Just off Interstate 37, Smolik’s second location (the 1989 original is downtown) is worth a detour. On our stroll up to the counter, we perused vintage knickknacks and newspaper clippings lauding the proud Czech family’s history of smoking meat in South Texas since 1928. They throw some beef fat right into the fire to burn along with the wood. It’s a trick to give the brisket the grilled flavor of direct-heat cooking, but in an indirect heat smoker. They impress with pig and poultry too. The ample pork spareribs had a barely sweet crust and ideal tenderness. The sausage was aromatic with garlic and pepper, and the plump halves of smoked chicken were remarkably moist. Among the usual sides, house-made onion rings and braised cabbage stood out. For dessert? Kolaches, of course.
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