Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dinner Report: County Line BBQ on the River Walk...

One of the guys at work was telling me about his family really enjoying The County Line, a restaurant often cited as some of the best barbecue in San Antonio, when I told him I had never been.  He was nothing short of shocked given the fact that we try so many places serving up meat.

By pure coincidence, Eva and I were downtown during a break in the rain on Saturday, quickly darting from one touristy place to the next, taking pictures of a Flat Stanley-like foam board character.  Let me briefly explain: One of Eva's Facebook friends was involved in a terrible automobile accident a few months ago, and as a way of making him feel better during his hospital stay, several mutual FB friends have been sending around a flat version of the guy, and taking pictures of him in different locations, then posting for him to enjoy.  The foam-board picture was sent to Eva and we wanted to get some good San Antonio shots before sending it on to another friend in Dallas.  
 Okay, so with that in mind, during our touristy mission we found ourselves both hungry and on the river walk standing in front of The County Line.  Why not give 'em a spin?
 With no wait at all, we were seated inside and right away, I knew I liked the place.  I am just easily entertained by the decor, old signage and of course mounted steer. 
 Our waitress, Edith, was Johnny-on-the-spot with iced tea and a loaf of fresh and warm bread served with butter pats mixed with honey. She made sure our to-go box was properly filled when we left.  Bonus!
 I was extremely surprised at how quickly our order came out.  Granted, I know they aren't waiting to put the ribs on the grill the minute we walk in the door, but even still I didn't expect the place to be as quick as a fast food place.
 Instead of ordering individual plates, we decided to try the 5 meat sampler with two sides.   Unfortunately, I wasn't really thinking about pictures when I snapped this one, then began to dig in.  Under that huge hunks of ribs was a small pile of chopped brisket, a sausage link, and a portion of sliced turkey.

So first off, the potato salad was good.  We both enjoyed that.  I don't think I even tried the fries - probably a bad choice for a side.  The pork ribs were okay.  The beef ribs were a little more than okay.  Eva thought the turkey was a little dry but if you soaked it in sauce I thought it was okay.  The brisket was disappointing.  The only thing I thought was above average was the sausage.  In my mind, the sauce was not particularly that great.  And it was smothered on everything.  I would prefer a presentation where they give you the sauce on the side so you can choose how much or little to use. 

The atmosphere and the solid service were outstanding and I would never tell somebody not to go and enjoy the place and make their own call on just how spectacular (or not) the food is.  But if you just want some good barbecue in San Antonio, I say you need go further than Augie's.   

I honestly think that a lot of these places have circular reputations based on people who have never actually been to a particular restaurant repeating reviews told to them by someone else who hasn't been.  Since San Antonio is a tourist town, people who live there feel bad if they can't offer real advice to out of towners on where they should eat.  So a couple of people repeat positive reports about a place even though they have not been themselves, and before long, the place is a must visit.  Look no further than the legend that is Chris Madrid's.  That place offers a good burger, but there is no way it is even close to "the best" yet for some unknown reason, they always seem to be voted the best burger in SA year after year.  Horse pucky!

Enough of my little rant.  The County Line was okay, so try it if you like.  Are you a fan of County Line or Chris Madrid and need to set me straight?  Feel free to leave a comment and give your side of the story.


David Stone said...

I've been to The County Line twice in Las Vegas, and I feel the same about the meat. Everyone ranted and raved about it. I had some type of meat the first time and it was horrible. So the second time I got whatever the special was, some type of fish. It was worse than the meat.

Maureen said...

For awesome BBQ and the nicest people in town, go to The Big Bib on Austin Highway. Better than Augie's in my opinion, since the last couple of times we were there it was slipping. Soon as you walk into the Big Bib, they will start slapping samples up on the counter for you. Good stuff, and again, the owners are incredibly nice. I never went to The County Line the whole time I lived in SA but I had always heard "meh" whenever I asked about it.

Dave said...

"meh" sounds about right.

The Big Bib is officially added to the list!*

*"The list" is all those places that people tell me to try, and I eventually get to, hopefully.

Anonymous said...

My favorite cuisine is BBQ, so I eat any and ALL 'que when I can (and plan holidays around the legends in Austin/Lockhart), but I agree...County Line is below average.

I will have to try the one Maureen suggested!

There's a place called RUSTY BUCKET that I would go to when working at Building171, so you may want to check that one out, Dave. Furthermore, doesn't Lackland AFB have their own BBQ joint near the horse stables? Smokin' Joe's or something along those lines. I've always been curious about it. Sounds like an assignment for Mr. Stone!

And Dave, u still gotta check out HILL TOP CAFE for burgers. It's worth the drive, especially now the weather is starting to cool a bit. Heck, you can then get a cold one at Luckenbach.

Lastly, I think Rudy's is still pretty darn good for a franchise.

Sabra said...

The County Line is okay, but I think most of the people who rave about it do so in order to not feel so stupid about paying that much money for sub-par food. We went to the one on I-10 about a week ago. I figured it deserved a second chance (I went to the one downtown with my mom back in late '09 or early '10). I won't make the same mistake a third time. It's no better than Bill Miller's but it costs about twice as much. And my LORD but that "How to Speak Texan" BS they have on continual loop in the bathroom makes me want to stab someone with a rib bone.

Dave said...

Thankfully, not a dissenter amongst us.

Okay, remind me where this HILL TOP CAFE is.

Anonymous said...

Dave, HI made a mistake. I'm talking about ALAMO SPRINGS CAFE, lol!
Here's their website:

Looks like a place you and Eva would like...

BBQ catering said...

Restaurant is looking good in the pictures, they have spend a good time there. Try some other places at Los angeles. Robinsbbq is an amazing place where we have enjoyed a lot with nice atmosphere, amazing interior and garden area and especially the yumm food.