With only four BBQ restaurants and a population of 13,000 people, Lockhart is a small contender in the big game of Texas BBQ. But it’s gained a reputation that attracts meat lovers from across the rest of the United States, drawn in particular by its two legendary and long-established smoking joints, Black’s and and Kreuz Market. BBQ in Lockhart is a stripped-down and traditional affair, all about the flavor and texture of the perfectly-cooked meat itself – so don’t ask for sauces and don’t expect any cutlery. This is BBQ as it was originally meant to be, meat simply cooked over open flames and eaten with hands and fingers.
Chisholm BBQ is the outside runner in Lockhart’s BBQ race, located in a strip mall and with a school canteen feel to the dining room. There are a great range of salads and sides, and a wide selection of meats – sausage, brisket, ribs, turkey, chicken, fajitas – as well as fried catfish on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
With a field of oak wood out back and fifty-year old equipment hanging behind the smouldering pits, Smitty’s is a hands-on BBQ establishment that lets you see every stage of your feast’s preparation. Enter through the hallway darkened with decades of soot, order at the counter, and the garrulous serving staff will haul out a couple of slabs of meat and lop them up before your eyes. The brisket is good, but the place is particularly well-known for its thick and juicy pork chops and its succulent pork ribs. It also does an excellent tangy tomato BBQ sauce, a rare thing in Lockhart.
Black’s, like Kreuz, is a Texan BBQ institution marinated in history and tradition. It’s been owned by the same family since it opened in 1932, who use the same beef brisket recipe today as their ancestors 80 years ago. The walls of the quaint and comfortable dining room are festooned with Texan memorabilia, with various hunting trophies, football photos, and a clock shaped like the state itself. It serves a wide array of sides and desserts, and the meat, available by the pound, is legendary – the brisket is tender, juicy, and intensely flavorful, with a fabulous peppery edge.
Kreuz Market is a grandfather of the Texas BBQ scene, and has been smoking meat on it famous flame-scarred brick pits for a century. Its approach remains as passionate and its meat as tender as just about anywhere else in Texas. There’s a German inflection to the menu, as the place was started by a German family, and specialities include fiery jalapeño sausage, succulent pork chops, and, of course, juicy beef brisket. It’s an old-school approach and it won’t let kids try anything other than what’s traditional – large signs on the walls read "no sauce", "no forks", "no salad" and "no credit". So do as you’re told and trust in Kreuz to serve you some of the best BBQ in the land.