H-town to San Antonio - BBQ? Luling/Lockhart?
Ok, I have spent the last two nights perusing every single post about bbq in Luling and Lockhard, trying to narrow down which of these places we are going to drop in on this week on our family Spring Break getaway.
Needless to say - I'm confused as ever! SO many different opinions out there - some dates from several years ago - and so I finally had to create an account here just so I could ask - what's the current favorite??
I'd love to sample more than one, but since we are traveling with three munchkins - aged 4-9 - that might be asking too much, so I'm hoping to narrow it down. Maybe we can stop at one on the way in and one on the way back - and on the way back grab some to go!!
I have a preference for ribs and pulled pork, whereas hubby is a brisket and sausage guy. Kids prefer sausage too - but their palate isn't as picky as long as there is sauce. I do like sausage as well - but haven't had any decent sausage at a bbq establishment well - ever. It's always too moist and just has a texture I don't care for - so I'm hoping for something immensely better at one of these places!
SO - if you could only stop at one place - what would it be??
Thanks for all the replies! I have to say I loved Jaymes's idea of hitting three places - we are going to have to try that. I initially thought trying to make more than one bbq stop at a time might be a little much, but we can't resist the temptation.. Come to think of it - we have had Smitty's at a friends in Round Rock - they drove out to pick it up for dinner one night when we were there! My James said it was fabulous, I don't really remember the specifics.
We are leaving Houston tomorrow so I'll let you guys know how it goes! What's the line like on a weekday? Do we need to get there early?
Hi! Yes, we did. But, my ambitions were a bit too high. We detoured into Lockhart - but everyone was too cranky for any stop offs so we just went straight to Blacks. Not too crowded -but there was a short line. We got brisket and sausage and baby back ribs.
I was pretty geared up for some bbq after reading all the stuff on Chowhound. Honestly, I don't even really just love it - I mean - I like it ok - but to seek it out on purpose is rare for me - but of course we do eat it often because my husband loves it - and it's a staple at every single family function - this is Texas after all. I think I just grew up having brisket practically once every other week and I kind of take the stuff a little for granted - it's like "brisket again???" But, my husband is an Arksansas native - and not from a family that cooked a lot - and so to him - any type of bbq is at the top of his list - him and my stepdad - and well all the men in my family are pretty into it. But, reading all the chowhound post had me dreaming about bbq - I kept talking about it to my mother who thought I'd lost my mind - she said she never heard me get so excited about that before - ha!
Ok, so that being said the brisket was amazing - totally get what everyone is talking about. Normally that's not something I order, but I LOVED it here. Sausage was fabulous - not that yucky stuff I'm used to seeing in a bbq joint - kids all ordered that and ate their entire link. Baby Back ribs - blah - I should have tried the other ribs. Sauce was possibly my favorite - I am always yucked out by how strong the flavor is on most store bought bbq sauce - so this was great - enhanced rather than masked. :)
I'll have to upload my pictures and attach one here. Took a photo of the kiddos standing out front - just for proof we went - ha!
Would I go back? Uhhh - not until all my kids can go to the b athroom by themselves - me and my four year old trying to pee in that tiny space was just too much for me - but she really liked the macaroni and cheese.
Very bummed we didn't get to try City Market because I'd read some pretty fabulous things about their ribs - but we ended up detouring through San Marcos on the way home and having dinner at Outback and not even leaving the area until after 9 pm.
So, next time - going to try City Market on the way in. We'll be back - I bought season passes to Sea World so we could do the new water park this summer. :)
You guys rock! I read my hubby Chowhound comments on bbq joints the entire way there - lol - by the time we got there he could barely contain his excitement!
Have no idea as to your time and patience restraints, but if I were you, I'd definitely try to jog north on 183 off of I-10 to Lockhart on your outbound when you've probably got more of each.
Hwy 183 crosses I-10 at Luling, and it'll take you about 15-20 minutes north from I-10 to reach Lockhart, but I'd skip Luling on the outbound. Get to Lockhart, and hit Smitty's first, just to see that building (be sure you walk through the whole thing), and grab a sample of the brisket and sausage and maybe a rib or two to go. Put that into your baby-bag that you undoubtedly travel with, and then get back into the car and drive the one-minute, four-block jaunt over to Black's. Black's, for one thing, has a full buffet bar of sides, something none of the other iconic Central Texas BBQ joints have. You can get the sorts of things that comprise a real, complete meal for kids - like mac & cheese, etc. Sit down, have your meal, compare your brisket and sausage from Smitty's with Black's.
Then get back into the car and get to your destination, either San Antonio or Houston (you didn't say).
On your return trip at the end of your vacay, you'll undoubtedly be tired, and your time and patience will have worn thin.
So then you can just stop in at Luling at City Market and give them a try. It's "Easy-off-easy-on," as they say in the "highway stops" world.
That way, you will have sampled three of the best-known.
A couple of caveats: if you're traveling both directions on a Sat, you're fine. Just be sure you're planning on doing this around lunchtime, and not for dinner, when all the good joints will probably be out of the best cuts. And, if you're traveling outbound on Sat, but return on Sunday, that could present a problem with this scenario, as City Market in Luling is closed on Sundays. Or at least, they always have been. I'd suggest you double-check.
But I'd suggest you put your fondness for pulled pork on the back burner. So to speak. For now.
We hit City Market in Luling on an extremely good day. We had the moist brisket and sausage... at that moment, it was our winner of the best BBQ ever. I haven't been in about a year and a half and am currently enamored by Franklin in Austin... they do have the pulled pork that you love but the long wait and detour may be tough on the kiddos. I hope to be trying John Mueller's in Austin in the very near future. Finally, another place I've wanted to try that gets good reviews is Two Brothers BBQ in San Antonio... I know I traveled outside the scope of your question, TMI, I just wanted to share.
I think if you've never been to any of the Lockhart places then Black's is a good place to start. They seem more "user friendly" to me than some of the others. The counter guys are very helpful and you will see all the standard side dishes, etc, that you're probably used to. They are also open on Sunday - which is nice.
The BBQ is awesome, too, of course. Ribs and Brisket are amazing. Blacks makes thier own sausage which a lot of people love (I didn't really but I'm no sausage expert).