First, let me thank all the hounds who've posted about these places on this board. Without the information and mouthwatering descrptions you've generously offered, I'd probably have dined along the Riverwalk this whole trip--my first visit to Texas. As it was, I found your posts so compelling, I couldn't resist prioritizing Luling over the Alamo.
I've been told that the SF Bay Area doesn't really have any good barbeque. I guess if the standard is the City Market , that is only too true. I drove to Luling this morning, and ordered 2 ribs, a couple of slices of brisket, and a sausage. First bite into a tender juicy pork rib, and the long, solo haul from San Antonio seemed like a short stroll. So this is what it's all about! The brisket, streaked with fat (at last! brisket that is a worthy relation to the best corned beef and pastrami in New York) was smoky on the outside, but moist, unalloyed beefiness on the inside. And what a lovely sausage! Just the way I like it: a coarse grind, packed not too tightly, crisp-smoked skin, and dripping with flavorful sausage juice. The house-made sauce was a masterpiece in itself. It was a perfect complement to all the meats, with its sweet-tart-spicy flavors nicely balanced. I like chillies, and I like heat, but more would have spoiled the way this marvelous sauce worked. I also have a whole slab of ribs and a mayonnaise jar of sauce waiting to end their days in California.
I managed to get myself to Smitty's for a second round of lunch. What a marvelous place! Log fires at either end of the pit. . . so like an ancient cathedral with centuries of soot covering everything! I ordered a slice of brisket, prime rib, and a pork chop. Except for the pork chop, the meat was an anitclimax after City Market: the brisket was thickly sliced and rather dry; the prime rib was just ok. But the pork chop was moist and smoky, leading me to wonder if pork really is the best medium for the art of barbecue. (And no, I did not manage to finish everything. But the remains are in my fridge, and may end up traveling with me, too.)
And just a little while ago, I joined DH on his pilgrimage to Rudy's for dinner. Work often interferes with DH's ability to find the really good stuff. We had brisket, turkey, sausage, and baby back ribs, along with the coleslaw, creamed corn, and peach cobbler. Sad to say, the brisket was very dry--nothing, but nothing, compared with City Market's version. (It may have just been a bad day for brisket here. ) The ribs and sausage were competent: but again, I would have enjoyed them more, had I not been to Luling earlier. As for the sauce, after the perfection of City Market's, well, Rudy's just seemed to drown out the flavor in the meat. But the revelation of the evening was the turkey. Normally, I dislike turkey. Dislike it enough to serve duck, chicken, beef, or capon instead on Thanksgiving. But this was wonderful turkey! Moist, with a flavor between chicken and pork chops--none of that somewhat soapy taste turkey normally has for me. The rub and the smoke were perfect seasoning. I think we will start having turkey at Thanksgiving again (and lots of other times, too) if I can get it to taste like it did at Rudy's tonight.
Tomorrow, I eat fish and see the Alamo. Thank you!