Sunday, April 12, 2009

Smitty's in Lockhart, TX

Five minutes after finishing at Kreutz, we pulled into the parking lot at Smitty’s. You enter in the back, and as you turn the corner into the pit room, you could very easily plant your foot in the fire used to heat the smoker. It’s a large pit of smoldering oak just lying open on the ground, radiating heat in all directions.

When I asked if they were worried someone might step in it, the lady laughed and said “honey, if you feel that fire on your leg and still step in it, that’s your own damn fault”. Excellent point.

Aside from the open flame, the pits at Smitty’s looked exactly like Kreutz’: giant, black, iron pits full of brisket, ribs, sausage and shoulder. When I ordered some of all of it, I’m pretty sure I heard John’s stomach whimper.

Unfortunately Smitty’s barbecue did not taste as good as it looked and smelled. The brisket, ribs and beef shoulder (I thought it was pork when I ordered) were all really dry and the sausage was fairly plain, especially after the jalapeno cheese links we had just eaten. Everything had a good smoke flavor, and I imagine if we had gone during lunchtime it would have been a much different experience. This place normally has a line out the door, and I don’t imagine it’s because they have dry meat.

The pitmaster was very accommodating. We talked for a while and he walked me through how he works the smoker. He explained that they start with the meat near the oak fire and then work it slowly over away from the heat, letting it sit on the far end in a holding pit of sorts when it’s ready to be sliced. They don’t use thermometers or a timer. After years of doing this, they just know when it’s done.

I would definitely give Smitty’s a second chance if I were in the area again, but my vote goes to Kreutz in this family feud.

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