photo credit: Richard Casteel
Austin is full of barbecue mashups. There are the obvious ones that feel like they’ve been a part of our lives forever, like the Texas-Mexican (but not really “Tex-Mex”) fusion going on at Valentina’s. We have the mashups that couldn’t really exist outside of Texas, like the smokehouse izakaya menu at Kemuri Tatsu-Ya or Loro’s Asian-influenced smoked meats. And then, every once in a while, we get to try the ones we never knew we needed—like KG BBQ, a trailer parked at Oddwood Brewing in East Austin making excellent Central Texas style-barbecue with an Egyptian twist. It’s a mashup that feels like it’s been around forever, but instead turns us into the food equivalent of your friend who just learned about microdosing and won’t stop bringing it up. Because in a city full of great barbecue (and great barbecue mashups), KG brings something entirely different to the meat-filled table.
There aren’t that many barbecue spots in town smoking whole racks of lamb, and here they’re cooked to a perfect medium rare and served with a bright, garlicky mint chimichurri. Then make your way to the pork ribs—glazed in pomegranate molasses and sprinkled with za’atar—for a sweet-smoky-tangy take on a Central Texas favorite. The brisket, on the other hand, is about as classic as it gets—seasoned with salt and pepper, and slow-smoked over oak—but still gets a little bit of distinctive KG BBQ-treatment after it takes a shallow plunge into a cup of tangy pomegranate barbecue sauce. And if you want something that leans just a little more onto the “Egypt” end of the Texas-Egypt sliding scale, you can get brisket or smoked chicken thighs in shawarma form, complete with sumac-pickled onions, Egyptian-style pico, and a warm pita to hold it all in.
There’s a great patio situation at Oddwood, where you can post up on picnic tables covered in blue and white checkered tablecloths. On the weekends, there’s usually a band out back playing light jazz. Oddwood is a relaxed neighborhood spot that combines a lot of our favorite things—plenty of space, good beer, and (usually) lots of dogs—and for years that’s been reason enough for us to head over to the Mueller/Manor Road borderlands. And now we have another: KG BBQ.
In a city full of Texas-meets-something crossovers, KG BBQ brings us something that we can’t stop talking about. The only difference between us and your microdosing friend, is if you listen to us you’ll find yourself staring at a giant rack of smoked lamb chops, while sipping a beer on an excellent patio in East Austin.
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Pomegranate Glazed Pork Ribs
These are cooked to a textbook-level excellence, with meat that pulls away from the bone, and retaining just a bit of chew. They’re sweet, sticky, and smoky—everything we want in some ribs—with a bit of added complexity from the za’atar sprinkled on it all.
Smoked Lamb Chops
This is one of the best lamb chops you’ll find in Austin. It’s slow smoked to a perfect medium rare—the outside is crispy and smoky, while the inside is incredibly tender. You’ll want to grab this thing by the bone, Flintstones style, if you’re okay with foregoing social graces, to pick off every last bit of soft, smoky meat.
Rice Bowl Brisket
If you only have the time and space to try one thing, the brisket rice bowl is probably the best way to get a feel for what KG BBQ is all about. The brisket is pretty classic, and it’s served over a bed of Mediterranean rice with some sweet candied nuts, tahini, and some tart pomegranate seeds.
It’s difficult to pick a favorite side here. The pink buttermilk potato salad takes a Texas classic and punches it up with some sweet roasted beet puree, and the Mediterranean rice comes topped with candied nuts—adding some sweet and crunchy texture to the intensely-spiced, fluffy grains below. And on a warm summer day, the Egyptian baladi salad is every bit as refreshing as it is flavorful. Fortunately, they’re all available by the cup so you don’t have to choose just one.
You can get the shawarma with either chicken thigh or brisket, and while we’ve enjoyed both, it’s the thigh we’ll probably be throwing into our weekly rotation, because we don’t think our bodies could handle that much rich brisket. Served in an airy, fluffy pita—the meat gets marinated in spices and honey, then slow-smoked—it’s topped with a zesty yogurt garlic sauce and some sumac-pickled onions for a bit of punch.