A necessary stop on any Austin adventure. This Texas tourist is sure that Rudy's is serving some of the most authentic Central Texas barbecue.
While there's a lot going on in the raucous food hall of Rudy's, it's the large, loud sign on the back wall, proudly declaring Rudy's to be the "Worst BBQ in Texas" that first stops a first time visitor in their tracks. "What's wrong with this barbecue?" the tourist thinks, blaming their host or various travel sites for leading them astray. But no fear, dear tourist, this is just all a part of Rudy's classic commitment to "keeping Austin weird," another statement in the same tone as the bumper stickers one can see on every other car downtown telling visitors that " Austin Sucks. Don't Move Here."
Just as Austin continues to rank as one of the country's best cities to live, so Rudy's ranks as one of Austin's best spots for high quality, soulful Central Texas barbecue. True to regional form, the diner orders cuts of meat by the pound while a server behind the counter begins carving up the order. With piles of barbecue and sides stacked high on a tray, the customer then carries their food to one of the long communal picnic tables for immediate enjoyment.
The focus of Rudy's barbecue, like much of Central Texas barbecue, is the quality and tenderness of the meat, rather than the sharpness of the sauces or the nuances of the side dishes, both of which are nonetheless excellent at Rudy's. As such, the beef brisket should feature especially heavy in every order, its lean, tender, and ever so slightly spiced slices ready to be devoured voraciously. Indeed, the atmosphere at Rudy's feels like a constantly frenzied race to finish every last bite of meat before your stomach realizes it has consumed half a pound of beef on slices of soft, packaged whtie bread covered in a house sauce and perhaps accompanied with a few spoonfuls of cole slaw or creamed corn, all washed down with a Shiner Bock.
Also strong at Rudy's are the chicken and sausage, whose warm flavors are complemented extraordinarily well by Rudy's tomato-based sauce with heavy notes of spice like paprika and garlic powder. From start to finish, a meal at Rudy's is truly like taking a bite out of Austin, with all of its happy hometown quirkiness and quality.