Unicorn Steaks, Mountains of Meat, and Turkey?

It's Texas BBQ Week in Austin, y'all!

The first ever Texas BBQ Week will be over in just two short days, so true Austin barbecue fans need to get out and enjoy it while they can. Here's our handy visual guide to what our city's best pitmasters are offering through this Friday. Clear your calendar for lunch and dinner, and maybe grab a few paper towels to wipe the drool off your screen.

Smoked meat purveyors state-wide have stepped up to the plating line to help Texas Monthly raise money and awareness for Foodways Texas. Each participating joint is offering a Texas BBQ Week special, and a portion of the sales from each of those specials will be donated to the non-profit organization, which is dedicated to preserving our state's great food traditions.

Local participants include The Blue Ox BBQ and Pancake Cabin, Franklin Barbecue, La Barbecue Cuisine Texicana, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue, Micklethwait Craft Meats, and Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew.

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, 6610 N Lamar Blvd, 512/380-3199
Four Meat Plate, $15

"We have a lot of gratitude for the honor that Texas Monthly bestowed upon us, and we want to give back," explained Shane Stiles, owner and namesake of Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew. Cue aficionados are well aware that the June 2013 issue of Texas Monthly included the highly anticipated list of Texas' Top 50 barbecue joints, and most also know that Stiles Switch was one of the five Austin joints to make the list.

Mr. Stiles and company are showing their gratitude for the listing in the form of a massive mountain of meat. Their Texas BBQ Week special is a four meat plate that includes a half pound of brisket, a link of spicy sausage, a pork rib, and a beef rib for $15. The deal is available for lunch and dinner during regular hours.

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew's four meat special (photo by Kenny Pailes)

Stiles general manager James Jackson confirmed that a lot of customers have taken advantage of the special as a shared meal between two or more folks. But Stiles regular customer Marlon Osborne couldn't believe the price when he saw it. "It's too good of a deal! I normally get about a half pound of brisket and a beef rib and this is the same price but with a lot more food," beamed Osborne from behind his lunch tray.

Marlon Osborne prepares to savor the Stiles Switch special (photo by Kenny Pailes)

La Barbecue Cuisine Texicana, 1502 S. 1st St, 512/605-9696
Pork Belly Confit, $9

While Stiles offered larger quantities of their usual delights, a couple of local joints took this opportunity to show off some culinary skill with brand new creations.

At La Barbecue, one of Texas Monthly's Top 50 BBQ Joints, pitmaster John Lewis spent weeks preparing his mango-hoisin-glazed pork belly confit. The tender slabs of pre-bacon were smoked before they received the confit treatment. Each $9 order is served with a side of house-pickled sweet pepper kimchi in a paper boat, keeping the aesthetic true to La Barbecue's traditional Texas meat market style. The special is available during La Barbecue's normal operating hours - AKA: lunch only - but Lewis plans to offer it through the weekend, if his stock doesn't sell out before then. Of course, weekend sales will still benefit Foodways Texas.

La Barbecue's pork belly confit (photo by Kenny Pailes)

Along with four friends, Lynn Springfield made a special trip to La Barbecue today from out of town, part of the group's Summer tour of Texas Monthly's Top 50 list. His own experience with the pork belly confit brought forth a bit of poetry from the happy traveler, "It was like eating a unicorn steak, topped with angels' tears, with shredded awesome on the side. Can I have yours, too? Please?"

Lynn Springfield tries to coax the La Barbecue special into his own belly (photo by Kenny Pailes)

Micklethwait Craft Meats, 1309 Rosewood, 512/791-5961
Brisket & Avocado Sandwich, $9

If off-the-menu items are what you seek this week, Micklethwait Craft Meats (Texas Monthly 2013 Best BBQ Honorable Mention) won't disappoint you either. Pitmaster Tom Micklethwait fashioned a sandwich that is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for your stomach. His smoked brisket sandwich features a pile of the meat on a hoagie, topped with slices of fresh avocado, and finished with a spicy poblano coleslaw. Priced at $9, including one side of your choice, the bargain special is available during lunch and dinner service at the East-side trailer, but hurry: there's no guarantee that it will be available after this Friday.

Micklethwait Craft Meat's special brisket sandwich (photo by Kenny Pailes)

Jenny Mulder just opened Sister Coffee next door to Micklethwait, with the help of her sister Maddie Mulder and friend Erik Jones. When the three walked across the wooded lot to try the special sandwich for lunch, Jenny didn't realize that she was in for a religious experience. "Oh. My. Gawd. I loved it. It was so good, I think I'm ready to lay down and die and never eat again."

Jenny Mulder, of Sister Coffee, thinks the Micklethwait special might be the pinnacle of existence (photo by Kenny Pailes)

Franklin Barbecue, 900 E. 11th St., 512/653-1187
Smoked Turkey Sandwich, $6

Speaking of bargains, Franklin Barbecue, crowned #1 BBQ Joint In The World on Texas Monthly's list, is offering one of the state's cheapest deals. For just $6, customers can enjoy a juicy smoked turkey sandwich, piled high with slaw and dipped in Franklin's special turkey sauce. Sales of the turkey special during lunch through Friday will benefit Foodways Texas, but the meal will still be available at the same price long after this week, according to pitmaster Aaron Franklin. "Oh, it's my favorite sandwich! Definitely. More people should order it. It's totally the sleeper of our menu."

Aaron Franklin says it's time to show smoked turkey the love (photo by Kenny Pailes)

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue, 401 W. 2nd St., 512/494-1500
Brisket Plate, $18

Another Top 50 Listee, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue, is also offering a regular menu item at their regular price as their Texas BBQ Week special. Their brown sugar and coffee rubbed brisket plate, a half pound of meat with a side of house-pickled escabeche, costs $18. Executive Sous Chef Reid Guess said there was a definite method to their selection of the brisket as the featured item, "it's what we sell the most, and we want the most money possible to go to the charity at the end of the week." The brisket plate is available during both lunch and dinner, but proceeds will be donated to Foodways Texas from purchases of these plates during dinner service only, through this Friday.

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue's special brisket plate (photo by Kenny Pailes)

Blue Ox BBQ & Pancake Cabin, 1505 Town Creek Dr., 512/537-2047
Three Meat Plate, $13

The late night barbecue specialists at Blue Ox BBQ earned an Honorable Mention from Texas Monthly this year, and they're celebrating by offering the "Texas Trinity" as their BBQ Week special. A three-meat plate, with brisket, house-made nitrate-free sausage, and your choice of pulled pork or pork ribs, is joined by two sides for $13. It isn't something that's on the menu now, but owner Chase Palmer indicated that this dish may soon serve as a permanent reminder of this week. "A lot of customers like it when you take the decision-making out of the ordering process. This is pretty much a sampler of everything we do. It might be a keeper." Order the special during lunch or dinner service through Friday.

The special three meat plate at Blue Ox BBQ (photo by Kenny Pailes)

For more information about Foodways Texas, including direct donation options, visit http://www.foodwaystexas.com

For complete coverage of Texas BBQ Week, visit our friends at Texas Monthly's new dedicated BBQ site: http://www.tmbbq.com/

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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Barbecue, Texas Monthly, Blue Ox BBQ, Chase Palmer, Franklin Barbecue, Aaron Franklin, La Barbecue, John Lewis, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue, Reid Guess, Micklethwait Craft Meats, Tom Micklethwait, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, Shane Stiles, James Jackson, Pork Belly, Brisket, Turkey

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