I’m always looking for those great Texas BBQ spots anywhere close to Austin, and you know that when I’ve found one I’m going to share it. Those that have kept up with the Austinot also know that when we review a spot, we shoot straight from the hip.
Recently, Brittany and I were out and about just north of Austin in the Round Rock area. We were hungry after a long day of work, so we did a quick search on our phones and found that people were pretty happy with Johnny T’s BBQ. We decided to check it out for ourselves. Johnny T’s is located at 1318 Round Rock Avenue, Round Rock, TX 78681 and their number is (512) 255-7447.
We actually passed Johnny T’s BBQ while we were looking for it. It isn’t a very big spot and if you blink you may miss it. But rest assured that the locals of the Round Rock area know exactly where this place is, and for good reason too.
One of the most fun things about being a writer for a fairly popular Austin blog is going into a place unannounced and seeing what the service and food is like, before we tell them about the Austinot. We like to “surprise” people so that we catch them just as they are and get the same service as everyone else.
First Impressions of Johnny T’s BBQ
When I pulled up to Johnny T’s, the parking lot was fairly empty. One of the first things I look at when checking out a new restaurant is how busy their parking lot is. To be honest, I was a bit concerned when I saw Johnny T’s…at first…
Like I said, the place is tiny and seats about 34. Red and white checkerboard tablecloths are on each table, giving the joint a “picnic” feel. Though there weren’t many patrons when we arrived, that soon changed. It was almost as if the cow bell had rung. Before you knew it, a pleasant mix of families and working men formed a line behind us.
There were three young men behind the counter. Our order taker, Joseph B., was kind and friendly to each person he interacted with. I ordered the 3-meat plate, asking for the lean brisket, pulled pork, and garlic sausage. They were out of garlic sausage, so Joseph recommended the pork ribs instead, saying they were his personal favorite. I took him up on the suggestion and ordered our sides, fries and green beans.
We got our iced tea while we were waiting for our order. I have to tell you that their sweet iced tea is incredibly good. It’s very refreshing and the crushed ice that they have at Johnny T’s really makes a difference. When they called out our order, the plate was sizable and the presentation of the meat and sides was picture-worthy. We were also offered some warm BBQ sauce that is kept behind the counter, which was a nice touch.
Review of Johnny T’s
The brisket was moist and the pork ribs were fall-off-the-bone good. The pulled pork, usually one of my favorites at BBQ joints, was a little bland for my taste. But Brittany liked it and it’s definitely worth trying out for yourself.
The sides were interesting and worth mentioning, which is rare in a BBQ joint. Usually at BBQ restaurants, the meats are really good and the sides are mediocre. At Johnny T’s, it was obvious that they took time to perfect their sides. The fries were seasoned and crispy, but not overcooked. I didn’t like the fact that Johnny T’s chooses Hunt’s Ketchup over Heinz for their condiments, but that’s a personal preference I’m sure. The green beans had some sort of BBQ rub/chili powder mixture on them, which gave them a nice tangy flavor. They were fresh and snapped when we bit into them. It should also be noted that the green beans were served with just enough grilled onions and red peppers to add even more goodness to their flavor, but these additions didn’t overwhelm or ruin the side at all.
As we finished our meal, Brit decided to order a small banana cream pie for dessert. She said that it reminded her of something she would eat at a home potluck, which was part of the appeal – it was comforting and familiar, which was a perfect way to finish up our meal at Johnny T’s BBQ.
Two-Question Interview with Johnny T.
After we had finished our meal, I introduced myself to the guys at the counter and got to sit down with the owner, Johnny Tomlinson. Johnny used to be an executive chef and decided to take a shot on doing something he always wanted to do, open up his own BBQ joint. He said that he really puts himself into his work and takes as much time on the sides as he does the meats, which was noticeable as mentioned earlier in my review. I told Johnny that I wanted to ask him two questions and that I’d post the answers within my article. So here they are:
Question 1: Name something that separates Johnny T’s BBQ from other BBQ restaurants in Texas.
Answer: “You can throw a dart at the menu and hit something amazing. Everything we serve has a lot put into it.”
Question 2: Johnny T’s doesn’t exist, where are you going for BBQ?
Answer (And it should be noted that Johnny didn’t hesitate at all): “Franklin’s makes the best BBQ in the State and perhaps the country. They do it right. While I have a semi-automated rotisserie pit, Franklin is out there at 2AM with his wood pit. That’s BBQ done right.”
In closing, I’ll say that Johnny is a really nice guy. Down to earth and honest. I enjoyed meeting him and I’d definitely stop back by Johnny T’s BBQ. Hope you check it out as well.
Oh, and for the record, the parking lot was full by the time we left and there was still a line at the counter.
What is YOUR favorite BBQ in Austin or the surrounding area?