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Lockhart is one of the best places to eat smoked meat in Central Texas – if not the world. We don’t say this lightly after eating BBQ around the US and on four continents so far.
Located just 30 minutes from the Texas state capital yet decades away from its hi-tech neighbor, Lockhart is a great Austin day trip for non-vegetarian travelers enjoying a long Austin weekend getaway. In fact, true BBQ fans (like us) will want to add eating barbecue in Lockhart to their list of things to do in Austin whether visiting for just a few days or longer.
Why Visit Lockhart?
Walk into some of the great meat markets of Lockhart and you’ll feel like it’s 1950. Much of the best barbecue in Lockhart TX is still made the old-fashioned way in hand-fashioned barbecue pits that have been smoking meat for over a century.
The best Lockhart BBQ places take cooking to its core essence and produce some of the greatest slow-cooked and smoked meat products on the face of the earth. This is a city where old-line markets produce sausages that make you wonder what you’ve been eating your whole life and restaurants serve Brontosaurus sized ribs and fixings born of cooking traditions handed down through the years with love.
Lockhart TX BBQ Guide
There were only two of us on our road trip, so approaching Lockhart barbecue was a challenge. Contrary to rumors, we can only eat so much in a day.
So, armed with empty stomachs, we attacked the town with as much abandon as our two stomachs could handle. Based on our diligent research, these are the best spots to eat Lockhart BBQ.
Kreuz Market is a local institution and must-visit during any Lockhart TX barbecue trip.
The smoky smells transported our olfactory senses straight to BBQ land as we pulled our trusty Nissan Sentra into Kreuz’s large gravel parking lot. Kreuz’s layout is simple. An amply sized eat-in dining room yields to three large ordering counters where customers place their orders by the pound.
There are really no secrets here. As soon as your order is taken, the sales clerk reaches back to one of the large pits behind the counter where prodigious quantities of smoked brisket, ribs and sausage wait in Kreuz’s large brick barbecue pits. On this stop, we ordered ribs, brisket and one link of cheddar jalapeño sausage.
The flavors of the ribs and brisket struck us right away. Texans don’t mess with a lot of complicated spices. There’s even a sign that proudly proclaims the market’s ban on barbecue sauce.
Here in Lockhart, the seasoning mix is basically just salt and pepper. What makes Texas BBQ so great is the art, decades in the making, of low and slow cookery. This approach enables the deep and rich flavors and textures found in the meat to harmonize with a simple spice blend.
After tasting the brisket and ribs, we dug into the sausage – which absolutely stole the show and our hearts (no pun intended) with a beautiful snap to each bite yielding to a spicy, juicy center.
At Kreuz Market, meat is basically served on butcher paper with a plastic knife and NO FORKS. It’s really not all that messy due to the ‘no sauce’ thing, so all you have is a knife and your fingers.
With the sausage, we gripped the one end, sliced open the link and watched with awe as the precious porky juices slowly flowed from the center. Once in our mouths, the sausage made a perfect snap upon chewing.
And the flavor? It was perfect – the jalapeno was spicy without being overbearing, ending with a cheesy, smoky flavor punch.
We’ve eaten more than our share of great sausages in our lives, but the link at Kreutz Market may be the greatest we’ve tasted so far.
Go to Kreutz Market on a weekday. There are no lines for food and plenty of parking.
Kreuz Market is located at 619 N Colorado Street, Lockhart, TX 78644, United States.
It’s easy to travel around Lockhart’s cute yet walkable center and breeze past the town’s multi-spired 19th-century courthouse building that screams small-town Texas. Lockhart has a few small bars and even a couple of art galleries, but the BBQ joints are the main attractions. With this in mind, Smitty’s Market was our second stop in Lockhart.
Smitty’s Market is nothing fancy, but we don’t need fancy when we eat barbecue. While admiring the market’s primitive smokey pits, we spoke to temporary pitmaster Jim Sells who didn’t hesitate to show off the meaty morsels that were parked over the smoke-filled metal grates.
