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The best Texas barbecue


Kent Wang
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I just did a little bbq tour myself, being new to Texas - went to City Market (Luling), Smitty's (Lockhart), Kreuz (Lockhart), and Cooper's (Llano). All excellent, but my two favorites were Kreuz and Cooper's.

I have to say, Holly, I was disappointed there was no Texas BBQ section on your site! You'll have to remedy that... :wink:

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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  • 2 months later...

Everyone is talking about the best in BBQ in Texas..I have a vote for the worst. Ruby's in downtown Austin. I just got back from there is 1 pm on a Monday, and it was awful! The price was ridiculous, the portions tiny, the taste was not that great. I had the baby back ribs and it left a fowl aftertaste of plastic in my mouth. The staff was non-caring, My HD and I were disappointed, at best. We came to Austin on one of our Foodie road trips that we take to celebrate our wedding anniversary and went there because of all the awards the resturant has won and was shocked..just shocked. The flies in the place alone was enough to make a person run out of the place.

I don't mean to just come on here and simply slam someone, but we were surprised. :wacko: The whole drive back to our hotel room was a discussion on just how shocked we were, not worth the 32 bucks spent....

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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  • 2 weeks later...

The overall level of BBQ excellence in Central Texas is so good that I think on any given day the rankings can change. Kreuz's was right on when I was last there two years ago, but on June 29, 2009, Smitty's knocked the ball out of the park! The brisket was the best I've ever tasted. My daughter and brother who accompanied me were similarly impressed. Ya'll are so lucky to have three excellent BBQ places going head to head just a few blocks from each other. I have to add that the atmosphere at Smitty's, especially in the pit room, took me back to an earlier day. The smoke was so thick that we came out smelling like the Que we were eating. Such a place would be closed down in a minute here in California. A few days earlier we were in Ft. Worth where we dined at Angelo's.

I have relatives in Cow Town who have been regulars there for decades. We always eat there once per visit, and I have found Angelo's to be uneven. Two years ago the sausage was good and everything else was mediocre at best. Last week the meat was better than I remember it ever being at that place. The brisket, which I think is the best measure of a Texas BBQ joint, was flavorful and not too dry, and everyone had a good time. I do miss the sawdust on the floor, though. You'd think that Fort Worth would have great BBQ, with the legacy of the stock yards and meat packing plants, but the fact is that you have to go south a ways to find the good stuff.

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My sister has lived in Austin for 15 years, so we always head south for BBQ during my visits. In the early days, it was Kreuz. After they moved, we've also gone to Smitty's and Luling Central Market.

We hit Smitty's and Kreuz on Monday. (Luling was closed.) Just as things were on my previous visit, about a year ago, Smitty's smoked while Kreuz seemed to be resting on its laurels.

Smitty's fatty brisket had a nice trace of fat thru the slices and was moist and flavorful. The Kreuz meat had a nice smoke ring, but it was very dry. I understand why somebody invented BBQ sauce. The sausage rings were similar. Smitty's was fatty, but that made it taste fuller than the dry Kreuz offering. I guess July 4th weekend was a good one as K had no japoleno/cheese rings.

On both recent visits, Smitty's prime rib was transcendent. Moist, pink, fatty, crispy edges...I'm drooling here in PA as I type. I don't think I've had better meat in my life. If I were on death row, that would be my last meal.

A little OT, we drove 400 miles on Friday for cabrito burgers at Mac and Ernie's in Tarpley and gorditas at Live Oaks in Uvalde. (tripe, sweetbreads, brisket and smoked sausage) Yeah, we spent some time admiring the Hill Country and the Frio valley. Worth the trip, fer shure, fer shure! BTW, the latter spot's addy at net sites is FUBAR. The place is a block or so from Rt 90, south of the franchise chicken joint in the middle of town. Check timing as both have limited hours.

Further OT. Kreuz has a Gene Autrey Nudie suit on display in the dining room. Not Graham Parsons, but pretty cool!

My "when in Rome" experiment confirms that Red Pop is vile!

Charlie, the Main Line Mummer

We must eat; we should eat well.

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  • 3 months later...

