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I ate at Texas Monthly’s Top 5 BBQ Pits in One Weekend.

Like many CH readers, I wondered about the Texas Monthly list. Are these five places really the best? I was especially curious about Snow’s BBQ in Lexington. Could a pit only open on Saturday really beat the great pits of Lockhart, Luling and Taylor? There was only one way to find out. And so, on one Friday and Saturday I ate at all five.

It’s not really that difficult. You simply have to pace yourself. It’s like going to Napa Valley and hitting many wineries. Also, it helps if you don’t fill up on bread/crackers or eat sides. On Friday, I sampled Kreuz Market and Smitty’s Market in Lockhart and then City Market in Luling. On Saturday (after a stop at Round Rock Bakery) it was Snow’s and then Louie Mueller in Taylor. After that, all I really wanted was a salad.

Here is what I found.

1. It is worth it to drive to Snow’s if only for the brisket.

I hit Snow’s at 9:30 on Saturday morning. Already, there was a line and a full if small dining room. In talking to Kerry Bexley and the amazing Tootsie Tomanetz they don’t run out quite as quickly as they used to. This is because their mail order operation has allowed them to expand the number of pits. The brisket is so tender and flavorful. I don’t like burnt ends normally but these are amazing. The other meats are good but not quite as good as the brisket. So, if your BBQ favorite meat is ribs or sausage, Snow’s won’t be the great experience as it is for a brisket lover. Still, I’d go anyway if simply to see the pits and eat BBQ at 9:30 without feeling weird. The order for the other four for brisket was City Market, Smitty’s and then Louie Mueller’s (I didn’t have brisket at Kreuz because they had smoked prime rib and Smitty’s was out. However, I thought the brisket at City Market was better than the prime rib at Kreuz).

2. City Market in Luling is the best overall.
Snow’s has great brisket. But I believe City Market’s sausage and ribs are better. Also, its hours are better and they don’t run out of meat. If you could only go to one pit on a Saturday morning I might lean towards Snow’s. But as a general one pit rule I’d go to City Market over Lockhart and Taylor. This brings me to my next point.

3. The Austin tollroads changes everything.

It used to be so hard to get to these pits. Now, SH 130 ends about ten miles North of Lockhart (24 miles North of Luling) and cuts travel time to Lexington and Taylor. At some point, these pits will become suburban restaurants. Already, the building that houses Smitty’s also hosts a gym. I hope easier access doesn’t ruin these places but you may want to hurry.

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  1. Even though it's 2009, you get the 2008 ChowHound Spirit Award for personifying the purpose of ChowHound with your exploration.

    Fine work...

    1. I did something similar and hit Kreuz, Luling City Market, and Louie Muellers all in one week.

      Muellers: Brisket was fantastic. Very tender and seasoned perfectly. Ribs had good flavor but were a little bit tough. I didn't care for the sausage but the rest of the party seemed to enjoy it. It had a crumbly consistency much like the Lockhart style sausage.

      Kreuz: The brisket was very tough and fatty. I was very disappointed. The ribs were over seasoned and very dry. I'll have to go back again as I think I caught them on an off day.

      Luling City Market: The brisket was tender and moist, flavored well. Ribs were excellent, slightly crispy on the outside and melt in your mouth tender. Sausage was also excellent, tasted like it was all beef. Probably the best sausage I've had at a bbq joint. I'm usually not big on sauce but I thought theirs was great.

      Rankings:

      Brisket:
      1. Louie Mueller
      2. Luling City Market
      3. Kreuz

      Ribs:
      1. Luling City Market
      2.. Louie Mueller
      3. Kreuz

      Sausage:
      1. Luling City Market
      2. Louis Mueller
      3. Kreuz

      I would agree that Luling was the best overall.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Madcap

        I have noticed over the years that the brisket quality can vary a bit at all of the Lockhart joints, but one thing for sure: don't get the lean brisket. It is usually too tough.Always go with the fatty brisket. And I don't think anyone really goes to Lockhart for ribs, that's not what they're known for. It seems a waste of time that you went to Kreuz's and didn't try to get the thick BBQ pork chop. Insanely great.

        1. re: taliesin15

          I can't disagree strongly enough. Fat is just fine if it is distributed evenly enough that it doesn't form a distinct element. But fatty brisket almost always has strands of fat that are pretty nasty to bit into. The texture sometimes makes me nearly gag. Yes, it's easy to overcook lean brisket and dry it out too much, but a properly done lean brisket is infinitely superior.

          1. re: klanch

            But it surely is a matter of taste.

              1. re: agoodbite

                No need to guess. Feel confident.

            1. re: klanch

              I couldn't disagree more .... With "lean brisket," my motto is garbage in, garbage out!

                1. re: kayakn

                  Plenty of foods, muscle included, have flavor without the need for lots of fat. Old wives tale

          2. A few thoughts: First, this report probably belongs on the Texas board, not the Austin board. Second, the gym next door to Smitty's has been there for at least a decade, so no reason for alarm. Third, the ribs at Smitty's and Kreuz have been bad for as long as they have been served. The pork product to get at both places are the delicious and more consistent pork chops. Fourth, when Kreuz and Smitty's are firing on all cylinders, they turn out brisket that beats the prime rib.

            3 Replies
            1. re: austinfood

              Your point about the correct board brings up an interesting question. Is the limits of the Austin board the Austin city limits? Or is the limit a box of say Elgin, Driftwood, Lockhart and Round Rock? With the new toll roads making it easier to get to the pits, where does Austin stop and Texas begin?

              1. re: overresearched

                Something else to be considered IMO, is what is a "distance" varies with one's locale. For example in West Texas driving 100 miles or so for lunch is no big deal, whereas driving the same distance in the NE might be unheard of. I personally consider Austin and the area as going as far south as San Marcos and as far north as Georgetown. I drive to Georgetown on a fairly regular basis to have lunch with a friend. Likewise to Lakeway,Liberty Hill, and to the east, Bastrop. But that's just me. J.

              2. re: austinfood

                I think its limiting to the purpose of this forum to put arbitrary limits on what should or shouldn't pertain. While some people may live in south Austin and think of Round Rock as too far, to those in north Austin, Round Rock is a mere five to ten minutes away and vice versa. If the post is irrelevent to chowhounds reading the Austin board, likely there would be no productive posts on it hence it would fade into the archives no harm no foul.
                On the positive note, maybe someone who never would think about visiting the Texas board would read this and hear about some place they had never heard of before. If it was never posted, they would have then missed out on the great BBQ available within a short drive.
                Speaking as someone new to the forum (and liking it!), it is not immediately obvious that posts about the outlying towns around Austin would be relevent to the Texas board and not the Austin one.
                I say let the chips fall where they may!

              3. I haven't been to Luling in a couple of years, but I recall their pork ribs had some sort of barbecue sauce on them when smoked. Is that still the case?

                1. I was wondering, is it considered improper etiquette to request fat to be trimmed off your brisket before they weigh it? Snow's brisket is the best I've had, but they do leave quite a layer of fat on top (I know, I know, that's where the flavor comes from, but, still)..

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: luggage512

                    It might be considered in bad taste, but requests to trim the fat are so ubiquitous these days, I can assure you that any BBQ place is happy to do this (though they probably think like I do, what a waste!).