A long time ago I saw an episode of 60-Minutes on family feuds. The one story I remember was about Kreuz Market in Lockhart, TX. (Google it, you can find a lot of stories about the story). What I remember most was that the barbecue was served on butcher paper, with no plates, no forks, and no sauce. The guy said “Good meat don’t need no sauce.” And I have had Kreuz Market on my bucket list before bucket lists were a thing.
Since the explosion of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network, and Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel, I have added a few other Texas BBQ joints to my bucket list. Last week I finally checked off some of the places on that list – and a couple of places that weren’t on my list – and discovered a lot of things about Texas, barbecue, and friendship along the way.
A friend and I drove from Fort Worth and spent a couple of nights in a renovated 1930s motel in Blanco (if you are ever in Blanco, check out the Blanco County Inn – you won’t be sorry). We had outstanding ribs and sausage at the Old 300 BBQ in Blanco, did a little antique shopping, walked around the park, and spent a little time in Bible study with the local Church of Christ (good people – very welcoming and friendly). Before hitting the trail the next morning, we had some of the best klobasnek and cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had. (What’s a klobasnek? It’s what we usually call a kolache – but apparently the Czechs who created this delight insist that a kolache is fruit filled and a klobasnek is the meat filled version I love). The German and Czech influence on the food in the Texas Hill Country is just wonderful!!
While I thoroughly enjoyed the barbecue in all the places we visited, I learned a couple of things that any smart, thinking person would probably have known without making such a trip. But, making the discovery, and spending time with a cherished friend…well…there’s just no substitute for spending time with friends.
We drove over to Lockhart and had a sampling of the barbecue at both Kreuz Market and Black’s Barbecue (in business since 1900 and 1932, respectively), did some more antiquing, stopped off at the Wimberely Glassworks and watched an incredible display of glassblowing, and then made our way to Driftwood for a sample of the smoky goodness at The Salt Lick. This is one of those iconic places you see on TV that makes you crave a visit, and then when you come away you wonder what all the fuss was about. It was a neat experience, and that barbecue pit is really awesome to see, but the food is not the best you can get in this area – if you’re gonna drive that far out into nowhere, go on over to Blanco and hit the Old 300. (But if you’re with friends who are dying to go, be sure you go early in the day, and during the week – on the weekends, you could be in for a two-hour wait – it’s good, and fun, but it ain’t that good.)
When we headed back home, we had to take a break from the barbecue and sample the German food in Fredericksburg and then head on back to Fort Worth. While the Austin area and the surrounding Hill Country is known for having some of the best, most iconic barbecue in Texas (and therefore in all of America), I was pleasantly surprised to find some of the best barbecue of the whole trip at Railhead Smokehouse in Fort Worth. And that brings me around to what I learned – or maybe what I confirmed – on this bucket list trip.
- You don’t have to go to the most iconic places on the map to get the best food, but it sure is fun to see what all the fuss is about.
- Even if your bucket list trip doesn’t work out exactly as planned (my “list” is still pretty long), you can find some unexpected gems along the way (the fire pit at the Blanco County Inn, German food in Fredericksburg, glass blowing in Wimberley, a bin full of extra Scrabble letters in an antique shop – to replace the ones we’ve been missing for 10 years, an old run-down dance hall where some really famous people have played, and some beautiful bluebonnets and scenery in the Hill Country).
- No matter where you go, what you see, or what you do, going with a friend will make it an unbeatable experience. Even if you are an introvert who prefers to spend time alone. Go with a friend. You’ll be glad you did. And you’ll be ready to go again real soon.
(note: if you want a detailed review of all the places we ate, check out my reviews on Yelp! – Old 300 BBQ, Kreuz Market, Black’s Barbecue, The Salt Lick BBQ, Railhead Smokehouse, Auslander Biergarten, The Deutsch Apple, and Main St. Donuts and Kolaches)