One Day Visit to Lockhart
- Chefdavis May 23, 2006 01:18 AM
OK In addition to my Austin travels, I am going to Lockhart for one day.
Is one of the legendary three better OR shoud I get a few items from each of them
For Instance, should I get Brisket from Black's and Sausage from Kreuz's etc
Please let me know your thoughts
If your stomach space is limited, go only for the brisket. A grown man can eat half a pound and be full, or a full pound and be painfully full. You can order quarter pound portions at each place. You do the math.
If you can afford the time and gas to drive another 15 miles south on 183 to Luling, you can eat the best barbecue in the state at City Market. Get fat brisket, sausage, onion, sour pickle, and soda crackers. No sauce. Better than anything in Lockhart.
IMO, Black's is a waste of time. I just got back from a lunch at Smitty's and the pork chop, fatty brisket and sausage were all excellent. On my last trip to Kreuz a month ago, the fatty brisket and sausage were good but not excellent. The pork chop was excellent. On a good day, Kreuz beats anything. On a bad day, I'd rather be at Smitty's. Smitty's wins on atmosphere, in spite of the constantly blaring TV they've added to the dining room.
Stop at all three since they are all of two minutes apart.
The brisket at Black's is excellent and the best single barbecue meat in town. You can order the brisket "by the slice" (ask for thick cut) and they offer comp. bread or crackers (locals go for crackers). DO NOT ruin the brisket with the barbecue sauce. Tabasco is OK. Then head over to Smittys and check out the place with great atmosphere and old brick pits. Sausage and pork chops are great, skip the "clod". Kreuz offers exactly the same cuts of meat as Smitty's. Smitty's meats seem to have more post oak smoke flavor. Also, buy some of their "homemade wieners" to go that they sell frozen in ziploc bags in the meat market area at the front of the building. These ain't your typical hot dog.
My friends and I have decided that Smitty's has the best meats (I love their sausage), and Blacks is the best place to go if you want a more rounded meal (good sides, pies, etc). Kruez seems like an oversized, Disneyland copy of Smitty's (essentially what it is, given thier history), and we don't have much use for it. In the old places than have been operating the same way for years (Smitty's and Blacks) the idiosyncrasies like no credit cards (I think that's the case at Smittys), ordering sides in a separate room from the meat, no utensils, limited sides, etc are charming and historical. When you sink a load of cash into a brand new building for a brand new restaurant like Kreuz did, don't just try to copy the old place, it just seems fake. Plus, the times we've eaten at Kruez, the meat didn't hold up to Smittys.
Did a BBQ comparison tasting a while back. Keeping in mind that cuts of meat vary & cooks change over time, so any place might beat out the others on a given day. We compared 3 Lockhart places & Rudy's in San Antonio.
These were our results:
1 Black's (spicy) ...as you see, Black's tied w/ Smitty's
1 Smitty's (salty) ...so that choice depended on how you like it
3 Rudy's (bland) <-- dogfood by comparison
4 Kreuz's (bland & dry)
2 Kreuz's (good enough flavor, but had very mealy texture)
Ed above is pretty right on EXCEPT why even put Rudy's into the mix? They are one of the WORST chain BBQ places and should not even be in the converation with the grat BBQ "joints" in Central Texas.
Several months ago, I went to all three twice, plus Luling City Market once. Each of the three in Lockhart changed a little, but all had a base that was very good. Both times, though, everyone in my group (4 people, one Texan, two experienced BBQ eaters/travellers, and a NYer) thought Black's brisket was clearly the best. It was the juiciest, nice and smoky, had a great texture, and a very good bark. From there it varied. But most of us really liked the prime rib at Kreuz's, actually, though the stuff at Smitty's was pretty close. The Texan loved the pork chop at Smitty's, if I remember correctly. Can't remember how the sausages stacked up for sure, but I think on flavor we liked the stuff at Black's, but on texture the stuff at Smitty's. One of the guys didn't care for most of the sausage in Texas, though. Too meaty tasting, I think, without enough spice.
I have some pics here:
Smitty's is waaaaaay cool, but because of that, I think it gets more praise than it might deserve, though it deserves a lot of praise. But you have to figure that the environment is going to color some people's opinions and I think you see that in how Black's and Kreuz sometimes get disparaged for their decor.
btw, none of us liked Luling City Market much at all. Didn't really think it was in the same class as the other threee. Granted, we only went to it once, but nothing they did was nearly as good from what we tried. I still remember how greasy the sausage was and how dry the brisket was. I can get better back home in Portland, OR.
If you like sausage, the stuff in Elgin always gets a lot of praise. However, I think the sausage I liked best on the trip might have been at Mueller's in Taylor. Had some other very tasty Q there as well, although sometimes the texture wasn't at its best. I love the fact they have wireless internet, too. It's such a cool looking old building and then they have wireless internet. Such a contrast.
Well, that's the thing about 'cue. On any given day, quality can vary widely even at the top places. Just a couple of weeks ago I stopped by Smitty's for some excellent brisket. It was the best I'd had in a month even though I purchased it 15 minutes before the 6:00 closing time, which is just asking for trouble. Did I overrate Smitty's due to their "waaaaaay cool" vibe? Was I so distracted by the environment that I couldn't taste the real quality of the smoked meat? Your message implies as much. And that verges on being insulting. Serious 'cue devotees don't even notice their surroundings.
The most dependable chowhounds on the board spend years eating 'cue in order to come up with their "best of Texas brisket" lists. Some--like johnm and John Scar--seem to stop at every tiny shack that has smoke coming out of it. That's how you find the good stuff.
By the way, I also like Kreuz and Luling's City Market, along with dozens of other places in the state. Yet every time I go to Black's, the bark on the brisket is inedible--jerky-like and overseasoned—and the meat is dry. I may just have bad luck there. But I'll keep trying.
The day I ate brisket at Black's, it was some of the best I've ever had. Their sausage is too dry, in my opinion.
I've never been to Kreuz on a "good day"--very disappointing.
I admit I haven't been to Smitty's yet, at all.
I like the idea of eating a little bit of brisket (and maybe a little bit of sausage) at each of the big three. If you take a cooler, you can always bring the rest home.
As far as which is "best", it probably just depends on the time of day, the phase of the moon, and who can say what else....
I'm sure by now you've made your visit, but if not, I'll add my $0.02. Late last year my wife indulged me as we hit Smitty's, Black's, then Kreuz's all inside an hour and a half, getting about a 1/2" slice (approx. 1/4 lb) of fatty brisket from each. The Smitty's slice was the single best piece of meat I've ever eaten, rich, smoky, moist, tender. Blacks was tough and dry, Kreuz's too salty. But I understand that on a different day, my experience might have been completely different. Different brisket flats cooked side by side can vary in tenderness and flavor. Most certainly eat early in the day to avoid overcooked briskets. I agree with earlier comments to avoid the shoulder clod at Kreuz's - it's too lean and consequently gets dry. Also agree with another poster who suggested City Market in Luling - outstanding (though the Smitty's slice was still the best).