Sunday, September 7, 2008

Road to BBQ.

A few weeks ago some friends and I embarked on a journey through the hill country in search of some delicious BBQ.  I had recently acquired an atlas called "The Roads of Texas" featuring all the roads of Texas, from the interstates to the backroads.  This is a wonderful atlas.  It is chocked full of little hard to find roads that you never imagined existed.  With a little help from a site called Hill Country Outdoor Guide and my handy little book, I mapped out a route from Austin to Llano.  
The drive started on Highway 290 heading west.  We turned onto Highway 12 and followed 3238 past Hamilton Pool, a beautiful natural pool shrouded by greenery.  We made a few twists and turns after that and ended up on a scenic dirt road in the middle of nowhere.  Not a soul in sight.  We drove through pastures, encountering a few stubborn cattle along the way.  We also saw deer, a vast array of colorful birds, rabbits and even a turtle crossing the road.  We meandered along at a slow pace, taking time to enjoy our peaceful surroundings.  Large limestone cliffs and huge trees shaded the road.  Occasionally we would stop and get out to admire our surroundings.  We had to cross a creek several times.  Luckily we were traveling in a jeep, so it could handle the small amounts of "off-roading."
A couple of hours later we arrived in Llano, our BBQ destination.  Llano is cute little town with a lot of historic buildings and a small town vibe.  We crossed the Llano river and headed up the road to Cooper's BBQ.  Cooper's is pretty famous around these parts.  It has consistently been written up in Texas Monthly and other publications as one of the best BBQ places in Texas.  When we arrived we were greeted by the pit master who proceeded to lift off a giant grill lid to reveal a huge spread of meat.  We opted for the brisket (my favorite), the turkey, sausage and pork tenderloin.  The pit master dipped the meat in a huge vat of BBQ sauce and slapped it on a plastic tray.  It was sent off to be weighed and wrapped for our eating pleasure.  We sat at family style tables decorated with checkered table cloths and  loaves of white bread.  We ate our BBQ off a piece of butcher paper.  It was delicious and cooked to perfection.  These folks know BBQ!
On our way back we stopped at Pace Bend Park to take a dip in the clear waters of Lake Travis.  I was too full to jump off the cliffs!  An excellent day indeed.

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