619 N Colorado St
Lockhart, TX 78644
Following on from my review of Black’s BBQ in Lockhart, the BBQ Capital of Texas (and ergo the world), we have the second instalment in the Lockhart eating frenzy.
Kreuz Market was actually the very first stop on my BBQ day tour. My first real foray into “old-school” Texas BBQ. The history of Kreuz’s reads like a Shakespearean saga – two families furiously divided by land and location. Essentially, after being established in 1900, the Kreuz family sold the business to the Schmidts. A falling out in the Schmidt family meant that in 1999 one of the brothers relocated the Market to a brand new HUGE location. Whilst in their original spot, one of the sisters started her own BBQ joint, Smitty’s, which is now considered Kreuz’s biggest rival. Confused? Yeah it’s all a bit political. Though the hatchet has now been buried, most people delicately skirt the issue of having to choose between them by simply eating at both – and I am most people.
Walking into the cavernous double barn-like structure, the first thing my eyes focused on was this door which I immediately decided was beyond awesome. If you ignore the subtle segregation undertones, these directions pretty much sum up how I feel about non-meat eaters:
You walk to the end of the first hall to arrive in the pit area. It’s more of an industrial factory than a kitchen, with several enormous brick pits lining the walls. Though it’s a large space, the heat and humidity in the pit room is extreme, and I can only imagine how long it takes staff to acclimatize and be able to stay in there for any longer than 10 minutes.
Behind the order desk sits a large cutting table which looks more like a compact medieval torture station.
And then this guy steps up to cut the meat:
I’m told he’s one of the most photographed people in the BBQ world. Anytime a foodie mag does a portrait on Lockhart, this dude ends up as the posterchild. It’s really not hard to see why- even the man’s facial hair style is named after a meat cut. He’s the kind of awesomely intimidating character of a man who makes you wonder if he’s gunna prepare your food, or have you whacked. Luckily for us, on this particular day he just cuts meat. We selected brisket, pork ribs and a link of their jalapeno cheddar sausage.
We then headed into the dining room area to purchase drinks and sides. The atmosphere was fairly subdued, and most folks were eating quietly, seemingly concentrating on enjoying their meals.
MH tells me the giant snake skin on the wall is a Diamondback rattlesnake. And see that “map” of Texas? Squint a little closer and you’ll see the whole thing is made out of snake rattles. Bad. Ass. Nothing quite like incorporating local fauna into your interior decor.
Kreuz’s side dishes have a distinctly Germanic theme, with German potatoes, beans and sauerkraut as the main offerings. Me? I’m more of a tater salad/creamed corn person, so I wasn’t wild about the choices available. Of course they also have the usual suspects of pickles, onions and chunks of cheddar.
Did I ever tell y’all about the cheese at BBQ joints? See, I have this nasty snack habit of eating slices of cheese straight from my refrigerator when I am craving a savoury snack. I have always considered it a bit of a dirty secret, because surely eating processed cheese straight up is a little indulgent and weird? Imagine my delight when I first discovered that many barbecue restaurants offer chunks of cheddar or American cheese as an optional accompaniment. Just like you’d eat a pickle, so too you can have a rectangle of cheese to snack on in between meaty bites. Not only did this revelation satisfy my cheese habit, it also made my gluttony feel normal and well-adjusted. Thank you, Texas.
Back to Kreuz’s and the meat.
Served on a typical sheet of butchers paper with sliced white bread in lieu of cutlery, the brisket was a little dry and didn’t have as much of the blackened outer as I usually prefer.
Overall, the BBQ was certainly enjoyable but not especially noteworthy. I think in hindsight I was more taken with the setting and finally visiting a “proper” BBQ restaurant than the food itself.
Having said that, I would still take visitors here as part of the complete Lockhart experience.