When we arrived in Texas, we found that the Texan barbecue we’d heard so much about is a world apart from the burnt bangers on a damp summer’s day you get in England. If the USA is the greatest nation on earth (or so they like to tell us), and Texas is the lone star heartland of the USA, then Lockhart is the BBQ capital of Texas. If I was to ride a Harley Davidson across the state of Texas, the town of Lockhart is just the kind of place I’d stop for lunch. Lockhart is where real men can have a meat feast at not one but four BBQ restaurants, where you can experience a taste of small town America, and where you can park up in front of Black’s BBQ, which has been serving legendary Texas BBQ since the 1930s.
At Black’s, the wooden fronted building looked like it had seen it’s fair share of barbecue smoke and was aging nicely. Inside we found a cheerful hometown atmosphere, with red checked wipe-clean table cloths, hunting trophies and old photos of the local sports teams. Edgar Black is now in his 80s and was a child when his father started the original meat market, but his son and grandson have now joined him in the running of the business (spot the Twitter and Facebook accounts). The Black’s culinary empire has expanded to include BBQ sauces made to his wife, Norma Black’s special recipe, and packages of best barbecue brisket being sent around the States, to give loyal customers their Texas barbecue fix.
As British newcomers to the joys of Texas BBQ, we first had to work out the system for getting our food. First you queue at a counter by the door, taking your disposable plate and helping yourself to a few sides such as coleslaw, potato salad, creamed corn at $1.49 per serving. Add some white bread, but be sure to leave plenty of space on your plate for the main event. Now you reach the meat counter where sausages and brisket and ribs are being brought out, hot from the ovens out the back.
You can tell that Blacks was once a meat market by the way that they confidently slice the meat up in front of you and because the meat is then weighed onto a piece of brown paper before the slices are put on your plate (you pay by the weight). My boys eyes lit up at the sight of all this meat piled high and we carried our plates out to the main restaurant area and made ourself comfortable at one of the large wooden tables to enjoy our meal. The meat was meltingly delicious and tender and after we finished, one of the cooks offered to give us a pit tour to find out how they create such finger-licking BBQ flavours.
We filed through the kitchen, squeezing past the big guys serving the meat and into the narrow area where the ovens have been burning non stop since the 1940s. We got the talk on how the best cuts of brisket beef are carefully trimmed and seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper before being cooked slowly over oak chippings for over 12 hours and then left to rest while marinading in their juices. The lid of the oven was opened and we felt a blast of heat on our faces from the glowing interior. At Black’s they clearly do this mini tour regularly for anyone who’s interested and we all got a photo opportunity to hold up a bit of brisket for the camera. We departed with the rosy glow of full stomachs, tales of the Black’s family history and a bottle of Norma Black’s best BBQ sauce in our hand.
Heading back towards Interstate 35 on our way toward Austin, we couldn’t resist one more stop, in our search for the best of Texas Roadfood. 30 minutes from Black’s, just off the Interstate and well worth a detour we homed in on the town of Kyle for a desert at the Texas Pie Company. Driving slowly along the main street we identified our target by the huge slice of pie on the roof, and their slogan “Life’s short, Eat More Pie”.
The classic 10 inch pies were stacked up in the cabinet with so many to choose from we didn’t need any encouragement to “eat more pie”. We deliberated between fudge pecan, lemon chess, chocolate fudge and strawberry peach to name but a few. Luckily they also make individual 3 inch pies and so we each chose a different flavour to try. The Texas Pie company has a retro feel of 1950s America and we sat at a bright yellow formica table, next to a lime green wall, with a portrait of the head pie-maker, Julie Albertson, surrounded by rolling pins. Julie started her bakery in 1986 using her grandmother’s recipes to recreate 18 different pies, as well as the casseroles and lunch dishes that they also serve here. If you want to try good, honest, Texas home cooking you’ve come to the right place. We all enjoyed our “Tourist in Texas” moment and even the teenagers had their photos taken in front of the “Life’s short, eat more pie” sign to post on their Facebook pages.
So full we swore we’d never eat another meal, we hit the Interstate northwards to Austin, for more adventures on our Texas Road Trip.
How to find your Texas BBQ and a slice of pie
Black’s BBQ is at 215 North Main St, Lockhart, Texas 78644. You can also find them on and Twitter Where can a 19 year old shoot an AK47 for fun – only in Texas!