BBQ Hound`s First Texas BBQ Pilgrammage to Austin
It looks like I need to be in Austin next thursday. I`m going to fly in early on wed. to try my first taste of authentic Texas BBQ. Reading through the posts here, it seems like my first stop should be Lockhart.
Are the places to try Kreuz, Smitty`s and Blacks? I have heard texas bbq is all about brisket and clod. Any other must trys?
I don`t quite understand how previous posters have managed to eat at all these places in one afternoon. I guess the idea is to order a small amount of meat (1/3 pound) at each place? I also see reference to people buying cold sausage to grill at home...I`m thinking maybe I should try to bring some back East.
Pretty excited...I make my own brisket and clod in a WSM, but tasting the real thing is going to be great.
Welcome to Texas. You're in for a treat. Heading to Lockhart is a good start. Some will recommend that you drive another 15 miles down 183 to Luling. I recently made that drive and was underwhelmed. The brisket was somewhat dry and chewey, and I didn't care for the consistency of the hots (sausage). I even made a point to get there around 11:30 thinking that the brisket would be at its best. Also, their sauce is different and they don't provide any Louisiana Hot Sauce or other bottled pepper sauce (I like to put a little of that on my brisket sandwich).
In Lockhard, try all three if you can. I like Kreuz's best, but Smitty's beats everyone on amosphere. Blacks has great sides and I've never had a bad meal there. The brisket is sometimes outstanding, and sometimes just good. Kreuz's has been consistently the best. Not sure about the clod, as I don't care for it.
If you have the time, head over to Llano and try cowboy style bbq at Coopers. I personally think that's the best brisket in the state, with a nice charred crust. The Big Chop is also worth a taste. Llano bbq doesn't get mentioned much on here (at least as much as Lockhart), but you should really try to make a trip there if you have the time. I've started smoking my homemade brisket over direct heat and with mesquite like they do at Coopers, as opposed to indirect over oak like in Lockhart.
There's going to be some disagreement on this board, but eventually you will be advised to go to Lockhart because there are three good choices. My favorite there is Smitty's. Have not had good luck at Black's and don't care for the gigantic new Kreuz Market. But that is just my experience and my taste. I also like Cooper's in Llano for a cooked direcly over the coals style. However, my very alltime favorite is Mueller's in Taylor. Brisket and the jalapeno sausage are, in my opinion, the best there is.
If you only have one day, then I'd definitely shoot for hitting all of them in Lockhart if you can. Since most places sell by the pound (don't be afraid to order one or two slices of brisket, one rib, etc),you should be able to sample all four places(yes,I would include Black's-one time I was there the brisket was otherworldly, other times dry), and they are all pretty close together-you will be glad you did. Start at 10:30am if you can,to insure freshness, and be sure to let us know how you did!
P.S.-If, for some reason, you can't make it to Lockhart and have to stay in Austin, then I'd recommend these places that are in fairly close proximity to downtown:
Iron Works(some folks love it, some folks hate it, but it has good bbq atmosphere)
I'm sure I'm leaving out a couple of good ones, so some else can chime in.
first, thanks for the help. Laying it out:
Luling - City Market
Lockhart - Blacks, Kreuz and Smittys
Llano - Coopers
Taylor - Louis Muellers, Taylor cafe
Driftwood - Salt Lick
My understanding is that Smitty's is where the old market is, and the son took the name and opened up a huge place?
What time do these places close? Will I get good q for dinner?
The Salt Lick in Driftwood has the best setting for a barbecue restaurant I can imagine. Unfortunately, they turn out mediocre food. They cook on several different pits scattered throughout the property and the result is inconsistency and, as I said, mediocrity. It can be fun but the food just isn't on the same level as the better central Texas 'cue places. By the way, BTAustin, it's not as good as what I turn out in my back yard.
If I were going out on my first barbecue tour here in the barbecue promised land, I'd definately add Louis Mueller's in Taylor. If you combine ALouis Mueller's with the Lockhart joints, you've hit the best in central Texas. Add Cooper's in Llano (the Hill Country's best) and you've made a circut of the best.
re: Greg Spence
Hi Greg, have you been to Cooper's recently? I stopped going about 2 years ago because I noticed a definte decline and price increase. I'm no penny pincher, but when I'm dropping $20 for one person it better be good. The pork chop my last few times there was overcooked and I've never enjoyed their brisket. The blackberry cobbler and drive out there still almost draw me on occasion...
Louis Mueller's is still my favorite in Central Texas--never had a bad experience and often it is amazing.
We should also note to any perspective goers that you really have to go to any of these places right around noontime. 3pm is just not the time for 'cue and most close around 6 or 7 and have the dregs left.
re: Carter B.
