Our Englishman in BBQ Sauce finally made it down to Lockhart, the Vatican City of Texas barbecue, where he and his posse gorged on smoked meat from Black's Barbecue, Smitty's and, as you'll see below, Kreuz Market. He went. He ate. He was conquered by a deep, some say oddly disturbing, love of smoked beef.
I had to sit down twice on the trip from Smitty's to Kreuz Market. It's not a long walk. We actually agreed, in an Equal Opportunities BBQ Posse Team Decision (EOBBQPTD), that we should walk back to the car, still parked outside Black's, and pathetically drive the remaining half a mile to Kreuz Market. We felt bad about it. We felt bad about eating so much meat. There was open rebellion in the EOBBQP. None of them wanted more meat. Despite these "problems," we pushed on. The trilogy of Lockhart BBQ is something to aim for, a life achievement you can tell everyone you've done. Not everyone outside Texas will know what you're talking about of course, but that's their loss.
Meat sweats assailed us all as we walked up to the door, along with an inability to correctly pronounce "Kreuz". In stark contrast from Smitty's, Kreuz Market is a delightful huge barn, full of space and light, not at all dark and stifling. Whether it loses something from that, I'm not sure, as the visual of the inside of Smitty's is undoubtedly the thing we'd all be taking home with us. That, and sausage. The sausage had proven to be the least popular item among the EOBBQP on our trip to Lockhart (two and a bit were still residing in the car, tossed aside in favour of stomach space for brisket), and so we decided to forgo it at Kreuz, for both that reason and because the lovely people at Oak Cliff's own Lockhart Smokehouse stock the same sausage, and so we had eaten it before on several occasions.
Thus, another pound of brisket and another pound of ribs were acquired. My God, it still looked amazing, and the wonderful weighted-lid open-fire pits were still there, with meat being plucked directly from their brick and metal jaws. The distinctly flagging EOBBQP, potentially unprepared for the sheer quantities of meat they were consuming (not like that) had taken their seats, slumped over the attractive bench chairs in the dining room. One of their number, a prince among men, had purchased a single bottle of original Mexican Coke for each posse member because as we all know the only antidote to barbecue overdose is cane sugar. Yet another posse member had acquired boxed sides for later on, around the campfire (and astonishingly good they were too, particularly the sauerkraut, which had just the right amount of both sauer and kraut). I bemoan them and their capacity for eating beef, but they do great works.
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Despite all their protestations, once the meat was unwrapped there was interest in "just sampling a bit more." The brisket was chunkier, more weighty and solid than the previous briskets, but oh my word if it wasn't the best thing I had ever put in my mouth. I could barely breathe as I shoveled more brisket into my face. It was so tender, so well-seasoned, the fat was almost runny, melted to the point of it barely existing, and the bark was a salty delight. I'll be honest with you -- I don't remember the ribs, really. They were playing second fiddle here. I looked up, and the previously disheartened EOBBQP not only had some serious meat sweats on, they were pushing through, getting into the brisket as if their lives depended on it, tearing it apart with their faces and almost a snarl.
What else can produce such a reaction? What other food can you eat several pounds of and immediately go for more and still have it be so incredibly delightful that you tear into it like an animal confronted with, well, delicious meat? Texas barbecue, ladies and gentlemen. Even when it's done badly it's better than all that other food nonsense. When it's done well, it takes on qualities that you can only describe using words normally reserved for the appreciation of landscapes and boobies. I hope it carries on forever, and that its current expansion and trendiness does not lead to a dilution in quality. Even though, as I just said, low quality barbecue would still be better than whatever that ghastly rubbish is you guys eat the rest of the time.
By way of some closing thoughts, here is how I saw it. Cue howls of outrage, forgetting that I am, first and foremost, a simpleton, second that this was just one day and that the cuts of brisket I got probably weren't comparable anyway, and third that it's a bit like trying to choose between my non-existent, extremely meaty children. Anyway, I thought best brisket was Kreuz Market and best ribs were Smitty's. Least pronounceable place also Kreuz. I guess K-Mart was taken.
Please don't kill me Smitty's lovers. Really, any of these places is among the greatest things that will ever happen to you. Was born, got married, went to Lockhart, Texas. There we go. That's all my life's achievements. I don't plan on adding many more.