If your plan is to visit the Austin area for barbecue, it is somewhat mandatory that you get outside of town a bit, and visit the towns of Lockhart and Luling south of town. Lockhart is the self-appointed “BBQ Capital of Texas”, and it’s basically earned it, with three top-rated BBQ places all located walking distance of each other (Smitty’s, Kreuz, and Black’s). Similarly, most any mention of top-rated Austin-area barbecue includes a mention of City Market. So when we planned this year’s itinerary, once we got down knocking off the two Austin-proper newcomers (JMueller and Stiles Switch), it was time to make the Southern run. This year the itinerary was a stop of Black’s, followed by Kreuz, and then City Market.
Black’s was an important stop this year, since we didn’t visit it last year, and we felt it was important to get a good cross section of Lockhart BBQ joints. Located on Main Street in Lockhart with a humorous “Open 8 Days a Week” sign, Black’s is the old grandfather of Lockhart BBQ joints, it’s been open since 1932, and continuously operated by the same family at the same location. A few places have been around longer (Kreuz, originally opened in 1900), but have either had changes in ownership, location, or both. Sure, it’s a bit of chest thumping about who’s the oldest, but everyone will pretty much agree that Black’s has got some serious heritage.
Black’s is definitely a BBQ joint, set up in the fairly normal Central Texas style, with a large seating area inside the restaurant, and then the butcher area inside of that (to keep the smoke somewhat contained). As far as ordering went, we had a smaller group, so we ended up with a pound and a half of brisket (half lean, half fatty), a sausage link, and a beef rib. This turned out to be just about the right of meat for our smaller group, and the quality here was good. The sausage was flavorful, with a nice coarse grind, good snap, and a lot of smoke. The beef rib was rather nicely done as well (as an aside, the beef ribs here at Black’s are truly Fred Flintstone-style giant slabs of meat), with a rich crust on it. And the brisket, both lean and fatty, were juicy and tender as well.
In short, this trip to Black’s reminded me a lot of the previous night’s trip to Stiles Switch: all the meats were thoroughly tender, and not at all dried out. The interior of the the meat was cooked thoroughly and tender. Both the brisket and the beef rib had a really nice moisture level as well. Both also had a nice bark to them. But unlike Stiles, Black’s had a serious smoke note going on, with rich smoke flavors perfusing through both the smoke ring, and into the meat interior as well. This was some really good barbecue, and a great way to start the day.