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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lockhart, Texas: “The Barbecue Capital of Texas”

Caldwell County Courthouse
Editor's note: Barbecued Adventures will be relaunched in early 2014 with new posts about barbecue, pitmasters and related travel. This post dates back to Feb. 1, 2011. Thank you for reading and place come back often.

According to official sources, the town of Lockhart, Texas, is home to the state’s oldest public library and the oldest Protestant church.

The Caldwell County Courthouse aptly is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.

On the map, Lockhart would seem to be another small Texas town, located about 45 minutes south of Austin and about 90 minutes north of San Antonio.

On the day we visited, the downtown square resembled the sleepy Texas town depicted in the Academy Award-winning drama, "The Last Picture Show." Sadly, many shops were closed that Wednesday, including the consignment shop my wife wanted to inspect, as well as the bakery on the square. Some local teens, accompanied by an old hound dog, aimed us to a place for ice cream on this warm afternoon.

The 1996 Christopher Guest comedy "Waiting for Guffman" and the 1993 Academy Award nominated drama "What's Eating Gilbert Grape(starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp)" were filmed here, including at the historic courthouse square. The city's Wal-Mart store was used in the 2000 Natalie Portman film "Where The Heart Is."

But where I had seen Lockhart before had been on television.

The fourth episode of the Travel Channel’s “Food Wars” series featured a barbecue and family debate between two local joints, Kreuz Market and Smitty's Market. Together with Black’s Barbecue – the oldest such restaurant in the state to be operated by the same family – and Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que, the town has been dubbed “The Barbecue Capital of Texas.”

By the Texas Legislature, no less, in 1999. Until recently, that’s also what it said on the welcome sign as you entered town on Highway 183. It's what drew us here.

Although it only has a population of about 12,900, an estimated 23,000 people eat at Lockhart’s four barbecue restaurants each week – or about 1.2 million a year (as reported in the state travel guide).

Diners at Black's Barbecue
So it is no surprise that Mayor Lew White closes the deal when describing his community on the city’s web site by saying that it has, “above all, the best tasting barbecue to be found anywhere!”

His statement is debatable, but from the moment we entered town, we knew we had entered into a historic place, a destination worthy of its billing. Over the next few postings, I’ll present each one of them individually, with the exception of Chisholm Trail (admittedly an oversight), which one local told me was “the new kid on the block.”

But there was only so much barbecue we could eat in one day.

1 comment:

  1. Hello There,
    Thanks so much for coming down to Black's! We appreciate you mentioning us and we look forward to future posts. Hope you can make it back down sometime soon!

    Barrett Black
    4th Generation