Here are some photos from yesterday's KLRU Meat Up, an event developed by KLRU to thank donors who supported the station during their August pledge drive. Basically, about 100 people piled onto buses and toured some of the finest barbecue joints in Central Texas, including Black's and Smitty's in Lockhart, and City Market in Luling.
Chet Garner, host of the immensely popular show The Daytripper, acted as our tour guide, making us laugh just by being his charismatic and down-to-earth self. It was such a fun time. I hope that KLRU hosts more events like this in the future.
My favorite part, which I enjoyed even more than getting to eat barbecue all day long, was getting to meet so many friendly and fabulous people. I chatted with one couple about their beautiful young children. (Even though the kids weren't there, I know they're beautiful, because the proud daddy was a quick draw with his iPhone, whipping out photos faster than any gunslinger could have.) The couple said that KLRU, especially their kid's programming, was indispensable to them during their first few years after having children.
Later, I swapped recipe ideas with a woman who wasn't even on the tour with us; she and her husband were just driving through town and couldn't resist stopping at City Market. She gave me two great ideas: homemade cranberry mustard, and homemade cherry butter, made with fresh cherries. She stressed that I should really wait until cherry season comes around again before trying to make it, so you know I liked her immediately. I could have talked to her all day.
Most fun of all, though, was getting to spend the day with my mother. She had a great time, and I bet I could persuade her to do it again without too much effort.
Thanks again to everyone who pulled together to make this such a fun event.
Black's BBQ in Lockhart
Not only does Black's do excellent barbecue, but they have their customer relations system down pat. After eating, we were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen and pits by Kent Black himself. He handed out business cards with 3rd Generation Pitmaster printed on them, along with Twitter, Facebook, and Yelp logos. They may be country, but they're working social media like old pros.
They still cook from old family recipes, according to Kent Black.
All in all, I'd recommend Black's for the barbecue and the friendly staff. I liked the brisket best, since the sausage was a little greasy for my taste. Their sauce is particularly good. Mr. iPhone gunslinger said he thought he could detect a cinnamon flavor in it. I think he was on to something.
Next up, we drove to Luling to try the City Market.
City Market's sauce is like no barbecue sauce I've ever tasted. It has a very strong mustard flavor, which was good, but I definitely liked Black's sauce better.
We got ribs, sausage, and brisket at City Market, with the ribs being the clear winner. The sausage was good though, as it wasn't too greasy. I thought the brisket was a tiny bit dry and it didn't have enough of that lovely black crust that you look for, but it tasted good.
Luling Farmers' Market? Yes, please!
Then it was back to Lockhart, where Smitty's awaited us in all its smoky, sooty glory.
If you've never been to a real barbecue pit, then Smitty's will rock your world. They're doing it old school, with thick layers of black on every surface and open fires around every corner. Even if you don't like barbecue, you should go to experience the ambiance. But beware, there is smoke. A lot of smoke. And fire.
There is no barrier between you and the fire, so look sharp.
Taking a break.
And yet more fire!
I really don't know how people stand to work here. Look at those soot covered walls.
Food at last, food at last!
We didn't see hide nor hair of barbecue sauce at Smitty's, but I hear that they do make it now. In the past, it just wasn't done. I think their message was that good barbecue doesn't need sauce. And that's pretty much right. Their brisket is very good, with a great black crust that I found satisfying after the so-so stuff at City Market. As I said before, I don't like a really greasy sausage, but if that's your thing, then you'll love it here.