From The Salt Lick To The Emergency Room…And Back

Plenty of articles have been written about The Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas.  This barbecue mecca between outside of Austin has been around for almost fifty years and boasts about its menu chocked full of brisket, ribs, sausage and turkey.The restaurant has become famous through features in People magazine, The Food NetworkThe Wall Street Journal, and winning the Today Show’s 2009 Barbecue Challenge Championship.

Although countless articles have been written about how amazing the food is and how gorgeous the event facilities are, I have never read an article about how a trip to The Salt Lick landed a patron in the emergency room. I am here to write that story.

My best friend, Michelle, and I have a tradition of going on a road trip together every summer. Although I live in Chicago and she lives in Atlanta, we pick one long weekend to catch up on girl stuff and explore a new place together. This past summer’s destination was Texas.

One of Michelle’s co-workers had told her about The Salt Lick after seeing an episode of Man v. Food. While road tripping from San Antonio to Austin, we felt it necessary to make a pit stop there for some lunch and see what all of the hype was about.

There was about a forty-five minute wait to be seated at The Salt Lick even though it was a weekday in the middle of the afternoon. As we grabbed our buzzer from the hostess, Michelle mentioned that her legs were were feeling numb and she had a painful, tingly feeling all over. I told her to sit down and relax while I walked around to check out the grounds of The Salt Lick.

I discovered that this was much more than just a restaurant. There were vineyards, a wine tasting shop, private dining rooms, smokehouse rooms, and a playground just steps from the restaurant parking lot. After exploring a bit and buying a glass of sangria, I went back to find Michelle in even more discomfort than before. The hostess soon took us to our seats and we placed our order. Despite her unexplained symptoms, Michelle was excited to try the brisket plate. Although I’m not a big fan of barbecue, I compromised for the sake of experience and ordered the turkey plate.

Once we placed our order, we pulled out our smart phones and began researching Michelle’s symptoms on WebMD. It quickly became clear to us that she very well may have a blood clot. Upon this realization, panic sunk in. I ran to a nearby waitress and frantically told her to cancel our order because I had to rush my friend to the hospital. I threw my arm around Michelle and helped her limp across the huge parking lot to my Jeep. My GPS told me that the nearest hospital was Seton Medical Center in Austin, so that’s where I drove.

After a grueling five hour wait in the ER, we relieved to find that Michelle did not have a blood clot. The doctor attributed her symptoms to a nutrient deficiency and recently sitting in planes and cars for long periods of time.

Slowly, Michelle’s physical and emotional state improved and we went on to enjoy a couple days exploring the street markets, random stores, and bars in Austin. On our final vacation day, we were headed back to San Antonio to catch flights to our respective cities. On the way, we decided to give The Salt Lick one more try.

There was no wait time to be seated. Michelle ordered the brisket plate and I ordered the turkey plate. We actually got to eat our barbecue this time and thoroughly enjoyed it. We tipped the waitstaff well, as they remembered us from the fiasco just a couple days before.

Lots of people probably have stories about their visit to The Salt Lick, but this is mine. Although I somewhat remember the barbecue, I will never forget how thankful I was to see my best friend feel well enough to scarf down a huge plate of barbecue with sauce all over her face.

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