There’s no shortage of barbecue in Austin. However, there seems to be a shortage of good barbecue. Or, more correctly, there’s been an influx of below average ‘cue, making it feel like everything is going downhill. Got it? Well let me be clear: Hall of Flame BBQ makes great barbecue. Sit back, because I have a lot to say.
I’m no expert, but I’ve had my fair share of smoky goodness since moving to Texas, from trailers and restaurants alike. There have been some astronomic highs and a few astounding lows. So when I got the tip to try out Hall of Flame BBQ, I went in with a bit of skepticism. After trying the brisket, beef ribs, sausage, pulled pork, chopped beef, pork ribs, baked beans, wasabi cole slaw, and banana pudding, I can unequivocally say it ranks up there in the top tier of this city’s barbecue elite.
On my first visit (with my good friend Derrick) I ordered a 3-meat plate with the intent to try a decent spread. I ordered brisket, of course, beef ribs, and sausage. After paying I asked if John was there, who was running back and forth between the trailer and smoker, to introduce myself. He said he’d stop by to chat once the trailer was restocked, so I waited for my food next to the shelf of sauces. For the record, my favorite of the fourteen homemade options was the Chipotle Peach.
While we waited for our food, John and co-owner Shannon came out talk about this second job / side project of theirs. For over a year and a half they’ve been serving BBQ to groups large and small (and on one slow day they served just one person for lunch).
Only recently have they started to break out and get their name out there. They’re now setting up on Saturdays at the Pflugerville Pfood Ranch, traveling to serve lunch on Wednesdays, and looking to expand hours to be open more days of the week.
Now onto the food! Almost…
We got our food and John asked what we ordered. He ran back into the trailer and came out with extra samples of everything we didn’t get, including additional banana pudding. Nice!
Ok, onto the food! Alllmost…
John offered to show off the smoker, to which no one should ever say no. Parked about 100 feet away is the smoker that they bring on-site to the office park for Wednesday lunch. It’s a huge vertical smoker that he said can hold up to 35 briskets at a time, or a combination of ribs, chickens, and pork shoulders. It’s quite a sight to see, even half filled like it was midway through lunch.
And now onto the food! Finally!
So with my purchased brisket, beef ribs, sausage, baked beans, wasabi cole slaw, and banana pudding, John graciously gave me chopped beef, pork ribs, and pulled pork. That’s six meats, two sides, and dessert. There’s no denying this was expertly smoked, with fat that holds steadily between liquid and solid, tender meat that resists ever so slightly, and smoky flavor that pervades throughout. It’s top-tier brisket for sure. The beef rib, while delicious and smoky too, was a little too sweet from the rub. Don’t get me wrong, I’d definitely get them again. Just a tad sweet. And the sausage happens to be identical to what I love at The Salt Lick. I don’t know if they’re from the same place (Hall of Flame gets theirs from Brenham, TX), but the flavor and texture were, to my tastebuds, exactly the same, which is to say, awesome.
My favorite meat on this day was, unexpectedly, the pork rib. The flavor from the rub and the absolutely perfect texture set it apart from everything else (even the brisket). Just wow. The pulled pork was smokier than I expected, certainly more than Curly’s Perfect Pig (though not quite as juicy), and very flavorful. I preferred the chopped beef, although I do have a soft spot for chopped beef. A little sweet, wonderfully tender, and chopped/shredded just right. As for sides, the beans were good, but as with most baked beans, too sweet for my taste. The wasabi cole slaw, on the other hand, is the best cole slaw on the planet, and that’s an understatement. I could eat that by the barrel (more on eating by the barrel coming up).
It’s a bit of a mess, but you can see all the food (minus banana pudding) getting along together. The beans got a little frisky and the cole slaw ghosted out, but you get the idea. It’s a lot of sausage, a huge beef rib, and more than just a “taste” of the pulled pork, pork rib, and chopped beef in that sidecar on the left.
For dessert the banana pudding will blow your mind. It might even be illegal in several states. Thankfully not Texas. Now this I could shamelessly eat forever. Seemingly merciful, an order of banana pudding comes in a reasonably sized cup. On a separate visit, three of us were treated to the truckload pictured below.
I think I made it clear, but Hall of Flame is a must-eat BBQ joint. Though on the outskirts of Austin, it’s absolutely worth the drive and the guys who run it truly enjoy what they do. I know everyone has their barbecue preferences, but whatever you do, remember: get the cole slaw, and definitely get the banana pudding. You’re welcome. Check ’em out on Twitter and Facebook.
PS – On a second visit (which was an epic food trailer day of itself) another friend joined me and thoroughly enjoyed. I snapped a picture, you know, for science. He got the pork ribs, brisket (hidden under sauce), wasabi cole slaw, and potato salad. All was devoured.
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