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TexNewMex

Texas BBQ Road Trip Report

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First off I would like to say hello to all of the egullet members. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the assortment of opinions, topics and discussions on this very knowledgeable site. I have been lurking for about a year and instead of slowly commenting on subjects in the various threads I have decided to throw caution to the wind and jump in feet first. This is my first attempt at posting in any forum ever and I feel honored to be doing it here. I have visited many a forum and this is the only one I truly enjoy.

I am by no means an eloquent writer and my sentence structure leaves little to be desired…so to deal with that problem I will include plenty of photos. If I breach forum policy I am sure you will let me know…..

Now that the legalities have been taken care of I will start this journey.

I was turned onto this site by way of a Google search on some random food item I was researching….what a glorious find it was. I perused the various categories and was eventually drawn to the Texas subforum. There was one post that caught my eye….. “The best Texas barbecue, let’s get ready to rumble!” (Here).... I live in Texas and never really knew how passionate people……mostly Texans are about their “Q”…….and of course everyone from here to there has an opinion. Embedded in the thread was another, earlier post from chefrodrigo...(Here).... this is the post that stirred my now morbid curiosity about what some call the “Smokering”……… the 200 mile radius around Austin/San Antonio that supposedly includes the best BBQ in the US.

The Chefrodrigo road trip consisted of a few north westerners on a gluttoness, brisket fueled romp through the hill country……Mexican breakfasts, mounds of bbq’d mayhem and chicken fried steak dinners….wow…..that’s how I want to go out! The more I read the more I wanted to try it……well it has come to fruition! I will follow the Texas Lewis & Clark BBQ Expedition……my trip will not be as prestigious or carry as much historical importance as Chefrodrigo’s and will more likely be similar to the journey of Chris Farley and Matthew Perry in Almost Heroes (Here) ……………… I leave Tomorrow @ 6:00 AM Central Time!

Is it possible to visit 14 BBQ joints in 3 days…..most say no!

I say……..You’re probably right!

The Itinerary Please!

City Market….. Luling

Luling BBQ….. Luling

Smitty’s Market……Lockhart

Kruez Market……..Lockhart

Blacks BBQ……..Lockhart

Salt-Lick……..Driftwood

Southside Market BBQ……..Elgin

Cross-town BBQ………Elgin

Louie Mueller……..Taylor

Rudy’s Mikeska’s BBQ……..Taylor

Opie’s BBQ……..Spicewood

Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ……..Llano

Burnet County BBQ……..Burnet

Schoepf’s Old Time Pit BBQ…...Belton

I knew I couldn’t do it alone so I presented my wife with the vacation of a lifetime…a romantic trip to the Texas Hill Country……Bluebonnets…..Rolling hills…..Quaint little Texas Towns, Shopping & a little BBQ….

Cross your fingers everyone……

If you have questions let me know…i will try to answer questions along the way, but it might have to wait until i return on Saturday night or whenever they discharge me from the hospital.

I will report back ASAP with anecdotes and photos!

PS. I thought the general food topics thread would be best for this post, the Texas thread is full of BBQ………I just wanted to put it out there for the masses. I enjoy hearing stories from the east coast and the culture that surrounds that part of the US……so I thought I would reciprocate with a story from my little microcosm here in Texas.

I hope you enjoy it.


LISBY OUT!

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Not only very ambitious, but decadent to say the least. I look forward to drooling over your photos and wishing I was in Texas!


Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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I knew I couldn’t do it alone so I presented my wife with the vacation of a lifetime…a romantic trip to the Texas Hill Country……Bluebonnets…..Rolling hills…..Quaint little Texas Towns, Shopping & a little BBQ….

You're coming now?

I sure hope that little gal o' yourn don't have her heart set on the Bluebonnets.

: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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HI TexNewMex and welcome to the boards. Your trip sounds like a lot of fun. We will all be looking forward to your impressions.


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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Jaymes, Thank god she is not a horticulturist!


LISBY OUT!

