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june 19 2011 driving from houston to san antonio and back...anything worthwhile to pull over for?

I am willing to drive alittle out of the way for something nice...anything to watch out for?

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  1. Well YEAH!!! Two places, same exit: Mile marker 628 at Hwy 80 to Luling. Buccee's on the south on the feeder road, Luling City Market barbecue to the north on 80 about 10 minutes off the freeway to the best BBQ in the state, say some. Buccee's is just fun and I can't pass it without stopping. You won't either.

      1. re: Lambowner

        i knew you guys wouldn't let me down!!!!

      2. Smitty's in Lockhart is better than Luling Market.

        14 Replies
        1. re: kagemusha49

          It is in my opinion. And actually closer to Luling than I would have thought. About 15 miles further up the road (183). Huh, who knew.

          1. re: Lambowner

            As to who is "better," there's never any consensus. It's impossible to say. Sure, everybody can say, "I like this one or that one better" with impressive conviction, but you'll inevitably have a fight on your hands from folks that disagree with an equal amount of conviction.

            The only thing to do is to try them all. Don't eat a "meal." Get a few slices of the brisket and sausage (and a rib if you must) at City Market in Luling, then drive up to Lockhart and try Smitty's, Black's, Kreuz. You order the meat by the pound, so trying a small sample at each place is easy, common, and won't take you more than 15-20 minutes per place, if that. And don't feel awkward about it, either. It's what everybody does.

            Don't let anybody tell you who's "better."

            Decide for yourself.

            1. re: Jaymes

              The whole purpose of this board is for people to express opinions about the relative merits of various eateries. IMHO Smitty's is better than Luling - but certainly it is worth grazing at all of the big 3 in Lockhart and Luling Market.

              1. re: kagemusha49

                Right you are, Kagemusha49. The whole purpose of this board is for people to express their opinions.

                And MY opinion is that nobody should take somebody else's word for it. For one thing, no matter which restaurant you choose, you'll find equally enthusiastic (and equally positive they're "right") supporters and detractors.

                I'll repeat what I said.

                When it comes to the top 5 iconic Central Texas barbecue joints, don't take anybody's else's word as to who's better.

                Try as many as you can.

                And decide for yourself.

                1. re: Jaymes

                  Jaymes, a great voice of reason. If you eat enough BBQ, sooner or later you'll hit a great day, or a bad day at a specific spot. I love to fish, and you can hit a limit of speckled trout one day, and go back the next and catch one, or none. A great place one day, not so another.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    That's absolutely the truth. I honestly think I've been to all of the "biggies" at least a hundred times, probably more. I never go to Lockhart/Luling without trying at least three, and often all four (City Market, Smitty's, Black's, and less-regularly, Kreuz). The sausage is pretty consistent. The ribs, too. But the brisket, not so much. It's amazing how widely it can vary from day to day, and even from brisket to brisket. After I try them all, I buy quite a lot of the one that I think is best that day (usually the whole brisket) to bring home for the freezer.

                    People obviously have the right to decide for themselves which place is "best" if that's what they wish to do. The only caution I'd give anyone is what I just said to the OP. Don't take anybody else's word for it.

                    Try as many as you can.

                    Decide for yourself.

                    ETA: And honestly, I don't see why that should be so provocative. It's not like I've said to K49, "You're wrong, bub. City Market is light years better." I didn't (and wouldn't) say any such thing. So I don't get what his big beef is (pun intended).

                2. re: kagemusha49

                  What is Luling Market? I'm confused, do you mean City Market in Luling, Luling BBQ, also in Luling, or Luling City Market in Houston? Can you be more specific? How many times have you been to Luling? I've found that I generally like the ribs and brisket at City Market, (in Luling), better than that found in Smitty's, but of course it varies day to day. I might be leaning toward Luling because my uncle had a used car lot there, and a watermelon patch just outside Gonzalez. I do love some prime rib from Smitty's.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    I bet you were great at the watermelon festival! Duh yes I've been to Luling and I had surgery on my arm and am typing left-handed. I was abbreviating City Market in Luling to Luling Market - which is nothing like the excrescence in Houston.

                    1. re: kagemusha49

                      Now THAT's a word! Excrescence. Ha!

                3. re: Jaymes

                  I learned that long ago, which is why I prefaced my first comment with "some say!" Because it's never "everyone agrees that..." But truth is, any of these mentioned are worth a quick side trip, and Luling City Market is closest for those on I-10. We're lucky to have them all.

                  1. re: Lambowner

                    you guys are great....anything else other than bbq...an nice sandwich, a certain rootbeer stand, a place to get fresh fish fried up....never been to texas, cant wait though! and should also put this thread in the san antonio board, you guys all seem to be from the great city of houston

                    1. re: buenosds

                      Buenosds .... are you going to make the drive from Houston to San Antonio and back in one day? That's a lot of driving. And the guys are right -- a lot of these places are closed on Sunday, but maybe someone (and I am thinking of my Houston Chowhound friends) will know of a place that will be open that day so that you can try our (in)famous bbq. The HouChies have a small band of hard core 'q' fans who have been known to drive 300+ miles in a day (out and back) JUST to eat bbq. Start early -- if any place IS open, and worth its sauce, it will run out quickly. And yeah ... go to Buc-Ees -- its jerky heaven.

