barbecue is a pretty serious topic of debate in a food city like austin. salt lick or snow’s or smitty’s or kreuz or a bajillion other places? sauce or no sauce? white bread or saltines? chris, my business/barbecue/banh mi partner-in-crime, and logan of boots in the oven went on a barbecue pilgrimage on our last day in austin. destination: smitty’s bbq in lockhart, texas, supposedly one of the best barbecue spots in texas. and texans are SERIOUS about ‘cue, which basically means that smitty’s is arguably one of the best barbecue spots in the world.
i’ll be the first to admit that i don’t really know shit about barbecue other than what tastes awesome. luckily, i was in great hands with logan, who detailed the long and complicated history of smitty’s and how it matters that they actually do their smoking in the big pits right where you order and compared it to all the other top places and did all the ordering for us. we were a little late thanks to a banh-mi truck stop and the epic fail of my cell phone, and by the time we arrived around noonish the line was already out the door and down the ramp to the parking lot. once you step inside the building, you can see the blackened soot-lined walls and feel the intense heat from the firepit right at your feet. one misstep and you could be LITERALLY ON FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!
sorry, inside joke. anyway, pablo, the moustachioed dude at the butcher block who looks like a stabhappy serial killer, is the guy who cuts up your meat. you order at the counter in front of him and they give you a pile of meat wrapped up in a few pieces of paper along with either crackers or puffy white bread, and a couple of plastic knives. as i overheard a woman later in the dining room say, ‘honey, they don’t do forks here.’ nope. it’s a strictly neanderthal rip-apart-the-meat-with-your-bare-hands-till-they’re-shining-with-grease-and-stuff-in-your-face kind of place. logan took it upon himself to order two hot rings, three pork ribs, a pound of moist brisket, and a pork chop for the three of us. truly a man after my own heart. he tried to order the prime rib too, only to see the LAST PIECE go to the man who ordered just in front of us. the look on logan’s face was so devastated, i thought the poor man might burst into tears. here’s what we ended up with on our ‘plates’:
you order your sides from a separate counter, pictured below. we picked up some sweet pickles, baked beans, sweet tea, and two slabs of raw onion. note: this is not the place to go to impress a date with your breath or your table manners unless he or she truly appreciates barbecue and is also f*cking awesome.
on the table there’s seasoned salt and hot sauce, which you shake onto your paper and then just rip into the meat. i felt like a wild hyena feasting on a dead wildebeast on the african savannah or something, except the savannah was this old-fashioned restaurant straight out of the 50’s filled with ‘cue lovers elbow deep in beef fat, cowboy hats, beer bellies, and a tv blaring fox news in the corner. just like san francisco! hahahaha. NOT.
so, how was the meat? well, take a look at it. moist, juicy, fatty, tender, succulent, every single adjective you could use to describe the ultimate barbecue. so good it doesn’t need a smidge of sauce, just the pure hunk of meat.
oh good lord. here’s another ridiculous brisket shot:
every single bite of the brisket had the perfect mix of the blackened and almost crispy exterior, the greasy-in-a-good-way layer of fat and the deliciously tasty meat. yum. definitely my favorite. the pork chop was a bit dry, the hot links were tasty, the ribs were eeeeeeeeexcellent. chris definitely agreed with me – watch him ferociously gnaw the sh*t out of this piece of brisket:
poor thing didn’t stand a chance. anyway, i’m not sure i’ll ever be in lockhart, texas again, but i am i will be sure to make my way to smitty’s. fantastic food and fantastic company – besides chris and logan, we met up with two equally barbecue loving friends, mimi and nathan. the five of us spent the entire meal talking about the amazingness of our meal, LA taco trucks, the crazy amount of meat we were eating, food in london, austin street carts, and whether or not we might be able to save room for the famous texan blue bell ice cream. logan, chris and i tapped out, but the true prizefighters mimi and nathan went for another round and each took down a scoop of ice cream:
hello cone of strawberry delight, you are very pretty. i’ll be back for you and another pound of brisket straight to the dome someday…