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Barbecue notes: Taylor Cafe and Gonzalez Food Market

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Barbecue notes: Taylor Cafe and Gonzalez Food Market

Carter B. | Oct 26, 2002 07:56 PM

I've been to a couple of new-to-me barbecue places lately that have not been mentioned much on this board that I thought I'd share my observations.

One pretty Saturday, I made a solo trip to Taylor and resisted the urge to go Louis Mueller's and instead turned right off 79 Business down to First street right next to the railroad tracks. Taylor Cafe is down there almost under the big Hwy95 bridge. It's a long narrow building that seems like a place that should serve great cue. Alas, for me that day, it was merely good cue. The place is dominated by two long bar counters (though there are some tables). I sat down and ordered some of the big three Central Texas meats: brisket, pork ribs and sausage. They also have turkey sausage, maybe chicken (an item I alwasy dismiss at 'cue places), and assorted meats as sandwhiches. The brisket was pretty tender and had a nice smokey taste. The ribs and sausage were merely average. They also had some barbecue sauce that was pretty tasty, but not that distinctive. All-in-all, it's a good place with a long history--operated by the same guy for something like 50 years, but they have one little problem: I think the best barbecue place in Texas is one block away.

Louis Mueller's in Taylor has become my favorite 'cue place in Texas. I used to think they were a bit inconsistent, but I've been there maybe 5 times in the past year and everything has been top-notch. Last Saturday, my friends and enjoyed superb beef ribs, brisket, pork ribs, regular sausage, jalepeno sausage, and even a slice of pork loin. Oh my. The meat was so tender, the flavor was so intense. Especially those beef ribs. They've got to be the best beef ribs in Texas...

Which brings me to Gonzalez Food Market in Gonzalez, which Robb Walsh in his new barbecue book describes as serving the best beef ribs in Texas. After reading that I put a trip to Gonzalez-- about 1.25 hours from Austin-- high on my 'cue todo list. It's a tough to resist the siren calls of Kreuz and Luling Market on the way down 183 to Gonzalez, but we made it there at noon on a Saturday-- the perfect 'cue time. It's a small food market (you can grab some Fritos on the way out), with a line for barbecue in back. They've got quite a selection of meats. We sampled the brisket, sausage, pork ribs, beef ribs, and lamb ribs-- the first time I've seen lamb ribs barbecue. The brisket was very good, the sausage was great and seemed hand made, the pork ribs a bit of above average (I'm very picky about my pork ribs), the beef ribs were almost perfect (a bit too salty), and the lamb ribs were amazing. Those lamb ribs were the highlight for me, I'm a big lamb fan and these ribs were very tender and had that nice game flavor. If you like the barbecue goat at Cooper's you'll like these lamb ribs which are much less gamey than the mutton 'cue at Southside in Elgin.

In sum, I've put the Gonzalez market in my second tier of Texas barbuce places along with John Mueller's in Austin, Southside in Elgin, and Country Tavern in Kilgore. I'm not sure how often I'm going to get down there, but when I get a hankering for those lamb ribs, you can bet I'll be down there. Yum. For the record, my first tier consists of Louis Mueller's, Coopers, Kreuz, and Luling in that order.

Has anybody else been to Gonzalez? Any other 'cue related notes?

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