I know you are thinking I’ve gone totally bonkers with a title saying “Pit Envy”. No, I am not referring to armpits or peach pits or Pit Bulls. I have a confession to make. I am a closet bbq pitmaster wannabe. There! I said it! Whew… confession is good for the soul! Now that we’ve cleared the air about the pits, I have to tell you about an exciting thing that happened on the way home from our short road trip to Austin. Have you ever noticed that many wonderful things happen when you wander off the beaten path and just go with it?
Food is always a part of my travel plans. I love searching out local fare and then recreating it when I get home. I try to always steer away from the chain restaurants and look for something local. That’s where it’s at!
We were about half-way home when I told Mr. Yapa that I was starving and could we stop and grab something. It had been such a hectic morning, I didn’t take time to eat and only had a cup of coffee for breakfast. There was the usual assortment of fast food restaurants then we saw a sign for Schoepf’s in Belton, Texas. I love good BBQ and I was I was starving afterall.
Notice I said good BBQ. Being a Texas gal, I am pretty particular about it. I want the brisket with a good smoke ring, great bark and tender to the fork, not stringy and not greasy. See, I told you I was picky. I want my sausage to have a ton of flavor but moist and not dried out. I rarely order ribs because to be honest, Mr. Yapa makes the best ribs I’ve ever eaten.
We pulled off at the exit and found the restaurant about a half mile to the west. Even though it was after lunch there was still a good crowd in the parking lot. That’s always a good sign. Walking towards the front of the building we got blasted. Oh my gosh, where did all that heat come from? It came from a HUGE outdoor area FILLED with bbq pits! The smell was exquisite!
Oh the things I could do with just one of those marvelous stainless pits… Oops, there I go again into a case a pit envy! Once we got past the incredible heat and awesome smoke smell we walked into a room with two guys behind a long counter and behind them was an entire wall full of freshly smoked meats. They take your order here and place the meat(s) of your choosing on your plates.
From there you walk into a cafeteria type line with all the sides and desserts. Everyone we encountered was friendly, warm and gracious. The food smelled and looked delicious and they had buttermilk pie for dessert! What a treat that is.
We both opted for a brisket/sausage combo plate and the buttermilk pie. We also ordered one additional treat – a quail. Not just any quail, this little guy was de-boned, stuffed with a half jalapeno, and wrapped in a thick slice of smokey bacon then cooked in one of those awesome pits. For those of you who haven’t eaten quail, it’s a very small bird without much meat on its bones. It’s very easy to overcook them and wind up with a dry piece of jerky like meat. This quail was tender, juicy and had just the right amount of smoke flavor. The bacon was crisp but not crunchy… just perfect!
The brisket was possibly the best I’ve had. Very tender, moist and great flavor, just like I like it. Even though I always try the sausage in a bbq joint, it rarely meets expectations. This sausage was just right. It had a crisp casing, moist and juicy meat with a perfect blend of seasonings and a righteous flavor. I loved everything about this meal. These folks really know how to use the pits and have a great sense of seasoning. Yes, I know you are wondering about the buttermilk pie. It was very, very good. If you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it. It’s a lightly sweet custard type pie and does NOT taste like buttermilk (although I love buttermilk). It’s not a really sweet dessert but was the cherry on top for this meal.
Unfortunately, I do not know the name of this gracious lady who waited on us but did get to chat for a minute and ask if she minded if we took a few pictures. She was incredibly friendly (as everyone there was) and had a great smile.
As I started writing this post, I checked them on the web to make sure I had the name spelled right and nearly fell out of my chair. These folks are famous. They have been in numerous magazines and even Food Network. We thought we had found an undiscovered treasure but the joke is on us! You can’t keep good food a secret and we should have known better. Even though I’m not breaking news here, I’m tickled to be able to share this place with you guys.
What started out as a quick stop because I was starving turned into an unexpected treat. So, if you ever find yourself heading down I-35 between Fort Worth and Austin and you see a sign for Schoepf’s in Belton, stop! Take a moment to stop in have a bite to eat and experience what we believe is the best BBQ in Texas. We also understand they have live music on Thursday nights too.