Every Texan knows this basic truth: The only REAL Bar B Q in the land comes from Texas; and the BBQ King of meats is slow-smoked brisket. Other folks in other places grill meats and roast pigs. All good, but not worthy of the title.
Beyond that self-evident understanding, however, Texans differ on particulars: type of wood, fat up or fat down, dry rub recipe, to sauce or not.
But no one who has ever been to The Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas doubts whether he or she has just tasted BBQ heaven. The fork-tender brisket is spiced just right and slow-smoked so smooth you can close your eyes and taste a smolder. We liked the meaty fall-off-the-bone-tender ribs and moist, sweet smoked turkey too. The only one that didn't take our fancy was the sausage, which seemed more salt and fat than spice and smoke.
And the sides are good. The cole slaw is freshly made and flavorful with a light tangy dressing. The potato salad is distinctive for a slight smokiness and smashed potato consistency with rich potato flavor. We ate every bite. Then finished the meal with homemade blackberry cobbler nuanced with a hint of allspice.
Texas is known for idiosyncracy and The Salt Lick has a few.
You can tell when you walk in that the food is the star, which is the way it should be in a BBQ temple. Rustic picnic tables line the dining rooms and folks are downright happy to sit on the hard benches and lean their elbows on the tables so they can get a better hold of the ribs.
Cash only (there's an ATM in the lobby in case you forget). And no alcohol served, so BYOB if you want beer or wine. We were there at lunch and enjoyed the (unsweet) iced tea but we're speculating that a bottle of Driftwood Winery's NV Syrah might be a fine marriage (more about Driftwood in another post).
The Salt Lick in Driftwood is not on a wide highway. Driftwood isn't any bigger than a sneeze and nearby Dripping Springs isn't much larger. But a person could leave downtown Austin and follow the line of pickups into the parking lot about 40 minutes later (not counting rush hour traffic). The drive from San Antonio is probably only an hour and a quarter from the north-east side of the city. And it's 45 minutes or less from New Braunfels or Gruene or San Marcos or Wimberley, so you could double up on fun and spend a morning or afternoon in one of these old Hill Country towns and then scoot on over to Driftwood to satisfy your hunger. As a bonus, there are a couple of good wineries not far away, Mandola Estate Winery and Driftwood Estate Winery where you could enjoy tasting and pick up a bottle to drink with your meal or take home for later.
Don't take my word for it, take a drive and taste for yourself. There's no mystery to this Hill Country heaven.