Thursday, October 8, 2009

Smitty's Market (8/10) - 208 S Commerce St Lockhart, TX 78644

After an unforgettable abridged meal at City Market in Luling, Matt and I drove back north towards Lockhart, Texas - a city that was declared the Barbecue Capital of Texas by the Texas Legislature.  There are three main restaurants in Lockhart -- Smitty's Market, Black's Barbecue, and Kreuz's Market -- and the rivalries' intensity is always personal and intense.  Smitty's used to be called Kreuz's until half the Schmidt family decided to split and open their own establishment half a mile down the road.  The new location is called Kreuz's and the old was renamed Smitty's.   Each of the three locations keeps tabs on the other and tries to sell itself on unique attributes dissimilar to its competition.

The front entrance of Smitty's was closed so we had to enter through the back -- one will notice an enormous stock pile of oak wood to the right when entering the restaurant.  The room you enter is where the meat is smoked and sold.    As we walked in, Matt and I had to carefully navigate our way to the counter otherwise we could have stepped directly into a lit pile of logs that was being used to smoke the meat.  The continuous heat around the logs is so intense that the brick walls above the smokers are in the process of melting.  It seriously doesn't get more authentic and legit than that.    

To help illustrate the layout of the restaurant, I have enclosed a brief montage from another patrons visit to Smitty's that will also hopefully bring out some serious barbecue cravings for its viewers.

Matt and I ordered a quarter pound of ribs and brisket as well as a link of Smitty's sausage, and headed into the main dining room.  We first tried the brisket and it had a really solid smoked flavor.  In most other cities, Smitty's would most likely reign supreme -- but in the Barbecue Capital of Texas, we were looking for incredible flavored beef.  Both of our greatest criticisms of the meat was that the brisket was cut too thick.
We grabbed the bottle of Smitty's sauce to sample it with the meat to realize that it tasted identical to Texas Pete Hot Sauce.  Hot sauce and beef make a poor combination.

The ribs had a sweet flavor but the fat could have been rendered a little more to enhance the flavor and texture.  The sausage had a great flavor but the casing was really soft and hard to chew.  I bet another trip to Smitty's would produce a completely different experience -- for the better and most likely earning a 10/10 -- but we left a little disappointed in each of the three meats that we tried that day.

For overall experience including ambiance, I would have loved to give Smitty's a near perfect score.  I loved the uncovered burning logs, the effect of the heat on the brick walls, and watching the pitmasters carve meat behind the counter.  I would hope to incorporate a lot of Smitty's into my own restaurant if I had the flexibility to design one from scratch.

Smitty's Market on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. that chopping block table and the knife set looks pretty cool, nice!


Ratings and Reviews

In order to provide a consistent grading standard across each restaurant/region, I order a barbecue pork sandwich (and other meats/sides if a restaurant/region specializes in another specialty). In addition to comparing the quality of food, I will also take into consideration other intangibles (ambiance, atmosphere, service, authenticity, etc.) in my ratings as I deem appropriate.

Basically, a 10/10 represents an incredible meal, while a 6/10 score indicates a decent dining experience but a substantial number of dishes fell short of great. Lower scores indicate unpleasant experiences which I would most likely not even recommend to my worst enemy (Jonas Singer).

I reserve the right to continuously edit/update previous posts and to change rating scores as I see fit.