Sunday, July 12, 2009

On The BBQ Trail

After all the wedding vows were taken, all the dances danced, all the bratwursts grilled (and eaten), and honeymooners sent on their way.... Dad joined Dale and me on a mini road trip down to San Antonio-- about an hour's drive south from Austin. That is if you don't stop for Texas BBQ. We stopped. Often.
The area between Austin and San Antonio is one of Texas' prime BBQ zones. I've been to Texas a few times, but so far never had a chance to really explore all the famous places I'd been hearing about. For the trip down, we took highway 183 to our first stop: Lockhart, BBQ Capital of Texas and home to Smitty's, Black's and Kreutz Market. Since it was pretty early and my companions were not looking too favorably on having BBQ for breakfast, I narrowed the choice for this stop to Black's, which claims to the the oldest BBQ restaurant in Texas owned by the same family.
We parked the car near the main square and followed our noses.

Instructions on how they do things down in Lockhart. Pretty easy to follow.

Since the meats are all sold by the pound, you can just order what you want, in the quantities you want. I chose a pork rib, some brisket and a sausage. Since this was stop number one, I didn't want to get too overloaded. Rounded out with a little coleslaw and a devilled egg.

Everything was really good. The sausage was not fatty at all. Texas BBQ differs from other types of BBQ like Carolina or St. Louis style in that it is not served with a sauce. Most places have some sauce, but you have to add it yourself. It is all about the smoke and the meat in Texas.

Yes, Virginia, there really IS a jackalope.

Lockhart is the county seat of Caldwell County and boasts this ornate courthouse on the square in the heart of the city.

Next stop--Luling, home of the world-famous Watermelon Thump as well as home to City Market, another great stop on the BBQ trail.

City Market was a little different than Black's in that you actually entered the smokehouse to order your meat. Not as many side dishes either. No frills....the food comes on butcher paper and I had to go ask for a fork. Again, I had pork ribs and brisket--both good.

My dining companions finally perked up and had some good looking pork ribs too.

A local Luling artist transforms these pump jacks into works of art. There are something like 20 of them throughout the town. This one honors the Watermelon Thump.

This jack was in the back of a Dairy Queen.

Next stop--San Antonio....and The Alamo!

I've been a big fan of "King of the Hill" for many years. One of the recurring themes is that of The Alamo and how important it is to Texans. One episode, Hank Hill did an Battle of the Alamo re-enactment, and last season, Hank even made a backyard bar in the shape of the Alamo.

San Antonio's big event is called "Fiesta" and it was going on while we were there. That meant there were many events going on around town, including one that afternoon at The Alamo put on by The Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Because of this the visiting hours were shortened and we only got to spend a short time inside. Dang...I really wanted to see if there was a basement! We met one of the Sons of the Republic of Texas and chit-chatted with him for awhile. He sure knew everything there was to know about The Alamo and Texas in general. When we came back later that evening, we saw they had presented these wreaths, which were still on display.

The Riverwalk was pretty neat, but it too was the site of a Fiesta event, so we couldn't really experience it like we wanted to. That evening was one of the main Fiesta events--a Boat Parade-- and all the walkways were lined with reserved seating. One restaurant was selling a seat at a table for $75! We came by later and got to see a little of the parade from atop a bridge.

Since we couldn't hang out on The Riverwalk, we hopped a bus and went to El Mercado. This was another open air place with restaurants and shops and here too, was another Fiesta event...there were three stages with live music going on and the place was packed. We were pretty hungry by this time so we stopped at Mi Tierra Cafe. This place looked like a total tourist trap and I wasn't expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised with the nice dinner we had. This photo is only a tiny glimpse of the over-the-top decor going on inside.

When I go travelling, I like to stay in historic hotels, if I can. We chose The Menger for our stay in San Antonio. It has a great location-- "across the alley from The Alamo" and it was built in 1859. The lobby is gorgeous.

Here is a neat sign.

We had to head out back to Austin the next morning and we were all just too "touristed-out" to make any stops along the way. I had planned on stopping in New Braunfels for more BBQ and I guess Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum will have to wait for my next trip. San Antonio has a lot more to explore--we only scratched the surface.

We kept hearing "Y'all come back" and I'm sure we will!

1 comment:

Miss Healthypants said...

I LOVE your travel stories! Sooo interesting! :)

And the BBQ pics made me really hungry. Although I do prefer lots of BBQ sauce on my barbecue. :)