the spot: InterStellar BBQ 12233 Ranch Road 620 N Austin TX 78750
the eats: Brisket, Burnt Pork Belly, Pulled Lamb, Tacos, Beets, Zucchini Tomato salad . . . I mean all of it
the bucks: $20 to $30 a person. Typical craft bbq prices
the full nelson: As good as Central Texas BBQ gets.
I could start this off with a typical generic headline like “stellar bbq at Interstellar” but it doesn’t do the food John Bates is serving or the current level of barbecue found in Austin justice. First off, the barbecue is just getting better and better and that’s happening everywhere. Many are heeding the call of offset smokers(and other comparable devices) and delivering meat sweats worth driving miles for. However, in Austin . . . I shake my head at how many places are opening up and bringing something new to the game.
That perfect bite of brisket is forever associated with the words “Texas” and “barbecue”. InsterStellar has that. Recently I ventured to Hot Luck Fest at Franklin BBQ. Of course I tried some his famous brisket. Even though I was far from hungry(if anything uncomfortably full), I marveled at how melt in your mouth the brisket was. It was as rich and as tender as tuna belly at a sushi restaurant or Wagyu beef off a hot stone. In that moment I could not imagine brisket being better. The thing is it doesn’t have to be better. It just always must be very very very good. You can check that box at InterStellar.
The brisket is a must try but please don’t limit yourself at InterStellar. The Czech sausage was solid and reliable, as were the spareribs. The jalapeño cheddar has an uncanny addictive quality. Even when I was full, I kept nibbling. The pulled lamb was magnificent. I’ve only had it at Micklethwait, my neighborhood go to and it should be served at more places. The Pork Belly Burnt Ends are what you need to feed picky Southerners who believe that barbecue should be smoky and sweet. This is some of the best meat candy there is. The turkey though . . . I have long believed that great brisket joints also make great turkey. InterStellar has the best turkey I have ever had at a barbecue joint or anywhere really.
What I love about the modern barbecue movement is the chef driven sides. John Bates served farm to table, nose to tail sandwiches at Noble Sandwich Co – a place I’ve lauded before. Prior to that he worked in Italian restaurants. Which is probably why he has a zucchini tomato salad on the menu. The Zucchini is thinly sliced, raw and is marinated in vinegar. It’s a sweltering summer salvation. The beets are outstanding. As are the smoked scallop potatoes. Those I would order a pint or two of and serve on Thanksgiving and I’d probably pass them off as mine . . .
The good news is InterStellar is good enough to make it your Steady Eddie BBQ fix. I’m kicking myself for not getting here sooner. But that’s how it goes in Austin. You find a kick ass place and you say “man it can’t get any better”, and in some ways it doesn’t. The landscape simple rewards you with more options, more favs for this smoked meat or that side. As a diner, we win no matter what.