A few weeks ago, courtesy of my friend Mark who happened to be in central Texas for work, I got to sample the brisket and sausage from each of the four barbecue joints in Lockhart, “the barbecue capital of Texas.” The brisket and sausage were eaten three or four hours after they were purchased at a comfortable – and mostly hygienic – bar in downtown Houston. The barbecue was still in excellent shape, if just slightly dried in transit.
The tasting was not only a treat, but a surprise, too. There was no standout, no single winner, for either the brisket or the links. All were outstanding. Among six people – better described as long-experienced barbecue aficionados rather than degenerate barflies – offering their votes concerning the best-tasting brisket, we had four different winners. Additionally, not one brisket garnered more than two votes. It was about as much of a four-tie as possible. What seemingly made the difference for each person’s preference was what cut they had; i.e. did they receive some fat; some of the burnt ends; was it an interior piece that might have dried a tad.
With the links, there was a vote for each one: truly a tie. The most remarkable thing to me was the quality and flavor of each of the four briskets and sausage were quite similar. This was more surprising for the briskets, since they were smoked in different fashions.
It did not matter how, the briskets were each extremely flavorful. The most prominent tastes, which held true for all four, could be described as beefy, pleasantly salty, and sometimes buttery from the charred fat. There was not much in the way of evident smoke. Similarly, there were hardly any smoke rings in the briskets, which is something that I typically look for. And, no sauce was needed, as is proper for quality Texas barbecue (but, it was even tastier with some from Black’s, the only one in Lockhart to offer sauce). The briskets were also very tender, and easy to eat with just the hands.
My favorite brisket was from Smitty’s, by a hair. It had been my favorite during a previous tour of barbecue joints in Lockhart and Luling a couple of years ago. I was not swayed by that visit, as I tasted the barbecue blind. I found Smitty’s brisket slightly moister and with flavors that were integrated more so than the others. Again, that might simply have been because of the piece I got versus the ones from the others. Even for Kreuz – that finished last for me – I jotted, “very flavorful.” Kreuz was responsible for my favorite sausage that evening.
It seemed that the briskets from Lockhart tasted a little different than the best briskets found in Houston. There is more noticeable smokiness here, a little less tenderness and a little less flavor, overall, here. The sausages from Lockhart were different, also: plumper, juicier, more loosely packed. These, too, were also excellent.
There really is a lot of truth to the catchphrase, “the barbecue capital of Texas.” When you go to Lockhart, you can visit any of their four barbecue joints, and can’t go wrong.
215 N. Main
Lockhart, Texas, 78644, (888) 632-8225 and (512) 398-2712
Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que
1323 S. Colorado
Lockhart, Texas, 78644, (512) 398-6027
619 N. Colorado
Lockhart, Texas, 78644, (512) 398-2361
208 South Commerce
Lockhart, Texas, 78644, (512) 398-9344