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The best Texas barbecue


Kent Wang
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Yes, we're doing a Tex-Mex place the day we go to San Antonio. My friend says it's not a problem if we stop in Lockhart that day for BBQ, and I've checked to see if all three (Smitty's, Black's, and Kreuz) are open on Saturday, and they are, so I guess I'm all set! Thanks for all your help!

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IIRC from my google search this morning, 2 of them close at 8pm and one closes at 7pm. I'm afraid I won't be able to go to all three--my friend just wants to stop in one of them for lunch quickly before heading to San Antonio. Any favourites in Lockhart? I like brisket and ribs (and pulled pork, obviously, but I know they probably don't serve that here.) Sausages and smoked pork chops I don't care for as much.

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of the 3, I always go to Smitty's. People quibble about which is better, I think all 3 are great, but something about the atmosphere at Smitty's just does it for me.

oh, and they'll ask you if you want the brisket fatty or lean.

If memory serves, Smitty's only sells ribs on Friday and Saturday, so, you're in luck on that front.

no silverware, no sauce. Be forewarned.

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It only takes like 15 more minutes to stop another one of the Lockhart Three -- I nominate Black's over Kreuz. They're all on the same main road. One of the best parts about Lockhart is just the opportunity to try two or three restaurants in the same trip. Of course, it sounds like you may be wearing out your friend's patience so pick your battles wisely.

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I'm surprised there's not much love for Rudy's.

I don't claim to be the BBQ expert, but I sure do love them, and have been to almost all the aforementioned restaurants minimum 2x+ (exception Coopers and Louies)

Done Smittys, Blacks, City Market, County Line (both loc), Rubys, Rudys (multiple loc), Stubbs, Artz, Iron Works, Green Mesquite, Salt Lick (both loc), Sams, John Mueller's

Since my love is beef brisquet, I hand the crown to Rudys. They have 2 tiers of brisket -- of course, order the fatter cut... incredibly tender and the saltiness sets off sparks in my mouth

Salt Lick - never liked it at the restaurant -- dry and bland -- but somehow their catering always tastes terrific

Artz - okay for ribs

Rubys (in Campus) - not particularly great ... but good for what it is - small in-town joint. Good cheap chopped beef 'wich

County Line - haters go away. dinosaur sized beef ribs, terrific bread, and a great atmosphere to take out-of-towners. The drive there on FM2222 is also nice

As far as the crowning triumvirate of central texas barbecue? yawn. they're so unremarkable that I cant recall the specifics. Perhaps the hype killed the food for me. All I remember is Kreutz is a little rubbery and unflavorful. Blacks had sausage that tasted like cardboard - personally I don't care too much for sausage, but a good bbq joint had better make a decent one -- theirs tasted like they dehydrated in the Popeil jerky machine

I'm sure some purists will pull out their pitchforks and beat their drums over my irreverence for the holy trinity of Texas bbq... all I know is, when I have guests, I'll treat them to the sights of 360 or 2222 and the food of CL and Rudys

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Sorry to hear about your bad experiences in Lockhart. Maybe they deserve another try.

I'm pretty sure Rudy's and County Line are on gas instead of wood. Both places cook their meats on too high heat, for too short of a time -- by Central Texas standards. But maybe you just don't like Central Texas style barbecue. That's OK, it's an acquired taste and is not for everyone.

The drive to 2222 is beautiful indeed -- I lived there for two years. If you want to try a longer expedition, you could drive through the beautiful Hill Country to Cooper's in either Llano or Mason. I think Marble Falls is along the way there. There are also a number of Texas wineries in that area.

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So sorry to weigh in late on this important topic. Yes, Luling, yes Taylor. Now what you centrists may not realize is that pit cooked brisket originated with the cowboys, not the football team, out on the range. Therefore, I have to throw in two fine Abilene joints, Joe Allens, and Perini Ranch. Both pit cook over wood, combination oak and mesquite, seasoned with a rub, no sauce.

It's worth the drive. Joe Allen's used to be in a dump that just added to it's eclat, but have moved around the corner to a new building. Food great, atmosphere resturanty. Perini's is all season, in the warm 9 months of the year, eat outside on the ranch. Colder times, there's a great fireplace.

