Texas bound

March 20, 2010 • 1:54 pm

BBQ, cowboy boots—need I say more?  Starting tomorrow I’ll be in Texas for a week, first visiting Texas State in San Marcos, where I’ll give a public talk on evolution (and sign books), a departmental seminar on my day job, and a panel discussion with theologians, philosophers, and psychologists.  These folks are getting their money’s worth, so I expect copious amounts of BBQ.

Fig. 1.  BBQ Texas style: beef brisket and “hot guts” at Kreuz Market, Lockhart.

Then I head to Austin to give another talk on flies to the Section of Integrative Biology (what a name!) at The University of Texas.  Chicken-fried steak is there.

Fig. 2. Chicken-fried steak with the trimmings.  Hoover’s, Austin.

And, of course, visits to the local bootmakers.

Fig. 3.  Shoe of the week for my little bagels. Water buffalo boots by Lee Miller, Texas Traditions, Austin.

The usual pinch-bloggers, Greg Mayer and Matthew Cobb, will be filling in for the next week. Greg promises to finally finish his series on the color of tapirs.

54 thoughts on “Texas bound

  1. While Texas BBQ is not to be missed under any circumstances, I would recommend passing up the chicken fried steak for some good TexMex (assuming you like spicy).

    1. I am open to food recommendations, but it has to be GOOD STUFF. I have only a few opportunities for field work! Yes, spicy is good.

      1. Salt Lick in Driftwood TX. Very good, but doesn’t and cannot live up to its famous rep. This is a memorable bbq joint in a beautiful setting outside Austin.

        I challenge you as a jew to demolish as much send-you-to-hell pork as my muslim in-laws did during a recent visit. But you look serious here and up to the task, which is good.

        If you find a better place than Salt Lick in or near Austin, or anywhere in TX, please post, as this is valuable info that will be put to good use.

        1. Umm. . . the métier of Texas pitmen is BEEF, not pork! Just give me 3/4 pound of fatty BBQ brisket on a sheet of butcher paper, a raw onion, a stack of saltines, and a longneck. Ah, wilderness were paradise, enow!

          1. Yes, professor, but they do a damn fine job with the ribs too, and you can’t tell us that the apostasy sauce doesn’t make ’em taste even better.

        2. Ah, commented too soon, as I see you’ve got this covered below.

          You have your own smoker? New Braunfels used to make solid ones, but they became cheapy and I’m not sure who their competition is these days.

  2. How fortuitous! My very good friend Lamar Hankins just reviewed your book in the local San Marcos online paper, and he just told me by phone that he’s going to meet you sometime Tuesday and will be attending your presentation. I picked up the phone to say “Hey, this great guy Jerry Coyne’s gonna be in town,” and lo and behold, he’s on it.

    Here’s his column. I haven’t read it yet, but Lamar tells me the creowhackos are out in force in the comments section:


    You’ll like Lamar. He’s a longtime social justice activist, former director of the Texas ACLU chapter. He was one of my bosses on the board of the organization I work for, and still serves as the chairman of my legal committee. He also knows the best damn BBQ joints around.

  3. Your getting bbq in the wrong place, Austin is the bbq capital of the world. I can easily recommend a few places there. Wish you were coming to Dallas.

    1. You’re talking to a BBQ connoisseur here. I’ve been to the Iron Works and Salt Lick, and both, while creditable, were nowhere near as good as, for instance, the City Market in Luling. If you’re claiming that Austin has BBQ as good as that, or as good as the beef emporia of Lockhart, name the places!

      1. Jerry, you might try Kreuz Market:


        My friend took me there last time – deeeelicious smoked meat and BBQ. Very plain Jane, though – don’t expect 16 kinds of side dish. But they do carve your meat to order and serve it up with a stack of white bread and butter. Mmmmm.

        1. Ha! See caption to Fig. 1. If my luck holds, I’ll be able to try Kreuz, Black’s, and Smitty’s in Lockhart. And then Louis Muller near Austin.

          1. There are no forks at Kreuz Market. The photo appears to be accurate.

            Stubbs BBQ in Downtown Austin, and Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ (in North Austin) are also highly recommended.

            Kreuz does have a certain flair in their presentation, however.

