Tag Archives: Smittys

Living up to the Hype

7 Dec

I’d heard about this Oklahoma Joe’s spot even before I had moved to this part of the mid-west. Everyone who’d talked about it made it very clear that I needed to “eat at the “gas station one” to get the best experience.

Circumstances led me to accompany a friend out to K.C. and sure enough it turned into a trip to Oklahoma Joe’s.

When we pulled into a nearby parking lot, and I saw the line that was wrapped around the building, I had a feeling that I knew what was in store for us (Apparently the line is never that long during the weekdays and Saturday was black Friday weekend). I had only seen lines this long at amusement parks and Franklin’s BBQ in Austin. I knew it had to at least pretty good. K.C. knows its barbecue so I knew the food would be good. The question that was begging to be asked was where did it rank in the pantheon.

It wasn’t quite the spectacle that Franklin’s lines can be. No college kids were throwing around footballs, drinking beers from a coozie and sitting in banana chairs. The line consisted mostly of families and older people. I felt self conscious about my buddies drinking Hamm’s while we were in line but no one said anything. Eventually (almost an hour later) when we got inside they had started going to the bathroom to transfer their beers from the cans into a styrofoam cup.

There were lots of framed articles hanging on the walls, restaurant reviews by celeb foodies like Anthony Bordain. He said that the BBQ at Oklahoma Joe’s was the best in the world. This made me wonder if he’d ever been to Texas because I had two places I could think of off the top of my head that belonged in the pantheon of all time greatest smoked meats.

I decided I wanted to try everything so I ordered a combo ham and turkey sandwich, a sausage link, a half slab of ribs, and some brisket. I went ahead and grabbed some sides, potato salad, beans and rice, and dirty rice.

I sat down to eat with my buddies, who’d both bought the “Z man”sandwich, barbecued brisket topped with fried onion rings and a slice of provolone cheese (I got to try a bite and it was legit to say the least)–kind of sister sandwich to Franklin’s Tipsy Texan.

The Turkey and Ham were underwhelming. A little dry, so I added some BBQ sauce to it for taste. The BBQ sauce by the way, was some of the best I’d ever had.2013-11-30 16.00.02

The ribs were pretty phenomenal. Better than Smitty’s but not quite as good as Franklin’s.

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The brisket was good, but thin. The slices weren’t quite as thick as the slices you get at Smitty’s, with the extra smoky marbles of fat hanging off the meat.

The sausage was really good. As good as Smitty’s or Franklin’s. I couldn’t think of anything negative to say about their links at all. By the time I got to it, I was so full and wasn’t able to dig in. I did eat some for breakfast the next day and it was hitting on all cylinders.
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“Okie Joe’s has Smitty’s and Franklin’s beat is their side dishes. Their sides are overwhelmingly better than either Texas establishment. The dirty rice was mouth watering, the potato salad was flawless, and the red beans and rice was so full of flavorful heat.

So who has the best food? Well depends on what you want.

Smitty’s meats are so good that it doesn’t matter if you like the sides or not. Franklin’s lines makes going there a real turn off, and the food is not quite as good Smitty’s. Okie Joe’s is well rounded and the meats are almost as good as the former two places.

If they were college basketball players, Smitty’s would be Julius Randle, meaty and impossible to not drool over–not nearly as much fanfare as the other two spots. Franklin’s would be Andrew Wiggins with a ridiculous amount of hype preceding it, and high admission prices and lots of media attention. A little underwhelming once you get to finally see what its about, but not cause of the quality–simply because of all the hype.
Okie Joe’s is Jabari Parker, extremely well rounded and excellent, the best right now with the least amount of development needed to be NBA ready.

But if you asking me what I prefer: well I like meat and Smitty’s has the best meats. I’m not waiting in line for 2 hours just so I can eat delicious sides. I can make delicious sides in the comfort of my own kitchen.

Franklin’s is good but it seems silly to wait 2.5 hours when you can drive 20 minutes to Lockhart and get better meat for less of a wait.

Smitty’s is still the champion in my eyes, but Okie Joe’s is a close second and definitely lives up to the hype. The Z Man is definitely one of the better culinary creations this side of the Mississippi. The “Z-man” may be the best thing to come out of Missouri since Mark Twain and David Cone.

I stand corrected

19 Jan

As much as I enjoy being right, I never thought being so wrong about anything could be so good, and so delicious.

Wow, I thought Franklin’s was the best barbecue I’d ever tasted. And it was, I couldn’t imagine bbq tasting better than the rib’s at Franklin’s. Thinking back on it now, it was kind of like when I thought the girlfriend I had when I was 22 was the best sex I’d ever had. I had no perspective.

Before I start let me say this: there are various myths about Austin. One is that its the
Live Music capital of the world. If this means that everywhere in Austin is a potential place for some singer songwriter to play shitty folk music, then yes that is true.

You throw a rock in the air and you’ll hit a singer-songwriter type. Does this mean that its the best music scene? I’ll go a head and save you the trouble of coming to see for yourself. The answer is NO. The hip hop scene is fairly small and unheralded. The jazz scene is bullshit, in fact you’d find a more eclectic patch of music in Denton, Texas, home of UNT.