                        1. re: Cheflambo

                          Not a killer one day drive IMHO. I've done it a couple of times. Heck, one time I drove from Houston to San Antonio via BBQ in Lockhart and then on down to Nuevo Laredo (the city) for tacos al pastor and then on back to Houston - now THAT was a long drive!

              2. I vote for Luling, but that's just me. I like the atmosphere better.

                lso about twenty miles south of I10 at Flatonia is Shiner and the Spoetzl Brewery where Shiner Bock is crafted.

                Then rather than back tracking, you can take Highway 90 to Gonzales and then 183 back up to Luling.

                HOWEVER, please note that both the City Market in Luling and the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner are closed on Sunday and June 19 is a Sunday, I believe.

                Buc-Ees will be open, tho'. (BTW, I've never been in a Buc-Ees; is it basically like the old Stuckeys?)

                P.S. Kreuz's in Lockhart is also closed on Sunday, but Black's is open from 10-8. Smitty's is opened from 9-3.

                Let us know what you wind up doing.

                5 Replies
                1. re: DoobieWah

                  I think James Christian has it right, but for the sake of trying to keep it straight, City Market is in Luling, Luling City Market is in Houston. The latter was apparently started with the help of a former City Market employee who brought recipes over from the original City Market. Also, Kreuz is an offshoot of Smitty's, I think (speculating) after some sort of family feud.

                  1. re: caliking

                    @caliking, there was an extensive article on the whole sordid story quite a few years ago, I believe written by Robb Walsh for the Press. It involved the death of Edgar Schmidt and his unfortunate will which left the Kreuz building with the pit on the courthouse square to his daughter, while leaving the recipe/technique and name to a son. So son walked on down the street and opened Kreuz II and Kreuz I became Smitty's after old forward thinking Edgar. And that was the end of that sibling relationship.

                    1. re: Lambowner

                      Yep, but the "end of that sibling relationship" came a bit earlier. I'm sure the dad thought he was doing the best thing to give each of his children a share in the business, and that would keep them together. But it was very shortsighted. The landlord/tenant relationship is, by its very nature, adversarial. As the years began to pass, the son was doing really well with his famous barbecue joint. He was catering 'cue all over the country, flying to DC, getting interviewed for print, radio, TV, his mug on the covers of magazines, starting an online mail order business. Daughter was watching her brother get rich and famous with limitless future possibilities, and all she had for income was the rent on a deteriorating old building in a little town in the middle of Texas.

                      So when Brother said that he wanted some improvements on the building, and I think much of it centered around the air conditioning, Sister said that she wasn't going to do it, that she liked the building just fine the way it was, it didn't bother her, and if Brother wanted a new air conditioning system and other improvements, since he was making all the money on the business, he could pay for the improvements himself. Brother said he wasn't about to sink a lot of money into a building that he did not own.

                      The squabbling went on for some time, but it was really an unresolvable impasse.

                      So Brother said well fine he'd build his own building. Sister said well fine go ahead.

                      And he did. He build a big (and in my opinion ugly and soulless) "barbecue barn" just north of town. And when the old lease was up, he alerted the media that he was moving and that they should come and cover it. He selected an appropriately large log, stuck one end of it into the fire pit in one of the old meat market smokers and when he had a good flame going on that end, he wrapped chains around the other end, and he and a large adoring crowd dragged the log through the streets, parading the "fire" up to the new place.

                      We were living in Austin at the time, and it was a pretty big deal there. All of the media covered it. There was a full-page spread in the Statesman, complete with photos of Brother and his supporters dragging the burning log.

                      Sister made the improvements on her building. Put her son in charge of the whole operation, and opened her own barbecue joint.

                      I've been to Kreuz Market many times since that move, and I'm sorry, but I don't think it's anywhere nearly so good as it was in the old pits.

                      And besides that, I'm on the sister's side anyway.

                      1. re: Jaymes

                        'He build a big (and in my opinion ugly and soulless) "barbecue barn..."' Apt description! Very funny addendum there, Jaymes, thanks! I don't remember the burning log pull. HA!

                        Interestingly, that Travel Channel restaurant rivalry show called "Food Wars" once featured Smitty's v. Kreuz which I enjoyed. As I recall, the sibs weren't showcased. The "contestants" were the respective pitmasters. And Kreuz's won the vote after a mistake was made by one of the judges and I had to shout, "Smitty's was robbed! Again!"

                  2. re: DoobieWah

                    i will be going from houston on monday and back from san anton on tuesday, so, i am stoked!!

                  3. It's not a restaurant per se, but Kasper's Meat Market in Weimar is definitely worth a detour. 119 E. Post Office Street, just about a mile north of I-10. This family run butcher shop is like stepping back in time, pretty much looks the same as it has for 100 years. Huge cuts of beautiful meat, spicy Czech sausage and some amazing thick-cut peppered bacon. And cheap! If you have a cooler it's worth stocking up.

                    If you are traveling on a Friday or Saturday, Sengelmann Hall in Schulenburg is open for lunch and dinner. Beautifully restored dance hall-saloon that serves German and Czech food with a (somewhat) modern twist. We had a large group for dinner and everyone was tasting each others' plates, raving about the food. It was all delicious. 531 NORTH MAIN STREET - across from the railroad tracks.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: txstephen

                      I'm going to politely disagree about the quality of the meat at Kasper's. Maybe for sausage, but not for beef.