Long Live R.O.'s
The Osbans are back in business in a trailer on their own land
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., Dec. 21, 2012
R.O.'s Outpost22518 Hwy. 71 W., Spicewood; 512/264-1169
Tue.-Sat., 11am-7pm; BYOB
For all those barbecue and pie fans out there, R.O.'s has reopened. Randy and Kathy Osban lost their lease where they had been located since 1995 on Highway 71, just before Hazy Hills Road (17 miles and change from the "Y" in Oak Hill). They had come to town from the famous Clark's Outpost in Dallas, which is owned by Randy's mom, and they developed their chops working there for years and years. If you've never heard of Clark's, suffice it to say that it consistently makes the upper tier of most lists of the best chicken-fried steaks in the state of Texas.
Now they are located about 400 yards west of their old location in a 24 foot chrome yellow trailer (yes, you cannot miss it), and Randy's new upgraded Southern Pride smoker sits hugging Big Yellow on an adjacent trailer. The new digs are 2½ acres of cleared Hill Country spread, with magnificent sunsets nightly from the hills above the Pedernales Valley. They have a porta-potty, a herd of picnic tables, and rain shelter isn't far behind.
Randy smokes with sweet pecan wood, and his briskets are in for 48 hours. Get some from the fatty end, and it literally melts in your mouth, with a deep smoke ring and a spicy crust. The smoke-kissed sausage is medium textured with a nice snappy casing, and Randy serves both garlic and jalapeño variations. Pork ribs are St. Louis cuts, running around 2¼ pounds per rack, and a bite of these beauties is pork heaven; flavorful, moist, and all about the smoke. He's also doing meltingly tender pork loin and moist smoked turkey breast. All of these are available as platters ($10.75-15.95) or as huge loaded sandwiches ($6.75) – try the sweet-spicy pork loin.
R.O.'s has extra fine sides ($2.50); a zippy, mustardy spud salad and a sweet and tangy slaw are the first two you'll encounter. Next come the beans: rich, smoky barbecue beans with chunks of pork loin, slow-simmered Southern-style green beans, and blissfully spicy black-eyed peas with chunks of jalapeño. Then there are a couple of fried items: french fries and deep-fried corn on the cob. The corn comes out incredibly ungreasy, caramelized, and sweet – much like grilled corn. It can't be missed; you'll want to go there for just the corn. Randy also makes a superlative bowl of Texas red chili con carne ($3.35-4.95) and one of my favorites: fantastic smoky rib ends ($6.75).
He's frying a chicken breast now, but not yet cooking the chicken-fried steak. "I'm not doing it yet; it's kinda hard figuring out how to do it in the trailer, but I'm working on it," he says. "If you just have to have one, call me a day in advance, and I'll get the stuff to do it." Trust me on this one, and make that call; it's one of the best chicken-fried's imaginable: pan-fried, tender meat, thin golden batter, and rich cream gravy.
Kathy makes the best pie you'll ever eat. There, I said it. Her crusts are legendarily flaky, her fillings rich and perfectly balanced, her meringues sky-high and properly wobbly (slice $3.75, whole pie $22). These days she's been making chocolate cream and coconut cream meringue, blackberry, a sinfully delicious jalapeño apple, pecan, and pumpkin. To special order a pie or get a whole one, call a couple of days early. This pie alone is worth the drive out from Austin, but with the great prices, the friendly service, the wonderful barbecue and sides, and the Hill Country view, why limit yourself to Kathy's amazing pie? It's all good. Show the Osbans some love; it's the best food and barbecue you've never heard of.