Monday, July 29, 2013

Kreuz Market

Our last barbecue trip to Snow's BBQ and Louie Mueller Barbecue inspired me to do another BBQ excursion. We try to do a barbecue group trip once a year. For some reason last year, we did not go anywhere. The Salt Lick is our normal destination, but we have done Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in New Braunfels as well. We were going to make it up this year. We live only about 15 minutes from the Barbecue Capital of Texas, Lockhart. This time we were going to hit up three different locations, Kreuz Market, Smitty's Market, and Black's Barbecue. The adventure was called Sausage Fest 2013. We left off Chisholm Trail BBQ because we have done a group trip there already. Although it is where the locals go because of the cheaper prices and shorter lines, the barbecue is just okay.

Our first stop of the day was Kreuz Market. I have been here two times before and was not impressed either time. Because I went for dinner the other times, I wanted to go here first when the meat was the freshest. They do not have barbecue sauce or forks here. We came prepared and brought our own forks for the girls. Kreuz was one of the top five BBQ joints in the 2008 Texas Monthly list, but in 2013, they were just in the top 50. Kreuz used to be located where Smitty's Market is. It was a family business before a falling out caused them to go their separate ways and have two BBQ joints. The families are joining forces to open a barbecue restaurant in Bee Caves. The dining room at Kreuz is huge, but I have never seen the place filled anywhere to capacity.

I ordered the moist brisket, sausage, and pork ribs for me to share with my wife. I was trying to keep the order consistent at all three stops we were making. We did not get any sides. They do have German potatoes instead of potato salad that I tried last time. It was okay, and I did not like it being warm. They added macaroni and cheese to the menu which I somehow missed out on. Maybe next time... We were trying to pace ourselves through the first two stops. The brisket was terrible. When I smoked my first brisket, the results were similar. It was undercooked and had a texture of a well-done steak. It did have a good smoke ring and crust. We did not eat all of it though. The sausage was solid. It had a great flavor, but the casing was a little wrinkly. The pork ribs were the best thing I had there. It had a good smoky pepper flavor and texture. They were juicy and tender.

I would go back here as much as I really do not want to say that. The moist brisket has been disappointing every time I have eaten it. I am a brisket man so my opinion of a restaurant weighs heavily on that. I might have to try the pork chop and beef ribs next time if I go back. Our next stop is Smitty's Market. You will have to wait a week for my review of that. Sorry. Grade: B-

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 619 N Colorado St, Lockhart, TX 78644
Phone: (512) 398-2361

Monday, July 22, 2013

Louie Mueller Barbecue

Last time, I talked about our trip to Snow's BBQ. Our barbecue doubleheader continued. We were full and content and got in our car to continue our adventure to Taylor. I thought Taylor was close to Lexington, but I was wrong. They are about 30 miles apart. The car ride over was a little rough especially with a belly full of barbecue. There were a lot of bumps and turns on the way. We were not quite ready for more barbecue when we got to Taylor. We hung out with a friend at their neighborhood pool for a little bit.

I always work up an appetite when hanging out by the pool or swimming. I was ready for some barbecue. Our stop in Taylor was Louie Mueller Barbecue. There is a lot of barbecue bloodlines coming from this place. Louie had his son Bobby manning the pits almost 50 years ago. John Mueller of John Mueller Meat Market used to work for his late father Bobby here. Bobby's daughter LeAnn now owns La Barbecue. The pitmaster at La Barbecue John Lewis used to man the pits with Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue. Aaron Franklin got his big start in barbecue by working at one of John Mueller's closed restaurants. Lance Kirkpatrick of Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew also worked at Louie Mueller. Louie Mueller Barbecue is now owned by one of Bobby's other child, Wayne. Confused yet?

When we got there, there was a short line at 3:30 in the afternoon. Man it was hot in there. There were fans, but no air conditioning. Also it was the hottest day of the year so far with a high of 108. Amber was already tired of barbecue and ordered peach cobbler and was going to take some bites of my food. I ordered a slice of moist/fatty brisket, a sausage link, a giant beef rib, and two pork ribs. The beef rib weighed over two pounds and was a chunk of the cost of my meal. The brisket was good, but nothing amazing. It had a good smoke ring and bark. I felt like there could more flavors in the meat, but it was not too salty so that was a plus. The pork ribs were okay. They were a little dry. The sausage was really good. It had a nice flavor, a good casing with pop, and a nice grit. I am starting to like sausage more and more than other meats. No jokes please.

