Well, I did it. I rented a car, put on my "I (heart) bacon" tshirt, and ate a bunch of meat!
First up was City Market in Luling. We asked for sausage and ribs, and they gave us sausage, ribs, and brisket. Sausage was good but not particularly flavorful, brisket was not great (kind of lean and a tad dry), ribs were good but not mind-blowing, with a good glaze-y crust thing on the outside. The sauce was definitely good on the brisket and kicked it up a notch, mmm. I loved the little room they have you go into, there are guys in there with hard hats on (at least, when I was there), and the guy we talked to had an accent so thick I could barely understand what he was saying. The reverse is probably true also, which is probably why we got brisket when we didn't ask for any. I had to force myself to put down the sausage so I'd have room for other meat, cause man, I was hungry when we got there.
Next stop was Black's in Lockhart, where we ordered only the brisket. It was *delicious*, and ended up being the clear winner of the day. Fatty and melty and just everything I've ever wanted from brisket without even knowing I wanted it. Man it was good. I'm salivating just thinking about it. I did try the cornbread, which was dry and uninspired, but the banana pudding was actually pretty tasty.
Last up was Smitty's, also in Lockhart, where we got brisket and sausage (and yes, the atmosphere was great with a huge smoky room that looks kind of intimidating). Brisket was dry, not really up to snuff, probably a little less tasty than City Market's. The sausage, however, was fantastic. My only quibble was that maybe it wasn't as flavorful as I'd have liked it to be, but otherwise.... mm. The skin popped loudly when I bit into it (each bite, even, not just the first one), and hot sausage grease squirted into my mouth and all over my hands. I spent quite some time licking my fingers. Oh, it was a wonderful experience.
I'm sad I didn't order the ribs somewhere other than City Market, cause I am a big fan of ribs and wasn't wowed by the City Market ones. If I had brisket like at Black's somewhere nearby where I live in Maryland, I'd be a huge fan of brisket too, but I haven't found any. And oh, Smitty's sausage. A friend pointed out that it's alliterative, Black's brisket and Smitty's sausage were the winners. If I had to pick one item, though, it'd be Black's brisket that was the champ (on Tuesday, June 16, between 11:30 am and 2 pm).
All I ate that evening were some chips and cheese dip.... I was still full and sleepy from all the meat!
Much thanks to scrumptiouschef's for the recommendations, and I'm jealous that you all in Austin get to be around such tasty meat all the time!