New Rankings:

1. Joe Allens

2. Perini's

3. Taylor

4. Luling

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So sorry to weigh in late on this important topic.  Yes, Luling, yes Taylor.  Now what you centrists may not realize is that pit cooked brisket originated with the cowboys, not the football team, out on the range.  Therefore, I have to throw in two fine Abilene joints, Joe Allens, and Perini Ranch.  Both pit cook over wood, combination oak and mesquite, seasoned with a rub, no sauce.

It's worth the drive.  Joe Allen's used to be in a dump that just added to it's eclat, but have moved around the corner to a new building.  Food great, atmosphere resturanty.  Perini's is all season, in the warm 9 months of the year, eat outside on the ranch.  Colder times, there's a great fireplace.

New Rankings:

1. Joe Allens

2. Perini's

3. Taylor

4. Luling

goodie, two places to check out when I go to San Angelo for the National Ceramics Competition this next spring. How far is Abilene from Brownwood? I have to go there for a wedding sooner.

edited to add, how disgusting, I think I have lived in Okieland tooooooo long

Edited by joiei (log)

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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From Ft. Worth it is about 160 miles west to Abilene.

Brownwood is 75 miles from Abilene and is equidistant from Ft. Worth and Austin. It's 90-something miles from Brownwood, west to San Angelo.

Yes, you've probably been in OK-land too long. (But) Going to the areas in question is not necessarily a step up!

You might want to fortify yourself in Ft. Worth on the way out. I hear tell they've a couple of decent Q places. It's been years since I tried any of them.

Banished from Chowhound; I like it just fine on eGullet!

If you`re not big enough to lose, you`re not big enough to win! Try this jalapeno, son. It ain't hot...

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So sorry to weigh in late on this important topic.  Yes, Luling, yes Taylor.  Now what you centrists may not realize is that pit cooked brisket originated with the cowboys, not the football team, out on the range.  Therefore, I have to throw in two fine Abilene joints, Joe Allens, and Perini Ranch.  Both pit cook over wood, combination oak and mesquite, seasoned with a rub, no sauce.

It's worth the drive.  Joe Allen's used to be in a dump that just added to it's eclat, but have moved around the corner to a new building.  Food great, atmosphere resturanty.  Perini's is all season, in the warm 9 months of the year, eat outside on the ranch.  Colder times, there's a great fireplace.

New Rankings:

1. Joe Allens

2. Perini's

3. Taylor

4. Luling

goodie, two places to check out when I go to San Angelo for the National Ceramics Competition this next spring. How far is Abilene from Brownwood? I have to go there for a wedding sooner.

edited to add, how disgusting, I think I have lived in Okieland tooooooo long

Although if you want to go to what most people consider to be the best "cowboy-style" BBQ in Texas, you'll need to swing down through Llano and Cooper's.

:cool:

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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[ Perini's is all season, in the warm 9 months of the year, eat outside on the ranch.  Colder times, there's a great fireplace.

New Rankings:

1. Joe Allens

2. Perini's

3. Taylor

4. Luling

Any time in OKieland for a Texan is just tooooooo long.

FYI - both Joe Allen's and Perini's cater from a chuchwagon. Tom Perini actually took one of his chuckwagons to Japan to an international beef conf.

Both places are busy, especially when their is a rodeo (ranch rodeo) or horse show in town.

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By chuckwagon you mean a metal barbecue grill on wheels? I believe there is something special about the (immobile) pits that is essential to Central Texas style barbecue. Maybe it's possible to create CenTex masterpieces out of them, but all I know is that all the top joints use pits.

Can you describe in greater detail the output of these Abilene places? How does it differ from Taylor and Luling? Why do you feel they are superior?

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By chuckwagon you mean a metal barbecue grill on wheels?

