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Austin Food Bytes – Artz Ribs

Several people have asked me if they can write BBQ reviews. Pretty much anyone is more qualified to write one than I am. I’m a Californian (I have yet to find any good BBQ restaurants in California, believe me, I’ve tried), and a hack when it comes to cooking BBQ myself. BBQ seems to hold an almost religious status in the minds of aficionados. The preparation is fiercely debated – marinade or rub? Coal or wood? Sauce or no sauce? The intricacy of this ritual, and the fervor with which it is discussed is something I cannot hope to be more than witness to. But, I know what I like, and I like Artz Ribs.

Artz is the perfect Austin joint. They have live music most of the week, usually folk-country influenced. It’s homey and comfortable, and has a back porch and a small bar in addition to a sizeable restaurant with big, red and white checked tablecloths. There’s also a banquet/party facility in the back. The sides are nothing to write home about – beans, potato salad, sliced bread, onions and pickles. However, you can request a largish garden salad as a substitute for your sides, which I often do.

Artz specialty is the meat. Well-seasoned, smoky, and moist, it’s all good, no matter what you order. My favorites are the smoked chicken and the country-style ribs. The country-style ribs are kind of a cross between pork chops and spare ribs – heavily seasoned, rich, and extremely meaty, you can order two or three – I’ve never been able to make it through more than two. The chicken is smoky and moist, and makes for a great lighter option. The sauce is tangy, not too sweet or heavy. I have a vague recollection that the desserts are good, but it’s been so long since I was still hungry enough to try them after my meal, I’m not a reliable source.

Artz is located on South Lamar near Kirby Lane. For menu, hours, and info on catering and events, visit http://www.artzribhouse.com/.

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