Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Review by: Michael Stern
Smitty’s operates from the building in which Charles Kreuz opened his grocery store over a century ago. That store is what put Lockhart on the map as a destination for superb Texas barbecue. In 1948, Kreuz sold the business to the Schmidt family, who operated it until the mid-1990s, when a family feud split them up and sent the Kreuz Market out to a big new building.
In this old place, customers used to sit at wood counters against the wall, where the only utensil was a knife chained to a post so that everyone could use it to cut their sausage, if desired. The creaky wood counters are no longer in use; and you now dine at long communal tables in a front room that is cool, quiet, and comfortable.
In the back room, logs still smoulder in the old pit, which turns out gorgeous, juice-laden sausage rings, big-flavored brisket, and insanely succulent prime rib. Order food here and it is presented on butcher paper, which you carry up front to one of the tables in the air conditioned dining room. Most people know to eat this meat with their hands. It’s too tender for utensils, and too nice not to touch. Plastic spoons are available (for eating beans) as well as knives for cutting sausage.
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|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||No|
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What do you think of Smitty’s?
3 Responses to “Smitty’s”
Jay S. Marks
May 20th, 2011
The brisket was the most exquisite (if you can use that term for barbecue) thing I’ve ever tasted. The barbecue ribs were unfrigginbelievable. No sauce was needed (nor particularly desirable, as most of us can make one the equal of, or better than, Smitty’s sauce). The lean smoked shoulder was phenomenal. The hot rings were too greasy and not exceptionally tasty.
The smoked prime rib was OK, as were the potato salad and coleslaw, though nothing to write home about. But the fresh whole tomatoes, avocados, and jalapenos were excellent accompaniments to put on the white bread with the brisket or shoulder.
I will never forget this meal, or the authentic cultural feel of the place. We dined while watching the wood burning out in the open on the floor, feeding the large smokers. The long family-style tables and down-home decor gives you a sense of community. Bring cash or checks, no credit cards accepted.
November 12th, 2007
We did the giant BBQ tour of this area, hitting six legendary barbecues in one day:
City Market in Luling
Crosstown Barbecue in Elgin
Southside Market in Elgin
Smitty’s in Lockhart
Black’s in Lockhart
Louie Mueller’s in Taylor
I would have to say that Smitty’s was the winner of the entire bunch, although each had its merits. Why Smitty’s?
The pit alone is worth a visit. Large logs sit aflame on the floor at one end of the long brick pit and the smoke is drawn to the other end. No propane here and no commercial smoker — wood only. You step up to the counter where the pitmaster tears off a piece of butcher paper and cuts off as much barbecue as you like. You take your piece of butcher paper in to the next room — a bright lunchroom that reminded me of a soda fountain. The old original dining room is still there, but it mostly seems like a place for friendly locals to hang out, drink a beer, and watch the pit.
(By the way, I love this system in Texas where you can order as much or as little as you like — perfect for the giant tasting tour we were on. Many ‘cues that I’ve been to in other regions require that you purchase an entire order or platter.)
The sausages crack when you bite them, and are juicy inside. The brisket is superb, and tied in our unofficial voting with Louie Mueller’s in Taylor. The brisket at Mueller’s is moister and spicier. The brisket at Smitty’s is more chewy (in a good way) and just a bit less spicy, which allowed the smoke flavor to be more prominent. Both Mueller’s and Smitty’s serve adequate barbecue sauce on the side, but in both cases it seems more like an afterthought — the meat is the star here. Can’t comment on side dishes — with six restaurants to hit in one day, we avoided sides in order to (barely) have room for all the food we tried.
Why didn’t we hit Kreutz’s on this trip? Simple — one restaurant had to be crossed off the list before we passed out, and Kreutz’s randomly got the short straw.
March 25th, 2003
Friends, I’ve eaten a fair share of BBQ in my relatively short time on this earth. For my money, the best BBQ you’ll find is in Texas and down there it doesn’t get much better than Smitty’s.
This place is the real deal. It’s got location, ambiance and unbelievable BBQ. Located right off the town square in Lockhart, Smitty’s is in the shadow of an incredible old courthouse. The place itself is cavernous and its got a haunted feel, but in a good way. Wandering around this place there’s lots of nooks and crannies. The walls are greened with smoke and the smell of smoked meats immediately seeps into your pores.
You order your food in the pit room right next to the old brick smokers and, if the line is long enough, the open fire. I can’t imagine how hot this place is during July because it was quite warm in March.
The meat is cut, weighed and plopped onto thick sheets of butcher paper along with knives and white bread. You can wrap it up to go, like the guy in front of me did, or retire to the bright air-conditioned dining room where they serve up drinks and such. I ordered prime rib and a hot link.
Upon entering the dining room, I immediately marked myself as a rube by asking for a fork. None are forthcoming in this place, that’s what the bread is for. Duh!
I cannot adequately put into words the first encounter with the prime rib. The slightly fatty outer ribbon held a ton of smoky, meaty flavor. I’m sure a return trip would induce a Pavlovian response. Elgin might be famous for its sausage and Louie Muller does a mean link too, but Smitty’s gets the ribbon. Perhaps it’s my enjoyment of pepper, but this link had a sweet flavor with a hint of heat coming right from the relatively large peppercorn fragments throughout the sausage. It didn’t take long before I was dipping the prime rib in the sausage dripping and washing it all down with a Shiner.
Smitty’s is truly a BBQ temple. Any lover of BBQ owe it to themselves to pay a visit. It may fly below the radar of some other Texas places but that’s a glaring, inexcusable omission. Get thee to Smitty’s!