The star of the show had to be the beef rib. It was huge as you can tell. The smokiness and crust of the meat was just delicious. The meat was so tender; it would melt in your mouth. I am now salivating as I typed this. Too bad it is meatless Monday. You can see the influence of their beef ribs when you go to other barbecue joints in Texas. Heavy on the black pepper. I was full at this point, but I could have hit up another barbecue restaurant. Elgin is not that far from Taylor and was on the way home. The girls I was with were not having any of it. Oh well. It was another trip for me to take.

Louie Mueller Barbecue is a great BBQ joint. I could see it being in the top five of the Texas Monthly's BBQ list. Their beef rib is the go to meat. I am still dreaming about the beef rib. Well that concludes our two BBQ restaurants adventure. Maybe the next trip we will have three stops... Grade: A-

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 206 W Second St, Taylor, TX 76574
Phone: (512) 352-6206

Monday, July 15, 2013

Snow's BBQ

Ever since starting this blog, I have had a hankering for barbecue almost every day. One of our friends had gone to Snow's BBQ a week before. I have had always wanted to go there and was super jealous. It was the top BBQ joint on the Texas Monthly's list back in 2008, and it was in the top four this time around. Snow's is only open on Saturdays, and it was about 70 miles from our house in Lexington. Louie Mueller Barbecue which was also in top four is in Taylor. Taylor is a short 30 minute ride from Lexington. I had a barbecue doubleheader in the makings.

Our friend who went to Snow's the week before helped us out. He had a good idea what the line was like. We left the house around 8 am although Show's opened right then. We got there shortly after 9, and there was a very short line. When I got to the front, I ordered the three meat plate. I went with brisket, sausage, and pork ribs with a side of beans, potato salad, and coleslaw. My wife got the chicken and was going to share a three meat plate with our other friend. The plate was relatively cheap. Their meat by the pound was also priced reasonably.

All of the meats were really good. If Franklin Barbecue did not exist, I could see this place still being number one. The brisket was excellent and had a nice smoke ring. The pieces I had were the lean cut. It was definitely the best lean brisket I have ever had. It was not too salty and had a nice crust to it. The brisket was very tender especially for it being lean. The ribs were superb, and the meat was coming off the bone. It had a nice peppery flavor to it. The sausage was good with a nice snap to it. The texture was not as gritty as I liked, but I would not pass up on the sausage. The beans and coleslaw were oaky. They had nothing great about them. The potato salad was good in my books. It was mayo based and a little sweet. It was just the way I like it.

When we were done with our meal, we went outside to look at the pits. They were by the outdoor seating area out in the open. I met one of the pitmasters, Tootsie, and she showed me around. That was really nice of her to do. Everyone who worked there had a regular job during the week. She works at a local school district and is in her late 70's. Wow. Lexington had a tradition of smoking up barbecue every Saturday. When Snow's opened, it was a way to maintain this legacy. The brisket here is cooked indirectly and all of the other meats are done directly. Originally they were smoking about eight briskets every Saturday. Once Texas Monthly named them tops in Texas in 2008, they had to build a behemoth of a smoker to meet demand.

While talking to Tootsie, I was informed that they had moist brisket as well. What?! I assume they only had lean based on when I tried Snow's at the Texas Monthly BBQ festival and what was served to me just earlier. They use a smaller brisket which I assume is all lean. I had to try some of the moist. By this time, there was a wait of about ten minutes. The wait was worth it though. The moist cut was so good. The meat was so moist and tender without being overly salty.

Please make the drive to Lexington. It is so worth it. The wait was nonexistent. There is not a whole lot going in the little town, but the tradition of the place makes up for it. Our next stop was Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor. Continue to that review here. Grade: A

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 516 Main St, Lexington, TX 78947
Phone: (979) 773-4640

Monday, July 8, 2013

Micklethwait Craft Meats

I had trouble pronouncing the name at first. That is probably the only thing wrong with this BBQ joint. I heard about its' opening right around the new year. I just never had a chance to try it out. I had just gone go karting with a friend that morning and somehow my iPhone 5 got bent. I was not a happy camper. Going to Micklethwait Craft Meats lifted my spirits. It is located in East Austin. Writing these blog posts have me wanting to eat barbecue all the time. I am sure my wife will be thrilled about that. Not.

