Texas' Best Barbecue

Posted on April 29th, 2009

Best Barbecue. These two words are a sure-fire way to get Texans' blood boiling and hunger juices flowing. Virtually every Texan has an opinion about what constitutes the best 'cue (factors include meat quality, sauce type, side items, wood used for smoking, etc.) and last weekend we experienced the state's Best Barbecue. For now, at least.
Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano typically simmers among the Top 3 in statewide rankings (Kreuz Market in Lockhart and Louie Mueller's in Taylor are other heavy hitters) and since it's a family favorite, we try to make an annual excursion to this unassuming Hill Country restaurant each spring. This year, we recruited our friends the Dillings to join us on our pilgrimage -- they were gladly converted.

One of Coopers' many memorable attributes is its method of ordering. Customers walk up to a hot, smoky, open pit and point/grunt at their selected meats hovering near the mesquite coals. The pit boss cuts the desired chunk and dunks it in a big bucket of sauce before slapping it on a plastic tray. If it sounds a bit rustic and unrefined, that's because it is. And it's all part of the charm.

But ultimately it's the tantalizing taste that keeps Coopers at the top of the heap. I'm a huge fan of the pork chop, an enormous hunk of perfectly smoked meat bursting with hearty pork flavor accompanied by a well-balanced pepper and salt rub. The rest of our crew couldn't get enough of the tender, tasty brisket and succulent beef ribs, proclaiming them "the best ever." Even the kids appreciated the experience -- particularly the eating-by-hand approach and slices of exotic white bread.
After our mighty meal, we headed to nearby Robinson City Park to walk off our lunch and soak up some Hill Country scenery. Unfortunately, the park wasn't as amenity-packed as advertised (the playground equipment was decades old, and the "swimming opportunities" apparently refer only to the closed pool rather than the inviting riverbank), but we enjoyed playing near the Llano River dam and watching a rodeo event on the park grounds. Still, we couldn't drop the epic debate about Texas' Best Barbecue -- is it Coopers' pork chop or beef brisket?

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Dave D. - May 5th, 2009 at 3:29 PM
Finally made to the blaaag. Like its from Gstaaaad or some place....Coopers was only the beginning, my friend. There is more Texas chow to be feasted upon by the Rhodes/Dilling Expedition Co.

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