The Rockport/Port Aransas/Corpus Christi area has become a favorite of ours, so we didn't hesitate to set a course from Austin to spend a little time here while we're waiting on the Bluebonnet Allegro rally to begin next week in nearby Victoria. As it happens, our route from Austin took us right through Lockhart. Now if you're a longtime Texan, the mere mention of that name can mean only one thing to you: Barbecue. It is a small town, but it boasts new fewer than five BBQ joints, the most notable being Black's, Kreuz Market and Smitty's.
The general consensus is that Black's holds the greatest esteem among 'cue fanatics, perhaps because the place has been around for 83 years in the same location and, from the looks of the place, not much has changed in all that time.
Since we found we would be traversing Lockhart near lunchtime, I felt a sense of obligation to stop in, sample their wares again and report to you, dear readers. It was easy to find, as there isn't much town to hide it. I was a little concerned that Phannie and Mae's 55-foot combined length might present a problem in parking downtown, but I shouldn't have worried. I found a city block close to Black's whose curb was largely devoid of vehicles except for a motorcycle, so I nosed Phannie into a perfect parallel parking job. Passersby didn't seem to pay us much attention, so I'm thinking that RVs parked near Black's aren't all that uncommon.
Black's rustic storefront hadn't changed a bit since the last time we were here about ten years ago, and neither had the aroma changed that was wafting from the smokestacks out back. This was going to be good.
Once inside, we had to stand in line for a while, as hungry patrons made their way past the collection of side dishes, which included the requisite potato salad and cole slaw, but that had a number of other vegetables as well. I elected to sample the potato salad which, when properly made, can be a thing of beauty. (Black's version is quite good.) Most of the customers ordered the meat offerings--brisket, ribs and sausage--by weight, as did I. Sandy ordered only a sandwich and, when she said, "I'd like a sandwich, please," the patrons in the noisy room suddenly gasped and fell silent. Well, not really, but I think I did see some raised eyebrows among the crew who were carving up the succulent smoky offerings. I ordered a sample of everything in what I thought were small portions. But the pile of meat placed on my tray obviously didn't conform to my request. So I'm thinking that, because of my considerable drooling at the time, my request was misunderstood by the order taker. This same thing happened at Franklin's the other day in Austin. I don't know why these two joints gave me so much excess food, as it is obvious that I have not missed many meals. Oh well, the leftovers were wonderful.
Finally, after the tray was loaded with food, Sandy and I found seats and began to eat. In the photo below, the ribs are not in view, as they were covered up by the brisket, which I ordered with a little fat and bark. The blackened surface of the brisket in the photo makes it look burned, but this is not the case; it is largely a discoloration of the generous rub, and it is an indicator of the brisket's having been smoked for a very long time.
My assessment? (See below.)
Here's how it stacks up: The brisket was wonderfully tender and smoky as I expected, but I have to give a slight edge to Franklin's in Austin. It is, however, only a slight edge; the brisket at Black's certainly holds its own. The sausage and ribs that I had here at Black's were better than Franklin's, in my opinion.
We sat in the dining room for a while after lunch, hoping the Rapture would occur somehow before we had to get up from our chairs.
|Black's Dining Room|
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I do not appreciate it enough each day.