Texans have been making day trips to the barbecue mecca of Lockhart for eons.
The county seat of Caldwell County, just 30 minutes south of Austin and an hour northeast of San Antonio, has traditionally been known as a day trip destination. Yet, Lockhart has more than enough to offer for a relaxing weekend getaway. Put your bags down, stop for awhile, and enjoy a taste of small town life with your ‘cue.
Where to Stay:
The recently opened boutique hotel, Ellison House, blends history and chic comfort into one stay. A husband and wife duo from Austin converted the 1880s boarding house into the five-room hotel, scouring vintage thrift stores, local second-hand stores and Craigslist to find the perfect furnishing to create an “L.A.-meets-Texas” country vintage vibe.
Furnishings include a record player complete with records from the beloved red-headed stranger, vintage pull-down maps (like the ones you’d see in old, one-room school houses), and a claw-foot tub in a black and white tiled bathroom—-all creating a sense of history of a time gone by.
Like a traditional bread-and-breakfast, the Ellison House has shared common areas. Rocking chair-lined porches, hammocks and an expansive lawn provide plenty of outdoor relaxation opportunities.
What to Do:
Ellison House is a ten-minute walk to the downtown square. Restaurants, bars, shops and one of the oldest libraries in Texas surround the majestic Caldwell County Courthouse. The three-story historic courthouse built in 1893 with cream-colored limestone and red sandstone is the most photographed courthouse in Texas. Visitors aplenty spend the afternoon walking off barbecue, taking photos, and shopping for vintage Texas wares in around the courthouse square.
Or, you can spend a more active afternoon enjoying nature at the nearby Lockhart State Park. The 263-acre park has plenty of hiking and biking trails, a nine-hole golf course (with green fees of just $9), and a swimming pool to help burn off those calories.
What to Eat:
You are in Lockhart; you need to eat barbecue.
If the wind picks up, you can smell the smoke coming off the Black’s Barbecue pit from the Ellison House front porch. Black’s is the oldest barbecue restaurant run by one family in Texas. Today brisket is considered a Central Texas barbecue staple, but when Black’s opened 82 years ago it was the first restaurant in town to serve the juicy cut.
Be prepared to get your hands dirty at Kreuz Market. Their longtime rule “No forks, No Sauce” is no longer in effect because of nit-picky Yelpers complaining about eating with their hands (guess they didn’t want to get their smart phone screen greasy). 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-fashion way.
Walking through the smoke-lined walls of Smitty’s Market gives you the sense of the history behind this barbecue joint. Smitty’s opened in 1900 as a German butcher shop. Today, you still order your meat on butcher paper—-no plates here—-and squeeze into a long communal table. Be prepared to wait during peak hours as the line wraps around the building.
Cover: The bed in Ellison House’s upstairs suite with a glimpse into the bathroom. Courtesy photo