When co-owners Jeff Bergus and Tim McLaughlin open the doors to their Lockhart Smokehouse this Wednesday, they’re not sure what to expect, but they’ll be ready.
“We’ll start serving at at 10:30 a.m., and we’ll go till we run out, but I know we’ll have enough brisket and sausage to get through dinner,” McLaughlin told me earlier this week. Trained as a chef (he’s worked as a corporate chef, a caterer and an instructor at the Dallas Cordon Bleu), McLaughlin brings a culinary background to ‘cue. His partner in the Lockhart Smokehouse venture, Jeff Bergus, learned to work the pits beside the masters at Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas, regarded by most barbecue experts as among the best ‘cue joints in Texas. (Bergus’ s wife is cousins with the family that owns Kreuz Market.)
Inside, the place is more joint than restaurant: stained cement floors, polished cement bar, simple tables with chome chairs covered in red vinyl, corrugated aluminum siding, $3.50 bottles of Shiner, Lone Star and PBR beer (“If you want it in a can, it’s only $2,” says McLaughlin.)
A lot of what you’ll taste at Lockhart Smokehouse will remind you of Kreuz’ barbecue, as it should. Both places cook over post oak (no gas!), season their meat with just salt and pepper, and serve their barbecue on butcher paper. No forks. No plates. No sauce.
But unlike their cousin down south, Lockhart Smokehouse will also serve chicken (cooked on cans of Big Red soda, a la Beer Can Chicken), pork ribs and chops, and an occasional smoked fish entree. Also different: Lockhart Smokehouse cooks their meats in a Bewley smoker, a super-efficient wood smoker made in Dallas, rather than the open pits found down south.
“We also cook our meat a little slower, and at a lower temperature than they do,” says Bergus, who adds that Lockhart Smokehouse is going to serve “really good barbecue,” but it’s not exactly what they’re doing at Kreuz.
“If you’re expecting Kreuz,” cautions Bergus, “you’ll need to drive down there…that’s not what we’re trying to be”
400 West Davis, Dallas