Keep Austin Weird

I am willing to bet the only landfill in the country, maybe the world, where you can have a beer and eat some barbeque all while listening to live music from Little Joe and La Familia is the Texas Disposal Systems’ facility just outside the Austin city limits.

Not to mention the signs that advise your driver (in this case me) to be aware of the animals grazing away on either side of the narrow gravel road leading to the Exotic Game Ranch and Pavilion. I’m told that many of the animals aren't indigenous to Texas or even North America, and include several varieties of deer, bison, wildebeest and the highly endangered addax. At the first antelope sighting we burst into a chorus of Home on the Range.

TDS, Inc. rents the pavilion to selected groups on an invitation-only basis. Often, groups are outdoor-oriented organizations, law enforcement or young nonprofits in the early phases of fundraising. Last Friday night, the Texas Democratic Party hosted a bash honoring the Democratic National Committee and as a member of that body, I have to tell you it was an interesting evening for more than the great food and entertainment.

Texas Disposal Systems handles two-thirds of Austin's solid waste and one-third of San Antonio's. Note to all odorous landfills: the place doesn’t smell bad and it was 93 degrees in Austin that day. Even people living in other parts of the Austin area take notice of the way Texas Disposal Systems runs its operation. According to the president of Northeast Action Group, a community action organization in Northeast Austin, TDS shows how you can run a landfill.

There are T-shirts, hats, and coffee mugs at every tourist trap that proclaim the city's motto of "Keep Austin Weird" and if I hadn't seen with my own eyes and smelled with my own nose ... the only thing my nose breathed in was the smell of barbeque. Amazing AND weird: all in a very good way!

Texas-style Barbeque Brisket

1 4-pound brisket
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons cayenne
2 tablespoons paprika
1 medium onion, finely grated
3 cloves garlic, finely grated
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup butter
1 cup water
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
6 ounces of beer

Preheat grill to 325 degrees F using indirect method. Note: If a two burner grill, light one burner, if three burner light two. Meat to be placed over burner with no direct flame beneath.

Trim excess fat from brisket and season with garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne and paprika. Place on preheated grill. Prop the lid a little so it’s not fully closed (I use a brick) and let cook.

Meanwhile prepare sauce. Melt butter in a sauce pan with the oil and sauté onion and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add water, cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder and a little salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add beer. Baste over brisket about every 30 minutes. Cook brisket on low for about 4-5 hours.

Remove brisket from
grill and slice thin for serving on a roll or on its own accompanied by baked beans and a fresh green salad.


  1. very interesting, about the landfill, preserve, and event center. very unique "mixed-use." i thought our landfill was progressive because i could go out there and pick up mulch.

    thank you so much for this recipe.


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