I mentioned in my last post that two of our blog readers live in Austin, and sent us an email asking whether we’d like to visit Smitty’s, 25 miles south in Lockhart (this photo shows their ornate courthouse), for BBQ. Can you believe that Odel and I haven’t been to ONE BBQ dive since we’ve been in Texas?? Shocking!
Though we were planning to leave Austin on Saturday, the lure of legendary BBQ with new friends was strong, so we did something rare for us: we stayed in our site until checkout time, which gave us sufficient time to drive to Lockhart, eat, and return, delaying our move until the afternoon. When Mac and Dianna arrived at 11 am, Scoopy was all ready to go – buttoned up, jacks up, aired up. We jumped into their car and away we went.
Mac and Dianna have plans for fulltiming in their future, but are still working in Austin. They are friendly and fun, with lots of questions about “the life”. They recently sold their travel trailer and found their fulltiming Class A diesel dream coach – we had plenty to talk about on the way to Lockhart!
Lockhart appears to be a Mecca for the BBQ enthusiast, with four famous BBQ joints in this fairly small town. I’m glad Mac and Dianna made the choice for us, and knew their way around Smitty's.
We entered from the parking lot in back, past a Girl Scout with her cookie stand, into a short, smoky hallway. To the right was a fire, burning on the floor of a smoky brick room full of activity. Ahead we saw a counter, a chopping block, scales – and, on the wall, a “menu” of meats sold by the pound. The comingled smell of cooking meat and smoke was intoxicating. The inner sanctum!
Placing the order. See the yellow menus on the back wall? Meat by the pound!
Lots of staff in the BBQ room. Meat cutter in the center, scales and registers right and left.
Thank goodness we had guides to lead us, as we were dazzled by the sights and smells, and wrestling with the concept of ordering a meal by the pound. Odel and I decided on 8 pork ribs (whatever their weight) and several slices of brisket – Odel simply ordered by pointing out the amount of meat we wanted. Next question: crackers or bread? “Bread” in this case means soft, white, and sliced – I think of it more as an edible napkin than a food. Everything is heaped onto two or three layers of pink butcher paper and passed over the counter to the buyer.
Now, when we decided on our “portion size”, I did NOT know that Mac was treating. I figured we’d take home whatever we didn’t eat, and I was mighty embarrassed to see Mac counting out the bills for OUR meal (which turned out to be a meal-and-a-half)! I am going to say it again, right here and right now: THANK YOU, Mac and Dianna! We hadn’t planned to be your gluttonous guests; we appreciate it!
Our order of ribs, brisket, and white bread.
“What sides do you want?”
From the smoke pits to the front room we went. Long tables flanked with metal folding chairs dominate the dining area, with one corner of the room devoted to the purchase of “sides” (beans, cole slaw, potato salad) and drinks. While I sat at a table breathing in the tantalizing smell of our ribs and brisket, Odel stocked up on side dishes, water and napkins. Mac and Dianna were close behind, shepherding us through the process.
Dianna, Mac and Odel – so anxious to dig into the meal that he couldn’t look at the camera!
Our host, Mac, smiling over ribs, brisket, and sausage.
Then we got down to business, Texas-style. Tender, smoky, juicy - greasy might be the better description, but in a good way! It was everything we remembered about good Texas BBQ. Lots of lip-smacking going on!
While we ate, the joint began to fill up for lunch. It wasn’t a spot to linger for conversation. As we walked back out to the parking lot, toothpicks working, Mac pointed out to me the interesting mechanics of the fire pit – with the fire built directly on the floor, the heat and smoke are sucked into the big brick smokers, the ultimate indirect heating, the way it has been done here for decades.
I made a quick stop at the Girl Scout table for cookies, then we were off. Mac and Dianna dropped us back at site 18, we hooked Jules to Scoopy, and headed west, back to Kerrville for a visit with our friend Gloria. We’ve booked three nights at well-known Buckhorn Lake RV Resort where Gloria is staying. More on our experience there later.
Mac and Dianna, thanks for a great Texas experience! We look forward to our paths crossing again.