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Lockhart Texas BBQ


robyn
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We're in Texas on vacation. Leaving Austin for Dallas today. A few comments about Lockhart - the alleged BBQ capital of Texas (as a Floridian - I won't get involved in arguments concerning that designation :smile: ). We went to Lockhart for lunch one day. It's a short easy ride from Austin.

Pretty much did a 3 restaurant (Kreuz - Smitty's - Black's) tasting menu. It's easy to do - even if you're alone - or have a small appetite - because you can order 1/4 pound of this or that - or one pork chop - etc. It's not like you have to order a whole meal and leave 2/3 of it to leave room for the next place. We only had meat - no bread or sides - and only drank water - to make sure we had room to sample lots of different kinds of meat. We wound up spending less than $25 for 2 at the 3 places.

It was definitely a worthwhile way to spend a long lunch hour (from 11-1 - we ate - then we walked a bit - then we ate - walked a bit more - etc.). Of all the things we sampled - my husband and I both had a definite winner in terms of something specific that we ate (and it won by a lot). But if I start going through what we ate -and what we liked/didn't like - I'll ruin the "thrill of the chase" for anyone else who wants to do this. Not to mention that I've read that due to the vagaries of the cooking process - different items can vary quite a bit from day to day.

Note that there is some preparation required for the trip. Bring some sturdy plastic utensils if you don't feel like using flimsy ones. And wear clothes that you don't mind winding up smelling like smoke (I spent about 10 minutes taking pictures of the pit at Smitty's - and smelled like a forest fire for the rest of the day). In fact - even if one winds up not liking any of the food (unlikely) - watching how they make the stuff is really fascinating. Robyn

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It was definitely a worthwhile way to spend a long lunch hour (from 11-1 - we ate - then we walked a bit - then we ate - walked a bit more - etc.).  Of all the things we sampled - my husband and I both had a definite winner in terms of something specific that we ate (and it won by a lot).  But if I start going through what we ate -and what we liked/didn't like -  I'll ruin the "thrill of the chase" for anyone else who wants to do this.

no it won't! come on, you know you want to... come on.....

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OK robyn . . . Spill the beans. No fair! :laugh:

I like your approach to the "BBQ tour."

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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*jumps up and down*

yes, yes! come on! as someone who frequents lockhart for BBQ (luckily i am only a 30 minute drive), i am interested in hearing another opinion.

"i dream of cherry pies, candy bars and chocolate chip cookies." -talking heads

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OK (those who don't want to know please avert your eyes ) - the clear winner by at least 5 lengths was Kreuz' fatty brisket. Incredible. I don't know much about BBQ - but I do know about brisket - because I cook it for the Jewish holidays. And this was a perfect point cut. Fatty - but not too fatty. Was as moist as if it had been reheated in gravy (which is how I cook it). Except mine doesn't come out tasting full of wonderful smoky flavors. We also had fatty brisket at Smitty's and Black's - and neither approached the brisket at Kreuz.

As for the beef - it was kind of downhill from there. We had the prime rib at Kreuz. It was very overdone - very dry - and way too salty (we had both an end cut which was inedibly salty - and an interior cut which was just way too salty). The prime rib looked the same at Black's -super overdone - so we passed. I want the slab of prime rib that was shown on Dallasfood.org - the one that looked pink and juicy!

We had beef sausage at both Kreuz and Black's - and I think we plain don't like beef sausage. I don't feel bad though. We had BBQ at a local place "on the road" on our trip to Dallas yesterday. Liked the sausage - and when we asked - our server told us it was a combination of beef and pork. The fellow sitting next to us said he'd lived in that area his whole life - and after lots of years - still didn't care for beef sausage.

I'm not sure why we didn't have beef ribs - but we didn't. A careless omission - because we had beef ribs today - and they were good.

We had a pork chop at Smitty's which I liked a lot - particularly the little pieces of burnt fat . It was smoky and juicy. And pork ribs at Black's. Competent - but they didn't compare with the better pork ribs we get at home.

By the way - Smitty's gets my vote for best atmosphere. Perhaps that's because the smokers seemed smokier - and the place was doing a good business (the other 2 places were really dead - it's kind of sad eating in a nearly empty restaurant).

Fifi - I got the idea for the "grand tour" from Dallasfood.org. They had an advantage there - a bunch of people - as opposed to 2. But I figured there's no reason 2 people can't do it. Robyn

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*jumps up and down*

yes, yes! come on!  as someone who frequents lockhart for BBQ (luckily i am only a 30 minute drive), i am interested in hearing another opinion.

One thing I learned before we even went to Lockhart is that BBQ is variable. Depends on the particular meat - how long it's been sitting there - who's cooking it - etc. - etc. So what is best on a particular day may not be the best the next day. All the more reason to make multiple field trips to Lockhart if you're only a 30 minute drive away :smile: . Robyn

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OK (those who don't want to know please avert your eyes ) - the clear winner by at least 5 lengths was Kreuz' fatty brisket. Incredible. I don't know much about BBQ - but I do know about brisket - because I cook it for the Jewish holidays. And this was a perfect point cut. Fatty - but not too fatty. Was as moist as if it had been reheated in gravy (which is how I cook it). Except mine doesn't come out tasting full of wonderful smoky flavors. We also had fatty brisket at Smitty's and Black's - and neither approached the brisket at Kreuz.

