Ruby's BBQ

Central-city barbecue spots

Ruby's BBQ (11)

512 W. 29th, 477-1651

Daily, 11am-12mid

www.rubysbbq.com

Authentic Texas barbecue with plenty of vegetarian options: All of the traditional sides are as good as the barbecue itself, which was rated by Esquire as the best in America. Ruby's takes quality seriously and for almost 20 years has been serving lean, hormone-free natural beef brisket and famous Elgin Hot Sausage, as well as pork ribs, turkey, chicken, and smoked ham. The atmosphere is pure Austin. The decor, alternating between bleached skulls and riffing bluesmen, brings home the fact that Austin is halfway between Louisiana and New Mexico, reflected on the menu, as well.

Texas-style barbecue tops the page but is soon followed by Cajun specialties, chili, and tacos. Sandwiches (mostly barbecue) are balanced by a good selection of salads. Vegetarian items are clearly marked, and they are outstanding.

The Creamy Coleslaw With Poppyseeds is unforgettable, with fresh young cabbage and carrots drenched in a mild, nutty dressing. There is also a vinaigrette coleslaw and two kinds of potato salad: mustard and mayonnaise. Beans can be either cilantro black beans or spicy barbecue beans, both seasoned with such care that it makes you realize just how many other joints aren't even trying. Corn-on-the-cob, collard greens, Southwest mashed potatoes, macaroni-and-cheese, and rosemary home fries complete the dizzying array. Ice-cold beer is the beverage of choice, and all the desserts are house-made (try the pineapple-coconut pie).

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