the spot: Leroy and Lewis 121 Pickle Road Austin TX 78704
the eats: Barbacado, pulled hog, beef cheeks, barbacoa
the bucks: $20 a person for a hefty plate, $12 for a respectable lunch.
the full nelson: why Austin is the capital of bbq in the 21st century
There are more than a few places to get mouth watering brisket in Austin TX but Leroy and Lewis isn’t one of them, unless you get there are on the weekends. So right there you know you are hitting up a barbecue joint that is choosing to defy the norm. And that’s the kind of restaurant you need to be going to.
Situated in a lot with one of my fav taco joints in ATX, Leroy and Lewis is a great stop for locals in the know and tourists in town for ACL or SXSW. Anchoring the show is Cosmic Coffee, and for those who don’t live in Austin, coffee shop is code for beer garden, which Cosmic Coffee most certainly is. They even have a full bar and considering this parking lot fills up quick, you should probably just go ahead and Uber here.
Leroy and Lewis bills itself as new school barbecue and if the hashtag didn’t convince you, then the side of kimchi should. And by the way, kimchi is as fine of a bbq side if there ever was one. Evan Leroy is the man behind the pits and if you ever went to Freedmen’s BBQ, you will have tasted his work. What I remember most from Freedmen’s was the roasted beets and goat cheese salad, not exactly a classic bbq side but delicious nonetheless. That to me sums why you go to Leroy and Lewis, you go for something that is delicious and different.
Different is how I would sum up the barbacado: half an avocado topped with smoked and confit beef cheek. This is Texas, in fact Tex Mex, in a single dish: smoked beef cheek, avocado, cilantro, queso fresco and salsa. Swap out the butcher paper for a tortilla and you would have a taco. And if you happen to score a bean and cheese taco from Pueblo Viejo next door, you very well could have the best taco in Austin.
Like Micklethwait Craft Meats, Leroy and Lewis makes their own sausages which means you are totally ordering one. The hallmarks of a perfect sausage are checked off here: a coarse grind which allows for big chunks and meats and toothsome morsels of fat, a natural casing and, being a 100% pork link, a more mellow sausage than the beef links one finds at say Terry Blacks. There are a lot of great sausages in Austin, Leroy and Lewis is no exception.
The beef cheeks are as intense as they look. Brisket fans might find the cheeks more reminiscent of fatty brisket but a there is also a slight mineral touch in that bite as well. I have had the brisket when they serve it on the weekends and it is certainly worth making the trip for, but, I mean look at those cheeks and tell me you don’t just want to just pinch ’em?
Like Apple said in the early 2000s, “think different” and indeed Leroy and Lewis is doing just that when it comes to Texas barbecue. If you must have brisket, make sure you go on a weekend. But if you really want to take advantage of Leroy and Lewis new school barbecue take, get the barbacado, some beef cheek, pulled hog(the best in the city) and maybe a link. It’s a solid plate of barbecue that won’t disappoint.