Lockhart’s A Barbecue Destination, But Also So Much More

The small Central Texas town is known for its historic barbecue and meat markets, but its photogenic courthouse and state park are also big draws for tourists.

By Jennifer SimonsonFebruary 21, 2019 12:21 pm,

Texans have been making day trips to the meat destination of Lockhart for years. And no wonder – it offers great barbecue and it’s an easy 30-minute drive south from Austin, and an hour northeast* of San Antonio. But Lockhart isn’t just a place to dine and dash. It has more than enough to offer for a full weekend getaway.

The recently opened boutique hotel, Ellison House, blends history and chic comfort into one stay. A husband-and-wife duo converted the 1880s-era boarding house into the five-room hotel. They scoured thrift stores and the web to find the perfect furnishings to create an “L.A.-meets-Texas” country-vintage vibe. The Ellison House has rocking chair-lined porches, hammocks and an expansive lawn, and it’s just a 10-minute walk to Lockhart’s downtown square.

At the square, restaurants, shops and one of the oldest libraries in Texas surround the majestic Caldwell County Courthouse. The three-story historic building is the most photographed courthouse in Texas. It was built in 1893 with cream-colored limestone and red sandstone.

Shopping around the square keeps visitors busy. But there’s also hiking and biking opportunities at nearby Lockhart State Park. The 263-acre park has plenty of trails, a nine-hole golf course and a swimming pool open during the summer.

When you’ve worked up an appetite, start with Black’s Barbecue, the oldest barbecue restaurant run by one family in Texas. When Black’s opened 82 years ago, it was the first restaurant in town to serve brisket.

If you decide to head to Kreuz Market, you now have the option of using utensils. Its longtime “no forks” rule is no longer in effect, but the old-school meat market still has plenty of napkins available in case you want to eat your spicy sausage links or thick pork chop the old-fashioned way.

And the smoke-lined walls of Smitty’s Market will give you the sense of the history behind this barbecue joint. Smitty’s opened in 1900 as a German butcher shop. Today, meat is still served on butcher paper — there are no plates — and you’ll eat at a long communal table. Be prepared to wait during peak hours, as the line wraps around the building.


*Note: The audio version of this story incorrectly states that Lockhart is northwest of San Antonio. The text has been fixed to reflect the actual location.