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Yeah, count on the BBQ, but not the bluebonnets.....that's an April kinda thing.

I went on a Hill Country BBQ tour with a friend from Austin a couple years ago.

Don't know if you want to add to your itinerary, but no BBQ tour is complete without

a stop at Harry's in Willow. :wink:Especially if you're looking for anecdotes.


Edited by chefpeon (log)

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And Sam's in Austin. Lots of folks think that's the best "in town" BBQ.


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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Welcome to the boards Tex Mex. No small feat your quest, you certainly are jumping in with more than both feet. I spent a grueling two years researching a chow book and often ate at three different places in one day, but they were rarely the same genre.

Have a great time, I look forward to your posts.

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Well, we have returned from the hill country of Texas. It was a trip that I will never forget; the experience was better than I ever thought it would be. They take their BBQ very very seriously down there and they should, every place we visited was absolutely great in its own way…….…but of course some were better than others.

I come from the philosophy of if you like it and it tastes good to you……….”Its good” and that’s how I went into this trip. I have read so many posts that discussed the right amount of smoke flavor, to much seasoning, to little seasoning, sauce was watery, it was to sweet, to peppery….and on and on. I found each place to have something I enjoyed food wise and only one place seemed to be having a bad day at the pit. I am by no means a BBQ elitist, but I now understand what “these” people were saying when they were describing their experiences.

All of the towns we visited were no more than 100 miles from Austin and the route we took we were never in the car for more than an hour. I couldn’t believe how concentrated these restaurants were in one area and what amazes me is how well known they are. Posted on the walls in all of these places were articles and covers from a myriad of magazines that have done stories on these bbq joints.

Is the bbq in Texas that good?

I will try to answer that one, but I would like to hear your comments if you have been to or eaten at any of these places.

And

Are there any other regions like this in the U.S. with such a concentration of well-known or famous bbq joints?

Well, I have somehow talked my lovely wife into joining me in what some would say is a waste of two perfectly good vacation days. It’s July in Texas, the place where they invented humidity and triple digit temperatures. I am traveling with my wife and our 8 month old daughter Molly………I have a feeling its not going to be as easy as I envisioned it.

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I dreamed I would visit these historical bbq joints taking my time soaking up the history and the smoke….talking to the locals over a ice cold shiner bock lazily eating the local favorites….Smoked Brisket, Ribs and hand made sausages………well I realized …..that’s not going to happen…..at all! Our goal was to visit 14 different places in 3 days and when I explained to people what I was doing the logistics didn’t really enter my mind…..friends were asking how are you going to eat that many meals? I don’t know! that’s not important right now!....…..”it just happens” is what I told them.

Then divine intervention…….we were dining at our favorite local breakfast spot with some good friends that own and run a great little restaurant in Coppell, TX called Daddy Jack’s. Victor was asking what places I was planning on visiting and I ran down the list like I had many times before. The conversation turned once again to logistics and I just came to the realization that there is no way we can eat bbq 5-6 times in one day with out causing some type of super size me syndrome…what happens if my liver shuts down?????…So it was then I formed a plan to methodically buy a ½ lb of brisket, ribs and sausage from each place and wrap it in foil put it in a cooler and bring it to the people!!! These people being anyone who will agree to come over and eat it all.

So starts the journey!

Day 1 7/27/06 6:00 AM

Our day starts off like it should with a nice little breakfast at the place that takes me back to my childhood……. Weck’s in Lewisville, TX……..It’s a breakfast and lunch place that serves the best breakfasts in town……my favorite on the menu……..the Huevos Rancheros …..fresh corn tortillas from Albuquerque…..softened in hot oil topped with two eggs over easy smothered in a New Mexico red chile sauce…made from scratch on the premises….on the side a large helping of pinto beans and hash browns topped with cheese, chopped lettuce and tomato…..My wife’s usual is the original Pappas bowl…..hash browns topped with ham, sausage and bacon…smothered in hatch green chile sauce….also homemade……. and topped with an egg and cheese….just something light, because there is a lot of bbq coming up and we don’t want to fill up.

