Rusty Star BBQ (Waco, TX)
When we drove through Texas on our first road trip, we stopped for BBQ in Waco, Texas, at a little spot called Rusty Star BBQ. Not only did we get some incredible food, but we also wound up with one of our favorite pictures from the trip – Edie gnawing on some pork ribs. So when we were planning our route from Austin to Lubbock, we decided to build in another trip – even if that meant adding an additional 3 hours to our drive for the day!
Rusty Star BBQ is definitely a hole-in-the-wall, located off Highway 6. However, it has hosted Ted Nugent, Anthony Bourdain and former President George W. Bush & his wife Laura (though don’t hold that against them!). This place definitely knows a thing or two about smoked meat!
Scott had tried the brisket on our first visit to Rusty Star, so between a good memory about the flavor and his quest to go as many days as possible eating brisket, this was a definite choice for his 3 meat plate.
This meat was smokey with a nice crust on the outside. It was moist and tender, though not quite “fork only” tender. Adding a little bit of sauce on top just made it even better.
This was our second time tasting chopped beef. Compared with our first try at Stubb’s, this version was less saucy with bigger chunks of meat – which in our opinion made for a much better texture. It was a great combination of flavors, too.
Although Texas BBQ tends to focus more on beef, Scott still opted for the pulled pork on his plate. It had a fantastic smokey, sweet flavor. It was a little dry but adding a little of the BBQ sauce on top made it excellent.
Since she had gotten the ribs on that fateful first road trip, Edie opted for the ribs again on her 2 meat plate. They were as good as she remembered!
The meat was fall off the bone tender, with a slightly sweet flavor from whatever was rubbed on before smoking. There was plenty of meat on the bones, too.
Again, the sausage was a throw-back to Edie’s first visit, and again, it was as good as she remembered. Juicy, peppery, and incredibly tender with amazing flavor.
Jalapeno Potato Salad
For one of his sides, Scott picked the jalapeno potato salad. It was like a cold mashed potato salad, no chunks but very creamy, with big pieces of pickled jalapeño. It had pickle relish in it, too. The flavor was amazing without being too spicy.
For his second side, Scott opted for the beans. These were pintos and not drowned in liquid, with chunks of meat that we were pretty sure was ham. Great flavor!
Edie went with the Macaroni Salad as one of her sides. It was just basic elbow macaroni with a mayonnaise-based sauce, except the sauce was quite tangy, perhaps due to pickle relish? It was good, though not incredible like the meats.
Edie went with the cole slaw for her second side. It was light, crisp, and slightly sweet. It was still a mayonnaise-based sauce, but (luckily!) there was no pool of liquid mayo after you finish off the cabbage.
The ladies at the counter referred to one of the bread options as “BBQ Bread.” That sounded better than white or wheat, so we both opted for it. The bread was a soft, yeast bread with a slightly sweet flavor. Great for soaking up sauce!
You don’t get asked about sauce when you place your order. As we’ve mentioned before, Texas BBQ focuses on the meat. However for those of you who can’t have BBQ without at least a little sauce, Rusty Star provides some on all of the tables. It is a basic tomato-based sauce, tangy & sweet, and it is a great accompaniment to the meats.
Rusty Star is truly a hole-in-the-wall little place. It is a basic walk-up counter where you order and then there are a number of picnic tables where you can sit. That said, the staff is exceptionally friendly and fast at getting out your meal. We were also lucky enough to chat with the super-nice current owner for a few minutes while we were waiting for Knox to finish his portion. Turns out a lot of folks save scraps for their dogs from Rusty Star…meaning a lot of happy dogs in Waco, Texas!
Total cost, including tax & tip, was $25.00. You get nice, large helpings of great food, plus a good amount of leftovers for a dog.
The Doggy Bag, By Knox
I didn’t get invited on Scott & Mommy’s first road trip (silly humans – having me along would have made that trip 1000 times more incredible!), so when they started talking about Rusty Star, I didn’t know what it was. They left me in the truck while they ate inside, but luckily, they didn’t forget the dog. They came out of the restaurant bearing a plate FULL of meat & sides for me to try.
Wowzer – this place serves up some major meaty goodness! The owner of the place was talking to Scott & Mommy while I ate, so I even finished the beans and cole slaw. I’m not a fan of veggies, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t offend the owner…you know, just in case he wanted to give me a few more ribs.