There are four distinct styles of barbeque, all named for the region from which they came. There is Kansas City type barbeque , Carolina barbeque, Memphis barbeque and finally Texas barbeque. The variations are as diverse as the pitmasters, but the main criteria are the same.
Kansas City BBQ can be any meat and smoked with any wood, but the difference is the meat is always covered with a wonderfully sticky and messy sweet tomato and molasses sauce.
With Memphis BBQ the meat is hickory smoked pork, wet (slathered in sauce after smoking) or dry (no sauce, just dry rubbed with seasonings and smoked). The sauce is tomato and vinegar.
Carolina BBQ is also pork smoked with hickory. The Carolinians famously smoke the whole hog and are known for their pulled pork. Their sauce is a tangy vinegar, tomato and mustard base.
And then there is Texas. Long known for their love affair with cattle - Texans smoke beef. Great big hunks of meat. They slow smoke beef with their most common woods, oak and mesquite. Texas specialties are sliced beef brisket and link sausage. The jalapeno spiced rubs and long smoke process produce a unique and flavorful product. Sauce? Texas pit masters do NOT want their artistically intense flavors covered up with sauce. Asking for sauce in Texas could be a hanging offense!
A Day in Lockhart
The key to spending the day in Lockhart is to get there early - because the lines can be very long and you don't want to be among the many disappointed latecomers when the "SOLD OUT" sign goes up, which it can easily do by 11 AM.
Lockhart is a small town, with a quaint courthouse square and not much else, but you start smelling the wood smokers up to 10 miles before you reach the town and by the time you get there, self control has escaped out the window and all you want to do is eat, and eat, and eat, and eat. Luckily you have some great choices.
Smitty's The best experience you can have in Lockhart is standing in line inside the back door of Smitty's. As you are waiting, the smells of the wood smoke and the crackling meat sends your stomach to another realm. As you move up the line you find yourself IN the fire pit. The enormous fireplace producing that wonderful smoky smell is directly to your right and you move past it to order lunch by the pound. CASH ONLY. For my money, Smitty's makes the best sausage, hands down of any place in Lockhart and it's only a little above two dollars per ring!
It is one of the oldest barbecue restaurants in Texas that has been continuously owned and operated by the same family. From the creaky wooden sidewalk, customers funnel through a narrow hallway, selecting side dishes before coming to the meat and the register. If it's brisket you're after, this is the place to come. Wet (fatty) or dry (less fat) the brisket here melts in your mouth like butter and the flavors are the best in town. The decor is kind of what you would expect in a place that has been handed down for so many generations, taxidermy and advertising on the walls, names carved into the tabletops and longhorn steer horns hanging everywhere. The people are also what you would expect. Famous Texas hospitality showed as the most current family owner made sure to stop by our table to ask how we liked the dinner! Of course my mouth was so full I could only muffle, "Fammtafschtiick!"
Kruetz Market (pronounced Krites)
In 1999, the son and daughter of Edgar "Smitty" Schmidt--who bought the market from the Kreuz family in 1948--had a falling out, and the original Kreuz split into two. The brother took the name and started a barn-like new place out on the highway that runs to Austin, which is the barbecue called Kreuz Market today, the sister kept the original location and it is called Smitty's (see above).
Kruetz has taken the old family recipes and has added a few of their own. Here is where you will find hot, moist, smoked turkey. Yum! There are no side dishes her per se' but you can add a slice of cheddar cheese, chunk of onion, fresh tomatoes, avocado and your favorite beverage.
To see photos of our experience in Lockhart, Texas, go to IN PICTURES