Kreuz Market (pronounced “Krites”) located at 619 North Colorado Street (U.S. Highway 183) might be the most unique dining experience we’ve ever had. The beef, sausage, or pork is served on brown butcher paper. No side dishes here. But you can enjoy a slice of cheddar cheese, chunk of onion, fresh tomatoes, avocado, and your favorite beverage. Don’t ask for barbecue sauce. They don’t have it and quite honestly are offended if anyone asks. The owners say that good barbecue doesn’t need sauce.
Kreuz Market was started in 1900 by Charles Kreuz as a meat market and grocery store.
To prevent wasting meat by letting it spoil, most markets would cook the better cuts on barbecue pits and use the lesser cuts to make sausage. Customers would buy their barbecue and sausage, and some items from the grocery store to go along with it, and eat it with their hands and a pocket knife.
Charles passed the business along to his sons and son-in-law who ran it until 1948, when Edgar Schmidt, who had worked there since 1936, bought the market from the Kreuzs. In the 1960s, Edgar closed the grocery store and kept some of the more popular side items for the barbecue restaurant.
In 1984, Edgar sold the business to his sons, Rick and Don Schmidt, and they ran the increasingly popular restaurant until Don’s retirement in 1997.
In 1999, Rick moved the business from its original location to a newer and bigger facility north of the old location. The event did not go unnoticed—the transfer of hot coals to the new place was featured not only in local newspapers, but in Austin, as well. The event was also featured on the CBS Evening News. NBC ran a segment on the business several years ago and the Travel Channel included it as one of the great barbecue restaurants in America.
Along with the new building came new items on the menu—pork spare ribs, beans, German potato salad, sauerkraut, and a new jalapeno cheese sausage. But don’t look for any barbecue sauce or forks as they are still missing in action from Kreuz Market to this day! Incidentally, the old building now houses Smitty’s.
Barbecue at Kreuz Market is unique in the way meat is prepared, its taste, and the way it is served. Cooking is done on huge grills there are eight of them—fed by heat generated by open fire pits. Only post-oak is used for fuel. Sauces are not used on the prime ribs, beef clods and briskets, pork ribs and chops, and the famous Kreuz Market sausage is made right at the market. The only seasoning used is a special pepper. On a busy Saturday, more than two tons of meat will be sold.
Customers pass a counter behind which carvers cut their orders, and sheets of butcher paper are used as plates. Customers then visit a counter with German potato salad, beans, pickles, onions and drinks before they settle at harvest tables—where the only eating utensil is a plastic knife for cutting the meat.
Kreuz Market is one of those places that, once visited, demands revisiting.
To be continued tomorrow…
Intelligence is something we are born with. BBQ’ing is a skill that must be learned.
—Edward de Bono