Smitty’s Market (Lockhart, TX)
While driving to and from Galveston for Yaga’s Chili Quest & Beer Fest, we were listening to a podcast about chef Molly Baz and her road trip adventure with her father to discover all she could about American BBQ, documented on the blog Adventures in BBQ. On the podcast, she described eating a sausage:
which was so juicy inside that as soon as you bit into it, it literally popped and fat and juices from the meats were actually dripping down my arm.
That was enough to sell Scott on a visit to Lockhart, the BBQ Capital of Texas, and a meal at the restaurant serving such amazing sausage, Smitty’s Market.
Although the Smitty’s Market restaurant concept itself is relatively new (established in 1999), BBQ has supposedly been sold in the same spot since the turn of the last century. And what impressive BBQ it is.
The fire and smoke from the pits greet you when you walk in the door, and you get to watch them scoop out your meat selections from those very pits. Forget plates, forget forks. They slap your meat into a few sheets of brown paper, give you a plastic fork, and send you on your way to smokey meat bliss.
The brisket was incredibly smoky and tender and moist enough that you didn’t need any sauce. This marked the 5th time in 8 days that Scott had eaten brisket and he was definitely pleased with this offering.
The beef shoulder (chuck), like the brisket, was incredibly smoky and delicious. It was not, however, as tender as the brisket. Again, moist enough that there was no need for sauce.
We’ll be sounding like a broken record here, but the ribs were also really, really smoky. They weren’t exceptionally meaty, nor were they exceptionally tender or moist. These weren’t the quintessential “fall-off-the-bone” ribs.
See that above quote about juices and fat running down your arm? Yeah, that’s about the perfect description. If you pick this up, be prepared to get messy. It was unbelievably moist, juicy, and delicious. They actually sell these things by the box of 25 for you to take home. If we lived in Lockhart, there’d be a box in our freezer.
The Sauce…Or Lack Thereof
Texas BBQ puts a focus on the meat and not so much on the sides and sauce. Smitty’s was different than any other barbeque place we’ve been to yet. They actually have no sauce. We didn’t see any on the table, none was served on the meat, and we didn’t see anywhere to get any. But that was okay because the meat was that good.
You can pretty much see the pit masters sitting back saying, “Yeah, you won’t be needing any sauce. It’s just that good.” The tables do have bottles of hot sauce that kick things up just enough without masking the quality and flavor of the meat in any way.
These weren’t baked beans. They are a basic pinto bean with chunks of meat. And a well-executed bowl of beans, to be sure. They are simple, but delicious, not overdone like so many baked beans tend to be.
This was a good, basic cole slaw with a mayonnaise base. The best part of it was that it wasn’t overly mayonnaisey. There was just enough to coat the cabbage and other vegetables without leaving a pool of leftover mayo at the end.
You get a choice of white bread or crackers with your meal. Ours came with 5 slices of white sandwich bread. Nothing exceptional about the bread because you can buy the same thing at your neighborhood grocery. But take the bread and put it under the sausage so that it absorbs the juices when you cut into it and it serves a useful purpose. Basically, don’t waste those sausage juices on the paper.
This was another simple counter-service type of setup. Order your meat, pay for it, then order your sides at another counter, pay, and go sit down and get your grub on.
The total for all of this was about $19. All of the meats, except the sausages, go for $10.90/lb. We ordered a half pound each of the brisket, shoulder, and ribs. The sausages are probably 1/4lb each, perhaps a tad less, and sell for $1.80ish. Seriously, we had nearly two pounds of excellently smoked meat for under $20. You have to love Texas!
The Doggy Bag, By Knox
Now this is what a dog needs: MEAT! And the folks at Smitty’s certainly know a thing or two about it. Scott & Mommy were nice enough to save me some of everything – brisket, shoulder, sausage and rib meat, plus a whole slice of bread soaked in meaty juices and a few beans.
Yummy! The meat disappeared as fast as I could gobble it down, and I grabbed the entire slice of bread and practically swallowed it whole. Though next time, they should eat the beans themselves since I am not a fan. Why on Earth would you feed a dog beans?? That is only going to come back to haunt them when I’m snuggled up to them in bed later that night… I think I need a nap.