If central Texas had its own food pyramid, Brisket would be at the top. Slow-smoked in family tradition, Terry Black’s was destined to be a local favorite and a must-do on your ATX bucket list.
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What everyone knows
Relaxing on their Texas-sized deck with a tray of BBQ and an ice-cold sweet tea is the way to go after a swim at Barton Spring.
What they don't tell you
Edgar Jr. made some important changes to the business. He was one of the first purveyors in the country to begin smoking and selling specific cuts of meat, namely brisket, instead of just whatever the meat market had available. Some would say he is the “godfather of brisket”.
He also standardized the handmade sausage recipe that they still use today, which contains trimmings from the brisket with a touch of pork. Edgars saying was, “If the meat’s not good enough to sell at the meat market, then it’s not good enough to put in our sausage.”
Do it like a local
If there's a line when you get there, never fear…it's worth it. Have somebody wait in line for you and go on inside. There is a register to your left from which you can get a couple of cold ones. The menu is on big chalkboards hanging above where you order the sides. Step-by-step instructions will help guide you through the ordering process. Read those, they will bring a smile to your face.
First, you grab some sides, cafeteria-style. The coleslaw and beans are great, but the creamy mac and cheese is my favorite. Oh, and don't even get me started on the peach cobbler...it will change your outlook on life. Next, stop by the chopping block, where they slice to order, fresh off the pits. I recommend a ½ pound per person minimum. The great thing about how you order the meat is that it's all by-the-pound. If you wanted two slices of brisket, half a link of jalapeno cheddar sausage, and a slice or two of some of the best turkey breast you have ever eaten. Or you could grab one of their famous beef ribs, weighing on average about 1-2lb’s each. These things look like the Flintstones brontosaurus ribs.
For the History Buffs
It all started in beautiful Lockhart, Texas, where Edgar Black Sr. owned several head of cattle. The Great Depression was in full swing and poor Edgar was going under. So when the federal government called and offered him $1 for each cow, he contemplated taking it. But when he found out the heifers were to be shot on-site and left to rot, he turned down the offer, went to a friend who had a building in Lockhart, and on a handshake agreement, opened a meat market and grocery store instead. This is how Black got into the barbecue business, through a somewhat side-door approach. Edgar Jr. eventually felt the pull of the family business, too. After serving his country in the U.S. Navy, marrying Norma Jean and graduating from Texas A&M, Edgar Jr. was offered a job in Houston. Edgar Sr. talked him into coming back to Lockhart “for just a couple weeks” to help run the businesses so he could take a little time off. Those two weeks turned into sixty-five years. Norma Jean is known for developing the side dishes, as well as the barbecue sauce that now bears her name. Black’s didn’t offer sauce with their meats for the first 40 years, but she came up with the recipe after “folks from up north” started asking for sauce. She spent over a year testing recipes until she felt she had something that was unique to Texas and up to their standards. Her sauce is still served to this day. The time had come for Edgar’s son, Terry Black, to pass down the knowledge and pitmaster experience to his twin sons Michael and Mark Black, who opened Terry Black’s BBQ in honor of their father on Barton Springs Rd in 2014. Staying true to the tradition of slow smoking, open-pit style and serving up homemade side dishes, these BBQ Bros have made their mark, becoming BBQ legends in their own right.
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