At Lockhart Smokehouse It’s No Forks, No Sauce, No Problem.
400 West Davis St.
Ambience: 3.5 out of 4 BBQs
Service: 3.5 out of 4 BBQs
Food: 4 out of 4 BBQs
Though the population of Lockhart, Texas, is only around 14,000 people, over 250,000 customers patronize the city’s four BBQ joints annually.
No, it’s no secret the small central Texas town is a BBQ destination — especially after the Texas senate passed a resolution in 2003 proclaiming Lockhart the BBQ Capital of Texas.
That legacy is exactly what owners Jeff and Jill Bergus were trying to bring to North Texas when they opened the Lockhart Smokehouse in early 2011.
And they have a leg up on the competition: Bergus’ cousins run the 112-year-old Kreuz Market in Lockhart, and, as such, theirs is the only place in town where you’ll find the legendary juicy Kreuz sausage. On this visit, I tried the jalapeno and cheese variety ($5.25) which literally oozed its perfectly spiced juices into my mouth with each bite.
The Berguses also adopted a few of Kreuz Market’s other traditions, which is to say that they’re no fans of forks or sauces. They’re not big on plates either: When you order your meat from the counter — located in the back, near the smokers — servers pull it out and slice it fresh right in front of you, then wrap it some butcher paper for you to take back to your table.
It’s a good idea to bring a somewhat close friend (but not a date) with you — not just because you’ll probably want to try several of their meats, but because it’s absolutely impossible to look attractive eating dripping hunks of meat with your bare hands.
Unlike their Central Texas counterpart, though, Lockhart’s actually does have a few bottles of BBQ sauces available. I grabbed one on my way to the table but quickly forgot all about it once I discovered how moist and flavorful the meat was.
Yes, it’s that good.
And the real star here — by a mile — is the brisket ($7.50 per half pound). It’s marinated and smoked to utter perfection, achieving that difficult dichotomy for which all great pit masters strive. The outer layer boasts a hearty char, while the insides are so moist and tender they practically dissolve on the tongue like cotton candy.
In a city like Dallas where folks tend to think the best BBQ offerings come from chains like Sonny Bryan’s, Lockhart Smokehouse is not only showing us the light, it’s rendering that four-hour trek south to BBQ Mecca practically unnecessary altogether.
All photos by Jeremy Hughes.