Road trip to Central Texas barbecue joints with new guide in your glove box
Gloria Corral moved to Austin from San Francisco three years ago to be close to her grandkids. In the process, the triathlete and cooking enthusiast also indulged a passion for Central Texas barbecue. She's turned that passion into a 173-page glove box-sized paperback, "Barbecue Lover's Guide to Austin" (www.bbqloversguide.com , $9.95), that covers more than 70 shacks, joints, trailers and smoke-stained shops. Each place — from Ruby's and Rudy's in Austin to Snow's in Lexington and Smitty's in Lockhart — gets a short history, descriptions of its specialties and a hand-drawn rendering of its sign. The book developed over three years, Corral said, but trips along the barbecue trail took off in earnest in 2009 after a summer honing her writing skills at New York University. In conversation, Corral brings up the County Line and the Salt Lick, but she expresses equal enthusiasm for trailer-based operations like Bar-B-Q Heaven, Franklin Barbecue and Bee Caves BBQ. "Their stories were so human and so real. It made the whole culture come to life for me," she said. The book is available locally at Barnes & Noble, BookPeople and Fresh Plus (1221 West Lynn St.).
Austin Newcomer Creates Guide to Area's Barbecue Joints
By Hanna Raskin, Wed., Feb. 23 2011 at 2:01 PM
Gloria Corral, the author of the newly self-published Barbecue Lover's Guide to Austin was happy to talk to me when I called this morning: She just had to finish chewing a piece of smoked turkey first.
Corral's eaten plenty of smoked meat since she moved from San Francisco to Austin to be closer to her grandchildren. She's spent the last two years compiling 300-word vignettes about all the pits she could find within 30 miles of Austin (with a geographical exception made forTexas Monthly favorite Snow's in Lexington, "which had to be in there.")
"I just set out to look around, eat and absorb the atmosphere," says Corral, whose sampling routine involved showing up at barbecue joints unannounced and requesting a tour if a staff member wasn't too busy.
There aren't any reviews in the book. Each description is a "small story that really tell the tale," she says.
Corral, a food enthusiast who made her living as a real estate agent, was astounded nobody beat her to the publishing punch.
"I couldn't believe nobody had done it before," Corral says. "But it takes a lot of people skills. I didn't want to just try the barbecue. I wanted to say 'Who are you?'"
Coming from the Bay Area, where barbecue culture is "non-existent," Corral was impressed by the traditions embedded in the joints she visited.
"They have a long, long, long history," Corral says. "That's what makes barbecue here so special."
Corral received her first shipment of books late last year, and has since placed them in stores around Austin. She hopes to have the "click here to buy now" button on her website working within the next few days, but in the meantime, Dallasites can order a copy through Barnes & Noble.
"I'm feeling my way along," she admits. "This is my first book."