Austin’s culinary claim to fame, Tex-Mex and Barbecue. And, as much as I sung the praises of my recent Cajun and Creole restaurant experience in Louisiana, I definitely prefer our specialties. For Barbecue in Austin, my usual spot is Black’s, located just north of the University of Texas campus. But there are other noteworthy places too. Cooper’s is another famous place, which I recently visited, for the first time.
There’s a parallel between Black’s and Cooper’s. Both are famous, located in small towns not too far from Austin, which setup a local outlet. Black’s is out of Lockhart, which is located 35 miles south-east. Coopers is from Llano, some 75 miles north-west.
Black’s is definitely smaller. A modern building veneered tastefully with aged-Texas to look like an old restaurant. In a way, it’s an extended and local service counter to the original in Lockhart. All of the meats are smoked back there and trucked to Austin, daily. It’s a unique setup. All other places that I know, smoke the meat on premises.
Cooper’s in Austin, in comparison, is a larger operation. Some truly old downtown buildings were renovated and kept mostly old to house their entire operations, including the smokers. It’s a confusing place of multiple entrances and a not completely obvious ordering process. When you visit Texas Barbecue joints, each have a different way to order meats and sides.
Cooper’s are located in the most prime real estate in Austin, between 2nd and 3rd streets on Congress Avenue. My first visit was very tasty with no complaints. Certainly up there to my Yankee taste buds.
Which do I prefer? That’s a harder question and one where I would have to try Cooper’s a few more times to adequately compare. Google ranks Cooper’s at at a 4.5 and Black’s at a 4.4. No significant difference there.
Black’s is more convenient for me with easier and free parking. The prices, as I recall, maybe a touch less expensive. Cooper’s, in one of the most expensive places in Austin, commands a price premium. Parking is also a pain too, unless you strategically go at certain times of the week. However, it would certainly be more convenient for tourists staying downtown.
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with either. Both for the food and for some wide-angle Cinematics photography.
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