Sunday, February 1, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009: Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Llano, Texas)

A question I often get when I tell someone I have a blog about Texas BBB blog is “Have you been to Cooper’s?” Until a couple of weeks ago, I had to answer in the negative. But around 10:30 on a Saturday morning, five of us made the 74-mile drive to Llano for lunch at Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, a Texas BBQ institution.

After the nice drive out Highway 71 West, we rolled up at Cooper’s a bit about a quarter ‘til noon and only had a couple of people ahead of us in line to pick meats from the pit. (When we left at 1 p.m., the line was probably close to 30 deep.) After deciding whether we wanted our meats dipped in sauce before being tossed on a plastic tray, we took our order inside to get sliced/cut and pick our sides. Beans are free and were, with the exception of a large dill pickle, enough for me. No other sides needed to go with my half chicken, brisket, pork loin, and pork ribs.

I liked everything I ordered, but the chicken and ribs were especially good. Brisket was my least favorite. Everything was flavorful, and everything was salty. If you’re not into salt, safe to say this isn’t the place for you. Loved the light, tangy sauce and was glad I decided to have everything dipped in it.

It was Dave’s first time outing. He writes, “The drive from Austin to Llano includes a lot of great views of the Texas Hill Country. For me, the most memorable thing about Cooper's was the way you place your order. Before even stepping inside, you walk up to an outdoor smoker about the size of a car, with all the varieties of meat; and a guy there will cut you the amount you want and dip it in a pot of BBQ sauce before you go inside to get sides and pay. The sauce also had a thin consistency and a mild vinegar taste, which is surprising to find in Central TX.”

Jon joined for the first time, as well: “Ordering Process - never been to a BBQ place with this type of process before. Good ‘schtick’ getting to pick your meat directly off the pit outside. Not sure about the sauce dunking though. Atmosphere - loved the main dining room and community tables. Overflow room was not good. Selection - amazed at all the different cuts of meat that were available...including goat ribs, pork loin and sirloin steak. Sides - The free beans are a nice touch and actually pretty good. Otherwise, not much to offer and a little lame to have the cole slaw and potato salad pre-packed. Brisket - Way too salty and overcooked. Could not see a red ring. But very tender. Pork Chop - HUGE and very good. One of the best I've ever had. Sausage - had a bite of someone's and was disappointed. Dessert - my peach cobbler was amazing. Very sweet and excellent crust. Overall Experience - Definitely disappointed in some of the cuts of meat, but I would suggest it to anyone. Great day trip! Worth the drive”

Todd’s thoughts: “Ahhh, the fabled Cooper's BBQ! For years I have heard the masses sing the praises of that great Llano establishment; so when Man Up finally decided to take the 75 minute drive on Jan. 17th, I was brimming with anticipation. After a scenic drive through the beautiful Texas hill country, we arrived to the smell of great pit BBQ—the holding pits are all located outside of the restaurant before you go in. After staring at the selection for a good 10 minutes, I chose Pork Ribs, Brisket (my usual pairing) and then some Pork Loin (yes you capitalize meat!). They had a great selection to choose from including, Ribs (Pork, Beef & Goat), Brisket, Pork Loin, Pork Chop, Sausage, Sirloin, Prime Rib & Chicken. Oh, and before I forget, I had my meat ‘dunked’ in a giant vat of barbeque sauce! We went inside to get our meat weighed, cut and paid for and then found a seat. Overall, the meat was good but salty. The meat was certainly worth the drive. The brisket was moist and salty. My cut fell apart, no need for a knife. The Pork Rib was good, not great, but good. There was nothing special about it, just a nice tasting rib. The Pork Loin was good, not as moist as I would like, but still solid. I also sampled some Pork Chop & Chicken. The Big Chop was good, just not my cut of meat. The Chicken was great, some of the best I've had. After lunch, I managed to put down some Apple Cobbler "a la mode." Wow, it was so good! The Blue Bell Ice Cream was a bit odd though, as it came in a plastic bag (see pictures)…it still tasted great though. Ok, and now for the ratings. Every cut of meat was a little overwhelmed with salt, so that hurt my ratings. If you love salt, this is the place for you, if not…don't bother going. Everything I ate was good and worthy of a second trip, at least to try the Goat Ribs. The sweet tea and cobbler were a nice touch!”

Dave’s scores – Brisket: 7.5; Pork ribs: 8; Chicken: 9; Pork loin: 8.5; Jalapeno sausage: 8.5; Sauce: 7; Cobbler: 9; Overall experience: 8

Jon’s scores – Ordering process: 9; Atmosphere: 8.5; Selection: 9; Sides: 7.5; Brisket: 6; Pork chop: 9.5; Sausage: 6; Dessert: 9; Overall experience: 8.75

Todd’s scores – Pork ribs: 9.35; Brisket: 9.2; Pork loin: 9; Pork chop: 8.8; Chicken: 9.4; Sweet tea: 9.5; Apple cobbler a la mode: 9.75; Atmosphere: 9; Service: 9; Overall experience: 9.29

Amir’s scores – Brisket: 9.75; Sausage: 8; Pork ribs: 9.95; Pork loin: 9; Pork chop: 9.5; Salt count: 243.975; Overall experience: 9.95

Drew’s scores – Brisket: 8.4; Chicken: 9.5; Pork loin: 8.8; Pork ribs: 9; Sauce: 9.5; Atmosphere: 9; Overall experience: 9.1

Overall Man-Up Score: 9.018

Cooper's BBQ Incorporated on Urbanspoon


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Anonymous said...

Food is good, but pricey when you consider that a baked potatoe on "Ribeye and Baked Potato" night, cost $2.95 (added to the $17.99 per pound for the steak). Two people can eat that for around $55, a little high when you don't get a salad with it (probably could get one, but afraid to ask the price). The banner on the front of the restaurant kind of implies they go together, but prices are not posted at the pit so you could have a idea of how much you are being charged until you check out. One would think you would get at least a paper plate - not at Cooper's. You eat off the butcher wrap on your tray.