Texas Travel

City Spotlight: Lockhart

By Chet Garner 5.11.21

In a state that takes its barbecue seriously, Lockhart is the crowned king — literally. In 1999, the Texas House of Representatives passed a resolution proclaiming Lockhart as the Barbecue Capital of Texas, a title worth its weight in smoked meat.

Lockhart Texas BBQ

The Legends of Lockhart BBQ

You can smell Lockhart from miles away, thanks to the four barbecue joints that earned the town its prestige. For meat lovers, smelling that combined aroma is the first sign you’ve reached the barbecue mecca. In fact, each restaurant estimates that around 5,000 people walk through their doors every week — that’s a lot of meat.

Kreuz and Smitty’s
The oldest establishment is Kreuz Market (pronounced krites), its origins dating back to the 19th century. Its operations are largely unchanged since then: It’s still a classic meat market where patrons walk up to the pits and point at what they want. Until recently, Kreuz followed a strict “No Forks, No Sauce” policy, but it’s my opinion that you still don’t need any. It’s perfect all on its own and good enough to eat with your fingers.

Here’s where the barbecue story gets truly juicy. Edgar “Smitty” Schmidt had been the owner of Kreuz since 1948. When he died in 1994, he left the barbecue business to his sons, Don and Rick, but the building to his daughter Nina. This division spiraled into a sibling feud, culminating in 1999 when Rick Schmidt moved Kreuz Market to a new building a few blocks away. The departure left Nina Schmidt with an opportunity to follow in her father’s footsteps, and she opened Smitty’s Market inside the original Kreuz building with the tagline, “Since 1948.” The sooty, black walls inside Smitty’s absolutely drip with flavor, and everything they serve is tremendous.

If you asked me which I think is better, I’d say it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, both Kreuz and Smitty’s are carrying on a family tradition — you’ve gotta go to both.

Black’s BBQ
Black’s BBQ
is a joint well known for its meat and its sides. Black’s is family-owned, and you can tell by the taste — it tastes less like a restaurant and more like you’re sitting at grandma’s table on barbecue night. They’ve been serving up dinosaur-sized ribs and renowned barbecue sausage since 1932. Their side menu is always changing, featuring everything from green beans and macaroni salad to baked beans and sweet pickles.

Chisholm Trail BBQ
If you ask Lockhart locals where to go, there’s a good chance they’d suggest Chisholm Trail BBQ. It’s less of a tourist’s site, but it’s just as delicious as the others and on the less expensive side. Locals flock here every day to enjoy their sandwiches, salads, fajitas, or by-the-pound platters of juicy, delicious barbecue.

Lockhart Texas

Lockhart’s Side Menu

Eating is the primary thing to do here in Lockhart, but there’s plenty to keep you busy between meals. The Caldwell County Courthouse is in the heart of town, and, with its Napoleonic architecture, it might just be the prettiest courthouse in all of Texas. Just down the street from the courthouse is the Caldwell County Museum, which used to be the old jail. You can walk through the cells for a look back in time.

Just southwest of town is Lockhart State Park. It’s right on Clear Fork Creek, so there are plenty of great hiking trails and fishing spots, plus a historic golf course.

Lastly, I definitely recommend swinging by Chaparral Coffee for a post-meat pick-me-up. They recently added a bodega-style market, so there’s fresh deli meats, artisan cheeses, and local dairy for when you need a break from barbecue.

No matter where you go in the area, however, you’re almost guaranteed to be drawn back to town by the ubiquitous, alluring aroma of smoke and meat, courtesy of the Barbecue Capital of Texas.

Explore more Texas towns with Chet Garner here.

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