When I got there, they had two trailers. One was for the smoker and the other to serve the barbecue from. There were some picnic tables to sit on outside. It looked like people were bringing their own beer which is pretty cool. When my friend and I got there, they were out of pulled pork and a pork belly and chicken sausage. I was bummed that they were out of that sausage. I love pork belly. I decided on the three meat plate. The prices were reasonable.

My plate came with moist brisket, a pork rib, and lamb sausage with macaroni and cheese and coleslaw with some homemade bread. Let's start with the bread. The bread was amazing. It was like a cross between pound cake and a croissant which are my two favorite sweets/pastries. The brisket was really good. It had a nice bark and flavor. The brisket had a nice smoke ring. Sometimes you eat at BBQ joints, and the smoke ring is faint. It makes you wonder how they are preparing their meats. I enjoyed the pork ribs which it had a nice pepper flavor without being overpowering. You had to tug a little to get the meat off the bone which how it is supposed to be. The sausage was light and had a good taste. The grind was a little bit fine for my preference. I wish the plate came with bigger slices of brisket and two pork ribs. My favorite all-time side is macaroni and cheese. I know it is not a true barbecue side, but I cannot pass it up anywhere they serve it. I guess I was deprived of it when I was a kid. The mac and cheese was very good and was creamy and cheesy. They used pasta shells in their recipe. The coleslaw was okay. They used a lot of red cabbage, and it had a vinegar base. 

I would definitely recommend Micklethwait Craft Meats. Their menu of meats change every so often. There was no line on a Saturday which is a plus. I actually stopped by another random Saturday afternoon and was able to pick up some brisket for a snack with no fuss. It is one of restaurants that people have not really heard about yet. They did not make the Texas Monthly BBQ list because it has not been opened for a year yet. The big issue which is not their fault is Franklin set that bar so high. Without Franklin, it could be a contender for the best barbecue restaurant in Austin. It is easily in the top five of Austin. Grade: A-

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 1309 Rosewood Ave, Austin, TX 78702
Phone: (512) 791-5961

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hays County BBQ

Updated in 2014

After looking through the 2013 Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ joints list, I saw a restaurant on there that was not too far from our house. It was Hays County BBQ which I had never heard of it. It was located in San Marcos which is only about 10 minutes from our house. I had a hankering for BBQ all week and was trying to find a way to go there.

Amber and I went to see Star Trek: Into the Darkness at the movie theater in San Marcos. It was a pretty good movie, but I think I liked the first one better. We had eaten at Red Lobster right before the movie because I got a gift card from work. It was dinner time, and we were not hungry. I was at point that I knew I could not make it the rest of the day without eating, but I was not ready for a full meal.

I knew we were only a mile away from Hays County BBQ. I thought we could grab a snack there. San Marcos had another BBQ joint that made the list in 2008 called Fuschak's BBQ. I am not a fan of that place. I am not sure why it was on the list. I was hoping Hays would not be the same.The restaurant has been around for over five years now. When we walked in, the setup was similar to Rudy's. There was a cooler full of sides. We were there just for the barbecue meat. I ordered a slice of moist brisket and a ring of regular sausage to share with Amber.

While true barbecue enthusiasts avoid using sauce, I always try it with sauce to compliment the meat. They had a typical Texas sauce and a spicy one. I like the spicy one better. The brisket was good. I feel like if we went there earlier in the day, it would have been even better. The meat had probably been sitting around so the fat started to un-render. We will have to go back earlier in the day. The sausage was really good. It was very comparable to Smitty's. Smitty's is home to our favorite sausage. The casing had the pop you were looking for. The meat was not gritty and had the texture you would taste in a good sausage.

We will have to return there someday soon to try the brisket earlier in the day. They also have other meats I need to try like pork chops and pork ribs. I would definitely recommend stopping by here if you were on the way to the outlet mall or San Antonio. Grade: B

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 1612 S Interstate 35, San Marcos, TX 78666
Phone: (512) 392-6000