Thursday, November 11, 2010
LOCKHART: Black’s Barbecue
215 N. Main St.
Lockhart, TX 78644
Open Sun-Thur 10-8, F-Sat 10-8:30
Update: This was the morning where instead of discovering another great BBQ joint in Texas, Smokemaster1 and I were taking my friend Rob to the heart of BBQ country to find out what all the fuss was about. A stop at Chisholm Trail for excellent sausage and brisket, but no ribs was followed by a less than stellar trip to Smitty's. I was thinking to myself that Rob may now be questioning the Lockhart fuss altogether. That is until we stepped into Black's. This was my third visit, and I have yet to see where all the haters get their ammo. Sure there's a sad looking salad bar as you walk in, but the meat here is nothing short of fantastic.
The sausage here is an 85% beef and 15% pork mixture. The casings have a great snap, the meat is well seasoned, and the overall experience of a Black's sausage squirting hot fat into your mouth is something that demands a repeat performance. A recent addition to the menu was baby back ribs. The smokiness and bold flavoring from the rub was all there, but it needed more time on the smoker to reach another degree of tenderness.
I got to use my Q Card for just the second time. It feels good to save money.
A gargantuan beef rib (not pictured) was much better. The moist meat was eminently tender, and the smokiness embedded into the thick black crust was savory goodness. A rib of this size could make a modest meal for two.
Meat makes Rob happy.
After some great sausage and good ribs, Rob was looking satisfied enough. Then we divvied up the slices of brisket. As those tender slices were being passed and devoured I noticed a thick slice of fatty goodness straight from the end of the brisket flat. The surface area of smoky crust got me giddy, but I decided that although I discovered the slice, the newbie needed the experience more than myself. After some discussion, we cut it into three chunks and as if doing a ceremonial shot of tequila, we downed our bites in unison. At that point cracks formed in the ceiling as the roof opened up and sunlight poured into the space. Suddenly, angelic voices filled the room, and Rob was smiling. We were all smiling, as this will be logged into my memory as one of the finest bites of smoked beef that has ever passed these lips. It was that good, and I'm not exaggerating. If they could guarantee a bite like that with every order, I'd consider driving down on weeknights. Thank you Black's, for helping me turn Rob into a Texas BBQ believer.
2009: Some joints are well known for how well they do one meat or another, but Black's does them all well. Brisket, ribs, sausage and turkey were piled on top of our small plate, and they were all picture perfect.
The brisket had a dark crust and deep red smoke line. The meat was flavorful and smoky, but it could have used a little more time on the smoker to tenderize a bit. The ribs had a perfect cross section of deep red crust, well rendered fat, and red smoky meat. The light salt and pepper rub provided a good robust addition to the smokiness, but the ribs too could have been more tender. A link of beef sausage was good with plenty of fat and a coarse grind of good smoky meat. The big winner was the incredibly moist and tender turkey breast. There's no deli turkey in this joint, and the smokiness of the turkey was deeper than in other meats.
As we dined, Norma Black chatted with out table about the history of Black's. It turns out the she and Edgar took over the place in 1949 just after graduating college when Edgar's dad died suddenly. They were just going to run the place until they could find another family member to take over, but 60 years later they're still at it and doing a fine job. Norma was nice enough to arrange a tour of the pits in the back. They smoke with all oak, and try to cook everything at around 350 degrees.
As I was leaving, I noticed three generations of a local family enjoying a Sunday dinner at Black's. If I was a local, I'd probably be a regular here too.
2006: This is the longest continuously running family owned BBQ joint in Texas (76 years), and there's a reason. It's slightly off the beaten track in Lockhart, as all its competition is along the main highway. Like most joints in this region, you order your meat by the pound straight from the pit boss, and its delivered on butcher paper with a plastic knife. It was all I could do to keep from digging into this sweet smelling protein before I reached a booth. The ribs were large meaty spare ribs with a nice dark red crust. They were tender and flavorful, but the fat needed more rendering. The brisket had a beautiful crust with a slightly sweet flavor. The meat was tender and moist with smoke throughout. I tried to illicit a negative point about this brisket, but I could not. The jalapeno beef and pork sausage was great. It was slightly coarse and fatty, but it had excellent snap and robust flavor. Meat like this will keep this place running for many years to come.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 6:48 AM
Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT