It’s official…..I’m a lame-ass, lousy carnivore. Despite having arrived in Austin equipped with an impressive list of some of the best barbeque joints in all of the U.S., when push came to shove, I just wasn’t up for it. The fact that some afternoons saw the mercury peaking at 96 degrees didn’t help, nor did eating all that fantastically hearty Tex-Mex and swilling all those frosty Lonestars. It’s not that I wasn’t genuinely interested in experiencing these intriguing, reputable eateries….I simply was not in the mood to tuck into a big-ol’-plate-a-meat.

Menu board at Lambert's Downtown Barbeque.

We finally did end up at one from my list, on the last night of my visit. Lambert’s Downtown Barbeque had appealed to me because it is a beautifully designed room (I’d seen it in a few magazines) and it serves a diverse clientele; from construction workers to state senators. They do what I’d call hip ‘que….traditional barbeque, but with a twist. The sides created to accompany the meat-only mains brilliantly compliment the protein-heavy menu....Pan Seared French Beans, Lemony Sauteed Spinach, Buttermilk Potato Salad, Spicy Ranch Style Beans,.... I couldn’t resist, and ordered two sides (Collard Greens with Bacon and a Peas, Squash & Mushroom Gratin) plus a Broiled Gulf Oysters appetizer as my main. Kenneth, having more appreciation than I for the context of our chosen dining establishment, ordered the ribs. (I did try one….it was good, but plenty.)

Side Bar: During my week dining with K, it quickly became apparent that I loved vegetables, while he really had no use for them at all. Any veggies served with his meal were automatically pushed over onto my plate in an action I started referring to as ‘flickin me his yard clippins’.

While enroute home to Vancouver, I picked up the June issue of Gourmet Magazine. What story do you think is on page 26? If you guessed Where to Find the Best Texas ‘Cue you would be correct. And, of the five places I had on my list, Gourmet listed three of them: Smitty’s Market, Black’s, and Kreuz Market. This informative article taught me that it was over a century ago that Texas barbeque first began, as a way for the meat market to make use of unsold (and unwanted) cuts. Writers Jane and Michael Stern reflected on their first visit to Kreuz Market back in the 70s when "....the benches were outfitted every ten feet or so with sharp knives attached by chains so that the diners could use the blades to cut their meat but not steal them or stab anyone." I was also reminded of all that I had missed, and how lacking I can be when it comes to follow through. Sigh. Anyhoo, it would seem that, these days, barbeque is hotter than ever....if you are a committed meat eater, that is.

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