BBQ City Limits: Donn's Texas Barbecue

An ongoing series of barbecue reports from Austin. Not Llano, not Lockhart, not Taylor. Austin.
Donn’s Texas Barbecue
7001 Oak Meadow Drive. 288-4060,
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Sturday. Closed Sunday.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 04.01.12
For a series that draws the line at the city limits, the Y in Oak Hill — technically still in Austin’s territorial grasp — is about as close as I’ll get to the Salt Lick in Driftwood. But for whatever good or bad feelings you might carry about the Salt Lick, the barbecue at Donn’s couldn’t be farther away.
At Donn’s, the cutter told me they smoke over hickory wood, but a beef rib had a char and flavor that reminded more of a barbecue grill. The smoke was subtle if noticeable at all, even if the meat underneath was tender and pulled apart easily from fat that had been melted mostly away. It was the best part of a three-meat plate ($11.25) that also included sliced brisket, two pork ribs and two sides.
Pork ribs came from the same no-smoking area, two short planks of pork with heavy char and the mushy fiber of something left too long in the heat. Skip the beef sausage ($2 for a half-link), with a thick, rubbery casing and a heavy ooze of fat. Here the brisket is just punching the clock, with a lazy orange-red skin and the barest hint of pink at the top. Again, where’s the smoke?
A note to Spanish-speaking crews: Even we suburban gringos know the bad words. Keep your kitchen banter below a grito if you’re going to use that kind of language around customers.
Two sides: Sugary baked beans suggest a No. 10 can, but a side of stewed squash with bright, squeaky yellow chunks and flakes of herbs suggests human hands were involved.
Dessert: The worst industrial-grade banana pudding in this series so far. Sticky yellow pudding with fake banana flavor and a few soggy cookies for $1.95. Just awful.
Sauce: Why does the sauce taste more like smoke than the meat? Dip everything in it, including the banana pudding. Couldn’t hurt.
Mike Sutter’s BBQ City Limits
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)