A simple bonfire burned on one end of the brick constructed pits while smoke was drawn through a large simple ceiling fan that looked as ancient as the century-old building that houses the Lockhart institution.
“My wife does all the real work every day. I’m just filling in,” Sells said. To us, that simple reply summed up the family vibe at Smitty’s. The decor is nothing fancy with long tables, fluorescent lights and an old-school lunch counter. At Smitty’s BBQ Lockhart Texas, it’s all about the food like the popular prime rib, smoked pork chops and moist brisket.
How did we like the food? Let’s start with the pork chop. Smitty’s pork chops are lean and don’t lend themselves well to low and slow cookery but the true treasure is in their ends, cooked hours to spicy, carmelized meltiness. Then we tasted the moist brisket…
Smitty’s brisket is nirvana for the meat lover. Once the deeply barked meat is removed from the pit, you can see the juices flow out gently as the knife courses its way through the fatty, bouncy, succulent beef.
We enjoyed every bit of it. Mindi loved the bark-like outside (Real burnt ends – Are you paying attention Kansas City?) while Daryl relished in the fatty meat with its smoky, beefy, melt in your mouth flavors.
Be sure to explore the rear of Smitty’s Market so that you don’t miss out on seeing where the magic happens.
Smitty’s Market is located at 208 S Commerce Street, Lockhart, TX 78644, United States.
Black’s Barbecue may be the most conventional dining hall in Lockhart, but what makes Black’s different is the sides… and its Brontosaurus sized beef ribs. Not only is Black’s one of the most popular Lockhart restaurants, it’s one of the best places to eat barbecue in Lockhart Texas.
Instead of being a butcher shop/lunch counter like Smitty’s and Kreuz, Blacks BBQ is more of a family-style restaurant featuring tables lined with plastic gingham and walls covered with nostalgia. Customers line up and pick their choice of sides like peach cobbler, sweet potatoes, green beans and potato salad.
During our visit at Black’s BBQ Lockhart, we ordered brisket and the huge beef rib. The brisket was solid with good smoke and nice bark, but the fattiness of the rib conveyed the true essence of great Texas barbecue with its nicely browned bark and juicy meat.
The peach cobbler was especially good – gooey yet not too sweet with a buttery, cinnamon crust. While Kreuz and Smitty’s make for excellent barbecue excursions, Black’s provides a range of food options and a space for a pleasant night out.
Don’t be scared off by the price of the beef ribs at Black’s Barbecue. They are big, meaty and worth every penny.
Black’s Barbecue is located at 215 N Main Street, Lockhart, TX 78644, United States.
Lockhart Chisolm Trail Bar-B-Que
True confession – we didn’t eat at Chisolm Trail since we were too full after the first three Lockhart Texas BBQ stops. And the worst part? Chisolm Trail was located right next to our motel.
This homestyle barbecue joint, founded by a former Black’s Barbecue employee, serves classic, Texas-style barbecue that’s been slow cooked with oak wood in big pits. Popular items at Chisolm Trail BBQ, one of the most popular restaurants in Lockhart TX, include brisket, chicken, ribs and sausage.
Don’t be like us. Order some meat to-go if you’re too full to eat at Chisolm Trail and be sure to let us know how it tastes.
Lockhart Chisolm Trail Bar-B-Que is located at 1323 S Colorado Street, Lockhart, TX 78644, United States.
Logistics from Austin to Lockhart
Since public transportation is not a good option from Austin to Lockhart (and also from Lockhart to Austin), we recommend that you rent a car and make the short drive. The drive on I-35 should take about 30 minutes unless it’s rush hour.
Be prepared to pay a toll on this short drive.
You can plan your carnivorous journey while waiting in the Franklin BBQ line if you’re into multitasking. This Austin restaurant is a top attraction and dining destination.
Plan Your Lockhart Stay
Although we stayed at a Lockhart motel, we recommend making the short drive back to Austin for the night.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.