Day 5 – My new, NEW favorite place! Or, I think I ate too much today
Black's Barbeque Lockhart TX
Smitty's Market Lockhart TX
Kreuz Market Lockhart TX
Alamo San Antonio TX
Chris Madrid's Tacos and Burgers San Antonio TX
Six Flags-Fiesta Texas San Antonio TX
After taking the family for a nice driving tour of Austin last night, we drove to McKinney Falls and camped out for the night.
We had a late night snack made up of leftover Elgin hot links and fresh hand made tortillas that we had picked up while at a local HEB grocery store stocking up on water & ice.
I went to sleep believing that I had found the best BBQ and hot links on the planet earth.
Today, I woke up knowing that Lockhart is supposed to be some of the best darn BBQ in Texas, so I drove into Lockhart with an open mind.
Lockhart was a short drive from McKinney Falls and we arrived by 11 am. As we drove in I saw the sign for Kreuz Market but I really wanted to start out tasting from downtown Lockhart at Smitty’s Market first.
As we pulled into downtown all the signs pointed to Blacks Barbeque, literally. For several blocks and even as we traveled down the road into Lockhart, all the road signs we saw were for Blacks Barbeque, boldly proclaiming it to be the “Best in Texas, and therefore the world”.
I had read up on Lockhart BBQ, and I knew of Blacks Barbeque. In fact, it was one of the places strongly recommended by Roadfood for Lockhart BBQ. I also read that it had a solid Texas reputation in Texas BBQ Monthly. But in spite of my research, I still had chosen to only do Smitty’s and Kreuz Markets over Blacks. My reasoning was based on a few trusted recommendations, time and stomach space limitations.
What happened next can only be described as a tourist taking the bait and biting. I drove straight over to Blacks to just “have a look”. Then I went in and ordered. I am so glad I went with my gut and went into Blacks first.
I was warmly greeted at the counter by a friendly young man who I came to find out is the Grandson of Mr. Black himself. This third generation Black was proud of the family’s BBQ tradition and business and offered to give me a kitchen & pit tour explaining how his grandfather had built the pits and even made the butcher block cutting block that they still do all the trimming on today. As with Louie Mueller's, I’m amazed at just how open Texans are to showing off their restaurants and pits, its like complete disclosure, no secrets, just pride in their food..
The smell of the post oak smoldering & meat smoking in those pits was intoxicating.
I finished up the walk though, snapped few pictures and picked up my order and walked out to the car grinning ear to ear. I already knew this was going to be good.
I got to the car and opened the package of ribs, brisket, a couple of hot rings. By the way, in Lockhart they call their “hot links”, “hot rings” since they tie the ends of each link into an individual ring.
I opened the package, got off only one single picture having to move fast because the family swooped in and devoured the entire package like a bunch of piranhas. It was over in minutes, and we all looked at each other in complete amazement , realizing that we all had just shared the same epiphany:
Black’s Barbeque is indeed the BEST in Texas, and therefore, the world!
It seemed like it just would not be fair to go on tasting BBQ after Black’s. But we were on a mission and the BBQ trail needed to be completed. Next up:
Smitty’s had made my list of “must visits” years ago, when I was working for Dell in Austin and several of my Texan counterparts had informed that Smitty’s was the their personal favorite place for BBQ. So I had very high expectations, and I rolled up to Smitty’s with little doubt that it was going to be outstanding. Even though Blacks had been better than Louie Mueller’s or any other BBQ that I’d ever had before in my life for that matter. I was still confident that Smitty’s not only stood a chance, but that it might even best the Blacks experience that I’d just had.
The place definitely had character, and it’s obvious that they're a local town favorite, because they draw in a good crowd . BBQ pits were everywhere with fires a blazing. Inside, the building looked old and worn and dark, maybe even a bit dirty, but the dining area was bright and alive. I got the order “to-go” just like everywhere else, and took it out to the van.
It was a greasy mess!
My throat felt like everything was painted in dripping fat, and even worse the meat was not quite done enough in my opinion. I felt the brisket had obviously had a few hours to go before it should have been served. Texture wise; the brisket was too chewy, ditto for the ribs, and the overly greasy hot rings, which were just OK. Overall, the food was just way too greasy for our tastes.
I was disappointed, not only was Smitty’s not that good, it was the worst of all the Texas BBQ trail places that we hit.
From the BBQ epiphany and euphoric high of Blacks Barbeque, to the greasy bottoming out at Smitty’s, Lockhart still had one more bullet left in its BBQ gun chamber; Kreuz Market, (BTW: the locals pronounce it :Krites”)
Kreuz Market is big. It’s a relatively new building and it sits prominently at the northern edge of the town where you can’t miss it. Inside its beautiful, with two large dining areas. The meat serving and pit area is in open view of the eating public separate from the sides and garnishments counters.
I got a small order “to-go” and took it out out to the van for the Fleisher family analysis.
Kreuz had really good BBQ, we enjoyed everything and ate it all. The meats were all perfectly cooked and I left thinking that Kreuz makes very respectable BBQ. Not the best in town, but still damn good.
Kruez and Lockhart marked the last stop on the Texas BBQ trail for us. It marked the temporary end to eating BBQ until the return leg of our journey when we plan to trek though Kansas City. Right now, we have over 1,000 miles to get to California left to travel.
We left Lockhart at about 1 PM, the next planned family activity was at the Alamo in San Antonio. Onward ho!
We left the Alamo wondering about the rest of the Spanish missions in town, and why every time we get to San Antonio we seem to leave ourselves not enough time to enjoy them. But this trip was going to be different! So I crashed the schedule, and adjusted it to allow for a full tour of all the missions the next day, despite screams of “boring” and “no dad p-l-e-a-s-e!!”
With the hour drive to San Antonio and the Alamo tour plus one mission, enough time had elapsed that dinner was becoming a serious thought. Luckily once again, the folks at Roadfood had a recommendation; Chris Madrids: Home of the Tostada burger!
The food was great, it was actually nice to eat something other than BBQ (Wow! Did I really just type that??!) But it was a nice break, and the kids had ate enough BBQ to last for the next 1,000 miles. But anyway, we enjoyed it. The place was packed, numbers on deli style monitors were blazing as the endless numbers and orders came up.
The fries were fresh hand cut, always a big bonus in my book and the burgers were very tasty, especially the famed “Tostada Burger”. Which deconstructed, consisted of a burger patty on top of a tostada inside a bun. Wild and odd to think of, but it was darn tasty!
We finished dinner around 7PM. San Antonio has a Six Flags park called Fiesta Texas and the kids needed something fun to do and let off some steam so we headed out to the park to cap off the evening.
It had been a long day with allot of amazing food and things to see. Texas is an amazing state with so many sights and tastes it can’t possibly be done in just the few days we had to explore it. But tomorrow after the visits to the missions it’s time to start heading west towards California.
The kids call this “Burt’s happy food face”. They joked with me that they should have snapped a shot of my other face at the Neely’s, I doubt that one would have been fit for publishing!
BTW: This is me at Louie Mueller’s, which officially is my 2nd favorite barbeque place in Texas….and therefore the world!