Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: need to get some more lamb ribs
Sam’s Barbecue is located in East Austin and may not show up on a lot of people’s radar but that is their mistake. The place is run down, it is old, there are faded photographs on the wall and there is no air running through that place. The tables are clean, but have that layer or that sticky coating. You sit on the vinyl booths and you question if you are able to get yourself up because the heat of the place and you sweating, you just maybe stuck to the chair. Weirdly enough, the only “modern” thing was the television in the middle of the dining area, blaring some old Western. Walking in there is the notable slogan of Sam’s Barbecue, “you don’t need no teeth, to eat our beef”.
I was already bursting at the seams with meat, eating and despite my usual meaty trifecta, I was straight going to die (I had Black’s and Salt Lick earlier that day). I went with the two plate combo of brisket and mutton, came with a side of beans and potato salad and came to the grand total of 10.95. The cheapest barbecue I had yet. The mutton was the special here and the thing to get. The mutton is from the breast/ribs and fatty.
“Do you like the fat” He asked. I acknowledge that I did and that fat is where the flavor is at and that gave him a chuckle. I kept thinking back to the tagged mantra “no teeth to eat our beef” as he carved the mutton, its meat sagging over the ribs and the brisket, that required both hands to scoop up into the tray. He ladled on a sauce without a choice, but did give me the choice of either white or wheat bread, surprising that I actually had options and being a first.
I decided to take my chances outside in the hot Texas sun and besides, barbecue taste better outside…especially when it is like 101 degrees. The mutton was great; it had a great gamey flavor to it and hint of smoke. He was not kidding about it being fatty, I am pretty sure that the meat basically confited. The brisket was again, moist and almost like pot roast however, I think the overall fattiness of the beef, did not allow smoke penetration to the meat. The sauce was plain, straight tomato based sauce but overall neutral. It lacked any acidity or sweetness, and just tasted like tomatoes. I guess it served as a lubricant rather than a flavor enhancer but like all the barbecue I have had in Austin, it did not need sauce.
As I was sitting there baking in the sun, I cannot help and think of the history behind this place. Admittedly, this place is not located in the best part of East Austin. I mean you would feel nervous coming here late at night. But this you cannot help and admire at all the pictures on the wall, unintentionally chronicling the history of this place and Austin. Upon further research, Sam’s is one of the oldest African American owned barbecue joints in Austin. Though there has been some negative press about the place recently, it is still a place that barbecue eaters should continue to go and it is true, you don’t need any teeth to eat their beef.
2000 East 12th Street