Finally was able to set aside enough time for some BBQ cruisin'! Flew into Austin and immediately headed south on 183 for Lockhart. I ended up hitting 3 spots, ordering 1/3 lb of brisket and a sausage ring at each.
First stop was Black's. My 2nd visit and every bit as good as I remember. It was about 4:30 PM and the place was virtually empty. Brisket was not the best cut...looked like the clod had been around since lunch. But it was excellent. Succulent, great texture, strong smoky flavor. I ordered a 1/2 ring of jalapeño, but the pitmaster commented the ring he was going to cut was small, so he gave me the whole thing. I like the coarse and loose texture of the sausage down here, and the jalapeño version left a nice glow in the mouth.
Next stop was down the street at Smitty's. 1st visit, and it was a trip walking into the freaking hot pit. I ordered this to go for munching on the drive to Luling. Brisket portion was the healthiest of the three, and also the most thickly sliced. It was good, but not as good as Black's. Texture was a bit drier, and the smoke flavor was not as pronounced. The sausage was excellent. Similar texture to Black's, but more of the traditional TXBBQ sausage flavor going on.
Last stop was City Market in Luling. Another trippy place. At first I wasn't sure whether you were actually supposed to go into the pit, but finally saw the In and Out signs. The pit was packed with customers, most buying cold sausage rings by the tens and twenties. I picked up a knife while waiting for my Shiner Bock ($1.25!!!) and mistakenly asked for a fork. "No forks...fingers only!" OK by me. I did try a bit of their sauce which was interesting. Definitely not traditionally TX, but it complemented the meat nicely. I now understand where the Salt Lick sauce is coming from (not that I like it). I'd rate the brisket better than Smitty's, not as good as Black's...just not the same intense smoke flavor. Sausage was in 3rd place out of the 3. Texture was very similar to the others, but flavor was kinda flat.
I'm second-guessing myself as to whether I should have also hit Kreuz, Chisholm Trail and the other BBQ in Luling across the street from City Market. I could have, but would have been miserable on the drive back to Austin. I'll save them for next time, or maybe just do another swing this trip...I have a late flight out on Monday. Hmmmmmm....