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Jul 23, 2007 06:22 AM

Smitty's Brisket reigns supreme by WSJournal?

Hey all, just wanted to alert you that Smitty's brisket in Lockhart came up first in national BBQ tour by a Wall Street Journal writer Raymond Sokolov. He samped pork and beef BBQ around the country and in texas went to Smitty's and Kreuz.

Of all, Smitty's came out on top.

I have to agree with his assessment, but Black's, Sam's, and Ben's all put out delicious meat. My favorite brisket has for 3 years been the now sadly defunct after multi attempts John Mueller's in Austin and Bastrop. Sad that guy couldn't keep a business running. And his sausage was first rate too.

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  1. You know, I wasn't all that impressed. I think Cooper's is light years ahead of Smitty's.

    1. Thanks for the link. These types of articles really amuse me.

      On my last dozen visits or so, Smitty's has been better than Kreuz Market. Black's is always hit or miss for me. I like all three, though, in addition to plenty of other joints around the state, including the relatively close-by Southwest Market in San Marcos, Opie's in Spicewood, and Crosstown in Elgin. Cooper's is a fine choice, too, but it's a different style of 'cue.

      I noticed, however, that this WSJ writer's assessment seems to be based on one trip to Smitty's and one trip to Kreuz, along with his other destinations around the country. A single visit doesn't provide much data, especially since barbecue quality varies greatly on a day-to-day basis. I guess this suggests that comprehensive surveys of all the different types of Texas 'cue are best left to us (lucky) locals.

      7 Replies
      1. re: MPH

        MPH, have you tried City Market in Luling? I find their 'cue to be up there with Smitty's, if a touch below, though I've only been a couple of times so I may have caught good days. I'll have to try Cooper's next time I head west as I've heard interesting things about their pit set-up.

        I thought this article was amusing too. I don't know why so many food writers' favorite color is purple (prose). E.G.: "While we stuffed ourselves this spring with these splendid viands, and wiped our hands with pieces of paper toweling torn from vertical rolls standing within convenient reach, we kept trying to decide which restaurant would be our pick for champ of the pit-barbecue nation." I'm trying to imagine how the writer would have described the roll of paper towels had it been mounted above a sink in one corner of the dining room.

        1. re: diva360

          That is amusing Diva. And I'm always just a tad shy of driving the hour to Luling to hit the Market, but from all I've read I hear the ribs there are difficult to top anywhere around austin or Lockhart, and that the brisket's pretty darn good too. The prime rib at Smitty's is awfully special and is a nice contrast to the brisket in texture. Not sure if it's better, but it's great.

          1. re: professor_ted

            In response to diva360's query [which I didn’t notice]: Yes, I've been to Luling City Market many times, but not within the past six months. Like many Texans, I believe their 'cue can be among the very best in the state. To me, though, it's not really about ranking the "top n" in the state and then sticking to those places. I'll pretty much try every non-chain barbecue joint with a real smoker that I either live relatively near, drive by regularly, or see while driving around on an empty stomach. Some turn out to be total duds; some are average; some are truly exceptional. For me, the process of chowhounding is what's most important.

            For example, Austin's BBQ in Eagle Lake looks totally nondescript, gets no press, is a stop on almost no one's pilgrimages. However, it offers the most outstanding sausage that I've sampled to date. And the rest of their offerings are pretty damn good, too.

            1. re: MPH

              What do you find particularly remarkable about their sausage? I'd say that my favorite sausages have come from Luling City Market and Kreuz.

              1. re: MPH

                Absolutely agree MPH . . . chains aren't by definition bad (usually are), it just takes all the romance out of eating, especially when such insane 'cue can be had be most of these dives.

                And on that note, I was out in Smithville a few weeks ago and happened to by around for lunch so I searched for 'cue and found Zimmerhanzel's Bar-B-Que downtown (a tiny town) at about 11:30 am on a weekday (a perfect time for getting the best picks). I have to say that it was the best sausage so far I've tried in Texas - really meaty and with a small grain texture but not greasy - and had an excellent smoked and spiced flavor. I love fat brisket but can't seem to stomach a link with 6 TBSP of oil dripping out of it. Their brisket was first rate too, as were the ribs. Definately worth a stop.

                1. re: professor_ted

                  That's a good way of putting it, professor_ted, and thanks for the tip! Since I looked up the place you mentioned, I thought I'd try my hand at the new "linking a place" feature, but it didn't work because the address wasn't recognized. Apparently, I need to read the Site Talk thread on all the bugs and workarounds to this feature.

                  Here's the info I found on Google:

                  Zimmerhanzel's Bar-B-Que
                  307 Royston St, Smithville, TX
                  (512) 237-4244

                  Is the easiest way to get there 230/95 south, from Highway 71 East?

                  1. re: MPH

                    Yeah, MPH, as I recall at least. I'm almost sure that's right. You'll go about a mile from the highway, over a river, pass a grocery on your right and it's just next to that also on the right. really good 'cue. I bet when we speak of the holy trinity of BBQ between Llano, Lockhart, and Luling, that most any little town in Texas can probably rival or beat these. But I'm trying City Market for the first time tomorrow, can't wait.

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            1. Still a Black's fan when it comes to brisket.

              And if the guy came to Texas and didn't do sausage too then his report is invalid.

              2 Replies
              1. re: GroovinGourmet

                I don't understand at all people's attraction to Black's. Yeah, it's apparently been around a long time, but the food I got there was terrible. MPH said above that it's hit or miss, and that may be, but they missed so badly on the day I went that I will never go again. The food was dried out, sitting under heat lamps, meat very poor flavor and dry, large parts as dry and tough as jerky, and that just about sums up my first and last experience at Black's. Which is fine, because the meat at Smitty's and Kreuz is (almost always) so good that I really don't have time left to devote to yet another great barbecue place in Lockhart.

                1. re: angusb

                  The attraction to Black's is the brisket, which has the best post oak flavor of any that I've had. It's leanness is a minus in my book, but it's still my favorite brisket. The next time you're on your way home from Kreuz or Smitty's you should give it one more shot. Just order a single slice of brisket and see if you like it any better. BBQ is, by its very nature, inconsistent.

                  I'm similarly confused about Luling City Market, though. I've been twice now, and I didn't think it stacked up to the Lockhart places either time. People love their ribs, but I felt like they lacked substance in both the meat and the fat (yum!) department and that the rub lacked flavor. My favorite pork ribs are the ones at Kreuz, even though they sometimes almost go too far with the salt.