All the Argentine reggae on my playlist lately has put me in a very “vibra positiva” state of mind. So do the great beef cheeks at LeRoy and Lewis, the new truck and trailer joint in south Austin.
Saturdays, the place serves more traditional smoked meats. We went on Good Friday. No line. What a treat in barbecue crazy ATX!
This story of discovery begins early that morning. Posse member Michael Ainsworth messaged me that he was on the road to San Antonio from Dallas.
“You got any lunch plans?” Michael asked. “I want to try a Colombian food truck that I heard about.”
Instead, I suggested LeRoy and Lewis, a collaboration including Evan LeRoy, the former pitmaster at Freedmen’s, and Sawyer Lewis, the former general manager at Contigo, an eclectic, comfortable restaurant on Austin’s eastside.
Sherry Jacobson and I met Michael just before the place opened at 11 a.m. We ordered the beef cheeks (from 44 Farms), peaceful pork (Mojo pulled shoulder), Capra lamb meatballs, mac and cheese stuffed quail, and smokey kimchi deviled eggs.
The cheeks looked wonderful and tasted the same, eliciting a repetitive refrain of “Oh my god” as the three of us, in turn, ate small chunks.
A short aside on Michael. He was one of the photographers who won a Pulitzer Prize for The Dallas Morning News for photos of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He didn’t bring his cameras on this trip so everything you see here was shot with his iPhone.
Michael and I loved the other items we ordered, too, though he thought the meatball could have been a bit more tender.
Sherry liked everything but the quail. She only tried a bit of the macaroni.
“It’s weird to notice that there’s a body around the mac and cheese,” she said. “I’m feeling sorry for the little quail.”
The mottos written on the joint’s truck really tell the food approach of LeRoy and Lewis.
“Rotating variety of classic + adventurous cuts,” says one.
“Sustainable + humanely raised in Texas,” says another.
Asked where he got the idea for the stuffed quail, LeRoy said it was because they had a lot of leftover mac and cheese.
“We don’t want to throw anything out,” he said.
Sherry commented that this was probably the first time the Posse had ever had kimchi at a barbecue place. Garam masala spice in the meatballs, too.
“Somebody went to culinary school here,” she said.
Lewis affirmed that LeRoy had indeed gone to culinary school.
“We’re all thinking outside the box trying to come up with different ways to do things,” Lewis said.
I didn’t realize that Lewis had worked at Contigo until after leaving and doing a little backgrounding for this story.
The two places do share a flare for food adventure. The last time we were at Contigo, Sherry and I tried the fried chicken skin slider with peanut butter and a dab of jam. Loved it.
Nathan Lewis, Sawyer’s husband, is also involved in the business. They have plans for a future full service restaurant and brewery. Tom Spaulding also cooks and helped serve during our visit.
Prices are a little steep. The cheeks and brisket, when it’s available, each go for $24 a pound. Previously, the highest brisket price I’d noticed was $22 a pound at Franklin Barbecue.
No matter, we’ll be back for more of those “vibra positiva” cheeks and to try LeRoy and Lewis’ traditional barbecue.
LeRoy and Lewis, 121 Pickle Rd, Austin, 512-775-3392. Open Thursday-Sunday, 11 a.m. until the meat runs out.