The intoxicating aroma of smoked meat immediately greeted our arrival in Lexington. We figured this was thanks to Snow’s, the barbecue establishment Texas Monthly designated #1 in 2008, immediately after the last Austin trip with my dad and brother. However, that scent was primarily because our visit coincided with Homecoming, where dozens of dedicated smokers set up shop in a vacant lot near the main square, completely permeating a town of 1100 people. Undaunted, we stayed the course and were rewarded with one of the best barbecue meals imaginable.
Kerry Bexley is Snow’s owner, and Tootsie Tomanetz is his pit boss. They launched on March 1, 2003, and she brought on son Herschel in September 2008, after the Texas Monthly article hit.
She’s been smoking meat for 46 years, beginning with City Meat Market in nearby Giddings, which is where Herschel grew up. He said he was born on the first of the year, and mom started cooking not long after. Prior to Snow’s, she owned a meat market on the square in Lexington, a town where her parents had a ranch. She sold the market in 1996 and eventually started cooking with Bexley.
Snow’s is only open on Saturdays. Lines typically form prior to the 8 a.m. opening time, and considering their outsized reputation, meat has been known to sell out by noon. The corrugated metal facility that currently houses the smokers, the building where customers place orders, and the silos across the street were all part of bygone peanut packing facility.
We entered a small building, which is where employees carve, tray and weigh before customers pay. The menu appeared on a dry erase board near the entrance, with meat available either by the pound, plate or sandwich. They offer five meats: sausage ($8.45/lb), brisket, pork and pork ribs ($9.45/lb each) and chicken (1/2 for $4.50). We drove more than an hour to reach Snow’s, fueled by about three years worth of pent-up anticipation. Of course we were going to order all five meats, along with Mrs. Patschke’s “homemade cole slaw and potato salad ($2.99 per pint).
They started smoking brisket over oak at 11:30 p.m. on Friday night, which produced a pronounced smoke ring and a savory, smoke buffeted crust seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper. The color faded to pink near the center, which was fastastically juicy, with enough fat to keep the beef moist.