BBQ Pilgrimage to Lockhart, Texas-One hour, $20, Three stops

As a Texan, this has always been on my bucket list yet I’ve never gone to explore the much-hyped BBQ joints of Lockhart, Texas. These have been proclaimed by many publications as the best that our great state has to offer (and by default, that means greatest anywhere to us Texans).

After finishing my first year of law school and my first year outside of my home state, I needed to satisfy my long-suffering, BBQ-loving palate. After a great few days in Houston and dinners with boardmembers Tom Gutting, Daniel Hall and William Meznarich, I hit the road solo for BBQ Mecca. I apologize for the bad pictures, but I only had my blackberry camera:

First stop 10:57AM- Smitty’s-
Smitty’s was established in 1999 due to a family feud which I can’t claim to fully understand. It goes something like this- Mr. Schmidt (Smitty) purchased Kreuz Market in 1948 and his family ran it thereafter. In 1999, there was a split among siblings and the son now runs Kreuz Market while the daughter runs Smitty’s.

Smitty’s is located in downtown Lockhart and sits where the original Kreuz Market used to be. Kreuz Market has moved to a newer, larger venue about a mile away. I walked in and was greeted by a no frills, smokey BBQ joint that was a snapshot into small town Texas life in the 1950s or 1960s. I ordered a few slices of brisket and a hot link along with white bread.

I learned about what type of place I was in when I asked for a fork at the counter. The man acted as if I insulted his mother and responded, “We ain’t got no forks.” My response, “Good. Thanks”. The brisket was amazing and extremely rich and flavorful. At the time, I thought it was ultra fatty but that was before I went to Kreuz Market. My BOTD. The sausage was delicious but a little on the rare side for my tastes. I’d recommend it nonetheless. They served sauce upon request and it was tangy, but frankly pedestrian. I doubt they put too much into it as they don’t emphasize sauces on their meats.

Second Stop 11:17AM- Black’s BBQ-
Black’s was by far the most touristy of the three joints and is located downtown also. Black’s is easy to find due to the numerous billboards and signs telling you exactly where to turn to get there. I had a small sample of the brisket and realized it wasn’t in the same league as Smitty’s. I ordered a few ribs and a link of sausage. They have jalapeno cheddar, garlic, and original. The man gave me a jalapeno cheddar link and I also ordered a Dr. Pepper. The ribs were wet-rubbed and weren’t overly smoky which is crucial in my book. The meat was tender and slid right off the bone. Black’s offered a sauce that was much more tangy and less sweet. The jap cheddar sausage was OK but nothing I’d drive to Lockhart just to eat. Black’s was the only restaurant out of the three that readily offered BBQ Sauce and the only one that gave me a plate and a fork! The other two serve your food on butcher paper and offer a knife.

Third Stop 11:40AM- Kreuz Market-
Kreuz Market is the original Lockhart BBQ joint that started it all in 1900. While Black’s advertises itself as the oldest same-family-owned BBQ place, everyone knows that Kreuz reigns king. The venue is huge and can’t be missed off of US 183 heading to Austin. Kreuz Market offers a brisket which is VERY fatty and a leaner cut as well. I went with the fatty brisket along with a hot link. Since I had $1.50 remaining of my $20 bill, I ordered some German potatoes. The brisket was fantastic which ridiculous richness of flavor. There was so much fat to cut around and napkins are a must. I wish I could have tasted Smitty’s brisket next to Kreuz’s but I have to give Smitty’s the nod on this day. Both were insanely great though. The link was soft and a bit spicy which I prefer. The german potatoes were watery and crunchy. I wouldn’t recommend these if you’re expecting potato salad. No mayo used here.

Even though I only had about 30 miles left to Austin, it was honestly a struggle to stay awake. If you’re ever in the area, this “trifecta” is a great experience and one that every BBQ lover needs to try.


Kreutz Market

Nice David, I just had lunch and those pics made me hungry again.

Hope you had some syrah, zin, or tannat in a styrofoam cup for the car!

Well done. I too prefer Smittys, but the difference between it and Kreuz is minuscule and might even vary day to day. However Black’s should be ashamed of itself. It’s time for that ‘single-ownership family’ to sell it to someone who knows how to do Q. Until they do, I’ll never go back.

I couldn’t agree more Chuck. The only decent thing Black’s had was the ribs. Have you been to Chisholm Trail, the other big joint in town? I was tempted but didn’t really have time.

No, never had any more room in my stomach to hit Chisholm Trail, but it looks like a tour bus kind of place. Doubt I’ll ever find the caloric room to go there, too many other great places to go within 20-30 miles.

I agree as well.

I still like the Smitty’s ambience (especially since it used to be Kreuz’s and I have many memories of going to the original Kreuz’s over the years). Absolutely do not get sauce at either Smitty’s or Kreuz’s. Indeed, I find it borderline heretical that they even have it. I also am not too keen on their decisions (a few years back) to start serving beans and potato salad. It used to be meat, meat, meat, and meat, with some raw onion, pickles, tomato, avocado, and cheese. Oh, and beer. Guess ya’ gotta change with times though.

Also, try the pork chops. They are ultra-mega-awesome. Indeed, I never get brisket at either Smitty’s or Kreuz’s. Pork chops and sausage. Yum!

That’s some strong barbecue. Awesome report.