Saturday, August 28, 2010

Review: Smitty's Market - Lockhart, TX

Restaurant: Smitty's Market

The Texas Senate named Lockhart the Barbeque Capital of Texas in 2003 and it is estimated that over 250,000 people a year come from all over to eat in one of the four venerable restaurants (Blacks, Chisholm Trail, Kreuz Market and Smitty's). They take this stuff seriously here, no sauce - "real bbq doesn't need it"; your meal is served on a piece of brown butcher's paper with a knife, that's all... no forks just fingers and bread.

There's some family dispute at the source of why Smitty's is now in the location of the old Kreuz Market and Kreuz has moved to the outskirts of town... I really didn't get much into it. I wanted to see what a 100 year old barbeque joint looked like and I wasn't disappointed. When I walked in through the wooden screen door, as the blast of heat from the fires and pits hit me, I was instantly reminded of working with the huge sap evaporators making maple syrup in New Hampshire. The smell was terrific.

I chose a sausage link and a slice of prime rib which were cut and served right in front of me. I paid and then entered the dining hall where several others were gathered on the long cafeteria tables, sipping tea or root beer. A few minutes later I was done. It's probably the best barbeque I will ever eat. Simple, un-pretentious and un-adorned. When I was in China I learned that the best tea was made from earthen pots that were never cleaned with anything beyond water. 100 years of smoke, grease, good company and good conversation fill the dark halls at Smitty's - you can't imitate something like that.

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