So over several long weeks of anticipation. I put together a BBQ dream trip... Snow's, Zimmerhanzel's, Luling BBQ & Luling City Market, Southside Market & BBQ and a few others if we have the time and the appetite... 200 and some odd miles and over 5 hours of driving though central Texas to eat BBQ.
First on my list of places to try was Snow's BBQ in Lexington. My wife was less than thrilled when I told her that we had to be ready to hit the road by 7 AM so we could be there by 8 AM. Did I mention that my wife also has an aversion to eating beef for breakfast? She was even less thrilled at this point. I on the other hand was more than thrilled for both of us.
The plan was to order small amounts of meat at each stop and share them family style. At Snow's I ordered 1/3 lb of brisket, 1/4 lb sausage, and a rib.
Ok, I hope this doesn't ruin the rest of the story for you but you see that brisket in the picture above? Well that was the best brisket I have ever put in my mouth! I had to look around to be sure I had not died and gone to heaven and had little brisket angels flying around my mouth.
So as I'm sitting there wondering if I'm really gonna share this brisket family style as was planned. My non-beef at breakfast eating wife says "Can we order more to take with us???". As much as I wanted to say yes. We had 6 more planned stops ahead of us.
The sausage at Snow's had a nice texture and flavor and our friend from California, who doesn't eat much red meat, was really enjoying the sausage and the brisket.
I didn't share the rib. It was good but not mind blowing good like the brisket. I wouldn't drive all the way to Texas to eat another rib at Snow's but I would walk 500 miles, uphill both ways, naked, in 12 feet of snow to get some more of that brisket. Yes, I really thought it was that good and we all left Lexington wondering if the bar had been set to high for the remaining stops ahead of us.
I got in line to order the meat, 1/3 lb of brisket, one hot, and a piece of buttermilk pie, while my wife and our friend amused themselves taking pictures in front of the animals adorning the walls of Zimmerhanzel's.
I think it was a unanimous agreement that Zimmerhanzel's brisket was our least favorite of the day but don't let that be construed as us not liking it. We loved it and my wife put it best when she said "It was the worst we ate today but still way better than any we have had in Oklahoma.
The sausage had a coarse texture and nice flavor. I tried one bite of it dipped in the sauce the server had provided and it worked well with the sauce.
The sauce was like none I had tasted before. It was kind of thin and I thought it was pretty tasty. The meat didn't need it though so I only tasted it on one bite.
None of us had ever had buttermilk pie before so I can't say how their buttermilk pie compares to other buttermilk pies. If there is better, then it has to be some really darn good pie, because we could have easily eaten three, or twelve pies, if we weren't trying to save our appetites for 3 more stops on our 5 hour tour.
Next stop was Luling. We parked and crossed the street to Luling Bar-B-Q first. I approached the counter in time to see the woman serving the meat slice off a few slices of pork tenderloin. So I ordered 1/3 lb of brisket, one jalapeno ring, two slices of pork tenderloin and..... Is that sweet potato pie I see in front of me? Why yes it was so it found it's way on my tray as well.
The brisket at Luling Bar-B-Q didn't wow us like the brisket at Snow's did but we all agreed it did have the best smoke flavor of all the briskets we ate this day.
The pork tenderloin didn't turn out to be as good as it looked. It was moist and tender but it didn't have the smoke flavor of the brisket. I can't imagine them not smoking it but there was no smoke ring and it tasted more like it had been baked. They did have a kind of mustardy fruity style of BBQ sauce that went really well with the tenderloin. It was like they were made for each other and maybe they were.
The jalapeno sausage was my favorite sausage of the day. It had the right amount of heat and flavor. It was a good thing there was glass between me and all those sausages in the pic above or my BBQ road trip would have ended here in a massive orgy of sausage gluttony..... That almost sounds pornographic and probably would have been had that glass not been there.
My wife didn't really like the sweet potato pie and it did have more nutmeg than the sweet potato pie we get here in Oklahoma... I on the other hand have never met a piece of sweet potato pie I didn't like. So I didn't mind getting most of it to myself.
We left Luling Bar-B-Q and waddled across the street to Luling City Market.
Behind that door above is fire, and smoke, and succulent hunks of meat and sausage. I left the rest of the party behind to get us a table and I entered that wonderful smoke filled room of meat, took in a deep breath of BBQ goodness and came out with 1/3 lb of brisket, one ring, and a pork rib.
This brisket came as close to being as good as Snow's as any we ate that day. It may have been as good as Snow's if we weren't starting to feel the effects of the meat sweats coming on. That may have clouded our judgment a little bit.
The sausage had a fine texture and was well seasoned. It was similar to sausage I had eaten at Smitty's on a previous trip to Lockhart.
The rib was excellent. It had a beautiful smoke ring and had been lightly basted with a sweet sauce. The meat pulled away from the bone where I bit and was tender and tasty. It was everything I look for in a pork rib and my tongue thanked me for getting it.
We rolled out of Luling, literally, and headed north for Elgin. We drove through Lockhart and as we passed by Smitty's, then Black's, and finally Kreuz I asked if we wanted to stop as we passed each. My wife and I had been to all 3 about a year earlier and I had nearly gorged myself into a meat coma by eating at all 3 in the span of an hour. My wife's silence as I asked about stopping at each led me to believe she didn't want to see a repeat of that previous trip. So we headed on up 183 to find Southside Market & BBQ.
After making one wrong turn we finally made our way to Elgin. This ended up being our last stop of the day. I really wanted to try Meyer's and then go on up to Taylor and try Louie Mueller's but we were all in the throes of full on meat sweats. So I got in one last line. Ordered the 1/3 lb of brisket, 1/4 lb of Southside's famous hot sausage, a beef rib, and for the first time all day.... A couple of Shiner Bock's.
We all enjoyed the brisket despite the effects of the meat sweats. The sausage was ok, It had a medium coarse texture but seemed to lack a little on the flavor end. Maybe I had let Southside's hype build up the sausages expectations but it was probably my least favorite sausage of the day.
The beef rib was pretty good and if Southside had been our first stop I would have been hard pressed not to eat an entire slab of them.
All in all every place we ate served excellent BBQ. They all had their own unique qualities that we enjoyed. All the briskets we ate were moist, well seasoned, and plastic fork tender. I'm a sausage junky and all the sausages were just different enough to make each a unique and enjoyable treat. Unlike anything we can get here in Oklahoma where smoked sausage usually means Ekrich or something similar to it.
We ended the day sipping on our beers and wishing we could continue but waving the white napkin of surrender. Our bellies full of some of the most incredible BBQ any of us had ever eaten and our day filled with adventure, good conversation, and a new found love for Central Texas BBQ.