An Englishman in Lockhart, Part 2: Smitty's BBQ Looks Like Hell, Tastes Like Heaven

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Kiernan Maletsky
Crikey.
Our Englishman in BBQ Sauce finally made it down to Lockhart, the Vatican City of Texas barbecue, where he and his posse gorged on smoked meat from Black's Barbecue (see yesterday's post), Smitty's and, coming tomorrow, Kreuz Market. As soon as the Border Patrol rounds him up, he'll be back in Dallas eating North Texas barbecue, no doubt washed in tears of longing and disappointment.

The short walk across Lockhart, past the picturesque square and the old-timey buildings, was uncomfortable. We had all eaten too much at the first venue of three. As much as I can blame the Equal Opportunities BBQ Posse (EOBBQP) for their incredible desire to come to the capital of Texas barbecue and eat green beans and pasta, we were all the guilty parties. I will now introduce a scale of how afraid we are of more barbecued meat (and the current severity of the meat sweats) at this time. I would say that, on a scale of excited at the prospect to about to vomit in a trashcan, we were probably, as a group, at a level in the upper reaches, nervously considering the cost of heart bypass surgery.

Smitty's BBQ is kind of a difficult one to spot. You can smell it, no doubt, but to get to the actual meat you enter through a completely unassuming screen door, the wooden type that snaps back. What you're greeted with through the door is anything but unassuming. Every wall of Smitty's is pitch black, crusted with years and years of smoke. Open fires rage in pits, the heat is sweltering, employees run around helter-skelter with entire wheeled buckets of black smoked briskets (perfect mugging victims if you ask me), and the line to get meat winds around all of it. It's really a sight to behold. There are immense piles of wood out the back, animal skulls, and everything and everywhere is smoke.

See also:
An Englishman Hits the Road for Lockhart BBQ. Comes Home Stuffed, Smoky and Happy (Part 1)

We all stopped for a while to take it in, apart from those who immediately decided it was too hot and ran to the starkly contrasted cleaner (and whiter) dining room. Really, it's incredibly striking. It immediately puts you in mind of a particularly effective dramatic interpretation of hell, or just the inside of a well-used, time-worn barbecue pit. If there hasn't been a theater production set in Smitty's yet, then the local amateur dramatics society have totally missed a trick.

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Kiernan Maletsky
THIS IS TOO DELICIOUS FOR REAL WORDS -- FLARGLE

After an interminable length of time spent standing in a line next to a beautiful wood fire underneath one of the pits, I get to the front of the cash-only line at a till in the middle of two humongous fire pits full to bursting with Texas barbecue heaven. I'm in charge of everything this time, after the grievous missteps of the last venue, and we get just enough to go round, no more. Back in the dining room, people are groaning. You know that point at which you've eaten enough, but the food in front of you is so clearly delicious that you're obviously going to eat it, against all advice you might be receiving from your brain? That seems to me how everyone else felt.

However, as I am Gavin, and my capacity for barbecue knows no bounds, I attacked the meat with gusto. It was divine. The sausage, made in-house, had a perfect snap and crumble and smokiness to it, but the ribs, in particular, made me pull a face similar to the one I had pulled only 30 minutes previously (steady). I still struggle to process a lot of the aspects of this Saturday. Was it all a dream? Did any of this really happen? Did I end up in a Texan depiction of hell where I was served probably the best ribs I've ever tasted?

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Kiernan Maletsky
Sometimes, Texas is very Texas.

There were photos and everyone else seems to have the same recollections, so I'm going to go with yes, but the quality of meat in general served down in Lockhart is so stratospheric, so ridiculous, and so honest and totally without gimmicks, that it seems unbelievable a place like this could be a brisk five minute walk from the sheer wonder and beauty of Black's. I am totally overwhelmed with dead cow. The EOBBQP began to grudgingly eat the meat, increasing in application with each delicious bite until again, almost everything was gone. This time there was real groaning.

The brisket would again be probably the best in Dallas, but the ribs were sen-fucking-sational. There was a sweet glaze to them, and they were cooked so perfectly that they almost ate themselves. You didn't really need to do anything apart from sit there, kind of stunned. The trepidation within the group, though, had moved from happiness to outright mutiny over a third barbecue place. The EOBBQP had reached the previously mentioned trashcan levels of meat sweats. I didn't care. We were pushing on. In Lockhart it's either death or glory, and neither is mutually exclusive.


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17 comments
gmit
gmit

North Texas barbecue, no doubt washed in tears of longing and disappointment." 


Finally someone put into words that feeling of trying to get real BBQ in this so called "north" Texas. Its just good enough "maybe" to hold one over till a better latitude can be reached. 

Sad to say the only one i have had is Blacks because they are open all the time, and I dont count Chisom Trail and dont think anyone else should either 


LHMike
LHMike

So glad you were able to experience the BBQ Nirvana of Texas that is Smittys. I tried Black's one time on the way down to Corpus, and after biting into one of their crumbly dry sausage links I was thinking this Lockhart place was all so much BBQ propoganda. Thanks to our dear Lord I was able to get into Smittys on my way back North from the beach, and since then on any trip down south my money and my fat ass goes there only.

Mike1d
Mike1d

Yea Smitty's is my favorite overall and right behind is Snow's, Frankiln's and Louie Mueller's. The building, ordering, ribs, lack of fuss, the pits, etc. are all just so perfect. The secondary dining area with the truly smoked-out walls, no AC and butcher table/knives and relics are just too cool.

Kreuz, in all really, can be or is nearly as good. But I just prefer Smitty's. Black's is solid, but I only go for the huge beef rib and some sides, to mix it up.

Nictacular
Nictacular

Favorite part of Smitty's (after the ribs) is FINALLY getting to order your meat, paying, and then walking into the cool dining room. It's 104F outside, you're in front of the fires, but when you carry that tray of beef and pork back into dining room...

Nothing like it. I love watching the tourists squirm and sweat and debate going somewhere else. Puts a smile on this Texan's face.

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

Smittys=Greatness 

My favorite Q in the Great State! Franklins is 2nd...no third place ribbons are given!

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

looks and sounds incredible, I like how the lore of these places is built on the greatness of their food, no amount advertising and gusto can make your joint good if the food doesnt hold up.

JaimesonPaul
JaimesonPaul

I'm so upset "wicked" wasn't used once in this post.

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

Ahh, now we're taking BBQ! Smitty's is one of my all time favorite BBQ joints in Texas. I love walking in there on a really cold day to see the warming fire coming from the pit.

Even their sides are good. Especially their BBQ beans. Best in the state! 

rachael.elward
rachael.elward

It was like the BBQ version of the London dungeon, only this time there was real flesh burning on the fires and you could eat it. 

Benjamin Wright
Benjamin Wright

Smitty's is definitely my favorite. Plates Blacks... not cool.

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

I'm gonna have to make a special trip Merk..go with you and Gavin! Pretty nice little exchange with you and Jack this morning on the twitter.. I'm still laughing about his "what are you doing today?"

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Joshjuststruckoutagain I was sertiously trying to be sarcastic last night, forgot the #saracasm in the tweet and woke up to that.  It was fun, hope Jack lets me in.  

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