A friend and I have been talking about it for a long time. I've read the posts about it here. Even posted about making a trip. But I never pulled the trigger. Until this past weekend. I finally made my first pilgrimage to the BBQ meccas of central Texas. Four different places in two cities in two days. Not an extreme amount of eating, but enough to give me a good representation of what is out there

The journey started out early Saturday morning. But before we were to hit the first BBQ joint, we knew we needed some sort of breakfast. West, TX is directly in the path between Dallas and the BBQ country, so we knew we wanted some kolaches. No, we didn't stop at Czech Stop. Rather, we headed a block or two down a side street to Gerik's Ole Czech Smokehouse and Bakery. I got a cherry kolache. I'm not super familiar with this pastry, but it was very good. There was a little bit of salt sprinkled on top, in addition to the sugary topping. The contrast was nice

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Kruez Market

After the quick stop in West, it was off to Lockhart for our first stop, the massively huge Kreuz Market

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Before you get to the food, there are a few "rules" to get out of the way

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As mentioned above, this was my first experience with a BBQ joint like this. I'm used to the places that are setup cafeteria style. Get a tray. Tell the meat guy if you want a sandwich, a platter, etc. They give you some meat on the plate. You slide down the line, put on some side, grab a drink, pay, and carry your own personal meal to a table. It's not like that at these places. I knew about how the system worked, but now I got to see experience it myself. Line up to go into the room where they cook the meat. At Kreuz, this room is enormous. Ceiling. Brightly lit. Many large pits. The live wood fire is right there, burning away in a trench underneath the pit. No rails. No barrier. It's right there.

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We first arrived at Kreuez a bit after 11:00 AM. We placed our order and were told "Brisket isn't ready yet. It will be another hour". We weren't expecting that, but thankfully, they have plenty of other things on the menu. We ordered up some pork ribs, regular sausage, jalapeno sausage and prime rib at that point. Later in the day, after visiting another place, we came back to get some brisket. It gets sliced up right there. Everything gets piled on top of sheets of butcher paper. They give you some slices of white bread and saltine crackers. It's all sold by the pound (or in the case of the sausage, by the "ring"). Pay for the meat here. Walk through a door into another room with tables. This is where you get drinks, and if you must, sides.

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The first thing I had a taste of was the prime rib. When it was sliced off, the guy doing the cutting told us it was going to be rare. He then proceeded to slide some off from the end. Not sure how the end was going to be "rare", but whatever. You can see a chunk of it in one of the pictures above. Some might not be sure if using a expensive cut of meat and then applying a cooking method generally reserved for "lesser" cuts would be good idea. They are right. It's not a good idea. It's a freaking FANTASTIC idea! This meat was out of this world good. Just packed with flavor. The smoke complimented the beef really well here. I thought the sausage was OK. Not quite what I was expecting. Ribs were pretty good. Lots of smoke flavor there.

On the return visit later in the day to get brisket, the place was much less crowded. It was mid afternoon. No line. We walked right up to the pit room and ordered what you see above. Below is a close up shot of a slice of the brisket.

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I thought this was pretty good. This piece isn't really fatty, but my friends that took me on this run thought most of our cut was TOO fatty. You can look back at the picture of it on the scale and the paper to see if that was the case. Anyway, it was still very good.

City Market

After the first stop at Kreuz, we headed further south on 183 to Luling to City Market

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Walked in and there was a good amount of people lined up for the pit room. Lots of people sitting and eating, too. Seems as if we hit the place at a peak time. Finally got up to the closed pit room door. Waited until there was room to fit in there. Open door. Close door. This place is small. Walls just totally covered in smoke patina. Just awesome. Ordered up brisket, pork ribs, and sausage

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The star hear was the sausage. Really, really good. Better than Kruez. Ribs good. Brisket good. Washed it all down with a Shiner Bock. This place is much more of a locals joint than Kruez. You could really tell. Black. Brown. White. Locals mostly, but a few "outsiders" Good mix of people here. This place DID have sauce. Mustardy. Worked well with the pork ribs. This was the second of the two places we visited on Saturday. After this, we headed back to Austin, with a stop back at Kreuez to get a taste of brisket.

Black's

After a some rest a hotel near the Austin airport, a good dinner, some Sixth Street experience, and a good night's sleep, it was a rainy Sunday. We hopped into the car a bit after 11:30 AM and drove back to Lockhart. Unfortunately, my camera battery was almost dead. I didn't pack the charger. So, there will be but a single photo from Sunday. First stop was Black's. This is the place that has a bunch of signs on 183 close to town, then some more in town. It wasn't very crowded. Short line. Their setup is a bit different from the other places we had been to. Sorta cafeteria style like the places I am used to in Dallas. Sides are self serve and you get them along with the meats. And you don't have to order by the pound, either. They have plates. But we did it by the pound. Brisket, pork ribs, and three kinds of sausage.

