Monday, October 13, 2014
Black's Barbecue (Lockhart, TX)
I've wanted to go barbecue hopping in Lockhart for quite some time. With a week-long stay in Texas at my disposal, this was the perfect opportunity. I'm sure any number of friends and family would have been very eager to join in, but today my grandma was my wingman (wing-granny?). This was sure to be an adventure of epic proportions. First up on our list was the one, the only, Black's Barbecue.
Black's has been listed in Texas Monthly's "Top 50 BBQ Joints" in 1997 and 2013. I'm a bit skeptical of their absence from the 2003 and 2008 lists (not even an honorable mention), but that's a rant for another day. These guys have been churning out phenomenal barbecue since 1932, and they're all about the history here. Black's has been using the same pit since 1949 and the same cutting blocks since 1954. Wow! Interestingly, Black's is the only one of Lockhart's "Big 3" that offers plates, forks, or sauce, but I won't hold that against them.
Upon walking in, we were immediately greeted and asked if it was our first time at Black's. Since it was, the helpful server gave us a quick rundown of the ordering process. In fact, everyone we encountered here was extremely friendly. Their large dining room is certainly necessary to try and accommodate the hoards of people that descend on Lockhart each and every day. The walls are littered with deer mounts, cow horns, and photos of days gone by. Sitting in Black's made me nostalgic for the kind of historic, small Texas towns that are becoming more and more a distant memory.
The brilliance of their barbecue comes from its simplicity. Overly-complex rubs can certainly be tasty, but here the focus is on the meat, and Black's knows how to let it shine. We ordered a quarter-pound of sliced fatty brisket, a giant beef rib, a pork rib, and a link of their original sausage. We also added some potato salad, beans, and deviled eggs for good measure.
There was so much food that we needed a separate plate just for our sides. The potato salad was creamy and slightly sweet. It also had a rather potent pickle flavor, which added some nice acidity. The deviled eggs tasted just like my ones my grandma makes, and that is most certainly a compliment. The beans were cooked just right and were full of an awesome spice blend. This was a great way to warm up my palate.
As expected, the brisket had a magnificent black crust and a prominent smoke ring. My first bite was like a fairy tale. The natural beef flavors and abundant smokiness danced off of one another in a way that begged me to keep eating. Each bite was full of tender meat and perfectly-rendered fat. Despite, or rather because of the simple salt and pepper-based rub, the brisket was really tasty. I had to force my grandma to stop eating it since we had two more barbecue stops planned after Black's.
It's hard to put into words how absolutely amazing the beef ribs are. At one or two pounds each, these ribs look like they were plucked from a brontosaurus. The deep black crust and smoky hue are enough to make your mouth water. You might think that a chunk of meat this thick would dry out easily, but it literally melts in your mouth. The tender meat is also seasoned perfectly and very flavorful all the way through. It's one of the best things I've ever eaten.
Though considerably smaller than its bovine counterpart, the pork rib was also quite spectacular. Each side of the rib was lined with a bright smoke ring. The crust wasn't black like the beef rib, but it still looked delicious. It had plenty of smoke and a flavor that can't be beat. The meat was also tender and very juicy. I could have eaten these all day, but it's probably better that we only ordered one.
Black's coarse-ground, homemade sausage rings weigh in at about a third of a pound each. The crisp casings had a nice snap, but they still had enough give that my grandma could bite through without too much trouble. Their simple spice blend lets the meat do the talking, with just a slight punch of garlic to tie it all together.
The pork rib and brisket were my grandma's favorites, but we both enjoyed the entire meal. In fact, I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this place. No matter which regional barbecue style you gravitate toward, Black's is the absolute holy grail.
215 N Main St
Lockhart, TX 78644