We stopped off at Banger's in Austin for hot dogs while road-tripping through the US and loved their quirky bar. Today, we head back and learn how-to cook bratwurst.
How did you get started?
We first opened our doors to the public on July 31st 2012. I wanted desperately for our opening day to be July 4th but due to construction delays and the will of the Universe, it didn't happen. The original idea for Banger's was hatched back when I was a student at The University of Texas. Like most undergrads I liked to frequent the bars on dirty 6th street as often as I could. There was a sausage cart down there called The Best Wurst. I f'ing loved (and still love) The Best Wurst. When the bars would let out at 2am I would always stumble over there and wait in what was always a very, very long line. After doing this a few hundred times it occurred to me how much longer the line was to get a sausage vs a pizza or any of the other late night food options available down there. I then began to wonder why there wasn't a brick and mortar restaurant in town that specialized in that sort of thing. But, having no restaurant experience and, having spent a lot of time and money getting a degree in finance, my dream of opening a sausage house would remain just a dream for about 6 more years. Then, through a combination of boredom with my existing job (commercial real estate broker), a desire to move back to Austin (I was living in Los Angeles) and a passion for all things sausage and beer related, in December of 2010 I decided to cash in all my chips and really go for. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Where are you located?
79, 81 (and soon to be 81 1/2) Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701
What are your specialities?
The name kind of says it all, we specialize in sausage and beer. We make about 30 varieties of sausage here in house which I believe gives us the largest sausage selection of any restaurant in the state of Texas. Depending on the level of business we'll crank out 1,500-2,000lbs every week. We make everything from a traditional Bratwurst to our take on a shrimp & grits sausage which, sounds weird, but is actually delicious. Our goal is to respect the great tradition of sausage making while still testing the bounds of what's possible within the confines of a casing. On the beer side of things, we have 104 taps which gives us the largest tap system in the city of Austin and the third largest in the entire state of Texas. We clean all of our lines every week to ensure the freshest taste and even have a secret beer committee -- "The Committee" -- that curates all the beers that go on our tap wall. Aside from beer and sausage, we have a motto around here that "we'll cook anything with a face." That really refers to whole animal cooking and whole animal butchery. That's really more of a passion than part of our core business, but right now we try to cook at least one whole animal a month and then break down two or three just for fun.
What's your personal favorite thing on the menu?
That's a really tough one. I am heavily involved with the menu selection and curation. While Chef Ted physically makes everything, I personally taste it which means I love everything that is one it. With that said I would highly recommend people try some of the options off of the "Special Sausage" side of the menu. There you will find things that are truly unique to us, such as our fried chicken sausage, shrimp and grits sausage, and our take on a Korean flavored sausage, the "Dak Bulgogi". With that said you really can't go wrong. If something catches your eye go for it. And if you don't like it, tell your waiter and we'd be happy to bring you something else to try.
What's on the stereo?
Country Music, all day every day. Of course that runs the gambit from Blue Grass to Folk, but if it's in that greater country genre then chances are you'll hear it here.
Where else should we visit in your area?
Honestly we are blessed to be located in a city with such a vibrant food and nightlife culture. Even more fortunate, many of the best places are our neighbors right here on Rainey Street. Blackheart is probably the bar that me and my staff visit most often. They have an excellent whiskey selection and live music 6 days a week. Half Step is one of the newer bars on the block but if I am drinking more than just beer or whiskey with an ice cube this is the place to do it. Their mixologists are amongst the best in the city. And of course G'raj Mahal is a Rainey Street original. I love Indian food and these guys do a fantastic job.
Do you host any special events?
Do we ever! We love to throw a good party and will do so just about any chance we get. Obviously, being a sausage house & beer garden, Oktoberfest is a pretty big deal around here. We celebrate right along side the Germans with a full 3 week Oktoberfest that mirrors the one back in Munich. Once a month we host our Smokeout Saturdays, which is a whole animal roast along with a day full of live music. Every Sunday we do a Big Band Brunch where we have a 9 piece New Orleans style brass band that does pop music covers. If you haven't been, it is honestly one of the best brunch experiences I have ever been a part of and I am not just saying that.
Is there anything else you'd like us to know?
I think we did a good job of covering our bases with those other questions but I would like to quickly give a shout out to our staff. We have an amazing staff. They are a well trained and passionate bunch of humans and will do whatever it takes to ensure your meal is transcended into a truly memorable experience. As anyone with lots of employees (we have about 100) can attest, a good staff is one of the hardest things to cultivate and we have a great staff.
Do you have a favorite cafe, restaurant or bar in your town that we should feature? Send us a message!