I usually make my annual pilgrimage to Cooper's when i drive through during deer season. It's been nearly a year but the last time I was there the pork chop was as good as ever. I understand what you're saying about the brisket; the direct heat method isn't ideal for that particular cut. I always stick with the pork chop and sausage. I guess I should have mentioned that.
re: Greg Spence
Somewhat randomly I ended up at Cooper's on Sunday for the first time in 2.5 years (we were in the area and there's not much open that's interesting on Sundays). My thoughts stills tand though our pork ribs and chop were pretty good. Beef ribs weren't good and we dropped $40 for two of us. A family of 4 next to us (2 adults and 2 teenage boys) apparently spent $125! For barbecue.
I envy you that first taste of central Texas 'cue. It will change the way you think about smoked meats. And I like your idea of taking home as much "cold" sausage as you can carry. I used to haul links back all the time when I was living out of state
Smitty's is my favorite place in Lockhart, but you can't go too wrong if you hit the trinity of Smitty’s, Kreuz Market, and Black’s. There's a very good place in San Marcos, too, if you pass through there, that’s called Southwest Market. (Search for "San Marcos" on this board and it should come up, though one thread misidentifies it as “Southside Market.”)
It sounds like you've done your research (and thank you for that). Just in case you missed them, allow me to point you to a few good, detailed discussions of the best 'cue in the Austin area:
posted September 20, 2006
posted September 14, 2006
posted May 23, 2006
Enjoy your trip!
thanks, I had Southwest Market on my backup list. I am starting to mull over the idea of postponing a meeting with the cto of a very large insurance agency back east so I can hit a couple of more Qs. I suppose I have precedence for this...I took my first job out of school because it had a 4 week training course around the corner from arthur bryants and gates in kc.
What a great fun thread. Envy you getting started. I would have been reccomending Iron Works beef ribs, they cut right to the bone and discard every other rib so they're just huge, but the last time I went there they were bad. No smoke on them. Still, it's right in town and gets a 100% for atmosphere, really was a wrought Iron Works back in the early 1900's. Good beans and cobbler and the best potato salad I say. If you eat on the patio watch out for the grackles, don't want them hopping up on your lunch....
My in-laws live perfectly situated between Lockhart & Luling... when we pick up q on our way from Austin to their place, we buy for the six of us (three lady appetites and three ranchhand appetites):
links at Kreuz (1 jalapeno, 1 regular), a small sauerkraut for me - no one else likes it!, german potatoes
1 1/2 lb. fatty/moist brisket at Smitty's (the original Kreuz)
1 lb. pork, 1/2 lb. turkey and beans at Blacks
We pick up sauce at Black's too - I'm from the carolina's and their sauce is familiar to me! lemony, thin and spicy with cumin and pepper...pretty good stuff. There is usually enough brisket left over for mom&dad to each have a brisket sandwich with sides for lunch the next day. It's worth the extra stops, though once when we were in a hurry and it was 1130am (PRIME TIME for bbq) on Saturday, I dropped hubby off at Kreuz, the kids (my stepdaughter and her husband) at Smitty's and went to blacks myself. Kids walked over to blacks & then we circled back to pick up hubby dad, who was still in line when we got to Kreuz...
When we're feeling fancy or for special occassions - Kreuz' prime rib is amazing.
If we have extra time, we run down to luling for sausage instead of Kreuz. What both of them have in common is the sausage is more dry (leaner with less fat/juices) than Blacks (third best - City Market 1st, Kreuz 2nd). Black's is my favorite eat-in place - and most well-rounded. Buy cold links at Kreuz to take home...theirs cook up the best on your grill/smoker at home.
If you want a pork rib or two, Kreuz is the best Lockhart option. And in between barbeque joints, cleanse your palate with a beer, drink or dessert at JAVAMOTION on the square. Javamotion served the first purchased alcohol beverage in Lockhart after they repealed their dry status...they also have a REALLY cool electric train on track suspended from the ceiling!
One note - bring cash. I know that Kreuz only takes cash & checks, and I think Blacks is the only one that takes plastic...
Glad to see I'm not the only one who's snapped to the price portion ratio at Cooper's! Look I don't care if George Bush thinks you're great, heck you're probably comping him anyway, serve good food at a reasonable price and I'll come back.
No problems with any of the other recos, if you want a similar style to Coopers, and closer in you might try Opies in Spicewood (Hwy 71 West). We live in that area and his prices have been creeping up too but overall it's superior to Coopers. Another place that's been gaining in popularity lately is Spyke's in Kingsland. FM 1431, west of Marble Falls, just before the bridge into Llano county. Not worth the trip from Austin probably but if you're already in the area and trying to clear the taste of Blue Bonnet Cafe out of your mouth.
You say that you make your own brisket "and clod," so probably I can't talk you out of ordering the clod but I personally think that smoking works best with fattier cuts.
So I'd agree with others that have suggested you order your brisket "fatty" or "wet"....
And skip the clod. Get a couple of slices of the prime rib, medium rare.
I'd also agree with others that you skip the Salt Lick.
(Unless you're traveling in a big chartered bus with a few kegs of beer and 45 of your closest friends and you're planning on marrying one of them that night. In that case, it's a hoot.)