BBQ City Limits: Scotty’s BBQ
An ongoing series of barbecue reports from Austin. Not Llano, not Lockhart, not Taylor. Austin.
Hours: Noon to late night Wed-Sat. Call for exact hours.
► Summer 2015 update: Scotty's has moved to 2730 E. Cesar Chavez St. at North Pleasant Valley Road.
► December 2014 update: From Scotty's Facebook page: "So I just received a early Christmas present.a lease termination for Rainey st. As of today we are officially closed till we find a new location. "
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 07.14.14
From a red schoolbus on the graveled food-truck playground of Rainey Street, Scotty’s BBQ is a study in excess. Extra sugar, extra pepper, extra fat, extra smoke. It’s the barbecue experience, turned up to 11. The menu calls the beef short ribs “dino” style, and if the prehistoric beasts carried this much fat on their bones, it’s no wonder they went the way of the ... dinosaurs. The rib plate’s great fatcap played insulator to the meat beneath it, the glowing flesh just starting to lose its grip on the bone, as soft and sunburned as a Midwestern tourist. The smoke went from the shell straight down to the marrow, pausing long enough at the surface to caramelize and harden a crust of pepper and sugar. Dino or not, it’s a Mesozoic contender.
That beef rib’s crust was a hybrid of a pork rib’s sweet candy coating and beef’s vulcanized bark. It’s a crust shared by Scotty’s brisket, which contributed to the trailer’s more-is-more aesthetic by carrying more fat than even my adipose appetites appreciate. On the moist end, the fat ran almost an inch thick, an opaque ribbon that defied rendering. It served the meat beneath it well, keeping it soft and hydrated. But that overprotective layer also left the brisket with a pacifist’s tan that couldn’t shoulder up to the burly knuckled meats around it.
Scotty’s diminutive (fun size?) pork ribs, for example, wore their rub like welterweight fighters, more Roberto Duran scrappiness than Sugar Ray sweetness. The swerve toward the savory side liberated the stronger pork flavors, but the meat held onto the bones like it didn’t want to share, too clingy and dry by a few degrees.
More generous with its gifts, the pulled pork was a loose and well-balanced mix of fat and lean and crust, an almost neutral flavor canvas for a brush with Scotty’s barbecue sauces: sweet, spicy and Dr Pepper. Dense, lean and modestly spicy sausage from Hudson’s was the surprising voice of reason in Scotty’s midnight choir.
Nobody can afford to sell good barbecue on the cheap these days, but be ready to pay full indoor prices outdoors at Scotty’s. A three-meat combo plate runs $18, for example. Even so, this is respectable barbecue, even better on the nights you might stumble here by accident to take the edge off your own Rainey Street excesses.
Prices: A one-meat plate with two sides is $12. Add an extra meat for $3. Brisket, pork ribs and pulled pork are $16/lb. Beef ribs are $18/lb. Sausage is $4 a link. Sides are $2.50
On the side: Scotty’s made my list of Austin’s Top 16 BBQ sides in the 11th hour, on a social-media dare from the owner, who was tired of getting no respect. Scotty’s creamed corn deserves respect, shucked and roasted fresh, then folded into a sturdy sweet cream base. Pinto beans were a firm, neutral barbecue brown with a touch of black pepper and almost no liquor, the only sober citizens of Rainey Street. The menu also includes cole slaw and potato salad.
Dessert: Scotty’s doesn’t have anything, but I can recommend a bag of tiny cinnamon-sugar doughnuts fried to order from the Little Lucy’s trailer in the same courtyard.
Sauce: It’s called Dr Pepper sauce because you’re going to need one. The soda or an actual doctor, that is, because whatever traces of Dr Pepper’s 23 flavors played into its education, the sauce got its Ph.D. in pepper. Cracked black pepper that went straight to my chest like a defibrillator, jolting the sweet syrupy base into a Hadean rhythm, all hellfire and magma, putting its volcanic stamp on everything that came after.
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(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
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