After breakfast at City Market in Luling, we headed southeast on Hwy. 183 to the old town square of Gonzales, home to another one of the best BBQ joints in Texas.
Gonzales Food Market was founded 52 years ago by the Lopez family as a small grocery and meat market, with one brick pit constructed to cook sausage. Two more pits to smoke a wide array of meats followed. Second and third generations of the family still run the joint, which morphed into more of a restaurant in the mid-1970s.
When we arrived at 11:30 am the line was already long, a mix of locals, tourists and bikers. Richard Lopez, grandson of founder Feliciano "Chano" Lopez, was working the busy counter but spotted our cameras. He offered us a pit tour as soon as the line calmed down a little bit.
We chatted with a table filled with four generations of a family from Houston, who frequently make the 135-mile drive to eat lunch at their favorite BBQ joint in the world. They passed on condolences to Richard, who lost his dad Pablo Lopez in February. Pablo owned and managed the Gonzales Food Market for over 50 years before he retired. His obituary in the Gonzales Inquirer states, "The business was his pride and passion."
As promised, Richard took us behind the scenes of his operation, which features three pits including the original brick pit shown in the top photo. On an average Saturday, they will cook 600 pounds of meat, so all three smokers were still going strong as noon approached. They cook with a mix of post oak and mesquite.
After the tour, we settled down to a plate of brisket, sausage and beef short ribs. While the brisket was really good, though not overly smokey, the smoked sausage and short ribs stole the show for us. The sausage has made onsite for over 50 years and it's some of the best sausage you'll ever eat. The beef short ribs were out of this world, rivaling the pepper-encrusted beef ribs at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor.
This is one of those joints you'll want to come back to over and over again. Richard made us feel like family, taking time out of a busy Saturday to show Jeff and me the operation, all the time talking barbecue history and technique. For a BBQ roadtripper, it just doesn't get much better than this.....
Gonzales Food Market, 311 Saint Lawrence St, Gonzales, TX, (830) 672-3156. Open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 7am-6pm.
Photos © Jeff Haynes & Chris Wilkins