The Readjustment, and Lockhart Smokehouse BBQ

Lockhart Smokehouse BBQ

It takes me a few days to readjust to life when I come back to the U.S.A. On our last trip, as we stepped off the plane at Dulles, we were confronted with a huge picture of a giant overstuffed sandwich plastered on the wall of a restaurant, which was aptly named, Potbelly. Like the clever titling of The Pretty Kitty salon that I passed the other day in Dallas, whose speciality was Brazilian waxing, I admired the witty double-meaning. (Albeit referring to a place a little farther south.) But I had assumed the only places where a big belly was à la mode were Polynesian places like Guam and Hawaii. Years back, I did an event with a bunch of nice Hawaiians on the Big Island, who invited me to an after-party. Hûi! I’d never seen so much unrestrained indulging in my life. It was funny being at a party where their weren’t many people, but it was very crowded nonetheless because a big belly is a sign of contentment. (Am not sure what a Brazilian waxing is a sign of.)

Lockheart Smokehouse

After arrival in the States, some things I get up-to-speed with right away – customer service, sidewalks not being a constant game of “chicken”, folks politely apologizing if they happen to get in your way, and clean public bathrooms. Other things, like men calling each other “bro”, waiters stopping by every three minutes to see if anything has changed since the last three minutes that they stopped by to ask you if everything is okay, the proliferation of cooking as a competitive activity, and total strangers taking an intense interest in your welfare: My hotel was kind enough to call my room two hours after I’d arrived, after eleven hours of flying, to see if everything was okay. I wanted to say, Well, it was…until you called and woke me up.” But slipping into my polite American mode, I mumbled under my fog of jet lag into the phone, “Everything is okay” instead of saying, “Actually, no, everything is no longer okay. You woke me up and now it’s going to take me seven hours to get back to sleep.”

After a good night of one-and-a-half hours of sleep, revived, the next morning I decided to walk to the Apple store to get my phone fixed. My map app said it was about thirty-five minutes away by foot, which seemed reasonable to me. And I thought it’d be nice to take a stroll through town and see a bit of Dallas. Yet the friendly folks at the front desk of my hotel were momentarily stunned, their faces frozen with mouths agape, when I told them I had wanted to walk somewhere. They warned me of how far it was, and since it didn’t seem all that far to me (which says something about how long I’ve been away…), I slipped on my shoes and took the plunge.

Lockheart Smokehouse

Other than walking, another hazard of traveling – and eating – is that no matter where you go, someone is going to tell you that you should have gone somewhere else, that another place – somewhere that you didn’t go – is much better than the place that you did go to. So it was with trepidation that I mentioned that I was going out for bbq in Dallas on social media. To be honest, the worst bbq is Texas is better than what I’m used to back home (although that may be about to change), and after trusting hundreds of reviews on Yelp for another place in Dallas (not bbq) where I had an extraordinarily mediocre dinner, I’m not entirely convinced of the merits of crowdsourcing where you’re going to eat.

Still, Lockhart Smokehouse BBQ came highly recommended by everyone. Like hummus joints in Jerusalem, everyone in Texas (and Kansas) has their opinion of who makes the best bbq. Even my new friends at the front desk of my hotel (in spite of our rocky start..), engaged in a lively discussion with me about bbq. Since I was car-less, the place that was four hours away was clearly out of the question (then they would have been allowed to look at me like I was crazy if I suggested walking), someone from the hotel offered to drop me off at Lockhart.

I got to Lockhart right as they opened, at 11am, and I wasn’t the only one hovering around the ordering counter, hungry for Texas bbq. The fellow presiding over the back counter was pulling jalapeño sausage links out of the smoker and while I didn’t think I could manage an entire link on my own, I was more excited by the charred mounds of steaming meat he was hefting from the smoker with a long, sharp fork. I ordered some slices of brisket, a few pork ribs, and beef clod. As he sliced each piece for me, he’d put the warm pile of meat in front of me, and ask if that was enough. “Er, how about one more?” I kept saying, not knowing what I was getting myself in to.

