Carnivore Tour – Apr 2021

If you are vegan, please stop reading now.  You won’t find anything I say or do even slightly amusing or entertaining.  You’ll just get the same feeling my wife feels about me.

Many years back during a multi-city, multi-day marketing event, a colleague and good friend who shall remain nameless (Brian Giuffrida) nicknamed our marketing event the Carnivore Tour, based on my restaurant selections that week.  Apparently, I may have been a little heavy-handed in the meat department.  Let’s just say no one was passing out from iron deficiency that week.  I have named this post similarly as a tribute to all things good.

To give this protein obsession further perspective, years ago my wife left me in charge of the kids while she was on a multi-day business trip out west.  My daughter, never one to feel awed or intimidated by my incredible aura, brilliance, or cooking skills, called my wife and complained that all dad cooked was meat.  Kids.

Fast forward to today; here we are in Texas.  My wife, ever the one to lob fuel on a smoker, so to speak, says maybe we should try some good barbecue joints!  Yes dear, if we must.  [Roll forlorn sad eyes].   So off we go in search of BBQ… to Lockhart, TX.

Lockhart is really a cool little town, located just a bit south and east of Austin.  We stayed at the Longhorn RV Resort.  Now clearly resorts are wasted on us as we don’t use many if any of their amenities; more ordinarily you will find us in a Walmart or Cracker Barrel parking lot.  But this campground is in a decent location, was a great site situated on a lake, and we weren’t asked to leave.

By no less than the state legislature of Texas, Lockhart has been recognized as the BBQ capitol of Texas!  Of course, when was the last time you went to your state government to get the best advice on restaurants?   On the other hand, who do you think knows more about good restaurants than politicians.

Don’t ask me how I know this, but there are some great BBQ places here in Texas.  But we wanted to try some new (to us) places, and so we started in the BBQ capitol.

Even though we were in Texas where the governor has eliminated the requirement for masks, these (and other) businesses we visited (except for Tyler’s) required masks other than when you were seated and eating.

Here’s what we found… your mileage will vary.

Kreuze Market (pro Krites – Lockhart).  This place looks more like a rail-siding warehouse that sells feed and grain than a BBQ restaurant.  “Give me a 50-pound bag of feed, an auger, and a rack of ribs.”   This was the least-busy place we visited, and while we weren’t necessarily dining at prime time at any of the places we visited, this may have been indicative based on our results.

Forget about trays or plates here.  The meat gets served to you on butcher paper.  Ribs, brisket, sausage, whatever you order, comes to you in a pile on paper.  To the squeamish, this might seem a bit much.  To a carnivore like myself, it was kind of cool.

When I go to a BBQ place, I generally start my assessment with their brisket, since this (IMHO) is the toughest meat to get right.  I have to say, the brisket at Kreuze was disappointing – a bit tough and really kind of flavorless.  On the other hand, their sausage may have been the best I’ve had!   The pork ribs and baked beans were very good.  This place didn’t have much for a vibe, but clearly had the richest history and time-in-rate of the places we visited.

Salt Lick BBQ (Driftwood).  This place is fun, and definitely has very good BBQ.  It is also out in the middle of nowhere, but that seemed not to detract from attendance.  I imagine on a weekend this place would be an hours-wait kind of place because for sure this place is a destination (cash and BYOB just so you are aware).   The brisket was very good, the beef and pork ribs were good (the beef rib was a bit tough), and the beans were good.

This place has a super cool vibe, and part of this facility is a winery.  It is a built into a vineyard and a stand of Live Oaks – as you can see from the pictures.  These are beautiful yet gnarly trees that offer shade and comfort.

If we were coming back here (and we would), we would ask for the meat to be served dry.  They automatically put on a mustard-based sauce that I thought hid the flavor of the meat.  Let nothing stand between me and my BBQ.

Black’s Barbeque (Lockhart).   Righteousness; the skies open and the angels sing.  Everything here is great (brisket, beef ribs, sausage, pinto beans).  Cool vibe, cool part of town.  Spectacular, not unlike the results we found previously at Black’s in Austin.  This place is hands down the best.  Boom.

Tyler’s BBQ (Amarillo).  If we had gone into Tyler’s coming off the highway, or hadn’t had BBQ in a while, we would have been delighted.  And really, Tyler’s has nothing to be ashamed of.  It just, well, it wasn’t… IT.  Pretty decent brisket, sausage was pretty good, pork ribs were good (although I wasn’t a huge fan of their sauce – 17 ingredients I was told).  Everything was… good.  But nothing was the THING that made this place distinctive.

That’s it for now from the culinary taste capitol of our trailer.  We’ll post soon at our next stop… the Betty Ford Clinic for Meat-Substance Abuse.

Meat.  It’s what’s for dinner.

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