      2. Well, one of my favorites in just north of austin is elgin which is famous for its sausages. I also have a very good friend who’s family has owns a bbq place named Black’s Barbecue, which is in Lockhart and is fairly famous.

    2. Nothing in Austin holds a candle to Kreuz, but if you’re going as far as Lockhart, go the other direction to Llano and get really, really good BBQ at Coopers.

      Hoover’s is as good as any for CFS, unless you want to travel all the way to San Angelo and Zentner’s Daughter.

  4. The boots don’t look very edible, but I’ll have the other stuff. I wonder what’s in the hot guts? Where I’m at sausages are so bad that I’m considering making my own (bu they’ll be skinless – I don’t know where to get the pig gut epithelium or where to get a tool for stuffing it).

  5. Well. That reminds me of the issue of herding cats.
    Peter Singer, the atheists ethicist, promotes vegeterianism for all. He makes his case based on animal rights concerns as well environmental issues having to due with methane production and climate change.
    I am not really into the animal liberation thing but I have cut back my consumption of beef and diary prodcuts, essentially on health and environmental grounds. Still, I don’t thin many atheists will come on board with that and Dr Coyne clearly doesn’t.
    (Singer goes so far as to say he is trying to put the beef industry out of business. He also thinks that living a life of luxury while people in the third world are starving is immoral. But I did not leave one guilt-based ideology to get ensnared in another. I think, to put it mildly, Peter Singer is a very impractical person).

  6. It surely oughtta give pause to the creationaries down there to find the devil incarnate sporting manly footware!

  7. You definitely know your stuff when it comes to the local BBQ! Hoovers, Iron Works, Kreuz’s, Blacks, and Smitty’s are all great. Salt Lick is good, but sort of overrated. I wholeheartedly second the recommendation of Cooper’s in Llano! One other place you might want to try is Sam’s Bar-B-Cue at 2000 E. 12th Street in Austin. It’s not much to look at, but the food is great and the people are friendly as can be. Artz Rib House on South Lamar is decent, but I think the other places already mentioned are probably better. Their baby back ribs do have a way of slidin’ off the bone, though!

    Enjoy your visit, and happy eatin’!

  8. “Greg promises to finally finish his series on the color of tapirs.”

    Perhaps we can consolidate, and Greg can BBQ a tapir for us?

    I usually feast repeatedly on Mexican food when I visit Texas.

  9. Nothing green on the menu then, Jerry? Those are some awfully yellow/brown pics up there – even the boots! Get some veg in your bod!

  10. If the BBQ is as good as you say it is, why ruin it with what looks like horrible mass produced bread ?

    1. Mass-produced white bread, or plain saltines, are THE starch to have with good BBQ. It’s hard for me to explain this, but the soft, unflavored bread acts as a palliative (palate-ive?) for the hot sauce, and also sops up some of that sauce. All the best BBQ joints, whether in Texas or Chicago, recognize this.

      1. Some pretty bloody sanguinolent farewell tailgate party! Dont forget the pineapples-it may help your pancreas. Out of curiosity: how do you wash down all this flesh? Some have claimed margaritas were invented in Texas! (another creationist myth) Maybe a rattlesnake punch or armadillo sangria?

        1. I say good beer (if you can get) it is the drink to go with BBQ — but for most places one has to make do with iced tea.

          I’m not really a fan of Wonder Bread myself, even with BBQ. But I like the BBQ beans as a sidedish.

          1. The cole slaw and slices of raw onion will help you digest the meat, and the white bread is just an edible napkin.

          2. i did exhautive research: not even texans know, i found ‘shiner beer’: total hoax…..they tell me that in older times, they drank moonshine, tequila and draft beer-barrel beer

      2. Asking about the bread makes me chuckle. We are talking Texas BBQ. Texans eat dry rub beef smoked over hardwood – usually mesquite – a very simple way to cook meat. We also eat beans that haven’t been doctored up with a bunch of chili powder or syrup – just beans boiled in water with a little salt pork for seasoning. The bread is just plain bread, just like the rest of the fare.

  11. Texas state in San Marcos was the first place I learned about evolution and natural selection. We took a trip there in 7th grade and we learned about the albino newts and fish down in the aquifer well. Its sad that you will not be visiting TX A&M. have a great trip and enjoy the BBQ.

