Back in Minnesota after a spring visit to Hill Country, we were telling my mother about our trip. As with any discussion about Texas, BBQ came up. We told my mother that we had eaten some great pit BBQ on our trip and she recalled that she too had some great BBQ on a trip of hers a number of years ago. She couldn’t quite recall what city that was in, although she remembered that it started with a “C” and it had rows of pits for smoking the meat.
We knew instantly where she had been: Cooper’s in Llano.
It was one of our favorite places too.
Like my parents, we ended up at Cooper’s mostly because we happened to find ourselves in Llano at lunch time without any lunch plans. I’m not sure how my parents decided on Cooper’s, but I sought it out based on the recommendation in a 10-year-old guidebook.
I figured if it was still in business, it had to be good.
They keep things pretty basic at Cooper’s and it really is all about the meat.
In case you haven’t been there, here’s how it works:
You line up (there is always a line at the good places) out where the pits are to order your meat.
(The meat shown here is the final display – the fully-cooked meat they put out for sale. It’s actually cooked over mesquite wood in the other smokers, with the selection available to serve up regularly replenished.)
Once you have your meat, you go inside to select your side dishes. At Cooper’s those include traditional staples like coleslaw and corn, but also some specialties, like macaroni and cheese with bacon. At the same time, you hand over your meat to be weighed (meats are priced by the pound) and cut into more manageable pieces (a slab of ribs can be hard to eat).
(Nothing fancy here.)
Once you have everything back on your tray, it’s time check-out (pay) and head on in to the dining room where long tables (and happy diners) fill the room.
Finally you can dig in to the pile of meat on your tray. (After all, it’s all about the meat.)
Oh my, is it tasty!
Cooper’s has expanded over the years and now can be found in Austin, New Braunfels, and Forth Worth, as well as in Llano. They also operate an on-line business for the truly desperate and BBQ deprived.
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