Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Llano)
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 bikers waited in line by the outdoor pit to pick out their own meats. Luckily we ordered some lean brisket before we headed home, and our faith was restored. The blackened exterior—generously seasoned with a peppery dry rub—encased a moist, juicy cut of beef bursting with mesquite flavor. It was the Platonic ideal of brisket. If only everything else hadn’t been such a letdown. Specialties include pork loin and goat ribs.