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Brisket and ribs very tender. But not mushy or anything like that. My friends said "No flavor" , but I thought there was some. It wasn't as smoky as what I had Saturday, but I still thought it was pretty good. Sausage was good. But not quite to the level of City Market. Overall, I thought it was pretty good. For people who are used to a more conventional BBQ restaurant, they would like this place.

Smitty's

It was raining. The back lot was muddy. We contemplated parking on the street out front. But my friends insisted I experience it the right way. So, we parked in the back gravel lot and made dash to the building and walked in. Umm Hello. FIRE right there, just steps away from where you enter!! Pits and slicing table and order counter a lot like Kruez. There was no line. We placed our order. Brisket, sausage, ribs, and prime rib. But they were out of prime rib! Darn.. I was looking forward to trying it. Through the doors into the large dining room with the big communal tables. Found a seat and sat down. Someone went to fetch my drink. A bottle of RC. Pretty tasty ribs. Brisket was good. Sausage was really greasy. IMHO, too greasy. Still, a good experience. I just wish I had juice in the camera to take at least ONE picture.

Overall

Wow.. This was a true revelation. Really, the 'que I had was on another plane of existence from what I had known before. When I walk into a Spring Creek or Dickey's or Sonny Bryan's in Dallas, I don't see fire. I don't see smoke. I don't smell smoke. None of that stuff comes close to what I had this past weekend.

Each place had something to like about it. For Kreuez, the prime rib was killer. City Market had great sausage. Black's had tasty tender meat and just a warm, friendly feel to the place. Smitty's was good too and had an older feel to it all.

I can't wait to get back down there. Next time, I will work Taylor, TX into the mix.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I like Gerik's more than Czech stop, too.

Central Texas barbecue sure is something else.

Shame you didn't get any really great brisket (you remember to ask for it moist?). All the photos looked dry. City Market looked the best. But brisket is always the least consistent everywhere you go.

I recently had some take-out from Cooper's in Llano that a friend brought over. Wow, that was great. That would be the fourth or fifth time I've had Cooper's (including once from the legendary Mason location). Definitely reaffirms my belief that they are one of the best.

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The brisket we got from Kruez was mostly fatty. My friend was watching them slice it and thought maybe it was TOO fatty, so asked for some leaner stuff. The close up picture I took was one of the slices of leaner brisket.

I really enjoyed all of it. Remember, my previous experience with BBQ is from places that are FAR from the top tier places. So, even if not all the brisket was "ON" that weekend, it was all better than what I had ever had before. Also, I will say there is more toe Central Texas BBQ than *just* brisket. Sure, it's the king of meats in Texas, but great sausage and great pork ribs certainly satisfy. And that prime rib from Kreuz? Devine. That was actually the very first thing I put in my mouth.

Lots of good eating that weekend. The kolache from Gerik's. All the BBQ. My fried chicken wings from Nubian Queen Lola. Really good stuff. Next time I do this, I want to go through Taylor.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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  • 7 months later...

I was back in Central Texas this weekend for some more BBQ. This time, I had TWO nights, so I had an extra day to hit places I had not tried before. Also, a few friends came in from out of state to join up with some of my friends in the Dallas area.

Friday was Taylor and Elgin. We hit Louie Mueller first.

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I really like this place. I think it has the best feel and vibe to it. The atmosphere is just great. For the BBQ, two things stood out to me. The brisket and the beef rib. The brisket uses a rub with LOTS of black pepper. I love black pepper, so this was great for me. It also had excellent tenderness and moistness. Some would have said it could have used more smoke. It could have, but I still liked this very much. To me, there is more to BBQ than just smoke flavor. Beef ribs are something I have never really liked. Probably because I've never had them prepared well. But the beef rib here was great. Things that were not so great was the overly salty sausage and the pork ribs.

After we finished at Louie Mueller, we loaded up into our cars and headed south to Elgin. Here, we stopped at Southside Market and Meyer's Elgin Smokehouse. Brisket OK at both. Ribs at Southside weren't very good. We got both pork and beef there. The difference between the beef rib at Southside and Mueller's was huge. I liked the sausage at both places. Makes sense, since that is what Elgin is known for.

