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Texas BBQ - A Northener's Perspective

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easytravel777 Sep 24, 2007 02:24 PM

BBQ – A Northerner’s perspective. I am from Wisconsin. Land of cheese, brats, beer and frozen custard. I really enjoy BBQ. Up until now, BBQ, meant Famous Dave’s or Texas Roadhouse!
I have been to Kansas City, where I had BBQ drenched with sauce that covered a bad piece of meat. I have been to Carolina, where they shredded the meat and mixed with a little catsup and a lot of vinegar. So when I knew that I was visiting Texas, I did a little research on available BBQ places. We were flying into San Antonio and had to go to Austin. From these boards, I found that I could take a small detour and stop in Luling and Lockhart.

First thing I noticed was that Texan drivers are a pretty courteous bunch. Very few speeders. In Wisconsin. if you are not going 10-15 over the limit, then you are not flowing with the traffic. I noticed this on I-10 and I-35.

We arrived in Luling at City Market about 1pm. I don’t know quite what I was expecting to see, but the appearance of City Market took me a little by surprise. It is rather a little run down. But it was the BBQ, so we ventured inside. The place was empty, except for two ladies behind the counter. Not a good sign, even if it was 1pm on a Wednesday. The motioned us to a back room where we found the BBQ. We selected a half pound of brisket, half pound of ribs and a sausage. A rather large start to our afternoon adventure, but I was reluctant to order anything smaller. We skipped the bread (a big mistake) because we didn’t want to fill up on it. We took our meat, on 4 sheets on butcher paper out front and ordered our drinks. The brisket was good, but very dry. I would rate it a 7. The sausage was coarsely ground and I would rate it a 7 also. The ribs were good, but tasted more like ham, so I would rate them a 6. We finished out half, found a bit of butcher paper that was not soaked and saved the rest. On to Loackhart!

We first visited Black’s, because the signs made it easier to find! It was a major disappointment! The sausage was not edible for us. The brisket was about a 4, and the ribs were as salty as bacon and I rated them a 4. We were now halfway through our tour and I was not feeling too pleased.

Smitty’s was up next and what a difference! They were out of prime rib. and I was disappointed as this was the first place that offered it on the menu. While I was up ordering drinks, my wife had taken the insides of the sausage and made a sandwich. I was great! The sausage with the casing was too over powering. I would rate the sausage a 10. The brisket was very flavorful, tender and moist. It also was a 10. Next came the meaty ribs. The were great and I rated them also a 10. Wow I was in BBQ heaven! We also had our first Big Red, and it was a treat.

Off to Kreuz. The empty vast parking lot did not deter us. I think that the inside of Kreuz was the most impressive for what that counts. By now we had started ordering quarter pound servings and still saving parts of the meal. Here is where my wife would change with my ratings. She just could not get past the heavy pepper seasoning. I loved it! I would give all three meats about the same ratings of 10. We had prime rib here and was disappointed. I would rate it a 7. It was too dry for my taste. My wife said that the bread here was the best! I would rate Smitty’s a notch above Kreuz, but I would not hesitate to go out of my way again to visit either place.

Austin – Stubb’s. We ate here Thursday night as part of a catered event. Having ate in Luling and Lockhart, my ratings are based upon those experiences. The brisket was a 5. Way too dry and no flavor. The ribs also a 5, for the same reasons. The chicken was a 10, though. I went back for seconds!

Texas BBQ, I never thought that any piece of meat could taste so good with just a little bit of seasoning and slow cooked. It was an experience that I will look back on and savor for a long time. Thanks for all the help everyone here provided.

  1. c
    crippstom Sep 24, 2007 02:51 PM

    Glad to see you made Smitty's. I've never been to Luling and I also found Kreuz too "peppery". I've had the prime rib at Smitty's and found it dissapointing compared to the fatty brisket(which I count as a sidedish for my ribs). It looked great but was kind of dry. My favorite smoked prime rib is at Texas Roadhouse surprisingly. The only other place I eat ribs is at home.

    1 Reply
    1. re: crippstom
      williemac Sep 24, 2007 05:04 PM

      come to s. austin...Artz Baby Backs are the best...

    2. a
      achtungpv Sep 24, 2007 06:44 PM

      For the record, Stubb's is a music venue first and a BBQ joint a distant second. It's definitely not in the top 20 for BBQ in Central Texas.

      1. TAF Sep 24, 2007 08:12 PM

        Try and make it out to Cooper's in Llano if you get a chance. My personal favorite, and you won't be disappointed with their prime rib. I'm sure there will be plenty of people about, too. On the way back to town, you might visit the Backstage Steakhouse in Spicewood, which fellow hound MPH raves about, and about which you'll easily find some threads using the Search function.

        8 Replies
        1. re: TAF
          Chicago Wine Geek Sep 26, 2007 04:19 PM

          Flew from Chicago to Austin last weekend with the family for their first time. We decided to do Lockhart. We only went to Kreuz. They were out of brisket at 11:15am, but had shoulder clod (drier than brisket) and it was a 10! Sausages were ok, maybe a 6. Ribs were the big dissappointment. I love smoking baby backs at home for 5-7 hours on my Big Green Egg until the meat falls off the bone. These were large, country style ribs. Very peppery, which I liked since I like hot food. But not that tender. We also got ham. I don't care for ham. It was the best ham I've ever had! I also loved the red sauce on the table in old soda bottles. All in all, we were satisfied. The atmosphere of Kreuz was worth the trip alone. Next up is Smittys!

