the spot: CM Smokehouse two locations in Austin TX
the eats: Brisket Crunchwrap + Elk Smashed burger
the bucks: $17 and $22 respectively
the full nelson: Texas BBQ meets Chef driven munchies and a lot of tempting burgers
CM Smokehouse has been stirring the pot of Austin’s BBQ scene nearly three years now and it’s because they are bit of a disrupter. I heard stories about their Wednesday burger specials and the infamous Brisket crunchwrap at their original location in South Austin. But I have been dragging my heels on going which isn’t surprising as the barbecue scene in Austin, and really statewide has become saturated. At least that’s what Daniel Vaughn of Texas Monthly recently reported.
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Well, that all ended a couple weeks ago. I finally made it out to CM Smokehouse and brought along Chef Andy Knudson with me. We hit up the location in North Austin, which like the one in South Austin is part of Bouldin Acres that smartly merge food, adult beverages, pickleball and a playground for the kiddos. It’s a Sunday Funday for all ages. This kind of spirit is part drew me to Austin when my family moved here with a three year old in tow. Now about that food.
I haven’t eaten at a Taco Bell since high school and I can’t remember if they even had the crunchwrap on the menu back then. So let’s just say I have never had one and now it looks like I never will. The size and weight of a small deep dish pizza, the brisket crunchwrap is easily shareable for two people which frankly helps soften the $17 pricetag. To be fair about the price . . . you’re asking for it if you want this bad boy stuffed with brisket. And it’s worth it.
On the comments on the Instagram post apparently there is another one being served somewhere in Houston. Even still, this is a find at at bbq joint or Chef driven Taco Bell pop up. The latter is not a thing but it sounds cool. So does an Elk Smashed Burger.
God I hope someone remembers Rocky and Bullwinkle. Even though the show came out 18 years before I was born and I’m confusing a Moose with an Elk, it still lands for me. I’ve always been up for eating game. The difference between me and say Chef Cade Mercer is that he is up for hunting game. He is a real Texan after all.
The Elk isn’t from Texas though. It’s actually from New Zealand and it is farm raised. Being a lean protein and because of some weird laws, the ground elk also has beef fat in it. I guess there are some laws I can live with. Priced at $22(with a side), the Elk burger is exotic and expensive but I think you should try it if you’re serious about burgers like me or Cade.
On the thick side of a smashed burger, the gamey funk is noticeable and a refreshing change. The bun is brioche and is the same one used at Loro Smokehouse. The Thousand Island dressing is spiked with beef tallow, but don’t think this burger gets too pretentious. Klausen pickles and American cheese bring in all the classic burger feels. A side is included and I tried the fried cauliflower which was pretty darn decadent.
Look I love the sight of a classic Texas BBQ platter but its pricey and the meatsweats will burn you out. Something like this platter at CM Smokehouse makes sense if, like me, you have been surrounded by plenty of barbecue and need a little change. Or maybe you just want to eat an Elk burger or wonder if Taco Bell could be . . . you know, like awesome?
My plan is to try the other burgers on the menu which for what it’s worth aren’t all smashed. But if I bring a friend, which is a wise move here, I’m absolutely getting that Crunchwrap. That is a legendary Austin eat.