Lockheart Smokehouse

When all was said and done, and weighed (which fortunately, wasn’t me on the way out…), I realized that I’d ordered over a pound of ribs and a pound of sliced beef. If I had only had the ribs, I wouldn’t have been as excited. But the brisket – yo, bro, the brisket! When he asked me if I wanted “Lean, or moist?”, I’d instinctively answered “Moist”, which was obviously the correct answer. The muscular shoulder clod was, indeed, muscular. But each slice of beef brisket was juicy, pull-apart tender, and clearly well-worth the drive. Or even a six mile walk.

Realizing that I gave it my best shot early on in this trip by tackling nearly 2-pounds of meat all by my lonesome, dinner that night was a chopped vegetable salad at a nearby restaurant (I asked them to hold the meat), and I stopped by a store to get some provisions, to help me survive the rest of the trip.

Survival Mix

67 comments

  • Welcome to Texas, David! The owners of Lockhart Smokehouse and I went to the same school and I’m so glad to see you got some good barbecue. And yes, moist brisket is always the answer!

    • I loved the place even thought I ordered a ridiculous amount of food. The sides were excellent as well, which I managed to finish. But I’m craving that brisket and may need to plan a trip back to Dallas in the future just to have some!

  • Welcome to Texas! When you come to Austin, I suggest trying the brisket at Ruby’s on 29th and Guadalupe (close to the Central Market north location). It’s our favorite– we think it’s better than any of the Lockhart restaurants (not to be confused with the Lockhart Smokehouse you visited) although obviously that opinion would get us into some violent disputes if we said it around other people. It’s all good, but Ruby’s is great. But if somebody tries to take you to Rudy’s (with a d), you might consider declining. It’s more kitsch than quality, I think.

  • Bring us a book and we’ll trade you brisket for it!

  • Welcome to Texas! I feel so bad I missed the book signing because of, yes, the lack of available transportation. Unfortunately, where I live is (according to Google maps) a 5 hour and 15 minute walk away from Central Market Lovers Lane. But it is a 25 minute drive. So yeah, such a bummer.

    I wish I bothered with public transportation as I’ve learned it is a good 1 hour and 20 minutes ride. Howell. Hopefully you’d visit Texas again :)

  • You can’t be faulted for going to Lockhart Smokehouse. I’m just curious about the decision making process, did the line at Pecan Lodge merit a veto?

    • Pecan Lodge isn’t open on Monday or Tuesday, and those were the only days I was available, so I couldn’t go.

  • I hope you tried the Blood and Honey!

  • You wrote (Am not sure what a Brazilian waxing is a sign of.)
    Ummm. Masochism? Infantilism? Lack of self-esteem? Misogyny?
    You’re forgiven for not decoding this.

  • David, I love your writing. Your personality comes through clearly. It is so refreshing!
    Don’t forget you are closer to Lockhart when you are in Austin for your book signing… just sayin’!
    Cheers!

  • no no no…Rudy’s is the Walmart of BBQ…go to Franklin Barbecue….if its good enough for Nobu, it will be good enough for the rest of us!

  • Hi David, Once again I missed your Texas visit as I live in New Braunfels which is between San Antonio and Austin. Please, please come to the San Antonio Central Market on your next trip. We are planning to go back to Israel/Jerusalem again in 2015 and will go back thru your posts to make a list of where to eat!! Loved what you wrote about the food in Israel. Keep writing and I will keep reading!
    and PS: I like Rudy’s BBQ. But it’s best when you order take out for 50 people as I am doing for our annual homeowners picnic this Sat. Sue in lovely New Braunfels, Texas.

  • Ah, the BBQ wars! Just like opinions and a$$holes, everyone has one. An opinion on which BBQ joint is “the best”, that is. Agree with Nina above and her comment on Rudy’s with a D. Stay away. I feel the same way about Franklin’s. Sure it’s great BBQ but the hype, and the 3 hour wait in line, aren’t worth it. But, welcome to Texas! Looking forward to seeing you at dinner in Austin, and getting my book signed! I’m waiting to see you make the mustard chicken before I tackle it myself.

  • Okay, now I want to write a book so I, too, can go on a BBQ tour of the US!

  • So sorry to have missed you although you captured the visit so well, it feels like I was there ( sorry for the virtual intrusion;-)

  • BBQ yum! I had a giggle though because I had read about the Pretty Kitty then scrolled down the pictures and thought that the beer list was a list of services at said waxing place. It wasn’t until I got to Blood & Honey where I realized that something wasn’t quite right…

  • AHHH, David!! Wish I had known you were in Dallas! I would have insisted you come to my house for dinner. I’m an avid fan of yours.

