Artz Rib House
Central-city barbecue spots
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., March 2, 2007
Artz Rib House (9)
2330 S. Lamar, 442-8283
Monday-Saturday, 11am-10pm; Sunday, noon-9pmwww.artzribhouse.com
Art Blondin moved down from Vermont in the early Eighties to open a restaurant with friends on Sixth. He ended up instead with a caboose down the street. The caboose just happened to have a smoker in it, and when he won every category in the second annual Rib Tickler cook-off, his fate was sealed. Since moving into its current location, Artz has been a stalwart of great ribs and bluegrass (music every night and Austin's best bluegrass jam every Sunday afternoon). Blondin is a musician and has played bass with Jon Emery for the last 21 years.
For a barbecue joint, Artz has some of the best burgers in town. The South Austin joint is a prime example: $6.29 for a flame-grilled burger with thick bacon and cheddar, as well as fire-grilled onions and jalapeños. They have a full line of sandwiches and great tortilla soup and nachos (carryovers from the caboose). Vegans can survive nicely on the grilled-veggie skewers, the side veggies, or the veggie burgers. But what of the 'cue, you say?
Ribs (massive beef units, smoky and moist baby-backs, and their famous thick, country-style pork chops almost like a superior hybrid between ham and rib loin chop) are all exquisite. The brisket is sliced thicker than most, moist, and well-smoked. The sausage is a medium-grind, locally made, with a nice snap to the casing. There are smoked chicken and grilled shrimp to round out the options. All of the sides are excellent; hell, even the pickles are crispy and the onions sweet. Be sure to try the delectable habanero sauce (made in-house). The heft and size of the combo plates ($8-16) can be frightening, but when you launch into the eating, all fears are assuaged.