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Meat from Southside. I didn't get a pic of the meat from Meyer's

Taylor and Elgin was it for Friday. Saturday would be a trip back through Lockhart and Luling. We hit Kreuz, City Market, and Smitty's. For me, Kreuz was a bit better this time than it was in October. That was mostly due to better brisket. Didn't get any pork ribs, though. My return visit to City Market proved once again that this place really is one of the best. Great pork ribs. Good brisket. Good sausage. REALLY long line. Took a while to get the meat. But it was worth the wait. After City Market, we headed back north on 183. Stopped at Smitty's. Line out the back door. This was another long wait. One thing I love about the place is the pit room where you get the meat. Though in the heat of late may, it's really warm near the fire that is just a few steps from the door. One thing I don't like too much about this place is the main dining room. Honestly, I actually prefer the dining areas at Kreuz. As far as the BBQ on this visit to Smitty's? It was OK. Maybe even a little disappointing considering the lengthy wait. Brisket was OK. And I still think the sausage here is just too fatty/greasy.

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Kreuz meat

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City Market meat

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Smitty's meat

Sunday was our last day in the area. We only hit two places, both back down in Lockhart. Black's was up first. This place has always struck me has having a more friendly, relaxing feel to it. This visit was no exception. The meat man served us up some samples of their beef rib. Really great. We placed our order for some brisket, ribs, and two kinds of sausage. This wasn't as good as the last visit. Back then, everything was nice and tender, even if it didn't quite have the smoke flavor. This time, it was a little dry and chewy. The jalapeno sausage might have suffered the worst. Just too dry. However, the ring of regular sausage was a lot better. After Black's, we drove down the road a little ways to Chisolm Trail. This is usually thought of as the "other" BBQ place in town (after Kreuz, Smitty's and Blacks). It's also more than BBQ. They sell stuff like chicken fried steak and fried catfish as well. We didn't even step inside this place. They have a drive through. But you are able to order meat to go by the pound. I'm glad we decided to stop here. I thought it was pretty good. I especially liked the sausage here. Had a nice black pepper kick to it.

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Black's Meat

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Chisolm Trail meat

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I had the pleasure of traveling with my friend Jsmeeker on this BBQ Pilgrimage. I am a Jewish kid from South Florida, and what do I know from BBQ? I've eaten my share of brisket, but I don't think my Bubbie ever made it like that.

It was a great trip. I wasn't there for the last day (Blacks, Chisolm Trail) but was for everything else. My favorite was the first place I went, Louie Mueller's. First, I liked the peppery taste of it. Second, I found it moister than anywhere else we went. The purists might say that it was the least smokey, but hey, it was smokey enough.

I let Jsmeeker tell me where to eat in Vegas.

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  • 3 weeks later...

When I decided to head to Austin for a little vacation, my hostess, Jane, asked what I wanted to eat. “Barbecue?” I responded back, questioningly. Isn’t that what one eats when one comes to Texas? And although the bulk of my trip has been experiencing the joys of the Trailer Food culture, I was granted my day of ‘cue. Salt Lick to be exact. Now you can’t throw a dead cat in this town and NOT hit a barbecue joint, but the Salt Lick is something special. For starters, it is quite a drive outside town. Practically in the middle of no where. Driving as far as we did, I was beginning to wonder where the heck we were going.

Then we pulled into this dusty dirt lot. Cars were driving through and kicking up more dust. There were hundreds of cars. To the right of the parking lot was outdoor seating with a live musician and to the right of the lot was the restaurant. We had arrived. We were there mid-afternoon so it didn’t take long to get a table and walking past the grill, I could see HUNDREDS of pounds of meat being cooked. The smoke wafting through the air predicted an epic meal. A stack of 1950s green Melamine plates were placed in front of us while we perused the menu. I let my hosts order — apparently the only thing to order — that which is known as Family Style; endless helpings of beef brisket, sausage , and pork ribs, served with potato salad, cole slaw, beans, bread, and pickles and onions.

