1.5 miles, 5 barbecue spots, tons of character.
Somewhere between San Antonio and Austin, 20 miles off the nearest interstate you'll land in Lockhart, Texas. The town of just under 13,000 was anointed "barbecue capital" of the state in an official resolution of the state legislature in 1999.
And while every city, town and hitching post within smelling distance of a BBQ joint would like to lay claim to the best meat in Texas, one thing is clear: Lockhart is a town with some deep barbecue history. There seem to be a disproportionate number of places smoking brisket, links and ribs in the area, and they’re all, more or less, in one straight shot around Main Street.
I don’t know how they got there, or why they’re all within walking distance of each other. But something happened here about a hundred years ago—some mysterious spark of BBQ magic—and people have been chasing the BBQ dream here ever since. On a recent trip to Austin organized by Chevrolet, I wanted to get out of the city, so I drove my Tahoe out to Hill Country to poke around.
In addition to meals measured in smoky pounds, each BBQ place in Lockhart boasts its own eccentricities. Many of the dining halls are covered with memorabilia of the sort that is collected by hoarders and armchair historians—decades of college football ephemera, crumbling business cards and dollar bills, taxidermied animals real and imaginary (I saw a Jackalope!), smoked-stained pictures of people that nobody remembers.
This barbecue path represents over a century of meaty history—the oldest place in town was founded in 1900. Next time you’re in Austin, it’s worth taking the time to explore these living museums and their shrines to Central Texas BBQ. Here's what I found along the way. —Hannah Walhout