One of my favorite “Texas Monthly” issues would have to be the June 2008 one entitled “The Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas.” I remember standing in the grocery store check-out line when the cover caught the attention of my left eyeball. I still have that issue. It has been gathering thick clods of dust on my nightstand for the past four years. I know … some writers have a stack of literary masterpieces written by Dante and Shakespeare on their bedside table. I have “Texas Monthly.” That is because someday I’m gonna participate in a quest to see if the magazine chow-ster writers really know their Texas Q cuisine. Heck, it is entirely one thing to read about it … wipe the dribbles of drool off the slick magazine pages of inviting photographs of seemingly tender brisket, meaty-lookin’ ribs and apparently inviting sausage links … and quite another actually applying your own chompers to the real thang. Well “someday” actually happened a few weeks back. My daughter, Katie, and her fiancé, Chad, organized three car loads of family members for a day trip to a couple of “Texas Monthly” magazine’s tip top five. “Each joint has their strengths like the unique ambience of Luling City Market and Smitty’s,” said Katie, as we exited our vehicles. Our first stop on the Texas BBQ Trail was south of Austin on Highway 183 in the little hamlet of bustling Luling. Also home to a watermelon festival, which includes the Olympic spitting of seeds contest, you know you are close to BBQ heaven when the water tower shaped and painted like, you guessed it, a watermelon, makes its appearance. But be warned. There are two BBQ establishments on Luling’s main drag. City Market is the one touted in the top five for its BBQ and should not to be confused with Luling Bar-B-Q, located almost right next door. Remember knights … the quest is about the best! We arrived at noon salivating at the back of a long line of hungry patrons. Around since the 60’s, the place was seriously in need of a makeover, but no one seemed to notice, or care. The line snaked right through the dining room toward a closed door containing the smoky pit room in the back right corner of the restaurant. Like the entrance to Dante’s Inferno, that is where we placed our meat order. Sliced before your eyes and served on brown butcher paper, our meat order was rung up on a medieval smoke-blackened cash register that only accepts cash. I’m thinkin’ this was the “ambience” Katie was talkin’ about. I thought I’d died and went to ‘cue heaven. The consensus was City Market’s meaty ribs rule and the tender brisket was amazingly tender! Even two-year-old Hannah enjoyed the feast clinging to one of the delicious ribs. The sausage was tasty and oh so greasy and totally the reason for the white bread. The only thing missing was dental floss. Second stop was Kreuz BBQ. Right up the road from Luling in Lockhart, the town boasts two joints in the top five BBQ list, Kreuz BBQ and Smitty’s Market. Before you leave stop by one of the many roadside stands selling watermelon. The one we stopped at also was selling fossils. Who knew! We woulda stopped at Smitty’s Market, but the line was out the door. Not so very hungry after the feast in Luling, the consensus was the brisket was a tad better than City Market. Their pepper encrusted ribs were good, but not great. And as for the sausage … definitely missing the grease factor. Excuse me while I attempt to locate a baby wipe for the fingers. Bottom line … you can download the Texas Monthly BBQ app for the iPhone or Droid and just drool all over your phone. Or you declare this summer to go on a quest for the holy BBQ grail. Remember to tank up the family car and leave your sword and chain mail at home. Oh, and stop by the ATM for some greenbacks and don’t forget the wipes because there will be grease involved. Make King Arthur proud. Dixie Frantz is a long-time Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist for the past 16 years. Email Dixie with your comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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