Here’s a report on Old School BBQ & Grill from the Jacobson branch of the Texas BBQ Posse, including Gary, Sherry, Libby and Gunnar Jacobson and Mike Gagne. They visited Old School last Sunday and share this report:
Among the newfangled trailer eats of Austin, fine smoked meats can be found at Old School BBQ & Grill, operating out of an old yellow school bus at East 6th and Waller streets.
Trey Cook, the pit master this day, chatted us up during lunch and confided that he was trying a new rub on the brisket, a peppercorn-based spice mix. After 24 hours of smoking at 180 degrees and another 12 hours at about 225 degrees, the corns were soft and the concoction just spicy enough to satisfy the range of taste buds in our small group. The brisket was moist, a little fatty but delicious.
According to Trey, one of the secrets to their brisket relies upon the special cuts, which are from only the left side of the cow. This is because he says cows always sleep on their right sides, forcing them to use the muscles on the right-side of their bodies more. The left side, so the reasoning goes, is less muscled and, thus, more marbelized.
No one in our group had ever heard that before. So we had to check it out. Mike Gagne found that — according to a Texas A&M study — cows sleep on both sides and might even have a propensity to favor their left side. Aggies can’t be wrong, can they?
We also contacted Posse member Marshall Cooper, who knows just about everything involving barbecue. Yes, Marshall, responded by email, he had heard of the left-side theory. But, he said, the only people he knew offering it were butchers who did their own slaughtering.
Trey didn’t reveal his meat sources, but he did say he uses a local supplier.
We got to Old School about 15 minutes before it opened at noon on a Sunday. The bus shared a vacant lot with other food trailers, four blocks east of I-35. It is a fine place. A picnic table, chairs, a firepit and quirky sculptures are scattered over the grounds. The ever-growing skyline of Austin looms nearby.
We wanted to try the ribs, but Trey said he hadn’t made any that day and he recommended ordering a day ahead if you want some. They go fast, he said.
Even if you hanker for barbecue, don’t forget to try Old School’s burger! It just might be the best you’ve ever had. The burger is some fine Angus beef. Standing out more than anything was the carmelized onions and tomato. It doesn’t need mustard, mayo or ketchup.
This is a BBQ place where the sides cannot be forgotten. The potato salad and french fries are solid. Sadly, the super cheesey mac and cheese was not available on this Sunday.
Next door, Flying J’s, the waffle-and-chicken trailer did not disappoint either. The thick deep-fried crust on the chicken provides the flavor, combined with maple syrup and hot sauce. “It’s a delicious mess,” Sherry said after taking a bite. In fact, it’s a meal that jazz greats like Dizzy Gilespie are said to have eaten in Harlem. In the late night/early morning after a show, all that was available to eat was the chicken of the previous day and that morning’s waffles.
Photos by Gunnar Jacobson