Saturday, February 26, 2011

BBQ Road Trip!!!

Last weekend a friend of mine came into town with his girlfriend and stayed with us. They had mutual friends in town for a conference and decided to make a weekend out of it. Their big plan for Saturday was to eat as much BBQ as possible, and take back some to their families. Chris and I were lucky enough to go along on their Texas BBQ road trip. I have always heard on TV how great the BBQ in Lockhart is, but had never been. Their plan was to hit three or four places, with time the limiting factor.

City Market BBQ

My friend's brother had warned us that if we didn't get to the place in Luling (right outside of Lockhart) that they would run out early in the day. Many people claim that Luling, not Lockhart, has the best BBQ in the state of Texas. To me as a Texan, that translates into: The best BBQ in the world. So, despite our growling stomachs and the smell of BBQ as we drove through Lockhart, City Market in Luling was our first stop. This place had something that no other BBQ joint I've ever been to had: a smoke room, which seemed as intimidating as the Soup Nazi's line on Seinfeld. You stood in line that snaked through the seating area, looking at the Plexiglas walls that kept the smoke inside a large room. When it looked like there was enough space for your party, you stepped through a slamming patio door into the room where everything was stained brown-yellow from years of smoke. We knew we would smell amazing for the rest of  the day. We got pork ribs, brisket and sausage. The brisket was great, no doubt, but the sausage was like none I'd ever had. It wasn't packed tightly into the casing, so you couldn't have sliced it into neat slices. It was uniquely seasoned and fabulously smoky. There was a rub on the brisket, giving it a somewhat salty crunchy crust. Yu-um.

Kreuz's Pits

The next place we headed was Kreuz's in Lockhart, which was much bigger. The pits here were clearly visible behind the cash registers in a very large open-air concreted room. The folks at Kreuz's are from the school of no sauce. They are most famous for their beef ribs, which have been a favorite of mine since I had my first teeth. Needless to say, I was very disappointed when we got there and they were momentarily out. We got brisket and sausage to compare. The brisket, I felt, had less of a BBQ (smoke + seasoning) flavor, which could be good or bad depending on how you like your BBQ. If you like the meat to shine through, this is your place. I was slightly partial to this over City Market, but it's impossible to tell without a side-by-side comparison. [A note I'll throw in now that I'm making comparisons and recommendations: I don't eat lean brisket.] The one thing we all argeed on, first bite in, was that the sausage here was good, but not as good as City Market's. I'll be back again to try those ribs.

Smitty's

We didn't get make it to Blacks because it was getting late, but we made a quick stop at Smitty's on our way out. This place is the smallest. You walk in and are met with the intense heat of the burning wood on one side of a pit. As a heat-hating person of Nordic and German descent, I had to find somewhere else to stand. We ordered brisket to go. While we waited for Richard and Robyn to order, Chris tried to get me to open the bag and sample a quick bite. It was so so hot that I couldn't get a slice out of the package. When we heated it up for lunch the next day, it jumped out even as leftovers as fantastic. The meat was slightly dry from being reheated, but still very tender and tasty. We'll definitely have to revisit Smitty's to see just how great it is hot out of the smoker.

That was our whirlwind tour of Texas BBQ. We've been to Salt Lick countless times and now that I've been to Lockhart I feel like I can really call myself a Texan.

For more of the pictures, check out Chris's Photos section in his blog: http://www.chrisperez.net/2011/texas-bbq-trip/

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