Looking for meat, Texas-style

So it’s been just about a year since I’ve been in Texas. I always swore there was no way I’d live in a state full of bad drivers and cowboy-hat-wearing kickers, but people have been known to change their minds. I have to admit, I’m kinda liking Texans.They smile, they do drive fast but they let you in when you’re stuck in a line of traffic, and they stop to help if you break down. Besides, even the coffee shops serve beer here. It’s kinda neighborly, even for being its own nation.

And being in Texas, I decided I needed to find all the little barbecue joints that people say are the best in the state.  I don’t want any pansy ass place that serves salad. I want meat, beans, sauce, and bread. Some barbeque fanatics will tell you that real barbecue joints just serve meat, but hey I like the sides. I’m a chick, what can I say. I’ve been to a few local spots so far, but I have to say the top of the list is Lockhart, Texas, at this point in the meat hunt. Lockhart calls itself the BBQ Capital of Texas. Pretty tall claim for a state full of smokers.

Smitty’s had been recommended by a couple of die-hard Texans, so the boy and I took the hour or so drive down on a Saturday. We turned down a couple of wrong streets, not seeing the sign. You can’t blame us, the place looks like an old brick factory with some smokestacks and a dirt parking lot. As soon as we dodged the rain and ran in the front door, though, you could tell that this was a place where they served real meat. The smell was juicy, and the smoke and heat rose from the front of the room. The walls are caked with years of black smoke and the stain of burning cows. Yee-haw! At Smitty’s they sell meat by weight. There’s an old faded sign as you walk in, advertising pounds and half pounds and lean or not cuts. I went with the lean brisket. They just flop all your meat in a piece of paper, ask you if you want bread and throw it on top, then you pay and can head over to the lunchroom set-up. You can get sides, jalapenos, potato salad, something to drink, ice cream, whatever you need. No plates though! Eat with your hands. The walls inside had old Dr. Pepper signs, some stuffed animal head, and a bunch of locals that looked like they’d eaten some barbecue before. And damn the meat was good! He had some ribs, I wrapped my meat in white bread, and we chowed down. I often judge a place on its beans, being a bean connoisseur, and Smitty’s are spicy and smoke flavored with a hint of ham or bacon. Yum.

On the way back out, the nice guys up front were happy to open up the smokers so I could take a picture of the glistening piles of meat.

“We know how to do barbecue in Lockhart,” one said grinning as he sweated over the coals. “Ya’ll come back now.”

For sure.

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