Another barbecue legend has died. Rick Schmidt, owner of Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas, has died. The Austin Chronicle report of his passing here. Rick was the fourth generation of Schmidts to run Kreuz Market. The meat there is cooked with indirect heat from burning post oak. The cooking is done in a separate room from the rest of the Kreuz Market. Once you have your order you move to the dining area and get some German potato salad and the usual white bread, pickles, onions, and jalapenos. While Rick Schmidt ran the place, there were no forks and no barbecue sauce. A sign under the chalkboard menu read:
No Barbecue Sauce (Nothing to Hide)
No Forks (They are at the End of Your Arm)
No Kidding (See Owner’s Face)
They new owners, Rick’s son, Keith, changed that after they opened some additional locations and found that people expected sauce and forks as well as knives (to cut sausages) and spoons (for the brisket-checked German potato-salad). In 2018, the original location gave in, the last sauce-free barbecue place in Texas to do so.
Kreuz Market has long been one of the top barbecue places in Texas, a place for a pilgrimage for visitors to Texas. Nancy, Liza, and I visited Kreuz Market during what Liza described as a “Tour de Barbecue”. I was a Distinguished Visiting Professor (i.e., there was no expectation — or hope — that I would stay) at Baylor Law School for a term in 2010. Liza came to visit and we ate at three barbecue places in two days. We started by driving from Austin to Lockhart to eat at Kreuz Market. I had my standard Texas order — brisket and sausage. The brisket was very good, just behind Snow’s (another stop on Liza’s Tour) and the City Market in Luling, and the jalapeño cheese sausage was the best I had in Texas, very close to Conecuh Sausage quality. Nancy ordered the pork ribs and they were well above average for Texas. (Nancy almost always ordered pork ribs at barbecue places in Texas. She tried brisket a few times but, with that fat-phobia that persuades people to eat chicken breasts all the time, always asked for “lean,” which tends to be dry and relatively flavorless. She’s very slender, but at what price? I forget what Liza ordered, but she enjoyed it, too. And while some of our party was taken aback by the absence of forks, we didn’t miss the sauce a bit. The meat was that good.
You should go to Kreuz Market. Pitmaster Roy Perez, with 30 years of experience under his belt, is still on the job. He’s an Elvis fan, and sports mutton chop sideburns and, on occasion, a Love Meat Tender, Love Meat Smoked t-shirt. Let me know what you think of the sauce. If the meat doesn’t need it, try some on a piece of white bread.