Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que: Memories + Mesquite in Llano

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Barbecue Texas


We arrived in “the deer capital of Texas” to find a row of motorcycles parked outside Cooper’s and a line of customers near their impressive mesquite smokers. Seven or eight years ago, we ate at the revered barbecue restaurant and had an earth-shattering dining experience. Once again, we chose to tussle with memories of great meals past, always a dangerous pastime.

Barbecue Texas
One of the massive smokers featured trays of spice rubbed pork tenderloin, lamb ribs, brisket, pork chops, sausage, chicken and ribs. We gave the pitman our order and he asked if we wanted “sauce.” We did, and he speared our desired chunks of meat and dipped them in a bucket of sauce before tossing them on a plastic tray.

Barbecue Texas
We ordered half a sausage link ($4.43), a thick slab of brisket ($7.59), half a chicken ($5) and “the big chop” ($9.49), a Cooper’s signature. We took the heavy tray inside for weighing and carving.

Taxidermy Texas
Walls held the requisite amount of deer heads, plus a lynx poised to pounce on customers dining at the picnic tables below. The walls also featured photos of famed Texans who have dined at the restaurant, including W., UT football coach Mack Brown, and Governor Rick Perry, who evidently went to school with owner Terry Wootan at Texas A&M.

Barbecue Texas
Each slice of brisket featured a nice smoke ring, not too much fat and plenty of smoky flavor.

The chicken was tremendous, smoky and luscious. If the bird had crisper skin, it could have achieved poultry perfection. The big chop was similarly outstanding, peppery and moist. The sausage link featured nice snap, but could have been grainier.

Barbecue Sauce Texas
In back, there was a cauldron of pinto beans, and a big container of this barbecue sauce, spicy and vinegary, served hot.

Cole Slaw Texas
The finely chopped cole slaw was nice and crisp, without too much corrupting mayo. The slaw was mostly green cabbage, but there was also some purple cabbage and carrot.

Cooper’s barbecue wasn’t as staggering as I remembered, but the food was still very good. Of course it was a little tough to gauge after eating three other barbecue meals, but I’d still rate it in Hill Country’s Top 7 or 8.

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que: Memories + Mesquite in Llano

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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