BBQ City Limits: Dickey's Barbecue Pit

 
 
An ongoing series of barbecue reports from Austin. Not Llano, not Lockhart, not Taylor. Austin.
 
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
5207 Brodie Lane No. 115. 892-2283, more locations at www.dickeys.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 03.31.12
 
Dickey’s is a relative newcomer to Austin, with three stores here, one in Kyle and one in Round Rock. But the company announced this month that it plans to swell its ranks of more than 200 stores in 36 states by at least two more here. These are good reasons to give you 37 other options for barbecue in Austin in this series, because so often in the absence of local spots we default to the most convenient, even when it’s fair at best. This is the vacuum Dickey’s is there to fill.
 
It’d be easy just to laugh it off as Disney-Cue. Yes, Dickey’s is missing every bit of the Texas character we like in our shops here. The tradeoff is a clean, well-organized space and family-safe prices. It’s worth saying that the shop on Brodie has an Ole Hickory smoker behind the service line with a firebox that’s fed by hickory wood breathing its mild vapors into a revolving rack compartment. In what condition the brisket, ribs, sausage and pork shoulder arrive and how much time they spend in the smoker is open to question.
 
The slicer pulled the brisket wrapped tightly in plastic from a warming cabinet, and the brisket reflected that with a soft, steamed character and a lazy red rind with little or no color beneath it and smoke that will neither intrigue nor offend anyone. It formed half of a two-meat plate with pork ribs, two sides and a hot yeasty roll for $10.50.
 
The short, dry ribs have skin like soft, sugary Walmart jerky over meat that brings the same gray steamed color and texture as the brisket. I was thrown by Dickey’s version of pulled pork ($12/pound, about $3 for a serving), like a food processor set on “flossify.” Even shredded to the last stage before emulsification, the meat is as dry as campfire kindling and only slightly more appetizing. Dickey’s rendition of Polish sausage ($12/pound, about $3 for a serving) is peppery and packed with fully shredded, beef, pork and fat in good proportion in a thin casing.
 
Two sides: Of the 13 sides for $2 each, one of the linesman offered creamy dill potato salad as his favorite, but I’d already committed to baked potato casserole. In this case, casserole means a loaded baked potato in a cup minus the skin, with buttery, salted mashers topped by grated cheddar, chives and bacon crumbles for a nice presentation if not groundbreaking taste. I still should have taken the server’s second starch option, because the coleslaw was like cold cabbage soup swimming in mayonnaise and sugar. The dill pickles are a sight — long-cut quarters of hefty cucumbers in a big glass jar at no extra charge next to the soda fountain.
 
Dessert: There’s peach cobbler ($2.95) from the Dickey’s mega-kitchen. It’s full of pie-style crust and neutralized peach slices in a runny syrup that tastes like peach Snapple. But the fun part is the soft-serve ice cream machine right up front that guarantees your kids will have no patience for barbecue. I see a lot of “not yets” in your future. It’s icy, bountiful and best of all, free.
 
Sauce: Three kinds: Original, sweet and spicy. Hard to imagine a version that’s even sweeter than the throat-closing original. But the sweet version brings a kind of maple/brown sugar/molasses swerve that propels it past the original. With angry little seeds and traces of powder like cannon primer, the spicy version guarantees you’ll taste nothing else for awhile. Except more ice cream.
 
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Mike Sutter’s BBQ City Limits
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)