Oh my friend, no. no, no, no. A chuck wagon is an actual connestoga type (covered) wagon that cowboys drove (with a team (of horses, or mules)) originally during cattle drives. They have been used on large ranches, the wagon goes to the cowboys, the cook builds a fire and viola, magic happens. Perini's chuckwagon is wooden with a canvas top, wooden wheels. The pit they cook in can be a metal unit off loaded from the wagon, or a hole in the ground. Hence the origin of the term pit BBQ. I worked for Perini in the summer for a couple of years.

I think the overall quality of the food at Joe Allen's makes it a superior choice. Granted they don't serve on butcher paper, but the consistent taste (fabulous) of not only the brisket, but ribs, chicken and my favorite ribeye (you order by the inch) makes it a home run stop. I can honestly say in 20 years, I have never been disappointed. Never thought, too greasy or no flavor, or too dry. They are a sauce on the side people and nothing is better than piling your sliced onion in a cup and drenching it in sauce. Great side, the meat doesn't need the sauce anyway. Sides are also important. They serve a homemade sourdough, and wheat that melt in your mouth.

Perini's a truly a steak house, so there isn't the same comparison. Steaks are amazing, prepared with a rub. His catering does include an amazing brisket, and probably the best beans ever created. There is something special that happens to a pot of beans over a fire, add a little sweat, or a casual drop of ashes off Blue's cigarette, whatever the wind blows in...I don't know, all I do know is the taste is consistently good.

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I agree with you about the steaks at Joe Allen's. Perfect every time.

But I've never been impressed with their brisket.

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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Rudy Mikeska's in Taylor.

74062829_5431b378ac.jpg

For reference, Louie Mueller's, right across the street.

55051060_0e2b8a6b01.jpg

The photos are fairly color-accurate. Compared to Louie Mueller's, the color is not as dark, and has less smoke flavor. I had Mikeska's brisket side-by-side with Mueller's and Mueller's is the clear winner. Mikeska's brisket was a lot more lean, but I'm willing to forgive that as cuts can vary a lot day-to-day, but Mueller's greater oak flavor proves that their technique is superior.

Hi, I'm new here but not new to BBQ. The plate in the top photo has slices of the brisket flat. The bottom plate has slices of the brisket point. The point is always going to be a little more juicy because of the fat content/distribution. The flat is lean (er)? and likely to dry out if you don't pay close attention when you smoke it. It's been a couple of years but if you get a chance to try it, the ribs a Dozier's Meat Market are excellent (or were the last time I went), they are in Fulshear West of Houston.

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  • 2 months later...

Was in Austin 12-2 to 12-9 and was able to eat at only two Q joints, thanks to my son's hangover when I wanted to go to Iron Works or Stubb's and my partner's squeamishness about Sam's fine interior decor.

We ate at Salt Lick 360 and had a fine meal. The brisket was a little dry. I was impressed with my partner's chicken, though and loved the habanera sauce they supplied with it. I used it rather than the sweet stuff that came with my meat. It was OK, but hard to get used to. I also felt the same way about the potato salad; wierd but good. After a while I kinda got to liking it.

The other Q meal was at Ruby's. It was better, IMHO. More flavorful and jucier brisket. The ribs were good, too. I'd definately go back there.

I drank a few beers, on three occasions, at County Line (because it was near where I had to pick up my Partner when she finished her class each weekday and because of the outdoor atmosphere) but I didn't eat the Q. I ate there about ten years ago and I've read that it doesn't quite measure up to some of the others in the area. I was also usually too stuffed from having Q or Tex-Mex for lunch when I got there; usually around four PM.

As I said, I was foiled on several occasions from eating more Q. One day we went to Stubb's for lunch and they were closed. My partner really could not stand eating in Sam's and we didn't want a meal "to go".

BTW, we stayed at The Driskill and had a great meal there. I did Chuey's twice, Fonda San Miguel, Gumbos, La Traviata, Thai Passion, The Clay Pit, Manuel's and Hoover's twice for breakfast! Yum. I like Austin. I was born in Elgin... but I'm enjoying Connecticut, except for the lack of real Q and real Tex-Mex.

Banished from Chowhound; I like it just fine on eGullet!

If you`re not big enough to lose, you`re not big enough to win! Try this jalapeno, son. It ain't hot...

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