Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Llano)
“Blood makes you related, but barbecue makes you family,” said the camo-clad guy to a young boy across from him at our long communal table. It was three o’clock on a Saturday, but the bare-bones place was humming like Grand Central Station, nearly every table populated by smoked-meat devotees from near and far. If it’s your first visit, you’ll want the pork ribs, lightly glazed and perfectly porky, and the brisket, the meat tender and moist beneath a stratum of smoky fat and a coarse, beautifully seasoned crust. Or go for the pork chop, a pink, pepper-crusted behemoth that could feed four. That is, if you don’t get the hefty beef rib, which masquerades as a chunk of blackened firewood and then proceeds to melt in your mouth.
Method: Mesquite; direct-heat pit
Pitmaster: Kenny Oestreich, Louis Garcia