EatsBBQ » Lockhart

Black’s BBQ in Lockhart, TX

Our last stop in in Lockhart is at Black’s BBQ. Eric had visited here a few weeks ago when I wasn’t available. He decided to roll back down there with me so that I could try it out. He initial evaluation of it was essentially “Meh”.

So when you arrive into Lockhart, you will see signage for Black’s BBQ all over the place. Every side of town and all over town seem to have bill boards for it. When you actually get to the restaurant a couple of blocks off of the square, their sign’s aren’t nearly as robust. The building has a wood facade on the outside to give a rustic feel.

Photos by Ray Pierce

When you walk in every picture on the wall seems to have one of the Black’s in it. The booth that we sat in had pictures of Norma and Edgar Black’s Wedding, Aggie Ring Dance, and posing with Senator Lloyd Doggett. They have definately infused themselves into the dining area. Another thing that I noticed were the mounted Longhorn’s all around the top of the wall in dining area. Lots and lots of stuff on the wall to gander at while you are eating.

We walked through the tiny hallway to get to the serving line. Due to the space constraints I didn’t take any pictures in that area because I couldn’t get my camera to focus correctly or have line of sight to what I wanted to see.

I ordered essentially the same thing that I always do. 1/2 lbs. moist brisket, 2 pork spare ribs, and a link of sausage. They serve their sides off of a buffet tray serving area. They are after my heart though. They had candied yams on there topped with some marshmallows. I picked up a side of potato salad as well.

The course ground beef sausage had a pretty good smoke flavor, but like my other experiences outside of Elgin, TX the sausage just wasn’t that good in my opinion. The pork ribs had a great smoke flavor, they pulled apart nicely and weren’t overcooked. They didn’t seem to have a very heavy rub on them.

Now the best for last. The brisket was amazing! Great smoke flavor, super tender, and satisfying. This brisket is something I would come back for. This redeemed my hope in Lockhart to produce a good brisket since the other three places I’ve been to there just didn’t meet that test. Black’s makes a good sauce, it’s pretty tangy and more savory than sweet in my opinion. Although you don’t need to use it at all on the brisket.

Eric seemed to be of the same opinion as I this trip, and I believe that it may have made both of us question if we had just gotten bad batches of brisket at the other places in Lockhart. I know I was pleasantly surprised by Black’s and I’ll be going back there.

Black's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Chisholm Trail in Lockhart, TX

Eric and I were back in action in Lockhart this weekend. This time we tried out Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Cue. This place seems to be recommended by people local to the area more than the other three big name places (Kruez’, Smitty’s, Black’s) in town. This is the new kid on the block in Lockhart and it’s been around since 1974.

When you walk in your are greeted with old photo’s and maps of Texas. They were hung in the 80′s and haven’t been updated since. They still show Ronald Reagan as the President. The parking lot of full, but there wasn’t a line outside. It was to the door though, but moved along pretty quickly.

Photos by Ray Pierce

When you get to the ordering area, you pick up a plate and choose what sides you want from a buffet serving line. They have quite the selection of sides and salad bar for a BBQ joint. They don’t just serve potato salad and beans like most, which was a welcome change. I picked out potato salad (because I like it and it’s what I’ve gotten everywhere else) and some fried okra. I love me some fried okra, even though this appeared to be pre-breaded and from the freezer.

Once you make your way to the cutter section of the line, you’ll be asked what it is that you want. I picked out moist brisket, pork spare ribs, and a link of sausage. I try every week to make the same basic selection so that I can compare apples to apple so to speak. And to wash it all down was a glass of sweet tea.

