Friday, February 11, 2011

Kreuz Market

LOCKHART: Kreuz Market
619 N. Colorado St. (Hwy 183)
Lockhart, TX 78644
Open M-Sat 10:30-8

Update: Two years ago, I took a road trip with two friends and stopped at 10 joints in a single day. Our final stop was Kreuz, and it did not disappoint. I was hoping to strike gold on this trip where Kreuz was again the tenth stop on a epic day of BBQ'ing. Roy Perez is the pitmaster here, and he was tending a tasty pit on this day.

We opted for a link, an end cut pork chop, and a thick slice of clod. The all beef link was juicy and robust. It had a great snap and plenty of spice. I prefer a link with a little pork in it, but this was great example of the all beef variety. The clod was rich and smoky. The perfectly tender meat was surrounded by a thick black crust and a great smokering just beneath it. It very well may be the best slice of clod I've ever eaten. The thick pork chop wasn't far down the ladder. Intensely flavorful and supple meat was enveloped by a thin line of perfectly rendered fat which gushed with salty flavor. I don't think there could have been a better ending to such a long day of eating, and I sat amazed as we finished every speck of meat despite our very full stomachs. It was a real testament to the quality of the meat, and to Roy's skill as the quintessential pitmaster.

Rating *****

2009: On two previous trips to Lockhart, Kreuz was solid, but it has never been other-worldly. I assumed this trip would be no different, but it turned out to be one of my best BBQ experiences. I've eaten mounds of BBQ in my time, but this day was different. Two companions and I had eaten at nine joints on a Saturday. We started early, so by 4:30 we were in our hotel room in Lockhart discussing the following day's line-up of Smitty's and Black's. A friend lamented that he wouldn't be able to try Kreuz, so it hit me that I'd never done 10 BBQ joints in one day, and Kreuz would make it an even 10. As we walked through the front doors, I couldn't imagine that another bite of meat would taste good, but that seductive smell began to change my mind as I gazed into the firelight of the smokers.

I bellied up to the counter to order. Just like Smitty's down the street, this joint offers both fatty brisket and shoulder clod which they refer to as "lean beef". Both were included in my pile 'o protein along with a spare rib and a pork chop.

We then commenced gorging with grease running down to our elbows. The lean brisket was phenomenal. It was moist, perfectly tender with a deep smokiness and robust flavor from the salty rub. The fatty brisket didn't fare as well. The flavor was fine, but it was simply too fatty for me to order it again. Spare ribs were a bit tough, but the deep smoke line and salt and pepper rub melded together to create some fine tasting pork. The pork chop was the biggest surprise. This lean meat can sometimes get dried out, but this slice was perfectly moist, tender and smoky. The salty rub was evident in nearly every delicious bite, and I picked the bone clean.

As I was leaving, I noticed that most of the customers had been taken care of, and Roy Perez, the semi-famous pit boss, was sharpening his knives. I walked over to ask for a picture, and he gladly obliged.

I was surprised when he handed me his newly sharpened knife to try some carving on my own. It was the perfect ending to a great eating experience, and a ground-breaking day.

2008: This is new building, but it comes with much history. You can read about this incredible family feud here. Walking into the smoke house, you'd guess this place has been around for ages. Between the well blackened tall ceiling and the smoke, you'd guess there was just a black hole above you. Ordering here is much like at a butcher shop. Decsribe the meat, and how much you want of it, and it's loaded onto a scale for pricing. They've starting selling some classic BBQ side items in the attached dining room, but the best accompaniments are the traditional crackers, cheese and pickles. No sauce is available here.

They are generous with their cuts here, but then you pay by the pound. We sampled both the fatty and lean briskets. The lean brisket was still heavy on the fat, but it was well rendered and smoky while the fatty brisket was simply carrying too much extra blubber to be enjoyable without a trim. A nice black crust held far too much salt on both cuts. The ribs were large, meaty and well cooked with nicely rendered fat. The crust was also salty, and the smoke could have permeated more of the meat.

In addition to the usual, we also sampled a pork chop which was dry, but the most evenly seasoned piece of meat of the day. They are known for their prime rib, but at $17.90/lb. this salty, slightly dry meat was not vastly superior to the cuts running sub $10/lb. The sausage here was fatty but with a good snap and a coarse grind...quite good.

Another note about the eating style in this portion of Central Texas is that your plate is a sheet of butcher paper, and your only utensil is a plastic knife. Eating with our bare hands became second nature after a few bites, and I'll have to admit that it's hard going back to a fork once I go back into proper Dallas BBQ joints. It garners a few looks, but it's worth it.

Kreuz Market on Urbanspoon


whargoul said...

For me, Kreuz's was a really big disappointment. The brisket was cooked ok but bland, the rib was mostly fat (what little meat there was was tasty) and the sausage was disgusting and mushy (the consistency of wet dog food).

Phil K. said...

Ugh....this place MUST be re-evaluated. 5 Star, it is NOT!

As I told my traveling party: it has become a victim of its own success.

Our brisket was dry and briny (overly salted). The sausage had great flavor but paled against it's Smitty sister. The ribs were amongst the bigger you'll find but tasted over-cooked and tough. Certainly not fall-off-the-bone, 5-star quality.

If you're going to stop through the "BBQ Capital of Texas," just hit Smitty's and move along. Hell, just hit Snow's, Mueller's, and Franklin's and call it a day.

MRL said...

I'd be interested in a food comparison of Kreuz and Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas, when it's been open long enough to review. Haven't been to Kreuz but wondering how far the similarity goes.

Anonymous said...

Kruez's would my very last choice
for BBQ in Lockart. Smitty's being my first choice.
Actually, Kreuz's would be my last choice for BBQ in all of Central Texas.