  • Welcome to Texas! Looking forward to tonite’s class at Central Market. If you still havent gotten your fill of BBQ Luling City Market is a good bet and close by. If you want Tex-Mex you might try El Patio, Spanish Village or El Real. Hope you have a great time in Houston!

  • Welcome to Houston! If you get a chance, stop by Hugo’s. Delicioso!
    Just a few minutes from Central Market. See you tonight!

  • Oh my goodness, you were in my neck of the woods yesterday! *small moment of hyperventilating*

  • If you’re BBQed out by the time you hit Austin tomorrow, you might consider Uchiko – a Japanese farmhouse-style restaurant. The original exec chef was the Season 9 winner of one of those “competitive cooking” shows and although he’s since gone on to open his own place, Uchiko remains outstanding. And it’s just across the street from Central Market … you can walk !

    And don’t forget the dozens of food trucks scattered around town, including the above-mentioned chef’s East Side King. Go to the original one behind the dive bar in East Austin. The Poor Qui Bun (pork belly sandwich) and beet fries are killer. If you’re staying in a downtown hotel, that would be another easy walk.

    We also have some of the best TexMex … in other words, you won’t go hungry here! The Austin Chronicle’s “Best of Food” Awards is a worth a google search if you’re looking for ideas. Much better than Yelp.

    • Totally agree on Uchi or Uchico while in Austin…but listen all my fellow David fans….lets be civil and enjoy his being in Texas….as for eating in one’s house….that’s not really going to happen for ‘normal’ people….but its the thought that counts.

      My day will come tomorrow night at Central Market North Austin…..who else is coming? Like to me some fellow David fans!

  • Welcome to a Texas, David!

    Wars are fought here in Texas over barbeque … BBQ, there’s a bit of history, well worth readiing if you ever get the chance. I think there ain’t no bad batch in all of Lockhart, but like I said…these are fightin’ words to some folk and seein’ as though we can carry guns around here if we’ve got a license. Well, axe that last part. Everyone knows we don’t mean no harm. Like you said, we are a kind bunch, even if we call you up to wake you up.

    Seriously, I am so sorry I am missing my favorite Parisian transplant. Other duties called, and danged, I answered. I ain’t fine, but I’m being polite cuz you is right, “When in Texas, do as the Texans, strap on your six-shooter and belly up to the bar. Be kind to your neighbor and politely thank them for asking how your room was/is.”

    We aim to please, even those of us with fake Texas accents.

    Pleasant travels to you. Enjoy the country sides and the places you visit. It’s nice to see you back on home soil. We wish you continued success.

  • I’m missing you by a day! I travel to Austin from Chicago quite often for work, and try to walk as much as possible when I’m in town. And without fail, locals look at me like I’m a crazy lady when I tell them I took the 25 minute walk to work. Voluntarily. Hello car culture! Welcome to the land where sidewalks end without reason and walking is the last alternative.

    On another note, while in Texas, be prepared to put in a 5-10 minute buffer between activities where you need to be somewhere on time. You’ll have conversations with everyone, from the cashier at Whole Foods to your cabbie to the doorman, about anything and everything. They take friendliness to a whole new level here, and for this Chicago native, it’s refreshing (except when you’re running late and don’t want to be rude and the conversation is interesting and…). Enjoy!

  • I could ring your neck for that close-up of the ribs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • l love reading about your eating adventures when you visit the U.S. Sometimes I wonder if you aren’t a wee bit underfed in France?

  • Still trying to get you to Maui, David…I’ll up the ante with several quarts of fresh passion fruit juice in my freezer for you to play with! (Boy, do I miss good barbeque)

  • If you ever get to Austin, you must visit the city of Lockhart. For me, this is the epicenter of Texas BBQ. However, you’d have to drive – it is definitely too far to walk.

  • I know everyone means well when they tell you where you will get the best eating experience but…BBQ is such a subjective thing. Every time I see a new bbq joint, I stop, go in and ask for a sample. I am so picky about the amount of smoke flavor and the texture of the meat that I cannot commit to dining until I’ve tasted the flavor base and gaged the chew factor! Nobody can do that for you. Of course, when visiting from out of town and traveling on foot, it’s easier said than done; you are pretty much stuck!

