("Carry On" by Pat Green)
How long have we talked about a trip to Hill Country? Driving through little country towns, eating barbecue on brown paper, listening to Texas music and dancing in dance halls that are steeped in tradition?
Well, forever, that's how long. So. We did it. Our self-proclaimed "Ribs & Rhythm Tour" 2012. It was awesome!!
Our plan (oh, did we have one) was to meet our traveling buddies (Lou Ellen & Charles, my sister and BIL) down the road. First stop, Buc-ees in Luling. OMGosh, I could do an entire post on that! Don and I had never been before...there are NO words!! Monster-sized, clean, cheerful, funny, country style, babies, nice people, and food, food and more food. Just go. Go!
OK, I got carried away for a minute, but on to the Ribs part of the tour. City Market in Luling, Texas. HEAVEN ON EARTH!! We got there about 4 pm and it's the perfect time...there's usually a long long line for lunch and if you go after 5:30, you have to take out. There's an ATM inside this little hole in the wall, but that's b/c they only take cash. First you go in, then stand in line and wait your turn to go into the smoke room.
The smoke room...it's about 125 degrees inside and it smells crazy good. These authentic BBQ places only smoke on the pit, no gas. I love this, people. When you go, arrive hungry. Here's some of the wood stacked high.
When it's your turn, you place your order and they take it RIGHT off the pit and onto the scale and pile in on plain brown butcher paper. You pay right there, gather up your precious meat and head out of the room and to your table. Sides and drinks are for sale by the tables. We were so focused on it all that we ate half the BBQ before I remembered to take a picture.
City Market only smokes brisket, ribs and sausage. Let me tell you this...they are the BEST RIBS EVER!! Period. Damn straight. :-) The brisket was wonderful too but I think it may dry out if you get the end pieces. I got some good ones. The smoke ring on the brisket is one of their claims to fame.
I'm not kidding...the sausage was just amazing!! It's beef sausage and the juices pop when you take a bite. Fantastic seasoning. Wear old clothes. City Market doesn't glob up their meat with sauce (it's on the table) but the juiciness of the meat and the heavenly smell of smoke will get into your clothes. And hair. And heart, for that matter.
On to another famous Ribs place. Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas. There's two famous BBQ places in Lockhart. One is Kruez, the other is Smitty's. We chose Kruez. It was so good, but next time we're going to Smitty's. ;)
Kreuz works the same way as City Market in Luling. Smoke room, brown paper, etc. They don't have any sauce though, they use only a dry rub on their meat. And they'll laugh you out of the place if you ask for a fork. So delicious.
Oh there is so much to tell about this little trip, but on to the Rhythm part.
We had heard so much about Gruene, Texas (Gruene is pronounced "Green") and couldn't wait to go. Gruene is right outside of New Braunfels. It's charming. Lots of little shops, restaurants, music and the oldest dance hall in Texas, Gruene Hall.
Gruene Hall is an open air dance hall. Read: no AC. It's fun but crowded. Their stage has seen everyone from George Strait to the Dixie Chicks to Garth Brooks. It is Texas. The whole complex sits right on the Guadalupe River.
Another dance hall that we went to was John T Floore Country Store in Helotes, Texas. LOVE that place! Floore's is famous too. Willie Nelson got his start here and he still shows up every now and then. There's an outdoor stage and area where you can pack in a lot of people and an indoor stage too.
It would have been cool to be there on a Randy Rogers night or Reckless Kelly. Or even Johnny Lee..."Lookin' for love in all the wrong places, lookin' for love in too many faces, searching your eyes, lookin for traces, of what I'm dreamin' of..."
And if you don't know that song, you need more help than I can give you. Stop everything. Go watch "Urban Cowboy" immediately. Classic.
Anyway, we went to John T Floore on Family Dance Night. SO much fun!! And since this was an indoor dance, it was air conditioned, so score on that. I loved it. Fascinating to watch, fun to dance. They had a cover band who played good country music. And, you haven't lived until you watch a 10 yr old girl drag her 7 year old brother around the dance floor. Darling.
We had some good food here as well. I had homemade hot tamales...the rest of the group ordered burgers and what I think was bacon-wrapped jalapeno cream cheese and chicken on a stick.
My favorite sister and brother in law.
Don and me. Don's rockin' the CAT Diesel Power and to that I say, yesss!!!
God Bless Cowgirls.