”Home of the Big Chop,” Terry Wootan’s original joint has now been joined by five other locations across the state.
Trading ribs for ribeyes.
It’s not extinct, but the Hill Country style of barbecue certainly belongs on the endangered list. Sometimes called the West Texas style, this method of cooking directly over coals–once pervasive–is seen less frequently. Compounding the problem, it appears fewer and fewer people are bothering to learn or carry on the
Pitmaster: Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que; Opened 1962Age: 64Smoker: Charcoal-fired steel cooker and electric rotisserie smokerWood: Lump Mesquite CharcoalThere’s more than one cook at a big operation like Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano, but Bo Phillips is the one who gets up early enough to
You’d think finding good barbecued goat in the Texas Hill Country wouldn’t be so difficult. This area has been the U.S. epicenter of sheep and goat ranching since the nineteenth century when wool and mohair (wool from goats) production took a foothold. Herds expanded greatly in the twentieth century, and while numbers have fallen in this
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
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
The sign may claim that they’ve been smoking since 1953, but this joint opened in 1999. Current owner Mark Cooper is a grandson of George Cooper, so they’re sort for taking credit for a few decades of Cooper’s operation in Mason. The woodpiles and pits are just as impressive as
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
This is the original. Started by George Cooper in 1953, but sold to Duard Dockal (who still runs it) in 1983. This is where the family traditions of cooking directly over mesquite coals and ordering straight from the pit were born. It was one of my favorites of mine and
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
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