As for the beef - it was kind of downhill from there. We had the prime rib at Kreuz. It was very overdone - very dry - and way too salty (we had both an end cut which was inedibly salty - and an interior cut which was just way too salty). The prime rib looked the same at Black's -super overdone - so we passed. I want the slab of prime rib that was shown on Dallasfood.org - the one that looked pink and juicy!

We had beef sausage at both Kreuz and Black's - and I think we plain don't like beef sausage. I don't feel bad though. We had BBQ at a local place "on the road" on our trip to Dallas yesterday. Liked the sausage - and when we asked - our server told us it was a combination of beef and pork. The fellow sitting next to us said he'd lived in that area his whole life - and after lots of years - still didn't care for beef sausage.

I'm not sure why we didn't have beef ribs - but we didn't. A careless omission - because we had beef ribs today - and they were good.

We had a pork chop at Smitty's which I liked a lot - particularly the little pieces of burnt fat . It was smoky and juicy. And pork ribs at Black's. Competent - but they didn't compare with the better pork ribs we get at home.

By the way - Smitty's gets my vote for best atmosphere. Perhaps that's because the smokers seemed smokier - and the place was doing a good business (the other 2 places were really dead - it's kind of sad eating in a nearly empty restaurant).

What you say about the BBQ being different on different days may be true.... BUT...that said.... i have to tell you that i made a SPECIAL trip to Lockart when i lived in Tucson last year....just to hang out and eat BBQ for a whole week.

My experience was that all of it was good.... but the brisket at Blacks was absolutely SO juicy and SO tender and moist and smokey that i have been having vivid dreams about it since i left Texas

it was flat out the BEST beef i have had anywhere and that includes Arthur Bryants in Kansas City...when HE WAS still alive....and i lived there for a whole year.

I dont know if it was a fluke that Blacks was so good...but it was simply AMAZING.

The others were good...But BLACKS! now that was extraordinary !

But...maybe we all have different tastes. Its funny i should see your post becuse i just came over here to the Texas board to post and see if anyone has ever ordered Blacks brisket mail order...i am VERY tempted.

So... if anyone reading this HAS...please post your thoughts.

Thanks

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But...maybe we all have different tastes.  Its funny i should see your post becuse i just came over here to the Texas board to post and see if anyone has ever ordered Blacks brisket mail order...i am VERY tempted.

So... if anyone reading this HAS...please post your thoughts.

        Thanks

Only, I can't answer your specific question about Black's, but I've had brisket from Angelo's in Fort Worth several times, which many in the Ft Worth/Dallas area regard as the summum bonum of BBQ, and it just doesn't travel very well. We used to eat at Angelo's regularly when we lived in Ft Worth, and it was always superb and deservedly legendary, so I'm assuming it's the traveling and aging that doesn't work. The Q gets dry and is nearly impossible to reheat and recreate the goodness that was there when it was "fresh". Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings :wacko:.

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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  • 4 weeks later...

This past Saturday, my family and I treated my Dad to a little pre-Father's Day family road trip to Lockhart. Thus began our Marathon of Meat, our Convoy of Cow, our Parade of Pork, our... okay okay, I'll stop :raz:

Living not too far away in San Antonio, it was our first trip to Lockhart, so we decided if we were gonna do this thing right, we'd have to hit all of the big three: Kreuz, Black's, and Smitty's. Here's my impressions of each:

KREUZ: This was the first place we stopped. Knowing we had a lot of eating ahead of us, we tried to pace ourselves a little. So among the five of us, we shared, 1/2 lb of brisket, 1/2 lb of pork ribs, 1/2 lb of prime rib, one link of regular sausage, and one link of jalapeno sausage.

We seemed to agree that the brisket was pretty good, though a little on the dry side. It had a nice smoke ring, and good flavor, but we all agreed it should have been more moist. The pork ribs...WOW..the pork ribs. I am not normally a huge fan of ribs, but these were by far the best ribs I have ever eaten in my life. Hand me a big plate of those, and I will be a happy man. The prime rib was quite tasty and very juicy. The regular sausage was quite flavorful. The casing had a nice snap when you bit into it, which I liked. Nice flavor, nicely packed filling. Some thought it was a little on the dry side, but I thought it was quite good. The jalapeno sausage was better, though. It was jalapeno and cheddar sausage, I believe, and every time you bit it, the warm gooey cheese flavor would ooze out. Very tasty. Overall, we loved this place. Great place to start our little BBQ pilgrimage. We will definitely be back here. (And soon, if I have any say in things :wink: )

BLACK'S: Our second stop, we arrived here to find a practically empty restaurant, just one other couple there. Here we sampled 1/4 lb of brisket, 1/4 lb of pork ribs, a link of regular sausage, 1/4 of a chicken, and one 1/4 lb turkey (along with a few non-meat things like cornbread, potato salad, and peach cobbler, but back to the good stuff).