    • Thanks….that’s how I feel….but I also admit, I don’t even like BBQ…or it doesn’t like me….thus do NOT try and tell me what’s the best.

  • I just reviewed a f Tex-Mex cookbook done by a a freelance food writer and chronicler that has a blog in a Swedish magazine. Anyway,, now I have a craving for Texas BBQ. The Texas Roadhouse around here just does not cut it plus it is a 45 minute drive. I miss those food trucks and pickup trucks that used to be on the side of the road. I agree with you that sometimes those crowd sourcing website people are off target and many people I know too. A lot of Americans do even like to walk parking lots. I like to walk too and miss all the walking I did in Europe where they do not think of it as strange. There are some places I believe in the United States where walking is more common. Oh, it it used to be a two hour drive in Texas was nothing.

  • Slow Bone and Off the Bone are excellent as well in Dallas.

  • Bikini wax, beer and bbq, all in the same story! Hot damn! Welcome back to the States, bro!

  • Ah David, the schizo feel of returning. I understand and I empathize. Hard to know exactly where you belong anymore. But I think you belong where you are and I belong where I am. The US is for visits.

  • A lot of people will never tell you the best place for BBQ because they don’t want to ruin their secret (the Diners, Drive Ins and Dive effect). In Houston, they will tell you Pappas or Good Company or even Rudy’s. All the chains. Really the best is a place up in Acres Homes that only few people know.

  • I saw those ribs and said, “He’s back in America!”

  • Yay! I’m headed to Dallas in just a few days. I’m bookmarking this spot so we can go.

  • Hello, David! I am so glad that I follow you on Facebook, or I would have had zero clue that you would be in Austin. I hope your Saturday signing doesn’t conflict with my schedule because I would love to meet you!

    You really are correct in that everyone here has their favorites. Franklin is great if someone will stand in line for you, but I’m pretty sure that your status would garner you some favor. For me, if I’m were to stand in line for an hour or more, I’d rather drive down to Lockhart and get some barbecue from Smitty’s.

    To tell you the truth, if you needed to stay in town, I actually really like the moist brisket at the HEB Mueller — yes, a cafe in an HEB grocery store. I honestly prefer the HEB menu to the Central Market ones, though it sure would be nice if they had a coffee bar, too.

    Hope to see you Saturday!

  • But you did not go to LOCKHEART for your Lockheart BBQ. What a shame! Welcome to Texas. I’m disappointed that you aren’t visiting San Antonio. Maybe next time.

  • Loved the dinner at CM last night; it was all pro and super nice. I bit my tongue but wanted to chime in:
    -loved the idea of leek salad but please cut them off where they turn green!
    getting nice spring leeks can be challenging in the States, endives as a sub very pricey
    why not asparagus ?
    -blanching bacon helps get rid of extra smoky flavor and helps frying up, less grease
    – ok leeks again slice in half after topping them and put in a colander then run water thru or submerge either way easier to manage process
    Anyway am obsessed with details my problem I guess.
    All the best on your travels!

    • Honestly Pam….why go to a class when you have all your own ideas? I am looking forward to the leek dish, not asparagus, nor endives….just the way David has it in his book.

      • Hey Karin all good! Maybe because it is hot and dry in Texas was trying to brainstorm
        on how to use same recipe substituting leeks for something that works locally better!
        If you get great leeks I am jealous, we get wonderful shallots here but when it comes to leeks they are so expensive and not so great quality.
        Now our fresh okra and butter beans; they’re good eatin!

        • Pam…..I am not one to argue your ideas, but living in Austin and having wonderful farmers come to the market every weekend, I rather go for the leek, expensive or not, than substitude other stuff…the point is I don’t want to have okra or butter beans when the dish calls for leeks….I can use okra for other recipes, same goes for the beans, but actually neither one I would do anyhow. There is not much you can’t get here….the leeks are wonderful and worth every penny. Also, going for David’s cooking is what I want, nothing else…..

  • Looking forward to seeing you at Central Market! Welcome to Houston!

  • Now that you’ve had some BBQ, I suggest that you find a good chicken fried steak place. I know of one that is a 21 hour walk (one hour drive) from Dallas in Sherman, TX. However, I’m sure that you can find good CFS somewhere closer.