The brisket was tender, which from my experience in Lockhart up to this point seems to be a rare occasion. There was still quite a bit of the fat that hadn’t rendered into the meat as you can see in the pictures. There wasn’t a lot of smoke penetration into the meat itself though which was disappointing. It was also a little light on the rub. Chisholm Trail does serve sauce with their meat unlike Kruez and Smitty’s. It’s a bit sweet with a tang to it. The pork ribs had a good flavor, but were a bit over cooked on the bone end. On the meatier end they were just right. The sausage was decent, but didn’t have much of a smoke flavor at all. It was a course ground beef sausage served in single links.

Chisholm Trail out paces Kruez’s and Smitty’s over all, but it’s still not what I’m expecting from a city steeped in BBQ lore.

Chisholm Trail Barbq on Urbanspoon

Kreuz Market in Lockhart, TX

Kruez Market is one of the more storied BBQ places in Lockhart, the business has been in operation since 1900.  It was originally located and ran in the building where Smitty’s Market is located today.  As I understand it, the Kruez Market was owned by Edgar Schmidt.   The business was left to Rick Schmidt (son), and the building that housed Kruez Market just off the town square was left to Nina Schmidt Sells (daughter).  After a “disagreement” in the late 1990′s, Rick decided to build a new building for Kruez Market on the north side of Lockhart where it resides today.

The building itself is huge and is a rusty barn red color and shape.  When you enter you pass some old scales and equipment from older era.  You wait in line in a central corridor that has dining rooms on either side of it.  The one of the left is not used as much as the other.  The dining room on the right also houses the area where you purchase your sides and drinks, which I assume is why it’s used more.  One you enter the pit area, you are met by two different counters that can serve up to four people simultaneously.  Behind those counters are butcher blocks, and an array of brick pit smokers.  It’s quite a massive room with really tall ceilings.  You get the faint smell of smoke in there, but it is not as concentrated as the other places that we’ve visited in Lockhart.

For today’s order I got 1/2 lbs of brisket, 1 hot beef sausage link, 2 pork spare ribs, and a slice of pit ham.  I also ordered some sauerkraut and a bottled Big Red soda.  The one thing that I’ve been impressed with in Lockhart is the price point of meat.  Generally it’s been about 15 for the amount of meat we order, and another 3 or 4 dollars for the sides and drinks.  Generally in total it’s around $20 for me.

As for the food itself, I’ll start with the best of the day.  The pit ham was delicious.  When we visited a few years ago it was the same, I’m glad it stay consistent.  By it’s nature ham is a bit salty, but not more than my expectations.  The beef sausage link wasn’t really remarkable or flavorful, but it was moist.  If I would have remembered I would have gotten the jalapeno cheese sausage link, at least it had flavor.  The pork ribs were paltry in size (maybe 3/4 of an inch wide), and tough as jerky.  The rub on them was a bit heavy on the salt, but still manageable.  They weren’t what I would serve to my customers.

That brings me to the leather, I mean brisket.  It was so dried out that the strands of meat were snapping.  In my serving I also got a charred in the brisket, which tends to keep a lot of the smoke flavor.  This one though, was like chewing leather, and was left on my plate.  The rub on the brisket was a bit heavy on the salt just like the ribs, but the flavor of the more center cuts was decent.  The meat still maintained a decent sized smoke ring.  All in all, there’s no way that I’ll order the brisket here again.  The sauerkraut was good, but nothing to write home about.  You just don’t see it on many places menus.

Kreuz Market is a significant place for EatsBBQ.  This is the place that we got the idea for putting together a site for BBQ reviews.  So this is essentially where we began.  We had heard from friends, family and coworkers was that the BBQ in Lockhart was the best around.  So we packed up and decided to give it a go back in 2009.  One of the reasons that the idea for this site surfaced was that we were really disappointed in the product that we got.  Much like today’s outing, it didn’t live up to anything that anyone had talked about.  I’m beginning to think that all the talk about Lockhart BBQ is more of a marketing ploy than actually good BBQ.

There’s still a couple of places left that I’m going to try there, but my hope is waning.  Black’s and Chisholm Trail are still on the list to visit.

Kreuz Market on Urbanspoon