Two years ago I traveled to San Antonio visiting Coopers BBQ in Mason on the way down (Not bad but nothing to write home about), then making a trip to City Market in Luling (excellent brisket, good sausage). So this year on our SA visit, I got the wife to agree to a Lockhart trip. We visited Smitty's, Black's, and Kreuz's, buying a slice of fatty brisket (roughly 3/4", or 1/2 lb.) and a sausage ring at each.
We hit Smitty's at about 11:15. There were only 4-5 customers in the dining area. We got our brisket and ring and found a seat. I thought Smitty's wasn't supposed to have sides - they had beans, cole slaw, potato salad, tomatoes, and avacados. We were only interested in the meat, however, and it was incredible. The slice we got was not very black on the outside, didn't have much of a visible pink ring either, but WOW, was it ever moist and tender. And the smokey flavor was deep and rich and heavenly. Incredible - never had anything like it. The sausage was good also, best of the 3 in Lockhart, but nothing like the brisket.
We walked into Blacks at about 11:30. Once again, there were only 5-6 customers. We got the brisket and the jalapeno sausage. The brisket was good, though a bit tougher and less moist than Smitty's. The sausage was so juicy (fatty) that if you took a 1" cut section and squeezed it, you had a large puddle of drippings. The taste was OK, was actually improved by using their sauce. The brisket was good but not great.
We were at Kreuz's at about 11:50. There were 30-40 people there. The brisket was about the same dryness as Blacks, but my first taste was extremely salty. After trimming most of the fat, it was pretty good, though it was the toughest of the 3. The sausage was pretty awfull. The flavor was off and it was dry. Best thing about Kreuz's? A scoop of Blue Bell strawberry for only a buck + tax to clear the smoke and fat taste.
On our return drive (6/5), we made a detour through Llano to try the Cooper's there. Didn't get there until 2 PM, but they were very crowded. I noticed that most customers seemed to be buying chicken halves and ribs, and that most were having their meat dipped in a pot of sauce (if you could call it that - watery, peppery, thin stuff). Undeterred, I ordered my brisket and sausage (Only got about a 6" section - their rings are about 3 feet long). Didn't have either dipped. A mistake. The sausage, which is the exact consistency of an Eckrich or Hillshire Farms, was cold - or lukewarm at best, and had no smokiness at all (still, it was better than Kreuz's). The brisket was too dry, but had decent flavor. Maybe 2 PM was too late to get moist brisket, but I've eaten at Cooper's in Mason twice and in Llano once, and none were moist or tender.
So here's my highly subjective rating:
Brisket: #1-Smitty's, #2-Kreuz's, #3-Black's, #4-Cooper's
Sausage: #1-Smitty's, #2-Cooper's, #3-Black's, #4-Kreuz's
Regarding sausage - Kreuz's was so awful and Black's so greasy that I actually liked Cooper's better, though none were very good.
Regarding brisket - Kreuz's and Black's were close to being a toss-up. Cooper's was far below, and Smitty's was so incredibly better that words fail me. I've never had anything so good in my life. After we left Kreuz's we went back to Smitty's (about 12:20 Saturday) to get their ballcap and let the cook know our experience. The restaurant was fairly crowded by then.
What about City Market in Luling? It's been 2 years, but if I remember correctly, it would rank #1 in this group for sausage (I remember it being very very good) and #2 behind Smitty's in brisket - Smitty's brisket was REALLY incredible.
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