Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que
2010: Ordering here is done at the pit at the entry, which is really just a showy warming pit. The real work is done out back in the (oddly uncelebrated) fire pits, where mesquite wood is burned down to coals for high-heat cooking. Low and slow is not the Cooper’s way. These meats are cooked with direct heat from coals rather than smoked with indirect heat and wood smoke. You’ll notice the lack of smokiness in the flavor, but this is what Cooper’s fan have come to expect. They’ve also come to expect some expensive meat covered in salt and pepper. I ordered a sampler of brisket, pork ribs, a beef rib, and a “Big Chop.” After all, Cooper’s calls themselves the “Home of the Big Chop.” As your meat is cut you have the option to have it dipped in a thin vinegar sauce, or to leave it naked. I dipped the chop and pork ribs, but left the brisket and beef rib untouched. It didn’t matter much after the kid weighing my meat wrapped it all together in a single piece of butcher paper thus spreading the sauce all around. I happily started with the big chop, which was tender, moist, and perfectly seasoned. Compared to their usual lathering of salt and pepper, they showed some restraint on this cut, and it benefited greatly. The beef rib was a mediocre piece of undercooked beef with far too much unrendered fat in the meat. Fat was a theme when it came to the brisket. The untrimmed slices were nearly half fat (three ounces of the seven ounces of meat I was charged for), which is forgivable unless you’re paying by the pound. The flavor was decent throughout, but bites with the crust were overwhelmed by salt and pepper. Pork ribs were better, with a lighter touch to the seasoning and a well-formed crust. The smoke was more evident in this cut than any other, and the overall flavor was great.
City: Fort Worth
Texas is in the midst of a barbecue renaissance, an age of smoky enlightenment. One need only sample the goods at new-guard establishments like Franklin Barbecue, in Austin, or Pecan Lodge, in Dallas, to realize it. Yet in the face of all this newfangled excitement, Cooper’s continues to soldier on—an intrepid old-timer, a barbecue stalwart that […]
This was my third, and best visit to the newest Cooper’s near the Fort Worth Stockyards. This is the newest in the Wootan empire, and it pays to get here early as well. Even at 11:00 the ‘Big Chop’ was starting to lose some of those juices. Fatty brisket edges which I usually relish for […]
In 1962, Tommy Cooper was sent out by his father George to expand the Cooper’s BBQ business from Mason to Llano. Tommy sadly died in an accident in 1979 and the business was sold. It was sold again in 1986 to current owner Terry Wootan who has seen this Hill Country staple’s fame reach new […]
It had been some time since my last visit to Cooper’s in Llano. This haven for bikers out on their Saturday stroll isn’t on the way from Dallas to anywhere, so I made a special road trip of my own. There was some BBQ sampled along the way, but my true destination was Llano, and […]
The horror! Our first pass through the Hill Country’s most renowned barbecue joint was utterly disappointing. The pork ribs were tough, the sausage was bland, and the fatty brisket was downright chewy. Even the sides were lackluster. Still, no one seemed to mind; the place was packed on a weekday afternoon, as locals, tourists, and […]