My hosts brought their own wine, two fabulous bottles of rosé, a South African Mulderbosch and a truly spectacular Charles and Charles Columbia Valley Rosé. It seems that all of the alcohol in the Salt Lick is BYOB. The rosé was a great choice. Everything was served family style. Of the side dishes, the cole slaw was my favorite, undoubtedly because of the heat of the day and the coolness of the cut slaw and the fact that it was a bit more vinegar-based than the mayonnaise-based slaws. The potato salad was adequate and I at least appreciate that it was German-style and, again, not mayonnaise-based. The baked beans were almost lack-luster (but having access to the Rancho Gordo beans, it is not a surprise that any other bean would not impress). There was a hint of smoke to the beans, but I felt they lacked a strong sweet-and-sour component which usually complements good barbecue. And I did not bother tasting the bread, but I could see that it was ample and soft which I know is appreciated by many who put together self-made brisket sandwiches. I did appreciate the fact that there was an endless supply of pickles – again, in the heat of the day, having some bright astringency to juxtapose against the heaviness of the food was welcome.

But this was all about the meat. Our first platter of meat included eight or ten 1″ chunks of sausage, six pork ribs, and another dozen or so slices of brisket. The brisket was surprisingly lean and dry. My hosts knew better and as our first platter of meat emptied, they asked our waiter for “fatty brisket” next time. Moist and tender, a fork was barely needed to cut this into bites; it was very easy to shred before eating. There are much-enjoyed burnt bits alongside the tender centers and the sauce that is served is the same in which the meat is grilled has a rich tanginess and is the perfect complement to the caramelized meat bits. But for me, this was all about the ribs. I could not get enough of the flawless morsels that actually did fall off the bone. That ubiquitous phrase, “fall off the bone” tender was probably scribed after experiencing these ribs. Finishing a second — or was it third? — plate of ribs, there was still a bit of fatty brisket left and I couldn’t stop myself. One of the hunks left on the communal plate still had the crunchy, burnt exterior with tender, frayed bits of interior protein.

We finished up with a cobbler sampler; peach on one side and blueberry on the other, all topped with an ample scoop of vanilla ice cream. Very good, but not nearly as memorable as the meat. I found the fruit compote on the cobbler to be a bit too sickly goopy and sweet as though the freshness of the peaches was hidden by fake cornstarch. I also appreciate a bit more firm crust and I found the cake to be too soft with not enough crispy bits. But overall, those things which make the Salt Lick famous are what thrilled me; the smoke in the air, the packed benches of families all crammed together for want of giant platters of meat, the “experience.” This is not a fancy-schmancy, sit-down restaurant. It is loud and busy and a place that must serve upwards of thousands of pounds of meat a day. You have to appreciate that fact. There is some outdoor seating with live music where another hundred or two-hundred people gather for familial experiences with great food and company.

So greatly appreciative to my hosts – the Kings and their son, Andrew, for letting me share their Father’s Day at such a quintessentially American experience. It felt like going to church where one worships the almighty roast animal; performing mass with the smoke in the air akin to the incense of church and the high priest, the chefs who administer the host to the brethren. I am saved and reborn in the brotherhood of barbecue. Amen.

Pictures on Feast

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The baked beans were almost lack-luster (but having access to the Rancho Gordo beans, it is not a surprise that any other bean would not impress). There was a hint of smoke to the beans, but I felt they lacked a strong sweet-and-sour component which usually complements good barbecue.

In Central Texas, you do not get "baked beans." As you go east, over by the Louisiana or Arkansas state line, you might get baked beans, but in Central and West Texas, you get soupy, cowboy-style pinto beans. They're not baked; they're cooked in a big pot and most often served in a cup or bowl or some other way that you eat with a spoon, the better to slurp up the broth. They're cooked with a range of seasonings that can include any or all of the following: jalapenos or other chiles, onions, garlic, beer, a few chopped tomatoes, cilantro, lard, a few bits of pork or beef, etc. But they are never, ever sweet. And never, ever thick like baked beans. I've even heard a few Yankees refer to this as "bean soup," which is a much more accurate description.

You say that you "felt they lacked a strong sweet-and-sour component which usually complements good barbecue." Not only do sweet-and-sour beans rarely complement good Central Texas barbecue, I'd go so far as to say that they never do.

Come back, Carrie, and we'll delve further into this traditional Central Texas bean pot.

We'll make a believer out of you yet.

__________________________

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Thanks, Jaymes. You are absolutely right. I went back to the menu online and thought it read baked beans, but it does not. And you correct that we Yanks have a different concept of what beans are supposed to be.

