Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Good Eats: Cooper's BBQ, Llano, Texas

If you've been following my blog then you know that I love barbeque. One place I've stopped at for many years is Cooper's. The Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que franchise now has locations in several cities in the Hill Country. About a year ago, we discovered a new location in Junction and enjoyed a good meal there. On our return trip from Bastrop State Park, we stopped at the location in Llano, a place I had visited a number of times on my travels between West Texas and Austin back in the days when I worked and traveled frequently.

Cooper's is a mix between the traditional meat markets I really enjoy and the more commercial establishments that most people are accustomed to. You begin your BBQ journey outside at the pits. The pit worker will raise the lid, and you select your meat and tell him how much you want. In addition to beef brisket, you can get pork, ribs, chicken, sausage, and probably one or two other types of meat. He'll ask you if you want sauce; if you do, he'll douse the meat in a bucket of sauce, then slap it on a tray.

Take your tray and enter the building at the first door. Give your tray to whomever welcomes you. That person will weigh and price your food, cut it up, and wrap it in butcher paper. Take your package of goodies and move down the line, getting any sides or desert you want. They have good selections. At the cashier, get your drink and pay up. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, and our bill totaled nearly $30, but we would take food home with us.

Find a table; you may have to share with someone else as all seating is communal bench style. Help yourself to drinks and beans (the beans are great!). White bread and jalapenos are available on the tables. Dig in and enjoy.

The food is good, and I want to stress that. I'll eat here again and again. But I do prefer the more traditional meat markets like those in Lockhart. We ordered brisket, half a chicken, and sausage. All was good. I think Donna prefers this type of commercial sausage that is tighter than what we had at Smitty's a few days earlier, though I prefer the more traditional sausage. Donna seemed to enjoy her chicken as there was soon nothing in front of her except a pile of bones.  My beef brisket was good.

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