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Outside of Dallas down I35 is the little town of West, TX. There in lies my favorite roadside attraction….the Little Czech bakery……kolaches, sausage rolls and other fine baked goods…….we always stop…….its just what you do…..there’s always a crowd of travelers…..a very fine place indeed.

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BBQ tomorrow!...........day 1 continued.


LISBY OUT!

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Welcome to the boards, TNM, and what an ambitious project to introduce yourself with! I'm really looking forward to it.

Man, I lived in Lewisville for 3 years and lamented the whole time the fact that we couldn't find a reliable breakfast place. How did we miss Wecks?

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Welcome to the boards, TNM, and what an ambitious project to introduce yourself with! I'm really looking forward to it.

Man, I lived in Lewisville for 3 years and lamented the whole time the fact that we couldn't find a reliable breakfast place.  How did we miss Wecks?

They have only been open for a few months.....I think the place is great! It's in the old Colters building across from Lewisville High School.

I am really happy for the GM or owner.....I am not sure which he is, there are six Weck's in Albuquerque and now the one here......the place has really caught on...there is usually a 10 to 20 minute wait on the weekends....people seem to love it. I am not sure where you live, but if you ever make it back you need to check it out. You can get green chile on just about anything....I recommend the Cinnamon roll, its as big as a plate and they slice it in half and put it on the grill....its pretty good!


LISBY OUT!

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I am traveling with my wife and our 8 month old daughter Molly………

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The only traveling companions you mention are your wife and 8-month-old daughter, Molly.

So who, pray tell, is your adorable little heterochromatic friend?


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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I am traveling with my wife and our 8 month old daughter Molly………

gallery_46975_3362_259435.jpg

The only traveling companions you mention are your wife and 8-month-old daughter, Molly.

So who, pray tell, is your adorable little heterochromatic friend?

The multi colored k-9 would be what my wife calls our daughter..... She usually goes where we go.....


LISBY OUT!

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Ah ha! So THAT'S "Molly"!

Cute.


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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In my one trip into Texas, I managed to hit up Cooper's in Llano. I don't know how it's going to stack up to the other places on your list, but man, was it good food.

I'm looking forward to the whole write-up!


"Give it to Neil. I'll bet he'll eat it."

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And if you were driving those roads over by Llano, you undoubtedly went by a lot of peach stands. Hope you picked up some of those as well. It's that time of year. And I think I'd rather drive past peach stands than Bluebonnets anyway.


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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In my one trip into Texas, I managed to hit up Cooper's in Llano.  I don't know how it's going to stack up to the other places on your list, but man, was it good food.

I'm looking forward to the whole write-up!

Cooper's was one of my favorites...we had Cabrito, a big thick pork chop, smoked prime rib and some sausage. The beans were also very good. I have photos coming up soon


LISBY OUT!

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And if you were driving those roads over by Llano, you undoubtedly went by a lot of peach stands.  Hope you picked up some of those as well.  It's that time of year.  And I think I'd rather drive past peach stands than Bluebonnets anyway.

We didnt miss the peach stands.....I bought a pail full and served them at the tasting when we returned......It was one of the faster moving items that night.


LISBY OUT!

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Day 1 continued……..

Our ETA in Luling, TX is 11:30. The excitement is building…..when going into these new situations you have to really be prepared for what the place might throw at you…..these places do business there way and that’s that…I don’t want to be the out of towner who doesn’t have a clue on how the place works…….I am hoping its not like the soup nazi episode on Seinfeld where I ask for bread when I‘m not suppose to and get my BBQ taken away…

I thought City Market was a great start

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It was what I had pictured in my head……... a little storefront in the old downtown area with the locals just having their daily lunch. We arrived around 12:30, so they were deep into their lunch business and for a Thursday afternoon they were pretty busy. I walked in like I had been there a thousand times, pretending to know the layout. I surveyed the interior and saw there was a line……perfect!……I will just do what the people in front of me do.

