Lockhart is a nice Texas town – a leafy town square, an ornate courthouse, quiet streets, attractive-looking businesses, and well-kept houses. However, that’s not why we’re here. You and I are here to eat, bubba. Not one, not two, but three of Central Texas’s iconic barbecue joints can be found in this town of 12,000 located 20-some miles from Austin. Take your pick of Black’s, Kreuz Market or Smitty’s. I’ve only eaten at Black’s, but I’m assured all three are wonderful.
Barbecue is almost a religion in the Lone Star State. The tradition in Lockhart dates back to 1900, when the Kreuz family opened its market. Some of the customers look like they’ve been eating there since then. You’ll find the parking area full of pickups owned by guys wearing cowboy hats and boots. No Air Jordans or flipflops here. Eventually, a rift in the family resulted in Smitty’s spinning off. It’s a bit convoluted; you can read the details on the web. I’m betting, however, that you’re more interested in the food. Black’s is the newcomer, having started in 1932.
Texas purists order brisket, but these places do themselves proud with other meats, including sausage, ribs and turkey. I go with the flow and get brisket. At any self-respecting Texas BBQ, the brisket is so tender you can cut it with a plastic knife or fork, but the real purists eat it without utensils. You order by the pound.
Before you come, you might want to Google each restaurant’s web site and check out the menu. Better yet, plan an extended visit, and try all three. Warning: Kreuz and Smitty’s are old school places that serve fabulous meat on butcher paper with no sauce and no utensils. You eat with your hands. Black’s has utensils, a good sauce and plenty of side dishes to go along with your meat and Lone Star beer. Whichever BBQ joint you visit, you’ll find friendly, helpful people. Why not spend the night and try all three. You can do your own BBQ challenge.
According to Expedia, there’s a Best Western in Lockhart, and a nice selection of accommodations in San Marcos, about 12 miles west. Lockhart is a straight shot down US 183 from Austin’s airport.