Air Food: Austin International’s Salt Lick

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Hey, the Murlocs who Dine went on the road last weekend. So we’re starting a new featurette – places we eat while traveling. Because not every place you eat is the destination.

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After being treated like cattle in the TSA line, go visit the Salt Lick!

To kick this off, I’m starting at our home base, Austin. Austin-Berstrom International Airport is not a big airport, but the food offerings are pretty good despite that. They seem very aware that this may be your first “taste” (ha-ha!) of Austin, so they want to make sure it’s good. So the Salt Lick is our first review.

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Authentic pits don’t have heat lamps

Obviously there’s not a smoke pit in the airport. I suspect they bring in their BBQ from one of their other pits because it sure tastes smoked. Fortunately BBQ travels really well. Well, it travels well if you don’t wolf it down at the gate.

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You will need a fork and a handful of napkins.

I had the brisket sandwich with a side of potato salad. The bread was fluffy and soft and couldn’t really support the heap of beef brisket piled between it. That’s not really a complaint mind you. It was sweeter than a lot of brisket I’ve had here in Texas. The Salt Lick is one of the rare central Texas BBQ joints that believes in basting its meat with a sauce while it’s on the heat. This gives the brisket a caramelized, kinda crunchy outside and sweetens the whole thing without being cloying or overpowering the smoke. The potato salad was a real surprise. Let me say that again, because I think it’s really notable – I was SURPRISED by potato salad. It wasn’t creamy (which was good because fatty moist brisket doesn’t need fatty potato salad), but it wasn’t the tart mustard taste I was expecting based on the color. (It really is that color, it’s not funky airport lighting.) Instead, it was starchy and tasted smoked. The seasoning was definitely pure Texas – savory and smokey. It was a little pricey at about $15 for a sandwich/ side/ soda combo, but as almost all airport food is overpriced it’s definitely in the realm of reasonable.

And good news! Based on the airport menu it looks like you can get a whole brisket to go!

They also have a taco bar that I’m looking forward to trying next time I get to the airport early.

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