THE PIT BOSS
FOR HALF A CENTURY, THE SALT LIC BBQ HAS BEEN MORE THAN WORTH THE DRIVE TO DRIFTWOOD.
It’s the most Austin of summer rituals. For 50 years, we have packed up the cooler and taken a country drive to Driftwood for some of the most delicious open-pit brisket, ribs, and homemade sides in the state at the sprawling Salt Lick BBQ.
The down-home empire is under the care of Scott Roberts, whose family goes back to Stephen F. Austin. The Salt Lick sits on land his grandparents bought in 1902, and he credits its success to his family’s “hard-country scrabble” ethic. “That’s why we survived so long and why we’re the size we are. My father was friendly and didn’t like people waiting in line too long. When the line would get to more than an hour, we’d add more sections to the building.”
Looking back, Roberts fondly recalls the first time his daughter, then 8, sauced ribs with him—she now heads up catering and events. Looking ahead, he’s recreating the Driftwood experience with a new Grapevine location next year.
Recent touches include weekly pizza nights at the adjacent Salt Lick Cellars, which features awardwinning wine, and the addition of bison ribs to the main Salt Lick menu. For its 50th anniversary, the restaurant is in the middle of its “Year of Giving,” in which a portion of proceeds from specific items goes toward a different charity each month.
So bring the beer (it’s BYOB) and the cash (no cards, thank you), and choose the “Family Style” option. “There’s nothing better than eating barbecue under a Live Oak with a good drink,” says Roberts. Don’t forget the blackberry cobbler. 18300 FM 1826, Driftwood, 512-898-4959; saltlickbbq.com
clockwise from top left: The popular “family style” option includes all-youcan-eat meat and sides (made in small batches and not refrigerated); the Salt Lick was built around its open pit; the famous brisket; the restaurant opened 50 years ago on...