Summer Adventure Challenge #1: Lockhart
So, I joined Corinne's Summer Adventure Challenge because Austin TX is in the middle of Texas and has a million things to do in and outside the city. When our friends Melissa and Spencer asked if wanted to go grab some authentic BBQ in Lockhart, a "man's town" about 30 minutes southeast of Austin...we were all for it!
Now, 30 minutes southeast of most cities is still the suburbs. Maybe if you went Northwest (Leander) or Northeast (Plugerville). But head southeast on Highway 183 and you are quickly past the airport and in the middle of nowhere. A beautiful Sunday drive (it was about 99 degrees at 12:30 p.m.) and we happily chatted on our way to Lockhart.
There are a lot of random churches in Texas. Not big, beefy, granite churches like Utah or massive worship malls like Dallas...but falling down, white buildings with a cross. I noticed a number on the way down.
I really like small Texas towns...Fredericksburg is one of my favorites...Lockhart is pretty cool. It has this rockin' Courthouse that just does not fit but kind of does...almost an empirical French look in a town that didn't have a lot of french people (mostly anglos) and not even germans (they went on to New Braunfels).
The BBQ joint was a trip...you walk into Smitty's through an entrance and you are in a long, wide hallway that is painted a grey color. It was probably brown at one point, but the air is so thick with smoke (not cigarette...wood smoke) that it coats everything. Benches line the entire wall and I can imagine they are fully packed during lunch hours...on a Sunday it was rather dead and I found that ominous. Ryan and I were nervous. Spencer (the professional cool guy he is) navigates us toward the back.
Halfway down the hall we found a door and through it a bright room full of people eating -- packed to the gills! Old, young, white, brown, black, conservative, liberal (not talking politics here), they were all here chomping on meat without forks. Knifes? Yes. Required for the charred natural skin sausages. Spoons? Yes, but only to slop up the charro beans. Forks? Get out of here.
We keep walking -- at the end of the hallway is a huge guy in a grubby Chef's outfit and he's sitting chatting with some other workers. To the left seems to be storage. To the right is a pile of wood on fire, smoking next to large rectangular boxes...smoker boxes. A couple guys reach in periodically to pull out a hunk of brisket or shoulder...cut pieces off...slam them on scales from the late 1960s...and then throw the meat back in the smoker.
Better get in line. I won't lie, we acted pretty awkwardly as we stared through the smoke and tried to figure out how we ordered and what we wanted. There was no smoked turkey in these parts...beef, sausage, and ribs. I listened to someone else order to get my clue and then did it: "1/2 pound fat, 1/2 pound lean, 2 hots." I had just ordered 1/2 pound of brisket, 1/2 pound of shoulder, and two hot (not spicy, just heated) sausage. Success...with a slab of meat in some wrapped light purple paper, we moved into the main room through two doors and found a seat. I went for sides: potato salad, beans, cole slaw, some sweet pickle chips, and two Shiners.
The place had been there for almost 100 years -- but back then it was a Spoetzle Brewery (german, yes), one of the many that brewed Shiner Beer throughout Texas. In the 60s it closed and the Smittys family moved in to do BBQ...not a thing has changed on the interior since.
The food was great -- don't you dare ask for BBQ sauce though. It's not allowed, it's not around, and you best not think about it. The sauce is the juice from the meat. Seriously!
After grubbing, we took some pictures and then walked around the Courthouse -- a beautiful building that had elements of a French/Russian palace. After looking at some property listings at a local realtor office window ('come on, let's just get a trailer out here and forget about the big city!') we got back in the car and drove into the Central Texas distance...
Check out our pictures!