Welcome again to another post about the BBQ life. So recently there was an article posted about how the BBQ in Lockhart Texas is overrated. Just this headline alone brings up deep emotions in people.
Coming from the Northeast into BBQ has given me what I believe is a unique perspective of the cuisine. BBQ here does not have the regonality or devoted sometimes almost cult following as it does in other parts of the country. To that end it leaves me with no true bias other then my own taste buds.
So Lockhart Texas, the “home” of the central Texas style BBQ. Started by German and Czech immigrants who settle the area and started meat markets and butcher shops. Smoking meat in those days was for preservation and to help sell more product by making tough cuts more tender and edible. The BBQ was cooked very simply with Post oak and mostly salt and pepper.
Many of the things we see in other BBQ restaurants around the country and in fact the world come from these places. Things like serving the meat with white bread or crackers. Metal platers covered in butcher paper. These things we take for granted as BBQ tradition come from the central Texas style.
So is Lockhart overrated? I do not believe so in the least. It is not shy and does what it does best makes simple traditional central Texas BBQ. Guy like Roy Perez the pitmaster at Kreuz or the Black family of Black’s BBQ. These people help keep the tradition of BBQ alive for the next generations to see, smell and taste. Do the come up with crazy new sausages or new cuts of meat? Probably not, but that's ok. That's not why we go to these places. We go to see the purest undiluted form of the food we love. Same reason why people flock to the Skylight Inn for whole hog in N.C. pure simple traditional BBQ.
If you are going to Lockhart looking for a explosion of different flavors and sauces and the like you are going to think it's overrated because you are looking for something it is not and never will be. Each restaurant in Lockhart has a little different flavor and texture. My personal favorite was Black’s but each place is unique and delicious in it's own way.
The people who say overrated are the same who cry and moan about things like no sauce or no forks. Unfortunately today so many of my generation and younger have thrown tradition to the side for whatever is the new hot dish. They do not take the time to appreciate the time and dedication that has been put into these places. Like when you walk into Smitty’s and the walls are black from the smoke that has been rolling through there for generations day in and day out. Places today would paint the walls black to try to get that look.
Now there is nothing wrong with the new restaurants out there that are experimenting places like Hoodoo Brown or Hometown BBQ. But if you go there and talk to them they will talk to you about tradition and learning from what these originators did. Yes they have added flavors and styles to there menus but it is built on the shoulders of these giants. Talk to guys like Nester Laracuente the Brooklyn Pit Rat and he will tell you how he ended up falling in love with and cooking BBQ because it was the first style of food he could find that was to him quintessentially American. He has taken that Texas style and expanded on it and broadened it with new flavors and techniques.
So I find it hard to believe that the originators of the style of food could ever be considered overrated. You can say your not fond of the style but to call it overrated to me means that you find the entire central Texas style overrated because if not for them the BBQ scene as we know it today would look a lot different all across this country.
One of the things I love about BBQ is the passion it's fans have. Many of us live and breathe it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but you better be ready to back it up. I was lucky enough to get to travel to Lockhart a couple of years ago and got to eat in the big 3 Smitty’s , Kreuz and Black's. It was a fantastic time and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was amazing to see where BBQ came from and to see where it's going.
What do you think about these historic BBQ restaurants? Let us know what you feel these places have brought to the BBQ community at large and what they mean to you. Till next month #cowboyup and #keepsmoking