Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring BBQ Trip to Llano

We had been talking about going to Llano for BBQ for a couple of weeks but hadn't made any definite plans. Sunday morning Julie said "I want to go get BBQ" so we did. We indicated our intent on Facebook but didn't really expect anyone to join us on such short notice.

Cooper's BBQ in Llano is arguably some of the best BBQ in Texas. It's definitely in the top five along with Kreutz in Lockhart. It's a different style of cooking from Kreutz' no-sauce-just-smoke approach, using a higher-temperature cooking technique and using a vinegary sauce.

The place itself is, like all good BBQ, part of the experience. Llano is about an hour northwest of Austin, a pretty drive through the Hill Country. When the blue bonnets are in bloom it can be spectacular. We were hoping they might be this year, but they were not.

Cooper's is always very popular this time of year and you have to get there relatively early to ensure they have everything you might want, which means leaving Austin around 11:00 to get there around noon or so before the line gets really long. That's a little early for our neighbors the Bare Naked Family, so we didn't really expect them to join us. In fact, their response to our Facebook status was "We are too wiped out to go...but another time maybe!". So off we went.

We got to Cooper's in good time, stood in line planning what varieties of meat we would get, got our food, and ate it with gusto. Dada especially liked the brisket and prime rib. Just as we were finishing our meal we got a call from the Bare Nakeds saying they were just arriving into Llano. They had apparently had a change of heart and hit the road not long after we did. We hung out with them and tried to recover a bit from our own overindulgence.

This was their first time to eat at Cooper's and they really enjoyed it.

After our meat fest we went down to a little park on the Llano river where we enjoyed the river and played on the rocks and generally hung out in the beautiful spring weather. We then decided to go home via a scenic route that would take us by Lake Buchanan, where we stopped for a while to marvel at how low the lake was.

We had pulled into a public boat ramp with a little park with some old-school metal slides (to which Sunny and Dada made a beeline). The lake was about 20 feet below the end of the concrete boat ramp. We wandered around on the exposed lake bed, which is littered with chunks of what I took to be rose quartz and other pretty rocks.

Finally it was time to head back home, which we did, taking more back roads.

A much longer Sunday drive than we had intended but a really nice day, totally blowing off Spring chores to just hang out in the sun and gorge on smoked meat.

Note: Missing from this picture is Sunny, youngest of the Bare Naked's who was off to the side holding Dada when this picture was taken. See our Flickr stream for that picture.


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