Our Visit To Barbecue Heaven In Lockhart, Texas

by joeheg

For us, the best barbecue in the world comes from central Texas. Others may think a different region makes better barbecue, and those people are wrong. 😉

Lockhart, the ultimate barbecue destination of Texas, is situated 35 miles southeast of Austin, where the finest smoked meat is served with perfection. It’s been named by the state as The Barbecue Capital of Texas.

There are other places where you’ll find great meat. Texas Monthly publishes a list of the Top 50 BBQ spots in the state, which includes locations like Franklin’s in Austin, but it’s only in Lockhart that you’ll find four locations that claim that they have the best barbecue.

Doing a barbecue tour of Lockhart isn’t easy. Each location serves a tempting selection of smoked meats and side dishes. Sharon and I visited the town previously and were only able to visit one location and sample a few types of meat before we had had our fill and headed back to our hotel.

This time we came prepared. Our group of 6 foodies went out on a Friday afternoon, determined to see the best that each location had to offer.

We arrived at our first stop around 11:30 AM. Google Maps led us to a gravel parking lot behind a brick building. There was no mistaking we were in the right place once we opened the car door and a smoky aroma was everywhere.

Smitty’s Market
208 South Commerce
Lockhart, Texas 78644

If you walk in the back door from the parking lot, you’ll enter directly into the room with the pit.

You order all of the meats by the pound (you don’t need to order a full pound, ordering 1/4 or 1/2 pound portions is fine) and the counter only accepts cash. There’s an ATM located near the checkout.

What does one of the pits look like? We were allowed to take a peek inside.

Once you’ve paid for your meat, you can take a seat in the dining room. This is also where you’ll find the counter where you purchase drinks, sides and Blue Bell ice cream. The room was filled with a mixture of locals and tourists.

While the brisket is what Texas barbecue is most famous for, Smitty’s had something on the menu we really wanted to try, smoked prime rib.

It’s common for barbecue in Texas to be served on butcher paper with a side of white bread (or crackers) and pickles. We also ordered a pork chop, turkey and brisket.

The star of the meal was the prime rib, which was amazing. I’ve since started smoking prime rib for special occasions at home and it’s wonderful. The big surprise was the turkey. While you’d think it might dry out, it was moist and had a wonderful smoky flavor.

From here, we decided to walk around before heading to our next stop. Around the back of Smitty’s, you can see what it takes to run a barbecue place every day. Lots and lots of wood stacked neatly into piles and drying out in the Texas sun.

After an hour or so, we felt that we’d digested enough to head to location #2.

The Original Black’s Barbecue
215 North Main St
Lockhart, Texas 78644

At first appearance, Black’s looks more like what you’d expect a Texas barbecue place to look like. It’s also set up to be easily approachable if you’ve never been to a traditional barbecue place before. You enter the front door, get in line and head through the process of picking out what you want. Imagine a Chipotle, but instead of burritos, it’s brisket.

Black’s serves several classic side dishes. We stayed away from most of them because we wanted to save room for as much meat as possible.

There’s also a selection of branded sauces and rubs for sale. From there, you’re led to the meat counter. Just as before, all purchases are by the pound. Black’s also serves sandwiches, if you’re so inclined.

Just past this is the checkout where you can add a drink to your order. The big difference is that Black’s accepts credit cards.

Black’s offers a menu item not found at the other places, so we had to try the beef rib. Each rib weighs around 1 pound.

We also ordered the jalapeno cheddar sausage, barbecue chicken, brisket and ribs.

Unlike the butcher paper, our meals were put in styrofoam containers and we were given paper plates to divide everything up between the group. Most of us ate outside but I found the flies to be overly bothersome so I went inside to eat. There was the main dining room adjacent to the entrance and an overflow seating area in the next room, which is also where the bathrooms are.

The brisket and sausage were great and the beef rib was way more tender than I’d imagined it would be. Fall off the bone and pull apart with your fork type of tender.

At this point, we all were stuffed and needed a nap. However, for the sake of completeness, we had to head to a third location.

Kreuz Market
619 N Colorado St
Lockhart, TX 78644

If Smitty’s was the local joint and Black’s designed for the tourists, then Kreuz is the megastore. The place is massive.

This was one of the dining areas but it wasn’t air-conditioned. It was August and HOT, so we sat in the other dining room, which had the A/C on and was cooler. There’s a door as you walk to the pit area going into the dining room. We headed down the hall.

The pit area here is huge, with several of the smokers going at the same time.

While we were all full, there was one thing on the menu that we had to try. I present to you, smoked pork belly (AKA, Meat candy)

This was so good that it was worth taking myself from comfortably full to uncomfortably full. After all of this eating, I didn’t want to think about food again for quite a while.

There’s another barbeque place in Lockhart called Chisholm Trail BBQ. We were way too full to give them a try but maybe next time we’ll get to check them out.

Final Thoughts

We’ve finally been able to do Lockhart correctly and visited the three main locations. Going with a larger group is the way to go since you’ll be able to try much more than if you’re trying to do it solo or as a couple.

Here are my awards for the trip

  • Best thing I ate all day – Smoked Prime Rib at Smitty’s Market
  • Most surprisingly good meat – Beef Rib at The Original Black’s Barbecue
  • Most indulgent dish – Smoked Pork Belly at Kreuz Market

If you’re able, I’d try to stop by at least two locations if you visit Lockhart. However, some people will want to stop by to try the barbecue and wonder which is the best place they should visit.

First off, I don’t think you’ll do badly at any of them. All of them make wonderful smoky meats that will probably be the best you’ve ever tried. Smoking meat is an art and a science and any number of environmental or physical differences can cause even the best place to turn out average (or even below average) barbecue on any given day.

For our tastes, if we had to pick only one place, we’d go to Smitty’s Market. Besides serving the best single thing we ate, all of the things we tried there were wonderful. The pork chop, turkey and brisket were all on point. It also had the best vibe of the three. Eating there felt like going to a neighborhood place that makes great food. Long picnic-style tables where everyone from the businessman in a shirt and tie, to the family out for the afternoon and the local sheriff all sit down and enjoy their meals. The only negative was the cash-only policy, so be prepared if you’re headed there for some barbecue.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Nancy Powell October 18, 2021 - 2:57 pm

“Those people are wrong”–LOL! My husband (native Texan) would agree with you. I’m not a big meat fan but they still let me live in Texas. 🙂

Carol Belk November 7, 2021 - 5:52 pm

We discovered Kreuz’ when we first moved to Texas 36 years ago. It will spoil you for barbecue anywhere else. Where Smitty’s is now was the original home of Kreuz for over 100 years. Just thought you’d like to know.

melody rice November 12, 2021 - 6:40 pm

Chisholm trail is my favorite. That’s where the locals eat. I work at the HEB and I love the smell of lockhart BBQ smoke in the morning.

Gary Leff August 19, 2023 - 6:25 pm

You are correct that Central Texas barbecue is the best barbecue. There are places that make delicious barbecue sauce to hide the meat, and that’s fine I guess, but in Central Texas the meat itself is what matters and brisket is king.

The center of gravity has moved to Austin for barbecue, there’s no longer a need to head out to Lockhart. Franklin, Micklethwait and La Barbecue are the classics. Interstellar is worth a visit. Leroy & Lewis will blow your mind. Terry Black’s (same family as you know who, but a family feud) is overrated.

Chisholm Trail is the inexpensive place, not actually great. Kreuz was past its prime a decade ago, their sausage can still be good but the brisket not so much. Smittys has some peaks, but is the most inconsistent. Blacks is good but used to be better, they’ve gotten distracted with other enterprises.


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