Live Oak Barbecue
The Eastside gets another superlative house of meat
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., Aug. 5, 2011
Live Oak Barbecue2713 E. Second, 524-1930
Just west of Pleasant Valley Road, in the old Mis Amigos/Last Chance Bar and Grill location, owners Donya and Randall Stockton and pit master Tom Spaulding have set up shop with a newish market-style barbecue joint. Two dining rooms inside, a deck on the west side, and a patio out back provide plenty of seating. You enter, order, pay (meats by the pound, $10-12), and get your food and drinks immediately, and it's the food part we want to discuss.
The superlative ribs were tender and moist, smoky and peppery, and not overcooked, oversmoked, or too mushy. A barbecue judge deducts points for rib meat that "falls off the bone"; it should be tender, but still have substance. The sausage is first-rate, with a medium grind, peppery flavor, the kiss of smoldering post oak, and a good snap on the casing. Live Oak's brisket (we asked for cuts from the point end) melts in your mouth, with a nice smokiness and an assertive, peppered bark. The chicken was juicy and tender, with a crackling skin. Our pork roast was a touch on the dry side (must have been an anomaly, because I had heard so much praise for its moistness). To its credit, it did have a really nice smoky, porky flavor.
Sides ($6 per pound) delight as well. We loved the pinto beans, which are loaded with meat and flavored with chile and garlic. The crisp, sweet-sour cucumber salad counterbalances the richness of the meat with perfection. The potato salad has ample boiled egg in it, which we love. Unfortunately, a staffer had slightly undercooked the spuds (a problem easily corrected).
On Saturdays Live Oak does a special: cabrito last week; jerk chicken, beef ribs, and smoked rib roast in weeks before that. It also offers a nice selection of beers ($2-4) and sodas ($1-2). My guess is that once word gets out, Live Oak is going to slip right in near the top of the local barbecue list.