  12. Black’s in Lockhart is my favorite, but you can’t miss if you go to any place there. The Salt Lick has an unrivalled beautiful setting, but it’s probably still a bit too chilly to enjoy it (it’s outdoors). I must disagree with the Cooper’s recommendation, though . . . my husband Mr. Science, a BBQ god himself, and our family were very disappointed. In Austin, Hoover’s food is great and has a wide variety of delicious Southern food.

    1. Really difficult to believe you experienced bad BBQ at Coopers. I’ve supped at hundreds of joints around Texas and have found few as consistently good as Coopers. The only joint higher on my list is Smitty’s in Brownwood. No atmosphere at Smitty’s – just damn good meat.

  13. First picture makes me glad to be a vegetarian. Honestly, you can do better! I was just in Austin and loved 24 Diner on Lamar and 6th. Fantastic food, with great vegetarian options. But if you must eat critters, there’s that too.

  14. One good out of this: nobody here, with few exceptions, would qualify as a nude PETA poster model…holly molly!!

  15. Get stuck into the steaks, Jerry!

    Rabbits eat vegies, and s’pose it is great if you want white fur and red eyes!

    Meeting up with Matt Dillahunty BTW?
    Matt is a living proof that all is not lost for Texas.

  16. THE place for real Texas BBQ is Cooper’s in Llano. People come from all over Texas to visit their vast smoke pits.

    Prof Coyne — If you stop in Houston, I’d be proud to offer you an unforgettable meal at Fogo de Chao, if you let me know.

    1. Yes, several people here have mentioned Cooper’s to me–especially their famous BBQ smoked pork chop! I’m not doing too badly: we hit both Kreuz Market AND Smitty’s in Lockhart today. I may get to Cooper’s later this week.

      1. Yes, the pork chop is far and away their best item. You’ve evidently been informed by those who know whereof they speak!

  17. Here’s a recommendation. When all appointments are done:
    Hop on I-10 West.
    Keep on it ’til the exit for Ft. Stockton and take it.
    Find 385 south and take it all the way to the junction with the park ranger station in Big Bend National Park.
    Turn right and head to Study Butte.
    Turn left toward Terlingua (on 170 I think).
    Soon, on the l.h.s find Rio Bravo, a small family restaurant. Excellent Tex-Mex. It’s BYO so have a cooler of beer handy.
    And remember to finish dinner before sunset because you want to head down to the Starlight Theatre, get a beer (or two or ?) and hang out on the porch looking east and watching the setting sun illuminate the Chisos Mountains. It just doesn’t get any better. And I haven’t even mentioned Big Bend National Park (it’d take too long).
    Big Bend country is the best of Texas (and possibly the country).

    1. Now Pete here has a fine recipe for a truly excellent Texas experience. The Big Bend area is the last bastion of real Texas. Not much there, but what you find is unforgettable.

      Sadly, the informal border crossing points are all but shut down, otherwise a trip to Boquillas del Carmen would be something to talk about in years to come.

  18. Isn’t it about time that evolutionists brought their ethics into line with their science? As philosopher James Rachels writes in Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism, “the rule against causing unnecessary pain is the least eccentric of all moral principles, and that rule leads straight to the conclusion that we should abandon the business of meat production and adopt alternative diets.”

    Meat eaters are the Jerry Falwells of ethics. At least Richard Dawkins recognizes that he OUGHT to become vegetarian, even if he doesn’t have the “social courage” (his term) to do so.

    1. Reference the study indicating plants register pain, though, and we’re back at the drawing board — the ethical things is to starve oneself?

      1. Yes, I know, it’s hard to tell the difference between a cabbage and a cow, isn’t it? Especially after that fifth whisky.

        Plants are sensitive, but are not sentient.

        1. “Yes, I know, it’s hard to tell the difference between a cabbage and a cow, isn’t it?”

          Ah, the “value by cuteness” argument. If you can pet it, it’s not nice to eat… because as far as cows being sentient, I’ve some houseplants that seem positively brilliant in comparison.

          If the argument were phrased in terms of acres of arable land needed, or gallons of fresh water, you’d be standing on much firmer ground — you’d have empirical numbers to support you, rather than simply emotion.

          In other words, there are strong arguments to be made in favor of vegetarianism, but “oh, those poor animals,” while appealing to emotion, doesn’t have the empirical weight of some of the others.

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