After I posted my previous BBQ adventures, some Chowhounds suggested that I should have tried Black's, in Lockhart. Subsequently I have read several rave reviews of their food, so was determined to try it out the next time I got to Texas.
-I was asked to play with a band from New Orleans that was performing in Austin on Oct. 19. Luckily, the sponsors were able to book an air ticket for me that got me in on Oct. 16th, so I would have a couple of days to have more BBQ!
As soon as I landed in Austin on the 16th I rented a car and drove to Lockhart, for lunch at Kreuz Market. The food was just as good as I remembered from my previous trip. The fat brisket was thick-cut and the sausage had a wonderful, complex flavor. I only ordered small portions at Kreuz--to save room for dinner at Black's.
About an hour before they closed (8 p.m.) I made it to Black's. I ordered the same meats as I had at Kreuz, earlier in the day. (This time I had a larger portion of brisket). As soon as I bit into the brisket, I understood the raves about Black's that have been posted on the Chowhound site. It was fantastic! Though it was leaner than Kreuz', there was plenty of flavor, lots of smoke and a beautiful crust. The sausage was comparable to Kreuz'--delicious. With saltines, pickles and onions (and great sauce)this was a memorable meal.
The following day, after sightseeing in San Antonio, I had lunch at City Market in Luling. I have to rate this as the best BBQ I have had in Texas. On a scale of 1 to 10, the brisket and sausage were 20s. I considered just having one meal that day and going back for more of everything, but decided to hold off.
Later in the day, I drove back through Lockhart and decided to eat at Black's once more. I remembered seeing some great-looking ribs on a fellow diner's plate the night before, so this time I added ribs to the order. The ribs were fantastic--incredibly meaty, tender and flavorful. However, with the extra meat, the whole thing was more than I could eat, so I wrapped the unfinished meat, saltines, sauce, pickles and onions in foil and took it all back to my hotel in Austin for a late-night snack.
On the 18th I decided to forego BBQ for a day. I wanted to have gorditas (almost impossible to find where I live in North San Diego county). I spotted a Taquerias Arandinas just off I-35, near the junction with 290. Some previous posts on Chowhound were favorable to T-A so I wanted to try it out. It took awhile to get on the right access road, despite the place being in plain view from I-35 in both directions. When I finally pulled into the parking lot, it looked deserted, but I saw some movement through the window. Once inside, I was the only Anglo, but the service was courteous and fast. I ordered gorditas, with picadillo filling. The gorditas I have had in San Antonio and El Paso have been smallish--almost the equivalent of mini-pita bread with filling. At Taquerias Arandinas, the gorditas were massive. They were more like thick corn cakes, with meat filling. I ate what I could, but there was no way to finish this huge meal. I also hated to leave the excellent chips and two kinds of salsa, but I think it was the right decision.
That night I dined at the home of one of the concert sponsors, so missed having dinner "out" in Austin. (Just as well; I was still somewhat full from lunch at Arandinas).
The hotel provided breakfast the day of the concert (Oct. 19) and I skipped lunch. Following the concert, the sponsors took the band to dinner at County Line on the Lake. One of the sponsors apologized, saying he knew that I had eaten in Lockhart and Luling and hoped the "commercial" County Line would still be enjoyable. It was. Their beef ribs are the best thing on the menu, for my taste. I do wish that CL would separate the side dishes into individual plastic or paper cups so that the potato salad, cole slaw, beans and sauce wouldn't all run together.
This morning I had a light breakfast of muffin and coffee at Peet's (never was able to locate a CC's--my favorite coffee house). The muffin took the edge off my appetite and I didn't have Salt Lick BBQ at the Austin Airport. (Though the airport prices admittedly put me off. A sandwich at the Salt Lick airport stand was more than I spent for a huge meal at City Market and Black's).
Thanks to all of you who recommended Black's. You were right! I have yet to try Smitty's, Salt Lick, Cooper's and I do want to give Louis Mueller's another try. I look forward to my next trip to BBQ country--after some serious dieting and veggie meals here at home!