BBQ City Limits update: Brown’s Bar-B-que

An ongoing series of barbecue reports from Austin. Not Llano, not Lockhart, not Taylor. Austin.
Brown’s Bar-B-Que
1901 S. Lamar Blvd. at the Corner Bar (map). 512-517-8520, Facebook page.
Hours (updated 02/11/18): 11am-7pm Thu-Sat. 11am-5pm Sun; free BBQ with Corner Bar purchase 3-5 Sun.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 11.01.13
When guys in hardhats are waiting in line behind you at the Genie Car Wash barbecue trailer, that says a few things: 1) They probably don’t have a lot of time for lunch. 2) They already know about this place and don’t mind standing in line for part of that lunch break. 3) They’re quick to say they like the ribs and the brisket. And the sausage. Chicken, too.
Note: Since this report was filed, the trailer has moved to the Corner Bar at 1901 S. Lamar Blvd.
Standing in line with these guys was like an abbreviated version standing in line with the EMTs and firefighters at Franklin Barbecue in 2009. Those guys go where the good barbecue is. And the good barbecue is at Brown’s, even better this time than my first report in June of this year. Daniel Brown has stepped up his brisket, in particular. He switched to Certified Angus that holds up to more robust caramelization, and the fat supports the crust halfway. And halfway is a good thing, because the other half has melted into the honeycomb of leaner meat below the fatline. This is brisket that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the new old-school guys.
(ABOVE: Pork chops and cabbage. The chops aren’t part of the regular menu, but if you call a day or two in advance, Daniel Brown might add them as a daily special. At right, Brown has switched to Certified Angus brisket, and it makes a difference.)
Brown’s pork ribs already had an edge. An edge honed by sheer muscular size, by a smoky gradient from coral to ivory and by its own edge, a shell of concentrated sweetness and snap. Nothing has changed. Except that they found some company on the pit with a thick, Lockhart-style pork chop with a bronzed armor and meat that ran juicy even at its core. The big chop was $8 with two sides. And Brown makes a special sauce to go with it, fortified with red wine vinegar, and I like it better than his workhorse smoky red sauce. The porkchop’s not part of the everyday menu, but Brown said he’ll do chops by special request. Your move. I liked the chop so much I went back and bought two more to take home, with double cabbage.
Sauteed with bacon and sugar, the cabbage is among the best barbecue sides in the city, and it rules the sides at Brown’s like a Southern matriarch. I also like the trailer’s brisket beans and a bright vinegar coleslaw with green and purple cabbage, carrots and balanced sweetness. The potato salad has no sense of balance, a whipped mound of mustard and starch the color of French vanilla and nearly that sweet. I crave it like ice cream. And it’ll have to do for dessert, because Brown stopped doing his Dutch oven cobbler. Not enough orders for it. And for that, I’m going to blame some of the people in this room.
And I’m going to blame myself if the line for Brown’s is all I can talk about a year from now.
Mike Sutter’s BBQ City Limits
(TOP, clockwise from top left: Pork rib, brisket, housemade barbecue sauce, sausage, pork chop, red wine vinegar sauce, brisket beans, cabbage, potato salad, coleslaw. Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)