The brisket here was only passable. Not good, but not bad. Very little smoke ring evident, and the flavor and moistness were kind of lacking. The ribs were terrible. The sausage was practically inedible. They were too loosely packed, leaving a soft wrinkly casing. They were so incredibly greasy that any attempt to cut or bite them left a nasty trail of grease in its wake. Just disgusting. The chicken was juicy and pretty flavorful, and the turkey was boring and dry. We were not terribly fond of either. After all, Texas BBQ is about beef, not birds, darnit. :raz: FWIW, the sides were very weak as well. And unlike Kreuz and Smitty's, Black's offers BBQ sauce. Says something about the quality (or lack thereof) of their meat if you ask me, but that's just my two cents. I really doubt we'll be back here next trip to Lockhart.

SMITTY'S: Our final stop. By this point, they were getting pretty full, but my appetite and I were ready to pick up the slack :biggrin: . Here we ordered 1/2 lb of brisket, 1/4 lb of ribs, and one regular sausage (we wanted prime rib as well, but they'd run out by then :sad: ).

Wow, this was some wonderful brisket. Easily the best of the bunch, in my opinion. Soooo juicy. Great flavor. Yep, this is the life. The ribs here were passable. Definitely way better than Black's ribs, but nowhere near the incredible ribs we'd had earlier at Kreuz. The sausage was pretty good. Not a grease festival like Black's, but still a little more loosely packed casing than I prefer, and nowhere near as flavorful as the sausages at Kreuz. Finally, we capped the day off with a few nice cones of Blue Bell ice cream, at a whopping $1 each. Nice way to end a nice day of eating. We'll definitely be back here again as well.

Overall, definitely a great trip. We had some great BBQ, and it was a nice day to spend together as a family. Kreuz became our immediate family favorite. Black's was not up to our expectations, but hey, at least we got to try it. And Smitty's left us with another fine option for BBQ when we go back to Lockhart.

We're still hoping to try some other BBQ places around Texas as well. City Market in Luling, Southside Market in Elgin, Salt Lick, Cooper's, etc. Maybe a visit back to east Texas where I was born, to see what we can find up there. Who knows. (Man that reminds me, we still miss that place in Caldwell, TX on the highway that runs through that little town. A little old-timey grocery store that sold some darn good 'cue, it was closed the last time we drove through there. Ah, memories).

So much BBQ, so little time...

Edited by tupac17616 (log)
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To make your trip really complete, you should have gone through Luling and then made a stop in Shiner.

Last week while I made the same trip as you, Smitty's, Kreutz, and Blacks on one day, but then I tacked on Prause Market in La Grange and City Market in Luling the next day.

I agree about the sausage. I don't care for it much either. Don't get me wrong, I'd order it again, but my mouth does not salivate over it like it does for the brisket that is served at those places. I really don't know how they do it. The brisket in the Austin area is like no other I've had. It's smokey, juicy, tender, flavorful...bordering on perfect. I'm beginning to suspect that most places here in Dallas take the top deckle and use that in thier chopped beef sandwiches, whicj is why the brisket doesn't even look the same up here.

As far as rating them, I had it Smittys, City Market, Kreutz, Prause, and Blacks. Not that Blacks was bad by any means, just fifth best in the area.

I was a little dissappointed in the ribs, which are what I prefer to eat when I eat BBQ. They used cracked pepper on them, and I just don't like the taste much of black pepper. But I will say, they were cooked really well.

On the way back to Dallas, stop in West, TX and go to Nemecek Brothers. IMHO thier sausage is the best I've had in the state.

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Against my own better judgment and the advice of well, any practicing doctor, I did a two-fer of Kreuz's and Smitty's Saturday. Didn't realized they closed so early on Saturdays: 6:30 for those planning a trip of their own sometime. I had brisket and ribs at both; my friend had the sausage and brisket and Kreuz's and sat out Smitty's.

They were out of the fatty brisket at Kreuz's so I had to settle for the leaner cut of brisket. Still very flavorful but dry. And the ribs are indeed stellar. Smoky, peppery, pull-apart tender . . . oh man. I, too didn't care for the sausage. I like the texture, I was just surprised at how bland they taste.

Like Robyn, I liked Smitty's atmosphere more. You walk in and are hit with a wave of heat from their smoke pit which is right by the door. They still had the fatty brisket here, and it was indeed much more moist, but didn't have that good flavor that Kreuz's had. And the ribs had a thin layer of sticky-sweet sauce on them! :angry: So Kreuz wins in the food department, hands-down.

I limped to the car and pitched the seat way back. We drove past Black's and I was going to joke about stopping there, too, but all I could manage was a gurgly whimper.

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