Anonymous said...

I've been to Kreuz's several times and they've always been solid. I think Franklin's in Austin has their number though.

Paul B said...

The Worst BBQ Experience Ever—Got Sick Afterwards—Very Arrogant and Flippant Staff!

My Dad and I visited Kreuz BBQ in Lockhart, TX in 4/2011. The place was difficult to find/see from the road despite the overbearing, oversize, and quite touristy new building. The first thing I noticed was the lack of people dinning. We ordered our food at 7:40pm after the cashier assured us that they still were serving and that we could stay as long as we would like even after the closing time of 8pm. It was obvious that the butchers of Hispanics with poor comprehension of English and BBQ lingo desperately wanted us to leave so they could clock out. When we asked for brisket from the fat side we were served a large chunk of charred fat trimming with no meat marbled in between. Of course this was refused. We ended up ordering a few pounds of beef ribs and brisket. We then proceeded to the next room where the sides are ordered. The staff there was angry they had to reopen the registers at 7:45pm and would not advise us on what to order on the menu. We did just drive six hours to try this place and wanted to get it right. We were served the only thing they would serve us which was a bucket of cole slaw. We finally sat down at 7:55pm to eat our BBQ.

When the only other diners left at 8:10pm (a large Hispanic family possibly friends of the employees), we were told in a very rude tone to be gone in five minutes. Three minutes later as we were trying to bag up our $50 of half-eaten BBQ, the lights were turned off, and we were told to GET OUT NOW. The only remaining employee refused to turn the lights back on and called the police. After stumbling through the BBQ house in the dark trying to wipe our hands and grab our meat, THE POLICE MET WITH US IN THE PARKING LOT. This not the typical BBQ experience.

We called the owner the following day, and he told us THAT WE SHOULD NOT NEED MORE THAN FIFTEEN MIN UTES TO EAT. Good BBQ takes time to eat. The owner defended his staff and told us never to come back and that he did not care what we thought. HE SAID HE HAS ENOUGH OTHER CUSTOMERS. HE THEN HUNG UP ON US.

In the end, I have had many better BBQ places in Lockhart, in Texas, and around the country. The brisket was flavorful and tender but had a thick, charred, dry crust. The dry rub used on the ribs was simple and very salty. I am a traditionalist and enjoy the lack of sauce, but when it comes to food like this that could use a little assistance, sauce is a must. As far as the cole slaw, we ate a few bites but could not get past its stench and the taste of spoiled cole slaw. Of course, there was no one to talk to about the expired slaw. In fact, the owner would not hear anything of it the following day and HUNG UP THE PHONE ON AT THIS MENTION. Sure enough, too, my GI system felt the effects of poorly kept slaw about 12 hours after ingestion. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY DANGEROUS.

My Dad and I have traveled all over Texas and the country in pursuit of great BBQ. This place is NOT RECOMMENDED. I have never had an experience in any BBQ place as bad as this one.

jaspersdad said...

long-planned trip to kreuz finally happened today after picking my son up from camp near waco. we ordered two slices of the beef shoulder (lean brisket), two slices of brisket (fatty brisket), a sausage, a pork chop and four spare ribs.

the lean brisket was dry and not very tasty. like a dry roast beef. the fatty brisket was not fatty at all, rendered quite nicely and had a very nice taste. yummy. the sausage was crisp and tasty. also yummy. the spare ribs were nicely seasoned and succulent. yummy. the pork chop was very lean and fairly dry.

next time in lockhart i'd like to try black's.

johndag123 said...

My wife and I recently stopped in Austin for a couple days at the end of our vacation, the main purpose being to hit some great barbecue spots. Two of the places we went to were Kreuz and Black's. Both were outstanding. I would have to give a slight edge to Kreuz overall - the brisket was fantastic at both places - a revelation, really - it depressed me as I like to fancy myself a bit of a barbecuing aficionado - but after eating brisket at both those places I realize I'll never be able to achieve such perfection with brisket!! The deep smokiness and the salt and pepper flavoring to both, plus the incredible moistness and tenderness, just blew me away!!!
Anyway, the thing that gave the edge to Kreuz was that I felt the jalapeƱo-cheese sausage was superior to Black's - much moister, and you really got the flavor of the cheese and jalapeƱos.
Black's did serve up beef ribs the day we were there, which Kreuz was not offering that day. Wow! HUGE!! I originally ordered 2 - the man slicing the ribs looked at me and asked "Have you seen how big one is?" I said no and he showed me one - I immediately said "I'll take just one!" Delicious, smoky, meaty, and moist!!!
What a great trip! Can't wait to go back - Texas BBQ really is in a class all it's own!!!

Anonymous said...

You should have planned your trip better and got there at an earlier time. It's not their fault you showed up 20 minutes before closing. I've been going to Kruez for 26 years and I've always had an awesome experience. You sound like the type of person who blames others for your troubles. You complained about petty things and wonder why you were treated with disrespect. Did you ever stop to think, hey these people might want to go home after a long work day. But no, they have to stay and serve some entitled snob who, after reading your review, comes off as borderline racist. Yes, Hispanics work there. It's Texas. Get over it. Please stay away from kruez and continue to visit the other mediocre bbq places in Lockhart. You don't deserve this place.

Unknown said...

Went there for the first time the other day, thinking that this was a bastion of Texas BBQ ... and was severely disappointed. Brisket was very salty and hadn't been cooked long enough for the fat to properly render, making for a chewy, tough piece of meat. Ribs were OK, nothing special. They do however make some fine sausage.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had read the reviews before going there, I would not have waisted my time. Out of a party of 10 or so not a one of us was happy with the food! The sausage was so bad I spit out the first bite. Now I know why the locals were at the Dairy Queen.


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.