Saturday, February 11, 2017

Beyond Austin: Lockhart, Texas

One of my best friends escaped the grey Seattle weather moved to Austin six years ago. I have visited her four times since then, including the first time in 2011, her wedding in 2016, and a road trip to West Texas. Austin is awesome, but as the most rapidly growing city in the United States, traffic is getting predictably worse and the cost of living is rising far faster than income.

Turns out there are a lot of great small towns outside Austin that still have fast and easy access to the city. Last year my friend and her husband decided to buy a home in Lockhart, a small town 30 miles south of Austin. Lockhart is the self-proclaimed barbeque capital of Texas with several well-known, long-established joints in town. As this article, Lockhart Turns the Key claims, Lockhart is up-and-coming for more than its barbeque. I visited my friend a few weeks ago to do a writing retreat (more on that later) and here's what I found.


Due to friends recommending this place, and the fact that it's in Top 5 Austin from the Travel Channel and this Foodie Post about Smitty's Market, we had to go there.

You walk in to the back first, and all the meat is cooking over old school grills with wood fires. It feels like you've stepped into a medieval market. You pick whatever weight and whatever assortment you want of brisket (lean or fat), ribs, and sausage, and then they wrap it in brown butcher paper plus paper for each person. From there, you jump forward 700 years and enter a brightly lit, 1950s-feeling cafeteria where you order your drinks and side dishes (potato salad, beans, pickles, coleslaw, and bread) separately. I'm no expert on Texas barbeque but it was pretty ridiculously delicious.
Lockhart on the big screen:

Randomly, a lot of movies and TV shows have had scenes shot in Lockhart.
Courthouse in the background, used in the 1993 film,
What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
Here's a partial list of more recent films, snagged from the Lockhart Wikipedia page.
It's just cute:

There is a lot of other charm to the town, like a great little coffee shop, a handful of good restaurants, shops, and bars. The city center is very walkable, and on a Wednesday night we noticed live music in two different venues--pretty impressive nightlife for a town of this size. There are a lot of empty storefronts but I don't think it will take long for tenants to come in and new businesses to crop up.  There is a beautiful old library from the late 1890s, which is the longest continually operated library in Texas. 
Eugene Clark Library
Pecan trees are really common and you find
pecans on the streets and sidewalks
It's a sweet town and I predict that it will be radically different in 10 years as more and more people more there from Austin and beyond.

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