Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Of all the small towns in Texas…Llano has stolen my heart, and my stomach. It all started with a very pleasant drive south on Texas Highway 16 from Goldthwaite. Once you pass through the tiny town of Cherokee, it looks like God himself painted the roadside with every color of imaginable. We visited during April, and this sea of wildflowers covers both sides of the road for miles and miles. The little girl in me just wanted to jump out of the car and take a walk through them, but thankfully the adult brain kicked in, so I stayed in the car…it is snake season after all. Once we arrived in Llano, we made our way straight to Texas-famous Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que. Here, they claim “It’s all about the meat”, and they definitely aren’t kidding. You wait in a cattle chute style line just to get to take a look at a giant steel outdoor box filled with smoked meats. Next thing you know, it’s your turn and you have to actually pick how much, and which kind of meat you are going to try. The staff must be used to hearing, “gimme a little bit of everything”, because he sliced off pieces of brisket, sausage, turkey, steak, chicken, and ribs, dipped them in Bar-B-Que sauce, then slapped them down on a big red tray. So happy to please me, this young man even took his time allowing me to choose what side of the meat slabs I wanted my selections cut from. With salivary glands already going into overdrive, I walked inside with my tray of goodness. We were parted for only a few moments while they weighed each meat, which allowed me to choose sides and desserts. At this point, my eyes were much bigger than my stomach, so I choose not only corn on the cob, fresh store-made cheese, but also a big ol’ bowl of pecan cobbler. When I asked for beans, since no Texas girl would ever eat Bar-B-Que without them, I found out that they are not only all-you-can-eat, but they are also FREE! I nearly ran to an open spot at one of the picnic tables, to get started on my feast which cost less than some fast food meals. It is impossible to state here which meat was my favorite, but I will mention that their ribs were “fall-off-the-bone” soft and tasty, and their steak, though cooked in huge slabs, was tender, juicy, and black pepper seared perfection with zero gristle or fat. I hardly had room for those sides I purchased, but the sharp, cheddar cheese and few bites of beans with a hint of jalapeno that I was able to sample were more than enough to mark this day down in taste bud history for me. And just when I thought I might burst, I took a tiny bite of pecan cobbler. This was the cherry-on-top to this already perfect meal. The fresh made cobbler contained straight off the tree San Saba pecans, flaky cobbler crust, and sweet, brown-sugary sauce, that despite my already bulging belly, I had to finish. I then had to sit awhile before I could move, but then met some new friends at the sit next to your neighbor style tables. They agreed with me that Cooper’s is definitely food heaven.