Taste of Texas

by Sarah on November 22, 2011 · 11 comments

Since I am in the middle of my cross country road trip, unsure of my access to internet and/or the energy to blog while moving, I figured now is as good a time as any to reveal a “lost post” that is quite nostalgic for the Texas home I’m leaving behind.

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Way back in July, when my best friend from high school, Liz, came to visit me in Austin, we did something I will always credit as one of my best epicurean adventures in Texas:* we completed a four-stop, self-created, “BBQ Progressive” of Lockhart, home to some of the most well-known Texas BBQ in the state.

*that I completely forgot to tell you about…

After all, before I became a hippie-fied Austin veg-head,
I was a meat-lovin’ Texas cowgirl.
[Also, the Lockhart BBQ restaurants have been on both The Food Network and The Travel Channel...and while it's not like Adam Richman has been there...that's still pretty exciting.]

The two most infamous BBQ joints (and the ones often featured on such aforementioned television programming) are Kreuz Market and Smitty’s. They were originally owned by the same family in the Smitty’s location, until a sibling broke off from the pack^ and opened Kreuz just outside of town. It came upon us first…and so that’s where our BBQ Progressive began!
^although on the website, it says he was “forced out”…oh the drama!
Although Liz and I were slightly confused about how it all worked–the building was ginormous, and at first, it looked like there were no people there at all–the lovely signage helped us find our way.
For the uninitiated (as we were), you go get your meat first, from the pits in the smoky back room.
You place an order for the cuts of meat you want……and they cut it and weigh it for you right then and there.
[We told them we didn't need bread, and the woman serving the meat looked at us like we were crazy...so we took the bread.]
After ordering your meat, you take your parchment package and head into the dining room, where you can order sides, like baked beans, potato salad, or–perhaps only in Texas–avocado.Before this whole adventure in BBQ began, I had consulted with the Texas BBQ expert himself, Drew of Man Up Texas BBQ. He had advised on what to order where, and at Kreuz,* we followed his specifications exactly: pork ribs and ham.
*pronounced like “kites”…but with an r…[I think. ;) ]

The pickles were my own idea.

Although I could have eaten an entire bowl of just bread-and-butter pickles and cauliflower, I was there for the meat. And delicious meat it was. The ribs were my favorite (of the whole day, in fact) with their crisp, peppery crust, surprising in its complexity.

Liz liked the ham. But not being photographed eating. :) *

*Welcome to life as a friend of a food blogger!
Once we’d wiped our fingers with the conveniently placed paper towels…
…we said good-bye to Kreuz Market and headed into downtown Lockhart.
It might have been logical to go to the other family establishment following our foray into the fine tastings of Kreuz, but Black’s came first on the map….so to Black’s we went!

Black’s was different that Kreuz, in that you serve yourself ‘cafeteria-style’ from a bar featuring a plethora of sides that are weighed out with your meat at the end of the line. We had been told to get brisket and beef ribs, but once we saw that a single beef rib would be $20.00 we quickly changed our minds.

Besides, they had smoked turkey. And that was always my favorite.

The brisket was fork tender and succulent, and the smoked turkey inspired a little squeal-and-seat-hop moment. The BBQ sauce was pretty delicious, too.
Using our convenient “Maps” application on our Smartphones, we realized Smitty’s was within walking distance of Black’s.As I love small towns that make me feel like I’m in an episode of Gilmore Girls (even if they are in Texas and not New England), I was happy for the little walk.
We could also convince ourselves we’d burned off some calories in preparation for BBQ Progressive Part 3: Smitty’s Market.
As mentioned before, this was the original location of Kreuz Market, until, unlike Mary J. Blige,* the brothers were unable to avoid the drama in their lives and split.
*”No More Drama”? Anyone? Anyone?In keeping with family tradition, the style of ordering at Smitty’s is the same as Kreuz. A much smaller establishment, you walk down a narrow, dark, smoky hallway to get to the BBQ pit room in the back.Just like Kreuz, you order your meat freshly cut. Unlike Kreuz, the people here were not very nice.*
*Sorry, y’all, it’s the truth.
The dining room is brighter and set up with long cafeteria-style tables. The walls have kitschy memorabilia which made me feel slightly happier, after the brusque interactions with the staff.Pork sausage and ribs were recommended, so pork sausage and ribs are what we got!
The sausage was not a hit with Liz, as it was a very coarse grind and provided a lot of texture which could catch you off guard if you were expecting a smooth, more uniform link. I did, however, love the spice on it.
The ribs were sweet, whereas the ribs at Kreuz were spiced. I must say I preferred the peppery nature of Kreuz.

But at least I had Liz to help me finish off the food. ;)

Did we save any room for dessert? Well, no, not really. But we’d been told our fourth and final stop had to be Chisholm Trail–not for BBQ (or an Elks meeting*) but for cobbler.
*something about that wood paneling…

Hot peach cobbler a la mode, to be exact.
And a more fitting end to the day, I couldn’t imagine.

So which of the BBQ joints was my favorite? Maybe it’s a case of “you always like the first dress you try on the best”* but, overall, I have to say Kreuz wins the day…the staff was kind and helpful, the building was clean and bright, and, oh yeah….those ribs!
*Anyone else heard that about prom and wedding dresses?

I think my face says it all.
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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean November 22, 2011 at 6:47 am

making me miss kc bbq!!

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Corey @ Learning Patience November 22, 2011 at 7:00 am

Love all the BBQ pictures…you look super cute getting all messy!
xoxo from Trinidad

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sarahlearns November 22, 2011 at 8:44 am

i always want to try a restaurant that's been featured on a food show! i still haven't gotten to do that one yet though. mmm, now i want to make bbq this week! screw the turkey + stuffing.

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Lauren November 22, 2011 at 9:21 am

Haha cute pics! :)

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table November 22, 2011 at 9:27 am

Mmmmm… I need to get to Austin one day.

How's the driving going? Are you in VA yet?!

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Fran@BCDC November 22, 2011 at 9:59 am

So, Sarah, do you miss the BBQ? Just curious. The cobbler looks yummy!

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Christin@purplebirdblog November 22, 2011 at 11:21 am

My parents owned a Texas BBQ restaurant many years ago, so I am totally a BBQ nazi. ;)

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atastelife November 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Ohhhh ribs….love 'em so much they were featured on the blog today.

Safe travels!!!!

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Josh November 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm

So nice to have met ya Sarah!

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Maria November 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm

The bag of pickles looks incredibly enticing.

This looks like one of the greatest days ever. Someday I'll make it to Austin!

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vegology November 22, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Wow, I feel full after reading that post and I haven't eaten in hours. Great comprehensive review and photos. Hope the driving is going well!

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