  • Welcome to Texas. I am gonna add my whiny voice to the crowd of folks who want you to stop in San Antonio next time. Jeez, it is Fiesta time here and you’re missing it.
    Also, $5 for a Lone Star? Is this a hipster revival thing? Count me out and pass the good beer. The meat looks pretty good, though.

    • My schedule is involving some heavy traveling and I can’t go everywhere, but since San Antonio is only an hour from Austin, hopefully folks can come from there as I’ll be doing two public events.

  • We had a family lake house near Marble Falls, TX so I grew up eating BBQ in the summers and holidays. Big John’s BBQ outside of Burnet,TX is the best and brings back wonderful memories!
    Welcome to Texas David — I’ve read and loved your blog for years and it seems funny to see you writing about my backyard. Hope you have a pleasant stay and come back soon! (And please stop by San Antonio next time:)

  • Hello. Do you have any other appearances or gatherings when you visit Seattle or in neighboring cities. I just love your cook book. I was unable to get a luncheon ticket at the Book Larder. Thank you so much!
    Happy regards,
    Marchell Espe

  • Amazingly, I have nothing to say about BBQ, Texas-style or otherwise. But a restaurant opened recently in my town. It’s called “Beer Belly Deli”. Honestly it’s hard for me to imagine a less appetizing name for a restaurant!

  • True everyone has his own opinion on the best barbecue in Texas, but as a native, I can assure you, my opinion counts:

    Louie Mueller in Taylor, Texas, too far outside of Austin to walk, but well worth the drive.

    My family and I have been going there since 1968, and it wasn’t a new joint then.

  • Hehehe – I love that you have a Brazillian Bikini Wax tag! :)

  • I’m sorry all you Texans but my Honey makes the BEST BBQ ribs or brisket –EVER!!!! He has the Midas touch. I have just found this site and I am amazed the beautiful photos. I will be a regular.

  • Loved the dinner last night at Central Market, Houston. The tapanade was excellent and the chocolate with ginger creme anglaise was off the charts. Great class, David!
    Now I get to read the book.

  • David – I’m so thrilled you were able to visit TX! But sad to see I’ve missed you … I was wondering if you had any advice on learning to speak French? Thank you! Merci :)

  • Oh man. The ribs at Kruetz’s in Lockhart are unreal. Welcome to Texas! Glad to have you here

  • Never had Texas bbq, but I’m told my smoked ribs (w/homemade Kansas City style bbq sauce) are the best, thanks to my Traeger smoker grill. Anxious to try brisket. I haven’t had luck with strangers dining recommendations.

  • Great evening at Central Market North cooking school with David….food was superb, David entertaining and utterly charming, and very pleasant people to sit with.

    Thought his presence was exactly like he writes in his book, with funny stories and a love for food, wine and friends.

    FYI….apparently David has been in Texas, and Central Market, several times in the past, thus he knows BBQ darn well….all well meant advice and opinons are really not necessary any more…..

  • Are you still in Dallas? So many good places to eat. There is a fantastic pie place right down from Lockhart.

  • I first read this post at 3am this morning. I got into my car (only pajama bottoms on)…and drove all around Orange County.

    I could not for the life of me find a BBQ joint that was open. Two hours later I had to settle for a Hickory burger from Jack n the Box.

    At this point I’m not sure who to sue. David? The local BBQ establishments for restricted hours? Jack n the Box?

    All complicit parties ought be afraid.

    Going back to bed now : (

  • As a Dallas girl in Basel, I’m freaking jealous.

  • Always unplug the phone when arriving in your hotel room to avoid unwanted disturbances. Jet lag and food coma recovery periods should not be interrupted.

    • You’re right. I once was sound asleep after the long flight (and had to work the next day), so I put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door and called it a night. A few hours later, sometime around 10pm & fast asleep, the phone rang and it was someone from the hotel, telling me that he had a package for me – but couldn’t deliver it because I had the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. Uh…

  • Hello David

    Those ribs look amazing. Can’t wait to get off the plane myself in a bit and sink my teeth into some bbq ribs. (already googling best bbq ribs in Toronto). Maybe one day I will get to Texas. Thanks

  • I love barbecues, and barbecue ribs are hands down one of my favorite things to eat. I tried to not eat them too often just to keep the weight down (80lb down so far). But even so, I love bbq ribs so much that I’ve come up with ways to eat ribs without the high calorie tag, and free of guilt.