Monday, January 5, 2009

Saturday, December 13, 2008: Smitty's Market (Lockhart, Texas)

One down, one to go, as we left Black’s and headed (circuitously) to Smitty’s Market. Lesser mortals surely would back down from starting all over, 10 mines after finishing a full BBQ lunch; lucky for you, you’re not reading their blogs.

As we neared Smitty’s, questions flooded our minds: Will there, again, be an open fire on an ash-strewn floor? Are the pork ribs really as good as we remember? Will we vomit? Time would tell.

My take-home points for Smitty’s (after this visit, as well as after our first trip to Smitty’s): Fantastic ribs and bad service. This is the place to go for pork ribs but not the place to go if you want to feel welcome.

Our Commander-in-Beef, Russell, kicks off thoughts from the group: “Our second trip to Smitty's did not disappoint. If there was a way to meld the hospitality of Black's with the quality of moist brisket and succulent ribs of Smitty's…well, you would surely have the premiere BBQ joint of all time! (It would be similar to what you find at Louie Mueller's in Taylor, actually!) Pork ribs: These rival The Salt Lick’s as perhaps the greatest ribs of all time! The sweet glaze on these (I don't know what it is) was just incredible! This is my most highly recommended dish in the whole city of Lockhart. Man up tried (twice), man up tested (twice), man up approved (twice)! Beef brisket (two categories)…Moist/fatty: Hard to out-rank this on flavor! Lean/shoulder: Nice flavor, but tough like jerky. Sausage (hot links): Tremendously good sausage. Maybe the best you can find anywhere. Overall: Even if Smitty's service and hospitality can't touch Black's, you do have to give it up to Smitty's on overall quality of meat…some of the best you'll find anywhere, maybe the best in a lot of knowledgeable people's minds.”

Todd says, “Smitty's has great atmosphere and history. Located on the main square, the building is truly authentic to Texas! I ordered the prime rib this time around. Although pricy, my cut of meat was juicy and amazingly good. While I am not a huge fan of their cracked pork ribs, the prime rib is just dang good. My only complaint is having to pay for all the fatty parts of the prime rib; they need to trim that off before they put it on the scale. I followed up the day with a nice scoop of Blue Bell ice cream!”

Waiting in line next to the fire reminded Bo of his hot summer days working the line at The Salt Lick, next to the huge open pit. He writes, “Beef brisket: Almost mirrored Black's. The flavor was there but again, a bit over marbelized for my liking. Prime rib: Haven't had any better. Cooked perfectly, just enough on the rare side to maintain its flavor but warm enough to still be good after making your way through the brisket and ribs. Pork ribs: Fantastic. From listening to the conversations going on around the table I gathered maybe the ribs had a bit more sweet glaze than usual. Fine with me. The ribs were cooked to a good smoky flavor and the sweet glaze added just enough of something different to really give your taste buds a treat. Sweet Tea: Every BBQ joint in the South should serve sweet tea. ”

Julianne, whose judgment on BBQ is rock solid, is short and sweet: “Ribs: absolutely one of my favorites of all I have been to. The flavor and the glaze over tender juicy meat. Beef brisket: Moist/fatty: Unbelievable flavor and so moist. Overall: It is hard to give them a top score when their hospitality is not quiet par. But them after Black’s, is anything? The food though is far and above some of the best I have had so far.”

Jason rounds us out: “My favorite place in Lockhart and did not disappoint!! Best pork ribs I’ve had from them!!! Pretty much awesome!! Brisket was tough; I wanted the fatty brisket but got the shoulder (lean). Prime rib: WOW!! Great cut of meat; great flavor! (price not so nice.. 10 bucks for my one slice; but hey it’s prime rib) Sausage: tasty; wasn’t too oily as it normally is. Pork chop: fantastic!! Big chunk of swine moist, crispy ends ohhhhhh so good.”

Thus ended our second great trip to the Barbecue Capital of Texas. Russell sums it up nicely: “A trip to Lockhart reminds you what TX BBQ is all about…and it pretty well spoils you from ever enjoying average BBQ again.”

Russell’s scores – Pork ribs: 10; Moist brisket: 9.98; Lean brisket: 7.8; Sausage: 9.8; Overall experience: 9.93

Todd’s scores – Prime Rib: 9.5; Sweet Tea: 8.78; Blue Bell Ice Cream: 9.85; Overall experience: 9.1

Bo’s scores – Brisket: 8.2; Prime rib: 9.5; Pork ribs: 9.5; Overall experience: 9.1

Julianne’s scores – Pork ribs: 9.98; Moist brisket: 9.98; Overall experience: 9.98

Jason’s scores – Pork ribs: 9.9; Lean brisket: 7; Prime rib: 9.7; Sausage: 8; Pork chop: 9.4; Overall experience: 9

Amber’s scores – Pork ribs: 9.5; Sausage: 7.5; Ice cream: 9; Atmosphere: 2; Service: 0; Overall experience: 6

Amir’s scores – Brisket: 9.25; Sausage: 9.999999999; Pork Rib: 9.75; Prime Rib: 9.50; Pork Loin: 8.50; Overall experience: 9.75

Drew’s scores – Pork ribs: 9.8; Lean brisket: 9; Overall experience: 8.5

Brad’s scores – Pork ribs: 8.95; Brisket: 8; Sausage: 7.75; Ambiance: 8.75; Service: 3; Overall experience: 8.5

Overall Man-Up Score: 8.8733

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