BBQ City Limits: Vic's Bar-B-Que

An ongoing series of barbecue reports from Austin. Not Llano, not Lockhart, not Taylor. Austin.
Vic’s Bar-B-Que
3502 Burleson Road. 445-4250,
Hours: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Tuesday. 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 04.02.12
Vic’s almost blew past me on the barbecue radar. I had it confused with the old diner in Oak Hill that closed long ago. But this Vic’s is all about barbecue and breakfast tacos, starting at 6 a.m. most days, drawing a working crowd dotted with painters and drywallers and men with epaulets on lunch break from the airport. One table over, an older fella is telling the younger guys with him how even though he wasn't the best-looking guy, he got the girls because he knew how to salsa dance.
The standbys are here: brisket, sausage, chicken, ribs. These are babybacks, and a plate of them with two more meats and two sides is $10.95. They’re lacquered like a half-sweet candy apple, a Duraflame red with black pepper accents, encasing meat so juicy and porky (the scientific term) that you’d think you were biting into smoked sausage. Meat wins over bone for dominance, and what these ribs lack in length they make up for in density. Where the ribs play their smoke with finesse, the brisket in the warming pans is a buffed ebony, with a soft bark shining under the fluorescent lights. That midnight ring clings blessedly to the perimeters, because otherwise its acrid char would overwhelm the beef beneath it. The interior meat is hard and dense, trimmed so close that here’s no fat to lubricate the flavor and loosen the texture. You’ll recognize the sausage from so many other places that serve Elgin-style hot links full of pepper and spice. At Vic’s, they get a decent smoke that preserves their grainy character.
A chicken leg quarter ($3.50) brings a pepper-rubbed, slightly sweetened glowing skin with its insulating layer of fat perfectly rendered over rich dark meat just starting to incorporate the smoke.
Two sides: Just because they offer slaw and potato salad at the cutting station doesn’t mean that’s all there is. Further down the rail are pinto beans, canned corn and watery green beans. The slaw was too sweet, but I liked the mayo-mustard potato salad with vermilion streaks of pimiento.
Dessert: Miniature pies at Vic’s come from a company in Elgin for $1.99. I tried one that was half pecan, half coconut and wholly regrettable. Are my receptors overworked or do both halves taste the same?
Sauce: So many shops draw from the same well or mix from the same recipe that a syrupy, glutinous red sauce like this tastes like it could be the table sauce at every mid-range shop and nobody would notice.
Mike Sutter’s BBQ City Limits
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)