But it was still fun and I definitely hope to come back (but to explore those amazing Trailers!)

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  • 2 months later...

Tried Louie Muller's for the first time this weekend on the way to San Antonio; the barbecue was obviously well made (on par with the best Lockhart places or Snow's) but the rub was just too peppery for my wife and I. We are not great lovers of black pepper and I think you have to be to appreciate this barbecue.

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  • 4 months later...

Anyone been to Franklin BBQ in Austin? Currently, its setup as a "food cart". I'm told by multiple people that this place is great. Really great. Maybe even the best anywhere. The Full Custom Gospel BBQ blog rates it 6 stars. It's the first and only place to achieve such a lofty score.

http://austinfoodcarts.com/2009/11/30/franklin-barbecue/

http://fcg-bbq.blogspot.com/search/label/******

http://www.franklinbarbecue.com/

I'm heading back to Austin in early April. Will be checking it out. But by the time I get there, they will have relocated to a permanent restaurant space a little further south down I-35.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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  • 1 month later...

It's been said by many that Dallas doesn't really have any good BBQ. Is that true? Well, sadly, I think it has been true. There is some good BBQ in the area, but you have to head west towards Ft. Worth. Or south. But within the city limits, it's slim pickings. But things have improved lately. I hit up two spots over the past two weekends. One is very new and the other relatively new.

Pecan Lodge

Shed #2 at Dallas Famers Market

Shed #2 is an indoor building at the Dallas Farmers Market was supposed to house specialty foods and eateries. It was really, really slim pickings there. But slowly, things are improving. And Pecan Lodge is one place worth the visit. It's not strictly a BBQ place, but they do server of some very good BBQ. The only way they sell is it via a BBQ Plate. That gets you some sliced brisket, pork ribs, and a side of your choice. I asked fatty brisket and what I got was some great meat. Best I had ever had in the city of Dallas. Good smoke flavor. Tender. Moist. Really good stuff. The ribs were pretty good to. When it comes to BBQ, I really pay little attention to sides. But the beans I got were tasty. Really, if you are in downtown, go. If you aren't in downtown, but live in Dallas, go. They are opened Thursday through Sunday.

http://www.pecanlodge.com/

Lockhart Smoke House

400 W. Davis

Dallas, TX 75208

The opening of Lockhart Smoke House in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas's Oak Cliff neighborhood has been eagerly anticipated for several months. As the name implies, it seeks to recreate the BBQ one may find in the Central Texas BBQ meccas in and around Lockhart, TX. For starters, there is a connection to the Schmidt family. If I have the details right, one the owners is the grand daughter of Edgar Schmidt, owner of the original Kreuz Market in Lockhart, TX. Also, the head pit master at the current Kreuz Market in Lockhart consulted on the place and helped them get setup. To stack the deck even more in their favor, they are getting their sausage FedEx'ed in from Kruez Market in Lockhart.

So, with all that said, any veteran of the Central Texas BBQ should have high expectations for this place. Things started off very icy with the place opening up the week of the Super Bowl while Dallas (and a large portion of the rest of the country) was hit by a very major winter storm. Not exactly the best time. BBQ loving friends of mine even braved the dangerous roads to go there. Initial reports were pretty good. A subsequent report last week had very high praises. So, with that, I headed down there yesterday (Sunday Feb 20, 2011) for an early lunch.

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Foodwise, the thing weakest for me were the ribs. Mine just were not very tender. I enjoyed the brisket. I didn't specify fatty or lean or anything. Just asked for brisket. The slices I got had some fat in them. I found them to be tender and juicy enough with decent smoke flavor. The shoulder clod was something I had never had before any where. While what I got wasn't as good as the brisket (it was a little dry), I think this is a cut I could really like. I found that it had some really good beef flavor. The sausage was just what you would expect with it coming from Kreuz. Awesome. I also tried a bit of pork chop that a friend of mine ordered. That was really, really dry. Didn't like it at all. Next time, I think I may concentrate on just the beef. Maybe ordering more brisket in one order will result in a better sampling.

