Blue Ox BBQ
Findings from the big honkin' fire pit in Buzz Mill's backyard
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., Oct. 11, 2013
Fri.-Sat., 11am-2am; Sun., 10am-6pm
Blue Ox BBQ1505 Town Creek, 512/537-2047
Tue.-Thu., 11am-10pm; Fri.-Sat., 11am-2am; Sun., 10am-6pm
Whether Blue Ox is formally part of Buzz Mill Coffee doesn't really matter; they are attached at the hip. Chase Palmer's Blue Ox BBQ emerges from a black trailer sitting on the edge of Buzz Mill's comfy, rustic-chic outdoor space, just north of the Walgreens on East Riverside. Buzz Mill's entrance is on Town Creek Drive, and the gate for Blue Ox is on Tinnin Ford; they mingle in the middle, with Buzz Mill providing the beer and wine.
My latest visit came after the Sunday brunch all-you-can-eat pancake rush, when things had mellowed out a bit. I ordered my standard "little bit of everything" and was glad I did. The pork tenderloin ($10, ½ lb) was coffee-rubbed perfection – and the juiciest smoked pork I've ever eaten. The pork sausage ($4, link) is custom-made locally, coarse ground and in a natural casing with a good snap. The first bite is smoky and garlicky, while the heat brings up the rear; good stuff. (All the other meats are $7 per half-pound.)
The pork spareribs have a nice, tender bite without being mushy. The moist meat has a smoky edge and a spicy kick. The pulled pork has a thick, smoky bark and a deep smoke ring, and the tender meat melts away. The brisket had just come off of the pit and was blessed with a spicy, smoky crust. Underneath that serious exterior, the meat was juicy and tender. I talked them out of a couple of slices of their delicious homemade smoked bacon; amazing stuff. Bits of it grace their warm German-style potato salad ($3), with egg, spices, and just the right amount of vinegar. The pinto beans need a little salt, but have treats of meat in every bite. Their barbecue sauce acquires juices from the cutting board for richness, but is a little sweet and tomato-y for my blood. Perfect solution: Add a dash or two of the bottled Valentina hot sauce.
Chase's big honkin' fire pit sits in its own trailer, next to a pile of post oak. It came from Aaron Franklin's original trailer over off of I-35, and I think just a little bit of Aaron's mojo was absorbed by that pit. Blue Ox is good, and is getting better with time.