As noted here, my wife and I took a ride out to Smithville yesterday — and, as I’m want to do most of the time, I started looking for a BBQ joint for lunch. We wanted to try Zimmerhanzel’s Bar-B-Que in Smithville, but they were closed.
So we rode back through Bastrop looking for some smoked meats. We ended up at Cartwright’s BBQ.
The actual pits where the meat is smoked were nowhere in site. Not a good sign. We were pleased to see that Cartwrights did at least serve their smoked meats family style (though they did offer plates as well).
We ordered a pound of moist brisket, half a link, and some potato salad (for my wife).
I wanted some beans, but they were out. My wife wanted some peach cobbler, but they were out. But she assured me the cherry cobbler would do just fine.
We had to ask for pickles and onions, as they don’t have a serve yourself condiment bar — always a minus in my book. A good joint should have the pickles and onions (at a minimum) out for self-serve.The better places will put jalapenos and beans out on the self-serve bar, too.
The brisket was well cooked and just fatty enough. Needed a little more salt though. The hot link we had was mild, greasy, but pretty damned good too.
The brisket was good, but not great. In fact, it was a fine sample of average central Texas-style smoked brisket. This is not a bad thing, as an average cut of Texas-style brisket is still better than 99% of the brisket anywhere else on this planet.
We’re not sauce people — we just like to enjoy good meat un-obscured by over-powering BBQ sauces. However, we do occasionally enjoy a little homemade hot sauce on the fattier pieces of brisket (especially when there aren’t any jalapenos on the condiment bar).
The homemade hot sauce on the tables at Cartwright’s though was one of the worst I’ve ever had. It tasted more like pickle juice than hot sauce.
All in all, Cartwright’s is a good place to stop and get some good bbq if you live near by or are just passing through. It’s reasonably priced, there are lots of options and side dishes, and you won’t walk away hungry.
But I wouldn’t consider it a destination-worthy joint, such as the legendary Cooper’s in Llano, Smitty’s Market in Lockhart, Luling City Market, or Southside Market in Elgin (Southside is only 18 miles from Bastrop — so, if you’re headed north on 95, you might just want to wait).