Monday, March 25, 2013

Black's BBQ and Kreuz Market, Lockhart, Texas 3/25/13

sampled 3/25/13 around 11 am

After leaving the Houston BBQ fest yesterday, we headed to Lockhart to overnight then gather more BBQ to take north.  Lunch at Black's was in order, but not before we dashed down to Luling so Scott could gather some ribs, brisket, and sausage to bring north.  That task accomplished, we headed to Black's for lunch.  After sampling brisket from 15 different Houston BBQ joints yesterday, I have to say Black's spanked them all badly.  Perfect pull test, amazing smoke flavor, tender and moist almost beyond belief, fat rendered to nirvana specs, damn it was GOOD!  Yet another reminder why Lockhart is the BBQ capitol of Texas.  I do have to say my pork spare ribs were undercooked and tough, but that brisket more than made up for it.  I got another 4 pounds of frozen brisket to go, just because I could.  The jalapeno cheese sausage and both sides were very nice as well. Click on the first picture below and admire that perfect brisket!!
After filling our bellies we moved on to filling our already bulging coolers.  5 boxes of Kreuz jalapeno cheese sausage made their way in cooled comfort.  No it's not all for me.  Anytime I head that way I have buddies who place "orders".  Yes, I'm a meat mule!

The Houston BBQ Festival

My buddy Mark down in H-Town hipped me to this fest a few months back and I have been looking forward to it ever since.  Scott and I arrived at the site about 45 minutes before the gates opened.  There was a howling north wind and we kept our jackets on all day long.  Check in was easy and we picked up our VIP goodie bags and shirts.  VIP is definitely the way to go on all these kind of events, even with the slightly higher cost.  You get a good head start on the rest of the crowd and can make a good dent in the number of places to be sampled before the lines get real long.

The gates opened just a bit after noon for the VIPs and the food sampling began in earnest.  There were lots of helpful volunteers about and they were needed!  The wind was so strong it was blowing things over, blowing paper towel rolls off the tables, and practically blew my food off the table several times.  They actually had volunteers walking around with the paper towels handing them out to the customers as they approached the seating areas. They also picked up the empty sample trays as you headed back for more.  It was all very convenient. Kudos to the volunteers who made this such a great fest.

There were 15 restaurants represented and it varied a bit as to what you received from each.  Some would have 4 meats plus sides.  Some had just 2 meats.  Some had desserts included.  Most had their own sauce and I was careful to get that on the side, not on the meat.  I managed to sample all 15 spots, finishing up just after the regular ticket holders were admitted at 1 pm.

Most of the brisket and ribs were undercooked and few had any smoke flavor. On brisket I gave kudos to the Brisket House, Blakes, and Gatlins.  All had tender moist brisket with at least some smoke flavor.  On pork ribs I liked Virgies, Gary Burns, Brooks, and Gatlins.  For sausage I loved Ray's, and liked Gary Burns, and Brisket House.  Killen's had a nice beef rib sample, a little bit chewy but with very nice flavor.  Tin Roof had an excellent brownie bite.  Ray's had my new favorite beans anywhere.  I think those were the best beans I have ever had.  Thick baked-style BBQ beans with chunks of their excellent sausage and brisket.  Ray's beans and sausage were the highlight of the whole deal to me.

At 1 pm the crowds descended and the lines got long.  Fortunately I had finished all my eating and spent the rest of the afternoon visiting with friends.

Drew from Man Up had a booth hawking his Q Card and his new Allstar Sauces project.  The next Gettin Sauced will happen September 28th in Austin.  The BBQ Snob, Daniel Vaughn was there with beer coozies and he had his own special badge for the event.  His new book will be out in May.
Overall this was a great roadtrip and there are a few spots I would like to check out in Houston as a result.  It would have taken us 4 or 5 days to have a complete meal at all 15 of these joints and this kind of sample fest is a fantastic way to introduce new folks to the Houston BBQ scene.  I hope to be back again next year.

Houston BBQ Festival, photos part 1

Photos follow of all the booths and their food, except the very last one where I forgot to snap the food photo.  Doh!  I blame the meat coma!
You can click on any photo to see a larger view.

Houston BBQ Festival, Photos part 2

More pictures from the 2013 Houston BBQ Festival



Sorry, no food photo from Killen's, but they had a nice beef rib sample! 

Houston BBQ Festival, the trip down to Houston

Scott and I pulled out about 1 pm on Saturday, March 23 and headed down I-45 to Houston.  As usual, I was fasting the day before a big BBQ Fest but Scott wanted to stop at a few spots along the way, sample some meat, and collect some more to go.  I agreed, but only if I didn't have to go inside and smell all that BBQ!

The first stop was at the Alma Smokehouse, a little spot we had liked a lot a few years ago.  They were out of brisket then, so today Scott got a sliced brisket sandwich and we each got half a pound of sliced brisket to go.  Scott raved on the smoke flavor of his sandwich.  I sampled my to-go package a few days later and found the brisket average with no smoke flavor at all.

Our next two stops were in Huntsville.  Coincidently, I had received an e-mail from a reader the night before suggesting we try out McKenzie's BBQ in Conroe.  What a deal, I thought, we're driving right through Conroe the very next day.  Scott also wanted to hit New Zion in Huntsville.  In looking at the maps, I made the executive decision to hit the McKenzie's location In Huntsville rather than Conroe.  We got a pound of sliced brisket to go and Scott reported there was no smoke flavor and more of a roast beef taste.  My to-go sample was similarly nice "roast beef" that required sauce.
Onward to New Zion Missionary Baptist Church "Church BBQ".  This small volunteer-run joint has had a lofty reputation in the past but some feel it has slipped a bit.  We picked up a pound of sliced brisket to go and Scott declared it fantastic.  In fact, he ate his half a pound for dinner that night.  I sampled my to-go package a few days later and found light smoke flavor and fat that was not completely rendered.  No doubt all of my to-go packages would have been better fresh cut, but when you need room for sampling 15 BBQ joints the next day something's gotta give!

I love that the "Church BBQ" truck is in BBQ sauce red.  :)