Texas, Day 10: Lagrange to Austin via Lockhart

April 8, 2021 • 12:00 pm

Yes, today is my last half-day in Texas, as I’m flying home around noon from Austin. But I didn’t leave without one more visit to a BBQ joint. Yesterday I decided to go back to Black’s (homage to Amy Winehouse) in Lockhart, as I hadn’t tried their famous Giant Beef Ribs, and it was only a half-hour drive to the Austin Airport, near where I stayed last night.

The drive from La Grange to Lockhart was lovely, going mostly on small roads through tiny towns—just the kind of drive I like. I’ve managed to almost completely avoid the Interstate Highway system here, though Texas state roads can also be large and soulless.

When I saw a bunch of cows huddled around a giant wooden cross, I knew I had to stop. How often does one see good Christian beeves?

I stopped and communed with the cows for a while. They were much tamer than most of the cows I’ve encountered, which tend to move away from you. One even came up to me and thrust its muzzle against the fence, demanding a petting:

This cow was really demanding, so I had to pet and scratch its head for a while:

On to Black’s, where my heart was set on a giant beef rib. I haven’t had too many ribs this trip, and Black’s serves the Mother of All Ribs. You’ll see what I mean below.

The unprepossessing entrance with a GIANT BEEF RIBS! sign:

The line at 11:15 (Black’s opens at 10 a.m.) Ten minutes later it was out the door.

As you wait for your ‘cue, salivating over the smells from the pit, you pass a picture of one of the Black family with LBJ, who used to throw BBQs, complete with a chuck wagon, for dignitaries visiting the Western White House.

These, I guess, are the owners themselves in days of yore:

The dining room (there are two), full of happy people. How can you be glum when eating BBQ?

The menu. You have to choose quickly. The giant beef ribs aren’t cheap—$18.99 per pound—but I was going to get one come hell or high water.

You start by ordering the sides (usually the meat order is first), and then go one-on-one with the Meat Man, who cuts and weighs your BBQ:

My plate: a giant beef rib with my usual sides: potato salad and pinto beans. There were also gratis onions and pickles, and I purchased one of their homemade jalapeño corn muffins. I got a small container of sauce, but used it for only one dip. Texas BBQ is invariably degraded by sauce—except at the City Market in Luling, which makes a magic elixir that really enhances the meat.

That rib weighed well over a pound, but I was hungry. Here’s a side view with my finger for scale. It’s like a huge gob of brisket on a stick!

And praise me, people, for I ate well and finished the entire plate except for some big pieces of fat on the rib:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, concludes my BBQ tour of Texas. Here’s a list of my bests for foods (and remember, I had but one visit to every place but Black’s):

Best brisket: Louis Mueller, Taylor

Best brisket with sauce: The City Market, Luling

Best beef rib: Black’s, Lockhart

Best sausages: Louis Mueller, Taylor

Best BBQ pork chop:  Cooper’s, Llano

Best breakfast: Migas at The Monument Cafe, Georgetown

Best pie: Chocolate cream pie with pecan crust and a thick topping of whipped cream, The Monument Cafe, Georgetown

Best coleslaw: Louis Mueller, Taylor (it was really fresh and had some spice to it)

Best local ambiance: Peter’s BBQ, Ellinger

Best chicken-fried steak: (not this trip, but overall): Hoover’s, Austin

Coyne’s Blue Ribbon for BBQ: Louis Mueller, Taylor

Remember: this represents only ten days of eating. Texas is big and there must be thousands of BBQ joints here. I have not yet begun to eat.

36 thoughts on “Texas, Day 10: Lagrange to Austin via Lockhart

  1. Thank you so much! Wonderful travel-writing! We have great food in France, but I long to taste professional BBQ, especially brisket with sauce…

    George

  2. So, Louis Mueller it is. I’m guessing you could go full time through the BBQs of Texas for two or three years and never get done. I do not remember this being a seasonal thing, BBQ is year round I think. Some of them to a nice job with other things, like turkey as well. You can od on just cow or pig sometimes and need a break. Another thing you do not see in these places is salad. I have to skip the sweet tea thing but other than that, you cannot beat it.

  3. I’m pretty sure those cows were not worshiping jebus, but rather taking advantage of a conveniently-placed scratching post. Cows are rather practical folk.

    1. He really should have stopped at the closest house and asked what the deal is with that cross. I have seen some weird religious things down here in Kansas but not that. Maybe it was connected to Easter?

      1. Who can ever truly comprehend the actions of those infected with religion? Perhaps it was put up by some redneck St. Francis of Assisi trying to convert cattle to the ways of the lawd. Cattle may not be brilliant but they’re certainly not sheep!

    1. Because burgers are not something you’ll normally find in a BBQ joint. Bison should smoke well though

    2. Where are the aurochs? that’s what I want to know. If people want to do “rewilding” in a “Pleistocene Park” that would be the beast to start with. Texas would probably bulk-order them, for the stereotypes.

    3. Many years ago when I worked at Hughes Aircraft in Irvine CA one of the developers would fly in from north LA (that’s how bad the traffic was) and for lunch he would fly us over to Catalina Island where there was a herd of bison, the local restaurant featured locally sourced bison burgers.

      1. Well that puts walking down the street to get a sandwich to shame. My current screen picture is of Catalina Island, it definitely looks nicer than the rain soaked urban street scene outside the window.

  4. Holy crap that looks good. I’d like to try their banana pudding, too. Whenever I start traveling to Texas again….

  5. “Back to Black’s” is, physically and emotionally, much healthier than “back to black”!
    Thanks for the pics and stories, hoping to get back to BBQ country later in the year.

  6. I have always wondered why barbecue joints throughout the south and into Texas serve awful factory produced white bread. A nice slice of home-baked Sourdough bread would be much better to accompany the meats. Texas was heavily settled by Germans and Czechs who originally baked awesome breads; too bad they lost the custom.

    1. If I had to speculate – it would be one of those ‘good enough for what it’s for’ scenarios. And for BBQ, it’s a real estate question, no? You need enough room for all that meat (the star) and those sides, but occasionally would need something to sop up the juices? Or catch the juices? And as we all know, that ‘awful, factory produced white bread’ compacts amazingly and is very absorbent. It also wouldn’t compete in flavor with anything else on the plate.

    2. We used to go to a place that just sold ribs. You could order the BBQ sandwich, but that was just the same ribs with two slices of bread.
      They had a big sign that read- “No beans, no slaw, don’t ask.”

  7. It’s been an absolute delight. Planning my Eclipse 2024 Texas trip appropriately with this additional information. Thank you for sharing!

  8. When I saw a bunch of cows huddled around a giant wooden cross, I knew I had to stop. How often does one see good Christian beeves?

    Obvs, praying they won’t be eaten by Jerry Coyne before he blows town. 🙂

        1. They are cows. Cows are not long-term thinkers. They were probably praying for someone to scratch their heads.

          1. Yeah, that seems to be case for most believers in intercessory prayer — a strong preference for head scratching over ratiocination.

  9. Thank you for a wonderful culinary experience on your trip to Texas Jerry. I have copied your list and when I get to Texas sometime in the future I will be heading to your recommended BBQ joints. All the best.

  10. I bet the best brisket has everything to do with freshness of the cuts.

    I could have sworn I once had a beef rib that was more like a gigantic leg bone – I wonder if they saw the bone for convenience.

    I’d argue that BBQ has everything to do with the outdoors – perhaps a good theme for another great Texas adventure.

    Great travelogue series – moar pleez!

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