Our philosophy when it comes to food is to seek out and sample the best a region has to offer, which is why we usually stick to regional cuisine unless there is something really unique and renowned to try (yes, you should go eat sushi at Koi in Cabo San Lucas Mexico!) or if we have a craving (…after eating too much vegetarian food, one wants a burger and fries in Sri Lanka!). When visiting Texas, we focus on eating barbecue and have been making our way through Texas Monthly’s Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas list. Last time we were in the Dallas- Fort Worth area, we visited Lockhart Smokehouse and Heim BBQ and while we’re still dreaming of the burnt bacon ends at Heim, we decided we should branch out and try something else to add another notch to our barbecue belt. When faced with the choice between Cattleack BBQ and Pecan Lodge, we chose Cattleack because it just so happened it would be open the Saturday we were there (Pecan Lodge is open more consistently so we can try it next time)! In this post, we share information about our experience going to Cattleack BBQ on a Saturday and a review of the food.
After selling his disaster restoration company in 2010, Todd David turned his hobby into a business and founded Cattleack Barbeque. As you wait in line and meander your way to the counter to order, you get to read various articles and see how him and his wife decided to do this than to retire fully. It is so nice to see people turn their hobby into a business, especially when they make delicious barbecue you can enjoy!
Cattleack has expanded since it opened in 2013 but it still remains a small enough operation with limited hours; it is open Thursday and Friday between 10:30-14:00 and the first Saturday of each month between 10:30-14:00. As you can see, you need to plan your visit and we made sure to check their Facebook and Instagram pages to make sure they’d be open that Saturday to avoid disappointment.
We did our research about the line on Saturday and decided that arriving between 09:30-09:45 would be optimal. This also ensured that we would be able to order what we wanted and hopefully not worry about them selling out as can happen later in the day.
Since it was raining and there were thunderstorms Saturday morning, we figured maybe it would be quitter since people didn’t want to stand outside and wait for barbecue in this weather, which is why we were surprised when we arrived at 09:22 and the line-up was already around the building! Max got out of the car and went to wait in line while I parked the car on the street. Since we were lined up on the side of the building, there was no cover from the rain and thankfully we had grabbed an umbrella from our hotel, Texican Court to take with us. Many people didn’t have umbrellas or rain coats but didn’t let the story my and wet weather discourage them for a second.
Around 09:45, the opened the doors and let people start queuing and thankfully, we immediately began the next stage of our wait indoors where we could dry off. As a bonus, they started serving at 10:15 since they were ready which meant we wouldn’t have to wait as long!
Tip: Bring some reading material to make the time go by faster!
Tip: You are welcome to BYOB as you wait in line.
FYI: BBQ, barbecue, barbque…are all used interchangeably in this post and elsewhere on the blog!
By the time we ordered our food, it was close to 11:00 which meant we waited 1.5 hours. As we left around 11:30, the line was steady and even longer but they hadn’t started to run out of anything yet from what we could see.
Cattleack has the usual barbecue staples when it comes to meat and sides but they also have specials. We decided to order the Texas Trinity which included brisket, a beef rib, and a hot link. It is about 1 pound of meat so we decided to add 1 slice of lean brisket to go with the fatty slice. As for sides, we ordered the cheese jalapeno grits and the homemade coleslaw. We asked for pickles and pickled red onions which are complimentary. On the table, they have two types of sauce, one that’s more of a traditional barbecue sauce and the other that’s more like a Carolina style with tang from vinegar. We loved the Carolina style sauce, might be one of the best we’ve ever had.
As for the food, we loved it! The rib is probably the best rib we have ever had in our life and their jalapeno cheesy grits are by far the best we’ve had when comparing to other barbecues. The hot link was pretty tasty too and accentuated the other items on the plate. We loved the brisket and it had a good crust but it was a little tougher than what we are used to and we had to apply enough pressure to our knife to slice it (Micklethwait’s brisket is still our favorite). The pickles and pickled red onions were exactly as you hoped they’d be too; this is a small detail that some barbecue joints neglect but this is not the case at Cattleack.
We had more than enough food and had trouble eating everything which is why we saved the rest of the hot link for an afternoon snack. When we ordered, they seemed surprised we were sharing this plate between the two of us when many people order it for themselves…yes, everything is bigger in Texas!
The Bottom Line:
Cattleack is rated #3 on the Texas Monthly’s Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas; the famed Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin is #2. Cattleack is the 12th of the top 50 we visit and it is our opinion it does live up to its hype. Overall it was an enjoyable experience and worth the wait, even if we found the crowd a little douchey (Many of the people there should ask themselves if they really need to talk that loud, put their feet up on the benches where people will be sitting and eating, and leave their garbage on the table…?!?! Oh, and learn to share the barbecue sauce! Learn some manners people!!).
Tip: Share the barbecue sauce with your neighbours, it’s not just for you!
If there is one thing that was missing for us, it’s access to outdoor seating. Yes it was raining and they do have a picnic table and a couple of tables and chairs by the doors but it is primarily an indoor barbecue restaurant and you cannot take beer outside. We initially thought we were charged for Lone Star beers but the restaurant reached out to us to confirm they never charge for beer and offer it for free until it runs out when you pay for your meal, which we appreciate (we apologize for the confusion and should have inquired about our bill instead of making that assumption! thank you for reaching out!).
- Rating: 17/20 – We would visit again.
- Quality: 4 – Excellent
- Quantity: 5 – Excellent
- Service: 5 – Excellent
- Location/Atmosphere: 3 – Could be better if there was outdoor seating as it gets really loud and cramped inside.
Do you take “Top lists” seriously? What is the longest you have ever waited for barbecue?
- Texas Travel Guide: Austin, Dallas, and Beyond
- 72 Hours in Austin Travel Guide
- 36 Hours in Dallas Travel Guide
- Hotel Review: Texican Court in Irving Texas
- Hotel Review: Cavalry Court in College Station
- Hotel Review: Lone Star Court in Austin
- BBQ in Austin: Micklethwait Craft Meats
- Beer and Pizza in Austin’s Hill Country: Stanley’s Farm House Pizza