Service wise, it was a little interesting. For people used to the central Texas meat market style of service, there wasn't anything really weird about it. But they did have their own little quirks. Paper doesn't seem to be real butcher paper. What we got this time was white. In pics I have seen previously, it was brown. Also, they wrapped up each different type of meat in it's own paper, then wrapped that all up in another piece of paper. That made unpacking it all at the table a bit of a PITA. Another thing I noticed was employees greeting people as they walked in and directing people to the back to place their orders. When we got there, someone asked if we had been there. Told them some of us had been there, but others were not but we were very familiar with the drill at the places in Lockhart, Luling, etc. Everybody was very friendly. Workers mostly young, "urban hipster" types. When I was waiting around for others to arrive, one of them walked out front and got things out of his car. A Mercedes. It wasn't as crowded as I expected. I was the first person there. If a friend didn't get stuck in traffic, we would have been the very first group to order that day. The crowd picked up, but there was never a big line of people. I've heard that weekdays are a different story. Long lines will form quickly. Get there early, I've been warned. Pricing wise, I think my order came out to $26 or $27 dollars. That was for a 1/4 lb brisket, 1/4 pound clod, two ribs, a link of sausage, and a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola. In actuality, I think the meat weighed in a bit more. Not much, though.. Not enough to make a fuss over. Pricey? Yeah. Especially the sausage. And I really didn't need two ribs. What I didn't eat, I packed up to take home.

So, how was it? Is it the best BBQ place in the City of Dallas? I think based on my recent experiences, Pecan Lodge had better meat on my visit there compared to my visit to Lockhart Smokehouse. But in the strictest sense, Pecan Lodge isn't really just a BBQ joint. Overall, I think Lockhart Smokehouse has excellent potential to become the top place in Dallas proper. I'll certainly go back. Sunday mornings seem to be a good time to go crowd wise. Plus, the traffic going down is easy (as long as you don't try to come down Central and cutover over on Woodall Rodgers) There isn't any BETTER true BBQ place closer to me.

http://www.lockhartsmokehouse.com/index.html

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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Jeff -

I've recently tried both of these as well. I agree with giving the meat nod to Pecan Lodge - it seems to me that Lockhart still has some kinks to work out. When I went I thought the pork ribs were over salted (which is very hard to accomplish with my salty tastes), and the shoulder was almost inedibly dry. Still, on the whole, I agree that even with the ups and downs it was the best of what we have in Dallas (with the best things being the brisket and the sausage).

I'm still hoping they'll settle in a bit and up their game to the Lockhart standard.

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Jeff -

I've recently tried both of these as well. I agree with giving the meat nod to Pecan Lodge - it seems to me that Lockhart still has some kinks to work out. When I went I thought the pork ribs were over salted (which is very hard to accomplish with my salty tastes), and the shoulder was almost inedibly dry. Still, on the whole, I agree that even with the ups and downs it was the best of what we have in Dallas (with the best things being the brisket and the sausage).

I'm still hoping they'll settle in a bit and up their game to the Lockhart standard.

It's interesting you bring up the salt issue on the ribs. A friend of mine said the exact same thing about the ribs on his initial visit. Very salty. But this past weekend when we were both there, he said it wasn't a problem at all. In fact, he felt that they had gone too far the opposite direction. But I didn't find them to be UNDER seasoned.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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  • 1 month later...

This past weekend, I made another trek to Central Texas with several Dallas area friends and a few out of state friends (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Los Angeles). Some of the places we hit were new to me. Some were not. But I'll cut to the chase and talk a little bit about the place we thought was the clear winner.

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Franklin BBQ

Franklin BBQ is in Austin. Right in the city, just a block east of I-35 on 11th street. In fact, they just moved to their new location a few weeks ago. Previously, they operated as a "food trailer" with a setup in a parking lot. They had their smokers there and served out of an old camper trailer. Now, they are in a full blown permanent restaurant space. Due to some confusion over the time they opened, we arrived REALLY early. About 9:15 AM, thiking they opened at 10:00. But they didn't. They open at 11:00. this turned out to be OK because we were the FIRST people there. Within a few minutes, some more people arrived. By the time they opened the doors at 11:00 AM, there must fave been 80-90 people in line.

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Owner. Pit Master. BBQ God. Aaron Franklin.

