In 1999, the Texas Legislature proclaimed Lockhart, TX the Barbecue Capital of Texas. The city is home to a number of major barbecue joints and as you can imagine, there are some stories to go with them.
One of the more interesting stories is that of Kreuz Market and Smitty’s Market. Kreuz Market started out as a meat market in 1900 and moved to a new location in Lockhart 24 years later. Kreuz remained in that location until 1999 when, during a well publicized family feud, owner Rick Schmidt moved the business to its current location and his sister Nina opened Smitty’s Market in the existing building. TV and newspaper crews were on hand as pit master Roy Perez and Lehman Schmidt dragged a metal tub of the coals from the old location to the new Kreuz Market and used them to start the fires in the new pits. A search of Kreuz on the Texas Monthly website, www.texasmonthly.com will provide you with a few different stories by Daniel Vaughn about the family ordeal, along with a great photo of the transfer of the coals.
After my meal at Franklin I drove around Austin a little and then headed south towards Lockhart. It is a short 35 or 40 minute drive, so when I got there I was still full from lunch. I made my way to Kreuz Market and headed inside. It is a large red building with a brick and metal exterior.
|Keuz Market exterior
There are 3 separate areas to the interior. You enter through a foyer into a large dining area and corridor that leads you the pit area. On the day I was there a band was playing country music in this room.
|Sunday afternoon entertainment
The corridor takes you past this dining area through a set of doors into the pit room. In here you find a number of large, brick pits and an ordering counter.
|The Kreuz Market pit room
This is where you order and pay just for your meat and where you will often find the aforementioned Roy Perez tending the pits. Perez and his mutton chop sideburns are legendary in the Texas BBQ world. Sadly, he was not there on this day, so my hope for a photo opportunity was foiled! I kept it light, ordering just one of the sausages that Kreuz is famous for.
From the pit room, you go through another set of doors into the main dining room and another counter where you order your sides and drinks. I got a soda, some bread and pickles and a cole slaw to go with my sausage. They also have some souvenirs available, including one featuring Roy Perez and his mutton chops that says ‘Love Meat Tender’. You can check out the selection at www.kreuzmarket.com. The dining room was busy on this Sunday afternoon. I found a seat at one of the long tables.
On the wall in the corridor when you first come in, a sign is posted listing their traditions since 1900. The first two are ‘No Barbecue Sauce’ and ‘No Forks’.
This is real Texas barbecue and they don’t feel that they have anything to hide by covering it up with sauce. The lack of forks goes back to the meat market traditions where customers would buy smoked meats from the market along with some bread to use as a vehicle for eating the meat. Part of what has drawn me to Texas BBQ has been the tradition, so I wrapped my sausage up in my bread, added some pickles and dug in!
While I was in Lockhart, I wish that I had the time, and more importantly, the appetite to check out some of the other great spots in town. I guess there is always next time!
Kreuz Market is one of the legendary joints that is a must stop if you are in the area. They are a Texas Monthly Top 50 spot, and even though the current building is relatively new, they managed to transfer some of the historical feeling when they moved. This is quality barbecue and a great atmosphere, I just hope next time I go Roy Perez will be there!