From what little I know, I would go on record and say Portland’s music scene is more interesting than Austin’s.

Now every magazine and every television show in America wants to anoint Franklin’s as the king of barbecue. And they wanna Aaron Franklin, they can crown him. Hell I was ready to do that myself a few months ago

To quote Wayne Coyne, suddenly everything had changed.

Late one night I struck up a conversation with a bus driver. He was on his last route, and was heading home to Lockhart, Texas, a town with a reputation for having killer barbecue.

He discussed how different the sausage was in Lockhart and that there were 3 main places to go, Smitty’s, Black’s and Krewses.

His favorite was Smitty’s.

He said Smitty’s was hands down the best in town.

A month after that fateful conversation, My buddy threw a bachelor party down on the Frio river and his older brother thought it was a good idea to grab some Smitty’s on the way there by taking a tiny detour out to Lockhart.

The store is located downtown, a small cute downtown which immediately made me think of Denton’s town square. We walked into the restaurant and opened the screen door. Black soot covered the walls from years of burning wood.

Whooooaaa carcinogens.

My friend’s older brother bought enough for everyone who would be there. It was over a hundred dollar’s worth. We picked up the lbs of meat and got into the van.

“Well” he said. “We gotta at least try it before we go down there.”

The groom to be handed out a slice of bread for each of us, and a little slice of brisket.

The van got real quiet and we all looked at each other and silently agreed that this was some phenomenal barbecue. I couldn’t believe that we had found something not only as good as Franklin’s, but so much better. There was no doubt about it.

We then moved on to the ribs (for quality control purposes obviously) and could not believe how tasty and tender the meat was. How could this be?

Needless to say that anyone who came out to the cabin past 9:00 pm didnt get anything to eat. We thought it would last –tried to make it last, but it was impossible.

The food was too good. And not only was the meat good, but the sides were delicious too. I loved how the potato salad tasted, not too creamy, not too tangy, just the right amount of mayonnaise and mustard to go with the egg and potato, and pickle. Yum.

The beans were good too. I didn’t try the cole slaw unfortunately.

From what I hear, Smitty’s is the best in town. Black’s is the second best. So now I’m left wondering if what I know is to be true. Franklin’s was like Adam Morrison, and Smitty’s was like Lebron. They didn’t even use sauce either! It was nuts, this was a real game changer.

If there is a better bbq joint out there, I’d like to know where this place is (if it exists). But I honestly don’t know how this could be possible.

I haven’t been to Franklins since then. I still mean every word about all the great things I said about the Franklin Barbecue franchise (I have never had more positive experiences in one restaurant before–everyone who works there is extremely appreciative and hospitable–even more so than Smitty’s). But the people at Smitty’s could be a staff full of dickheads and it wouldn’t stop me from eating there.

And now it seems foolish to wait 2 hours in line when better bbq is only a 20 minute ride away (with no line)

I had some friends in town from Portland recently. One of them was in town a few months ago, and back then I was talking up how good Franklin’s was and how we needed to go there. He had just gotten back in town and brought up Franklin’s.

“ Fuck Franklins” I said.

“But you said–”

“ Man I know what I said, man, but I found something better.”

“ Oh for real? I thought maybe they had banned you from there, the way you said ‘Fuck them’ so quickly.”

“Nah man. Its good, but I found something that will knock your socks off.”

They looked at me, whispered things about hyping it up too much (I cant blame them I had talked Franklin’s up to be the end all be all).

“You should undersell it” He said.

“Maybe, but I have confidence that Smitty’s will deliver.”

And they did. They chewed their food, speechless and nodding their heads in agreement that the shit was legit.

I felt like “Sir Smoke a lot” from Half Baked when he pledges his allegiance to “Mr. Nice Guy”

When life gets shitty
I pick up a twenty
and head out to Lockhart
eat something that makes me fart……

Fuck Franklins’s!!!

This lady who looked 60 years old sat down near us with her elderly parents (there are only long community picnic tables in the restaurant)–locals. We chatted with them in between bites. I told her how my friends were from Portland and blah blah blah blah…..

She said “ Welcome to Lockhart, Texas, home of the best bbq in the world.

No one even blinked when she said it. We knew it was probably true.

I kind of feel like I did them a disservice by taking them straight there without taking them to someplace shittier first. They could easily go through life without any kind of perspective, not realizing that this may be the best they would ever get to taste. BBQ from this moment on would be disappointing. It was like having sex for the first time without a condom, or the first time I smoked really good bud and Mexican dirt weed became obsolete.

Life is never the same again. No going back. Which was why I had to quit going to Franklin’s. I could no longer stand in line and pretend it was worth the wait, thinking how just up the road was something much more grand. For a while I kept going by, stopping in if the lines were short, because it was down the street from my house. But it had become a matter of convenience now, and biting into their meat only reminded me where I was not. And that wasn’t fair to anybody, especially my suddenly picky palette.

From now on, and possibly the rest of my life, my new motto will be “if we ain’t eating Smitty’s then we ain’t eating barbecue.”

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