Restaurant: Smitty’s Market
Last visited: July 25, 2010
Location: Lockhart, Texas
Address: 208 S Commerce Street
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Service: 5 (I’m biased)
- Voted “Top 5 BBQ Restaurants in Texas”
- Dates back to 1924
- Located in Lockhart, BBQ capital of Texas
- Most famous for homemade sausages
- Box of sausages available to go
- Pork ribs only on weekends
- Very popular to locals and tourists
- Always a line up
- Busy, long line up that go fast
- Local favourite
- Most popular BBQ restaurant in Lockhart
- No utensils – just hands!!
- Free bread and crackers
- Extra for pickles, avocados and cheese
- No frills, damn good BBQ
- Serves alcohol by bottle
- Kid-friendly, fit for casual family dining
- Only $1 Blue Bell ice cream!
- See my video for Smitty’s Market
- Free parking
**Recommendations: “Hot rings” or sausages, beef brisket, eating the sausages wrapped in white bread with pickles and Jalapeno Jack Cheese
Lockhart is the BBQ capital of Texas and should not be missed if you’re a real foodie! I thought the famous Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, Texas was the most Southern experience I would get… until Smitty’s Market! Smitty’s Market is noted as the top 5 best BBQ restaurants in Texas (Texas Monthly Magazine)! It’s world-famous BBQ, yet the world doesn’t even really know about it because Lockhart is so small and away from major cities. Even if you don’t like the food (which is impossible) the experience will still blow you away. Texas is pretty much the most South I can get on a search for the best BBQ, so I was ecstatic to have an Austin local recommend me Smitty’s Market.
Smitty’s Market is located in the small town of Lockhart and it’s totally worth the drive. I feel like people in Lockhart know about it, but outside of Lockhart it can be said that it’s a local secret… unless you’re intensely into BBQ. It’s really not that hidden because the place is huge and there’s a massive parking lot. However we entered through the back entrance, which I thought was the front, so I really thought I had found a local hidden hole in the wall. It’s very famous in Lockhart and is definitely a must try and must do if your traveling Texas. I’m really surprised Food Network or any of the celebrity chefs haven’t been to Smitty’s Market yet because it’s totally “Food Network” worthy.
The building has been a BBQ restaurant since 1924, and it used to be called “Kreuz Market” (pronounced Krites). In 1999 it was sold to John Fullilove, Smitty’s grandson and they renamed it to “Smitty’s Market” and it continues to be a growing success.
Hands down the most intense BBQ process I’ve ever witnessed! You’re standing next to open fire smoke pits when you line up! The cash register is here as well, so this is where you que up to order and pay for your meat.
All the meats are ordered by pound and the “cold rings” are cold (frozen?) sausages to go. The sausages or “hot rings” are Smitty’s Market’s claim to fame. It’s the most popular (along with the beef brisket) and famous item and thank god the locals told me that or I would have easily overlooked them… actually I still would have ordered a bit of everything – and I did!
OMG AGAIN!! I was lucky enough to get a “behind the kitchen” tour… seriously, insane! You smell the smoke, you smell of smoke, and everyone including myself was dripping with sweat. People say if you’re looking for the best BBQ in Texas then this is it – that was coming from people who make the drive from Austin, Texas to Lockhart (1+ hours). I want to make the drive and I’m from Vancouver, BC!
VIDEO of Smitty’s Market
This is one of the Smitty family members… I think? I got really confused with all the history behind the legendary Smitty’s Market – watch his video here.
Exiting the smoke pit with your order you walk into the “dining room” built in the late 1970′s. It’s old fashioned basque style dining with long wooden tables. There’s also an upstairs to Smitty’s Market that people don’t really know about, and one of the locals told me that the black people used to eat there while the white people in another room. That’s how old it is.
