Great Barbecues of Texas: The Salt Lick in Driftwood


What’s that curious yellow fluid? Read on to find out.

In many ways, the Salt Lick Bar-B-Que in Driftwood, Texas is the odd man out among Central Texas barbecues.

It’s of comparatively recent inception, for example, having been founded in 1967. Rather than being located in a small town, Salt Lick Bar-B-Que was located in a rural area southwest of Austin, not far from Dripping Springs. Nowadays, the city of Austin has almost grown to encompass the area that the barbecue occupies, but back then, it was in the middle of nowhere, across the road from Camp Ben McCulloch, a Civil War reunion grounds actively used in the late 19th century.

There’s the sauce, too. While other Central Texas barbecues offer no sauce at all (Kreuz Market in Lockhart, for one) or a tomato-based sauce on the sweet and bland side (like Louie Mueller’s in Taylor) or one that’s a reasonable facsimile of orange bottled French dressing (City Market in Luling, the watermelon capital of Texas), the sauce at Salt Lick is actually mustard based, and you’d have to go 1001 miles to the east, to Columbia, South Carolina, to find other examples of mustard-based sauces. What’s more, Salt Lick slathers it on the ‘cue just as the smoking is finishing up, and keeps brushing the sauce on in the holding pit, which makes for a thick concentrated coating by the time the ‘cue hits the table. Friends, in Central Texas that’s barbecue blasphemy.

Made from rough hewn limestone blocks, the Salt Lick’s main building is very much in the style of Hill Country buildings.


Salt Lick uses open pits and hardwoods to generate its ‘cue.

Another feature: The barbecue at Salt Lick is smoked in a series of open pits, fashioned from rough limestone blocks in a circular shape, stone that doubtlessly comes from Hill Country quarries. This is a rather inefficient form of barbecuing, sometimes called “cowboy barbecue.” The place’s total dedication to hardwood (post oak and mesquite are used) is what saves the ‘cue. Indeed, you’ll probably come away from Salt Lick licking your lips and saying, “This ‘cue is pretty terrif.”

Also anomalously, Salt Lick was founded by a woman of Japanese descent named Hisako Roberts. She married the other founder, Thurman Roberts, who was stationed in the Navy in Hawaii. They settled in Driftwood, Texas in 1956, and founded the barbecue 11 years later. Thurman’s parents were from Mississippi, and open-pit style with a mustard sauce was the way his mother cooked barbecue.

The interior of the Salt Lick boasts all sorts of homely touches.

Anyway, enjoy these pictures taken not long ago at the Salt Lick Bar-B-Que.


This plate of barbecue at Salt Lick is only $11.95, an amazing deal.

At Salt Lick, turkey is a popular choice.

As free accoutrements, Salt Like offers raw onions and some strangely New Yorkey pickles.

The screen porch makes a mighty nice place to relax late into summer evenings.

Straight on past the holding pit, the main dining room.

Check out the entire series Great Barbecues of Texas

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