SAN ANTONIO — SAN ANTONIO-Central Texas claims its barbecue is the best in Texas. The landmark businesses that make up the famed Texas BBQ Trail work every day to make sure their patrons keep that "fork lure" alive.
Neighborhood Eats spent two days in an area know for Czech and German settlers whose meat markets were destined to become barbecue joints. The food tour is a part of the Great Grill Almighty Tour. It's a yearly quest to find the best barbecue a pit can smoke.
Nina Schmidt Sells won't deviate from tradition. It's been a part of her business experience since a child.
Smitty's Market is the space where her father worked as a teenager in the original Kreuz Market.
"He started working here when he was 13," Sells said. "And so we named the business after him."
Edgar August Schmidt bought the meat market. Sells opened Smitty's Market at 208 South Commerce in Lockhart.
"You get your meat on butcher's paper very informal," Sells said. "You get a knife. No forks."
Neighborhood Eats got the traditional fare provided by Smitty's: Brisket, ribs, turkey, beans, mac and cheese, avocado, smoked turkey, house made sausage (jalapeno included). ¡Qué rico!
Black's is the oldest restaurant owned by the same family in Texas. They opened their doors in 1932.
The walls of their space at 215 N. Main is lined with celebrities, political notables and local sports teams. Manager Anthony Hamilton said singer Fergie has even been to Black's.
"We've got Texas governors. We've got presidents on the wall," Hamilton said. "LBJ was a friend of the Black's. In fact, we used to ship sausages to the Smithsonian so they could serve them at the White House."
Hamilton gave Neighborhood Eats a huge sampler of ribs, sausage, brisket, sides and their famed giant beef ribs. We predict, based on our taster, they will stay in the black.
Southside Market and Barbecue
According to the folks at Southside, they've got real seniority in the BBQ game. Tom Abney who works for the company their origin is very humble.
"Southside is the oldest barbecue joint in Texas," Abney said. "We started in 1881."
They evolved from a butcher's shop that sold meat door-to-door in a cart. The barbecue portion evolved from what to do with the meat that didn't sell that day.
"You make barbecue of it," He said.
Sausage is the king at Southside.. It dominated our taste test from them. Neighborhood Eats was especially impressed with their jalapeno slammer. It has cheddar cheese and jalapeno in the center.
The rest of the massive sampler was just as good. ¡Qué rico!
Southside has a location in Bastrop too. And, they tell me other Texas cities could soon see them pop up.
Neighborhood Eats could go to Meyer's just to hear the stories about t he business. But the food is a delightful distraction.
They want people to know the love to barbeque not "cue" at 600 S Main.
Gregg Meyers said his great grandfather came over from Germany in the 1880's with the family recipe that started everything.
"He knew how to make sausage," Meyer said.
They built a smokehouse and the rest is history. Their family recipes have kept them in business since 1949. Gregg's father has a great bean recipe. His grandmother's barbeque sauce recipe is still a staple. Gregg remembers as a child Mason jar in the fridge the precious sauce.
The menu at Meyer's is big. Several customers made sure Neighborhood Eats knew the food was tasty. We agree.