Before you sit down and find a seat (good luck) you pass by the drinks, cheese and pickles counter. Do not skip this counter! It’s traditional to eat the famous Smitty’s homemade sausages with cheese and pickles! There’s your choice of cheddar cheese, Jalapeno Jack cheese, sweet pickles, dill pickles, and sweet mix pickles. The cheese is already pre-cut so you just chose the block you want and it’s sold by weight. They also sell whole avocados that I missed, but I saw people carving away at them on the tables. Also make sure you order Big Red Soda which is apparently “the thing” – it’s basically cream soda.
Everything is still served the old fashioned way – on butcher paper! Very simple. Just looking back at this picture I’m craving it! No utensils. It’s barbaric, it’s eat like a “real man BBQ” – the only way BBQ should be eaten – with hands! The only thing they give you is plastic knives, and only upon request.
On the table:
- $1.70 each
- These come highly recommended from me and from any other person that knows Smitty’s Market since they opened. Truly the most delicious sausages ever!
- The homemade sausages are Smitty’s Market’s claim to fame and it’s the first thing on the menu and the best seller.
- All the meats are local and the sausage meat is processed from fresh trimmings.
- These are the most plump and juiciest sausages ever! They’re also super greasy and oily, but oh SO good! The flavour is just amazing and the taste is quite basic with lots and lots of freshly cracked black pepper so they are slightly spicy. It’s just a bit of heat, more aromatic than spicy.
- Just look at that!!! DROOL! It’s totally in the execution and quality of the meat they use for these awesome sausages.
- Its coarsely ground up pork (and beef **see comment) so there’s great texture when you bite into them. You get the super snappy sausage casing and then the burst of pork juices. It’s almost like fatty pork rolled around leaner pork or something. It’s almost like a meatloaf sausage but with texture – not crumbly at all.
- I can literally squeeze the sausage and see the juices/oil coming out. They were really really good and they don’t taste oily, but you can definitely see it everywhere!
- It’s the traditional way to eat them so don’t leave without trying this! Pay tribute to what started it all! It’s like a hot dog, but way better.
- Sausage on top white bread and your choice of cheese and pickles. The bread absorbs all the pork juices and the cheese melts over the hot sausage if you cut the slices thin enough.
- The sweet pickle is like the relish, the cheese cuts through the pickle and vise versa and the balance of all the flavours and textures is simply amazing.
- Fat brisket $9.50/lb
- Lean shoulder $9.50/lb
- We ordered a half pound of each just to try… don’t bother with the lean. The lean is a bit dry, which is given though. It all started with the sausages but the beef brisket is still very popular and it’s excellent. I thought it was already excellent at Salt Lick BBQ in Austin, Texas, but this was even better! I literally took one bite and chewed 3 times and said “this is a better brisket”. I really am comparing the supposed best briskets in the Texas state though.
- The fat brisket was super juicy and smokey in flavorful, but certain pieces were juicier and better marbleized than others. The caramelized charred crust was thicker and better at Salt Lick BBQ, but overall the flavour of the brisket meat at Smitty’s Market was better and more tender and moist.
- The crust could be saltier at both places though. I guess the flavour comes from the meat rather than a seasoned crust at both places. I still think salt would help or even a few other spices to enhance the meaty flavour.
BBQ Sauce – 1.5/6
- Thank goodness the meats here don’t require any sauce because the BBQ sauce is not good. It tastes like homemade ketchup mixed with sweet relish and it almost looks like it too. I could definitely see and taste some minced pickles in it and I found it distracting in a BBQ sauce. There was no kick, but just sweet with a tang and it was a bit like “BBQ sauce for kids”.
- Another popular item, but I wasn’t too crazy about them. They’re only made on the weekends too.
- They were super oily and greasy and although they had a decent amount of meat on them, they still weren’t falling off the bone.
- I was pulling the meat off the bone and I would have actually preferred BBQ sauce with this – but a real BBQ sauce with a kick… not the ketchup BBQ sauce.
Potato Salad – 2/6
- A very regular potato salad. I didn’t even get a picture. I like BBQ sides, but the sides here need some work.
Cole Slaw – 1.5/6
- A very regular cole slaw but it was very gloppy with too much mayo. I like cole slaw, but this was the cole slaw that makes people not like cole slaw.