Recently I met the spouse for a quick lunch, and we were planning to eat pho at one of our local favorites. However, Mai Lien was closed for the day (not permanently, thank goodness!), so we were at a bit of a loose end. Just down the strip mall we saw the sign for Branch BBQ. We knew the place was there, but since we don’t visit Wells Branch much these days, we had completely overlooked this one.
Time to change plans!
Branch BBQ is a small place at the east end of a small mall, one that contains Mai Lien, a bar and a hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place (which I’ll try later, of course). PJ wasn’t interested in Mexican, so we strolled down the lot and entered the shop. My first impressions included clean, gingham-topped tables and a mouth-watering aroma of smoked meats. The serving area’s not much bigger than a closet, very well-organized and sparkling clean. The advantage of such a small food delivery space is that one person can handle it all. The disadvantage, of course, is that one person can get Very Tired shoveling a day’s worth of food out to hungry patrons. Like us. We were there at just the right time, apparently, as there was no line at the server’s station. A couple of tables were full, though, and they were very quiet as they dined; smiling, too, with barbeque sauce painted on their lips and cheeks.
My kind of place.
Branch BBQ offers a nice selection of plates, with meat choices that include turkey, pork, brisket, sausage, pork ribs, and chicken-fried steak. You can also get half or whole chickens, and two- and three-meat plates are available. Everything looked and smelled delicious; and I mean everything! Each plate comes with your choice of two sides, and options run from beans and potato salad to mashed potatoes and gravy, French fries and fried rice. (Fried rice! With BBQ. Why didn’t I think of that?) Plate prices range from $7.99 to $9.99, and they include pickles, onions, white or brown bread and extra sauce.
For folks who prefer their ‘que between slabs of bread, Branch BBQ offers small and large sandwiches made from sliced or chopped beef, sausage, pork, turkey or chicken. You could also try a catfish sandwich, or chicken fried steak, or a two-meat combo; these last three are large-size only. They also have sausage wraps with Elgin sausage.
Desserts and beverages are extra. Apple pie, banana pudding, peach cobbler (a la mode if you like), cake, cookies and so on, classic dessert offerings with BBQ. Beer is available in addition to tea, lemonade and soft drinks. I didn’t check the selection, though, as I wanted iced tea.
Since we were there for lunch, I looked at the lunch specials. These are offered Monday through Friday, 11 AM to 2 PM, and include your choice of boneless chicken, chopped beef or Elgin sausage, with two sides. Price is a very reasonable $5.95; a great deal.
One unique element: This BBQ joint offers smoked catfish. Well, that’s not the oddity, exactly. I didn’t see it offered as a plate, just on their handouts (and their website), I assume by the pound. I’m not a fan of catfish, but for those who are, this might be just the ticket. Speaking of which, yes, they offer their lovely products for you to take home and enjoy at your leisure. Meats by the pound, and plenty of sides. Fried okra is available as a take-home side order, just in case you’re addicted to that stuff.
Branch BBQ caters their tasty food to events in the area. Cost is a flat $9 per person, hassle-free. If you have an event for 25 or 200, give them a call.
My overall impression of Branch BBQ is very favorable, and I’ll be back. Several of my old-time favorite ‘Q joints have closed in these tough economic times, so having Branch BBQ nearby is a definite plus for me! It’s been around for nearly twenty years, and with food this good, I don’t think it’s in any danger of going away…
Branch Bar B Que, 1779 Wells Branch Parkway, Austin, TX 78728. Phone 512.990.5282. Phenomenal barbeque in a cozy, casual setting, lunch and dinner, six days a week (Mon-Sat). Kid friendly. Beer available, not a full bar. Takeout available. Catering available (parties of 25 or more).
Enjoy the (Tasty Neighborhood BBQ) Heat!
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