When you think of Texas; salty, delicious bacon isn’t the first meat candy to come to mind. No, sir! Americans know Texas for slow-cooked beef brisket pulled out of a smoker so big you need a trailer to move it. In Austin, TX – where “weird” is a way of life – sits a small hole in the wall on west 10th street where patrons can dine on succulent sow and wash it down with canned craft beer.
As a native of Richmond I want nothing more than to wrap my arms around a Smithfield ham but pig farming just doesn’t do as well in Texas as it does in Virginia and the Carolinas. Now, I love a good piece of brisket smothered in Texas BBQ sauce but there’s been a hole in my heart for swine and I plugged it with Bacon!
On a brisk 97 degree night in late June, the Castle Hill neighborhood in downtown Austin, TX was busy with evening exodus traffic. Bacon doesn’t see much dinner clientele as the seven car parking lot was empty (lunch, however, is packed!) but as you approach the bright yellow house you can’t help but get excited for supper.
The smoked aroma wafting through the air helps lead you in – and boy howdy, everything has bacon! Bacon Reuben, bacon and egg breakfast tacos, bacon-batter Belgian waffles, pulled pork BBQ and bacon, biscuits with bacon gravy, let me repeat everything has bacon!
I ordered the pulled pork while my wife, got the French toast with original thick-cut bacon. Now, I wouldn’t have done my due diligence if we didn’t order a few strips to hold us over and it just so happened that in addition to Bacon’s original thick-cut, they had two other varieties on rotation that night – Hickory and Tandoori.
Soon after, the plate of pork belly arrived – and each piece was uniquely different from the others. I first bit into the hickory smoked bacon and immediately welcomed that dry crunch of bacon I grew up with. Smokey and savory, the strip finished with an aroma of maple – solid breakfast fare.
Next, I wanted to clear the pallet with a fat piece of the restaurant’s original thick-cut, and it did not disappoint. This piece was slightly more hydrated with a consistency reminiscent of turkey jerky. Finally, I stepped up to the Tandoori and I was bum-rushed with Indian flavor. The ginger bite in the Tandoori rub came fast and was an amazing compliment to the salt in the meat, but before I knew it our main course arrived.
Just looking at this plate made my heart flutter and right arm go numb – pulled pork smothered in Bacon’s original Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce in between two thick pieces of Texas toast topped with hickory smoked bacon and a pile of bacon cheese fries. I don’t think this plate could have been more Texan unless you served it in a Stetson cowboy hat, to be devoured using only a Bowie knife.
The first bite was bliss as the tender pork meshed with the sweet Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce. On the way down the gullet there was that faint hint of cola. Like a junkie chasing a high, I devoured the sandwich paying close attention to that cola flavor at the end of each bite.
Now, being a proud Virginian jades me a bit as I was slightly disappointed the sandwich didn’t have that vinegar hook – but I got over it. The bacon cheese fries were delicious too but I knew what I was getting – they were real and they were spectacular!
Rounding out the evening, the wife and I washed down our plates with the fine barley juices from Real Ale Brewing and Austin Beerworks; a couple of fine craft brewers here in Austin. Stay tuned for more from them later.