There’s hardly a better way to discover a slice of Texas, so to speak, than with a barbecue road trip—especially one that travels through Central Texas with some of the state’s greatest smoked meats. For the most impressive barbecue bounties you’ll travel to towns that aren’t necessarily on the way to anywhere.
Lockhart is the Barbecue Capital of Texas as designated by the Texas Legislature. It’s a small town that supports a big barbecue reputation.
Kreuz Market in Lockhart: Pay attention to what goes on the cutting block and make sure to tell the cutter—which might be the mutton-chopped Roy Perez—if you have a preference like end cuts or fattier slices of beef. Get the shoulder clod and the pork chop along with a link of the jalapeño sausage.
Smitty’s Market in Lockhart: It’s hard to find a better place to eat barbecue than this brick building that dates from 1924. Don’t miss the glazed pork ribs which are a popular departure. Prime rib comes off the pit at 11:00 am and sells fast. Watch out for the open fires when standing in line, and be sure to leave some time to explore the historic building.
Black’s BBQ in Lockhart: To ensure that Black’s doesn’t get lost in the mix, billboards in every direction will remind you when you get to town. Follow them to what is consistently the best brisket in Lockhart. There are also enormous beef ribs to enjoy and some incredible smoked turkey for barbecue dabblers.
Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Q in Lockhart: The locals love it, but it’s usually ignored by barbecue travelers. I love the sausage, and everything here is a bargain.
City Market in Luling: There are three meats on the menu: brisket, pork spare ribs, and beef sausage. Try them all, but bring some cash. Ordering is done in the back room on the other side of the swinging doors. This room is only for meat, and the sides and drinks are sold at the front counter. One of my favorite bites in Texas barbecue is the sausage at City Market slathered generously with their signature sauce.
Luling Bar-B-Q in Luling: Unlike City Market across the street, this joint has a huge menu. Choose from a half dozen meats and twice as many sides.
Prause Meat Market in La Grange: If you walk in the front door, a wide glass case full of raw meat might make you wonder if you came to the right place. Enter around back like the locals and you’ll walk right through the pit room to order. Homemade sausage and the pork chops are the best options.