Oakhart Barbecue’s hours are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., but if you get there any time after 1:30, chances are you’ll find a locked door and a big “sold out” sign. Sometimes there’s even a line at the door long before opening time.
Oakhart’s ribs and brisket are crazy good, and the word has spread. What’s their secret? Well, there are a lot of them. Oakhart’s owners, who once played in the heavy metal band The Agony Scene, are now part of the band of young barbecue enthusiasts who, inspired by famed Austin pitmaster Aaron Franklin, have rethought every step of the barbecue process.
Their offset smoker, a custom-built beauty from a small family business in Texas, burns post oak in a firebox on the side, and the smoke cooks low and slow. They use USDA Prime brisket and they start cooking it – a long, intricate, hands-on process – at 3:00 a.m. They wrap the brisket in butcher paper (and ribs in foil) about midway through cooking. That trick keeps juices in, and perhaps that’s why their brisket and ribs are, as Anthony Bourdain said about Franklin’s, “insanely moist and delicious.”
Or maybe it’s simpler.
“We make everything from scratch,” says Brian Hodges, one of the owners along with Chris Emmons. “We put in a lot of care.”