Where's the beef? Smithville

Austin hospitality team rambles into small Central Texas town to launch new restaurant

Austin team rambles into small Texas town to launch newest concept

Carne Lenta
Carne Lenta opens soon in Smithville. Carne Lenta/Instagram

Where's the beef? Smithville, apparently.

That timely joke is in honor of Carne Lenta, a new Smithville butcher shop, bar, restaurant, and music venue founded by the Austin hospitality pros behind La Holly and Taco Flats. The concept is taking over the former Micklethwait BBQ shop at 114 Northeast Second St., with an opening date set for Saturday, December 19. 

Carne Lenta, which means slow meat in Spanish, specializes in Mexican-style slow roasted meat, which is smoked in-house using 1,000-gallon propane pits. Cows are sourced locally, and the concept places particular emphasis on using the whole animal, with all production, ranging from processing to smoking, done on the premises. 

As part of the daytime operations, meats are sold by the pound inside the butcher shop or made into tacos using house-made tortillas. Pit master, butcher, and restaurant partner Tony Olvera will also be on hand to butcher and process the animals for purchase in the shop along with charcuterie and other goods.

At night, the garage bar (Carne Lenta is housed in Smithville's old Vasek Garage building) transforms for happy hour and dinner service with an emphasis on, you guessed it, meat. And, with the La Holly team at the helm, pre-Prohibition-style cocktails will be the star of the drinks menu. 

"Small-town Texas meets Mexican-style smoking and butchering with pre-Prohibition cocktails in a town where you would never expect it,” said Simon Madera, owner of Taco Flats and La Holly, in a release. “We are ripping a page from the meat district in NYC and Chicago. We are doing our own thing — taking the meats we smoke and utilizing every piece of the cow, having a full yield. And we are buying the cows locally."

In Smithville, which is situated about 45 miles east of downtown Austin, Carne Lenta hopes to "anchor" the town's growing food and music scenes. Billed as equal parts restaurant, bar, butcher shop, and venue, the team hopes to be as much a leader in the music scene as it is in whole-animal butchery.

For its opening celebration, the team has tapped Guy Forsyth to perform on Saturday, December 19 at 2 pm. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.