When you enter the building you have to walk to the back, that’s where you will find the smoke room, it looks similar to the house that you use to ride by on your bike when you were a kid because it had burned down…the windows were black and caked with smoke and grease….I couldn’t wait to go in!…… the best part was a sign on the door that read….DO NOT HOLD DOOR OPEN…….I do not know why it would have mattered the place already had a light smoke haze from the pits…….but inside the smoke room there were 4 men and two large 8’ by 4’ pits with one large chopping block in the middle….you ordered by the pound and they wrapped it up in butcher paper….and out the door you go back to the dining area…….in the dining area there was another counter where you could pick up your beans and an RC cola or Big Red from A lady who had to of been about 104 using an old cash register that was probably108…… she was very nice. I would say half of the place were locals the other half out of towners………I ordered ½ lb ribs, sausage and brisket…..the brisket had a nice smoke ring and a thin line of what I call “clear meat” or fat, the ribs also had a nice little smoke ring as well…the sausage was unlike anything I had ever tasted before……it wasn't like the kielbasa that I am use to….the texture was course and the flavor unforgettable. I am starting to realize what is ahead of me on this journey.

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Our next stop was about 100 yards down the street…..Luling BBQ, it wasn’t on the list but it was so close…..why not!

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The façade was a little different and there were not as many customers, but when I left there was a line of about 10 people. This place was a smaller operation, but the meats were just as good, right in line with City Market. I will just assume that you know what I ordered because it is the same every time, I will let you know if I ordered anything out of the ordinary….

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Back on the road……..we are now headed 15 miles north towards Lockhart on 183

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Lockhart is a small town that packs a huge BBQ punch. The plan was to visit 3 establishments we found 4. The first one was a cafeteria style place right on 183 called Chisholm Trail.

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Since we weren’t really eating the BBQ and I was just doing a small tasting, we decided that we would have a chopped beef sandwiches for lunch here and forgo the usual ribs, brisket and sausage routine. Don’t get me wrong……. it took every fiber of my being not to eat everything I had just bought in the last town…..it was hard, but I fought through it and had the sandwich……

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The sandwich was very good…….lots of sauce and the bread was nice and fresh….potato salad was good….probably food service brand.

Now that I had some lunch….it was a little easier to control the urge to scarf the entire days catch.

Our next stop was the well known Smitty’s Market.

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In the picture below we arrived towards the back left in the photo.

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We went in through the back entrance that is on the highway…..this was my first upclose encounter with the enormous pits we would see this entire trip. I walked through the door and immediately it got hotter….I looked down to my right and was caught off guard, there was a nice little fire going right at the end of one of the pits.

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…..I was in the pit room, which is sectioned off by a glass door that leads into the store front……..in the middle of the pit room was the large choppin block….I ordered the usual and took a walk through the store front to soak up a little atmosphere and was back out the door. No time to eat…just taste, package and run. The sausage and ribs were great.....the brisket was a touch dry.

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Day 1 to continue……….More Q tomorrow.

In our next episode...Black's, Kruez and Salt-Lick & accomodations for the night.


LISBY OUT!

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.....the brisket was a touch dry.

Although it shouldn't ever be dry, the fact is that sometimes it is. That won't happen, however, if you order it "wet" or "fatty."


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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Yeah, I think you have to specify "fatty" brisket or they default to the other cut, which can be dry. The fatty goes fast, though: they were sold out at both Smitty's and Kruez' when I went there. :angry:

I'm already in awe of your eating capacity; I hit Smitty's and Kruez, got a similar sampler at each, and thought I was going to die afterwards.

ETA: Your description of walking into Smitty's and being hit with that heat, then looking over and seeing the open pit just a couple feet away, is exactly what happened to me! Felt like I had stumbled into the engine room of a steam boat in the 19th century: guys in grey overalls and obnoxious moustaches shovelling coals into the fire . . .


Edited by Kevin72 (log)

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