On the way back to DFW we stopped by Kreuz Market in Lockhart plus the Taylor Cafe and Louie Mueller's in Taylor. I came away with 25 jalapeno cheese links from Kreuz, 2 pounds of brisket from Vencil Mares' place, and a "Texas Dozen" of jalapeno sausage from Louie's. We also made a short stop at Slovecek's in West where Scott grabbed me one jalapeno cheese link to try out later. I have a very happy freezer and I believe I may remove the welcome mat from the front door until it is empty again. Can you blame me?
Take me back to Black's. While we had fun at the Houston BBQ fest, this was the real deal and this meal alone made the entire trip worthwhile. Every bite of this was excellent with deep smoke flavor in the brisket. I was tasting smoke flavor for hours afterwards. Click and enlarge that photo at your own peril. The fat just melted away when chewed. I also grabbed 2 pounds of frozen brisket and a giant beef rib to go. Something to look forward to, later.
Three years in a row for us at the Houston BBQ Fest and things seem to be improving on the Houston BBQ scene. However Lockhart, Taylor, Austin, and even Dallas have far better smoked meats, based on this sample of 23 different joints. Still it was another fun trip and a day well spent with even better food to be found on our trip down and back. As usual I fasted the day before, knowing we had 23 joints to sample.
We got out to the fest at about 11 am, an hour before the VIP entry. Scott and I ended up 11th and 12th in the VIP line. They were very well organized with volunteers coming out to the line, scanning our tickets, then fetching our goody bags and t-shirts. Great friendly service. The weather was a bit steamy but much improved over the gale force winds of 2013 and the occasional downpours of 2014. There was just enough cloud cover that I never even got out the sunscreen. It wasn't long til the VIP line snaked far back in the parking lot.
The gates opened for VIP ticket holders right at noon and Scott and I made a beeline for the far side of the festival with a plan of making our way back towards the gate after the hordes had passed. The plan worked well and most of our samples were acquired with little or no waiting required. The goal was to sample all 23 joints during the "magic hour" before the general admission crowds descended and the lines got stupid. We made it in the nick of time and settled in to visit with friends as the general admission ticket holders lined up for their first samples.
The food this year was generally better than the first two fests. We did our usual method of taking a bite or two of each sample, then either bagging the rest or tossing it, depending on how much we liked it. We bagged way more food this year than the first two fests combined. We still tossed plenty of undercooked or overcooked brisket, tough ribs, and yucky sausage. As usual the size of the samples varied greatly with some joints passing out tiny morsels while others filled a paper boat with food. I had only one sample of brisket with discernible smoke flavor. Louie Mueller's had an excellent beef rib sample and a very nice lamb popsicle. Kudos also to Feges who went whole hog, the first we have seen at any of the BBQ fests we have attended. I'm not a big pulled pork fan but it was a nice idea they had to do something different. Scott noted a number of joints had noticeably small brisket samples and instead pushed pork, turkey, and sides, possibly in response to the high cost of beef. None of the brisket compared to the small sample I had the day before in Huntsville or the goodness to come in Lockhart.
The only two problems we had with this year's fest were the long beer lines after general admission and the disco music which blared through the speakers during most of the VIP magic hour. The Texas Monthly Fest does an outstanding job of combining different genres of Texas-made music between bands. With all the great music that has come out of Houston I'd think it would be easy to compile a similar soundtrack and leave the Michael Jackson stuff alone. Puhleeessee!!!
Posts below shows the booths and food samples we tasted. As usual you can click on any photo for a larger view.
On the way down I-45 from DFW to Houston for the third annual Houston BBQ Festival, we made a couple of stops in Huntsville. One was closed, but Church BBQ was open and busy. I remarked last year that they had some excellent brisket when we passed through and that their price of just $10/lb was about as cheap as I had seen for brisket recently. Yes, they have gone up slightly, to $11.49, but the quality is still the same. I grabbed 2 pounds to go and Scott had a 2 meat plate with ribs and brisket. He was only able to finish half of his meal and had the rest for dinner later on. I was fasting in anticipation of 23 BBQ samples the next day but I did have to sneak a bite. My one bite had great moisture and smoke flavor and passed the pull apart test with flying colors. A wonderful reminder in these days of $20/pound (or more) brisket that there are still BBQ bargains to be had. I did not have a single bite of brisket in Houston that was as tasty as the one little sample I had in Huntsville. I shall enjoy the rest of those 2 pounds over the next few days!
I love barbecue. I always wanted to spend some vacation time sampling the best BBQ joints in Texas. A few years ago, my friend Scott and I started doing just that and we've been doing it every year since. We call it the "Calories and Cholesterol Tour". Since so many people were asking me about our experiences, I started writing them up. We are not expert eaters or writers. We just do this for fun and because we LOVE Texas BBQ. A note about our reviews. We tend to be "stealth" reviewers. We don't ask for pit tours or cooking techniques and we try to be discrete about taking photos til after we are done. We want to experience each meal as an average customer. If you know a great Texas BBQ joint we need to try, e-mail me at donotemp AT gmail DOT com. CLICK ON THE PHOTOS FOR A LARGER VIEW! I also have a separate bass fishing blog.