Aaron is the owner. As you can see, he is a young guy. From what I gather, he's only been doing BBQ professionally for a year or two. His family has some BBQ restaurant background, but it's nothing like the long history of the Central Texas BBQ meccas in Lockhart or Taylor or Luling. Due to our early arrival, we were able to chat with him brifely as he tended to the smokers. They actually moved the smokers from the old, original location, to a lot behind the restaurant. This was a sign of good things to come. Franklin had been highly regarded in their original location. I was a little worried moving meant new pits. But that was not to be. They are still using the original ones. In the future, he plans to build a new brick pit to add capacity

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Aaron opened the door promptly at 11:00 AM. My group got the first order. Aaron led us to he coutner where he proceeded to slice up some brisket for us. Some fatty. Some lean. We finished out the order with pork ribs and sausage. The standard Central Texas three meat combo.

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Our tray of brisket, sausage, and pork ribs. We polished this all off in about 10 minutes.

The BBQ here was outstanding. Best brisket I have ever had. Pork ribs were really good too. A friend that doesn't really even like pork ribs enjoyed them! Sausage was pretty good too. Not the best. But good. But since brisket is the king of meats in Central Texas BBQ, having the best ever brisket gives the crown to Franklin.

In the past, people would ask "Where do I get good BBQ in Austin?" My stock answer was always Lockhart. Or Luling. Or Taylor. But no more. Now, my answer is different. It's Frankln. And I'm almost bold enough to suggest that people skip the drive to the small towns. Just go to Franklin. But get there early. They were sold out and closed up before 2:00 PM the day we went.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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Great write-up, Jeff.

A few of my buddies and I rented an RV and are making a 4-day barbecue trek through central Texas next weekend - Franklin is first on the list; makes me a little sad that we're going to be starting out with what could be the very best ...

And have you tried Slabs in mesquite? A carryout-only place, it deserves to be in the conversation with Pecan Lodge and Lockhart, in my humble view. The guy uses hickory, and while it could use a little better bark, the brisket's got a great texture. Big smoke ring, too, which I like. His sausage is really good, as well, though I don't think he makes it in-house. But very good, regardless.

Edited by Rico (log)

 

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Slabs? No. Have not tried it. Have not heard of it until now. I'll have to look into it. What is on your itinerary? Here is where I went over the weekend.

Friday

Louie Mueller (Taylor)

City Market (Luling)

Luling Barbecue (Luling)

Kreuz Market (Lockhart)

Satruday

Snow's (Lexington)

City Meat Market (Giddings)

City Market (Luling)

Sunday

Franklin Barbecue (Austin)

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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In the past, people would ask "Where do I get good BBQ in Austin?" My stock answer was always Lockhart. Or Luling. Or Taylor. But no more. Now, my answer is different. It's Frankln. And I'm almost bold enough to suggest that people skip the drive to the small towns. Just go to Franklin. But get there early. They were sold out and closed up before 2:00 PM the day we went.

As another member of jsmeeker's party, I'll definite concur with this. The payoff for the effort was several orders of magnitude better for Franklin. The combination of quality vs proximity more than made up for the long line. While I loved the brisket at Snow's, it's hard to justify the travel time from any place you might be coming from. Really, going on overall quality and accessibility, it's really, really hard to argue anything but Franklin.

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Curious why you went to Luling City Market twice?

Also, very impressive that you liked Franklin's the best when it was your 8th visit (high risk of being BBQ'd out, if such a thing is possible). Really need to get down there.

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Curious why you went to Luling City Market twice?

Also, very impressive that you liked Franklin's the best when it was your 8th visit (high risk of being BBQ'd out, if such a thing is possible). Really need to get down there.

We went twice because not everyone in the group was able to make it there on Friday due to their travel logisitics and schedules. The veterans of this group that have done BBQ runs before have found that City Market in Luling has been conistently solid across all three meats on every visit. After the early morning run to Snows, then a quick trip to Giddings, it was clear we could make the hour and a half trek Luling to get some lunch at peak time. It was worth it because overall, it was best that day, too.

Snows brisket was really good. But the ribs were not good at all. The sausage wasn't so hot, either. Honeslty, we were kinda dissappointed with it, given the hype and the long drive very early in the AM to get there. Still, we were glad we gave it a try. City Meat Market in Giddings was OK. Brisket chewy. Sausage decent. Much better than Snows. My understanding is that Snows gets sausage from there. So, clearly, there were smoking issues with it up the road in Lexington.

Franklin was really that good. Even after all the meat we packed away the two days prior, it was quite obivous to everyone that it reigned supreme.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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