          1. re: Chicago Wine Geek
            Alan Sudo Sep 26, 2007 09:06 PM

            Personally, I hit Kreuz about 6 to 8 times a year, and I have to say that a bad meal at Kreuz is better than a good meal at 90% of the Bar-B-Q places around here. Plus they have great chicken, which can be hard to find in top notch Central Texas BBQ joints with their cow and pig fetishes.

            1. re: Alan Sudo
              b
              Brian Lindauer Sep 26, 2007 10:00 PM

              Chicken at Kreuz? I've never seen that on the menu there.

              1. re: Brian Lindauer
                MPH Sep 26, 2007 10:08 PM

                I was just thinking the same thing, so I checked out Kreuz's regular store-menu:

                http://www.kreuzmarket.com/onlinemenu...

                Chicken's not on it. Maybe it's an occasional special?

                1. re: MPH
                  Alan Sudo Sep 26, 2007 10:42 PM

                  Both times it was a catered Church event (relatives, not me), but it was memorable! I normally get brisket, sausage and bread to go (to eat in the truck while driving).
                  I assumed that chicken was always available. You know what they say about assumptions - I guess I just proved them right, and reinforced my theory about Central Texas BBQ and it's cow/pig fetish.

                2. re: Brian Lindauer
                  g
                  gntlmn6464 Oct 3, 2007 03:43 PM

                  Brian, Ed Berliner here, have you tried the chicken breast at the Texas Rib King over on 183 and Burnet Road? Its delicious!

                  1. re: gntlmn6464
                    b
                    Brian Lindauer Oct 4, 2007 07:22 PM

                    Hi Ed! I think it's been about 15 years since I've been to Texas Rib Kings. I remember it being a little dry, but I'll be sure to try it again sometime.

                    1. re: Brian Lindauer
                      s
                      scrumptiouschef Oct 5, 2007 09:08 AM

                      I had an extremely depressing conversation with the pit boss at Texas Rib Kings a couple years ago.

                      I like a pit boss who looks like a crusty old prospector.A face well lined like a treasured boot,perfumes of Hickory and Oak seeping from his pores.Maybe a can of Pearl in one hand, a hand rolled smoke in the other.

                      The TRK guy looked like he lived in Round Rock and shopped at Ikea.Prodding him for his philosophy on meat ended even more depressingly.

                      TRK,has gas fired roasters with chips regulating the entire process.He bragged about flipping a switch at night and going home[maybe to watch reruns of Everybody loves Raymond?].

                      No careful tending of the coals while reading some Louis L'amour,no treasured stack of American hardwoods diminishing as the evening dwindled.

                      Which is why the meat at TRK,though tender and toothsome has no soul.

                      With all the great Barbecue in Austin I won't be returning to TRK...the meat doesn't stack up and the restaurants philosophy is a heartbreaker.

          2. Mike F Sep 27, 2007 08:22 AM

            I'm trying to understand the fascination with the bread at these places. Unless something's changed, they all serve typical grocery store sliced bread, right?

            1. d
              dragonchef Sep 28, 2007 08:36 PM

              Louie Mueller BBQ--Nothing more to say.
              http://www.louiemuellerbarbeque.com/

              I too am a cheesehead, but I cried the first time I tried the brisket.

              I know Taylor is a bit outside of Austin, but there is nothing like it. Lines out the door.

              2 Replies
              1. re: dragonchef
                Knoblauch Sep 28, 2007 09:09 PM

                It might be helpful if you could say a bit more. Did you have a chance to try any other barbecue places when you visited? What made LM's brisket stand out for you? It is great to get people's impressions, but a little context tells me how to use what is written. (Nothing against Louie's but sometimes even bad restaurants have lines put the door.)

                1. re: Knoblauch
                  b
                  BigboyDan Oct 2, 2007 08:31 PM

                  Remember: Lockhart for brisket, Elgin and Taylor for sausage, Austin for ribs, Llano for pork...

              2. woodburner Oct 1, 2007 07:28 AM

                Here's a link to my trip -- the TX part -- with my own humble reviews and lots of pics. All I can tell you is, "Any Given Day."

                On any given day, the piece of brisket you get served might me heavenly... or dry. Same for ever single piece of meat. The dynamics of the piece of meat itself, when it came off the smoker, how perfectly it was cooked, etc., all contribute. It ain't like preparing meatballs and spaghetti (something you can better control).

                Me. I liked Kreuz the best. And Coopers in Llano.

                http://www.cookshack.com/barbeque_gui...

                1. g
                  gntlmn6464 Oct 3, 2007 03:39 PM

                  Very astute pallate you have there! I think the lockhart places especially Kruetz are vastly overrated, but sometimes they are nirvana! I am from Austin and have eaten bbq for the past 42 years, and my all time favorite, best ever, I would walk 10 miles barefoot to eat them were the ribs at the Rendezvous in Memphis, almost orgasmic, if you haven't tried them do. Ed

                  1. c
                    coppellite Oct 11, 2007 03:06 PM

                    That's strange about City Market. It's been packed every time I've gone and always wonderful. I seem to remember being warned to avoid a nearby BBQ in Luling that's not nearly as good. Hope you didn't go to the wrong one! The sausage ('hots' as they call em) is out of this world imho.

                    Glad you enjoyed the trip, otherwise.

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