly as crowded as I had expected. The line barely reached the outside of the pit area. I've heard that it snakes around the building a long way on Sunday afternoon's though.
So on to the real reason we made the trip. BBQ!
Rudy's has a pretty standard selection of sides and meats to choose from. They had Lean and moist brisket, chopped brisket, sausage, turkey, chicken, St. Louis and baby back ribs. For sides they have potato salad, cole slaw, and cream corn.
I ordered moist brisket, turkey, 2 baby back ribs, potato salad, and a fountain drink. Pretty much the standard fare for comparison to the other places that we've been. The guy taking my order got confused and had to ask me again what I ordered. It's obviously not the well oiled machine that the franchises area.
After I got to the table, I figured out that I ended up with lean brisket instead of moist. I'm not big on their lean brisket just because it dries out so much. And just like I had anticipated the brisket was dry. It had a good smoke ring, was tender, and tasted fine. It was just dry. From there I moved on to the turkey. It was just as flavorful as all the other Rudy's, and just like those places it's hit or miss on the juiciness of it. This one ended up moderately moist to dry. At first glance at the ribs, I know for a fact they are going to be dry as well. It's almost like they've been under a heat lamp for hours. They tasted good, but baby backs that are dried out aren't all that appealing to me. They had a great flavor, but I didn't finish them off.
So the theme of the day for my meat selections were Dry Dry Dry. Not a good way to make a positive impression.
I tried some of the crews sausage, and it was pretty moist. But it's not a homemade sausage like several of the other places that we've been to recently. I also got to try some of the moist brisket, and it was much better than the lean selection I had. I just wish they hadn't screwed that up.
The potato salad was just as good as the reference point of the Austin franchises. It's a mustard based potato salad with large chunks of potato in it. It was probably the only thing that I had that I was fully satisfied with.
It was great to get everyone out to one of our events, but I really wish we could have delivered a better experience to the participants. I think I'll be sticking to the franchises for Rudy's from now on.