500 Tacos: Schmidt Family Barbecue

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Schmidt Family Barbecue
12532 FM 2244, Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave (map), 512-363-4060, www.schmidtfamilybarbecue.com
BBQ hours: 11am-9pm Mon-Sat; 11am-8pm Sun. Breakfast taco hours (to-go only): 7-10:30am daily
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 04.06.15
First, the extended Schmidt family brought Lockhart-style barbecue to Bee Cave (read about it here). Now they’ve given Bee Cave, Lakeway and the unincorporated tribes of western Travis County a place for barbecue breakfast tacos. But they’re more than that — they’re $2.50 introductions to the brisket, pork and sausage they do so well. You won’t find many better values at that price. The tacos are made fresh to order, but breakfast is carry-out only.
Speaking of Lakeway, Schmidt Family Barbecue will be opening a satellite location there in the next 50 to 120 days, in the former home of Buster’s BBQ at 2125 Lohmans Crossing Road. Co-owner Chad Franks said that even though the second spot is only four miles from the Bee Cave location, it will benefit Lakeway residents who’d rather stay in town for dinner than fight the city’s growing traffic to go out.
The taco: Sausage, egg and cheese
With the blood and barbecue of Kreuz Market flowing through their veins, Schmidt Family knows a thing or two about those little horseshoe rings of Lockhart sausage. The knobby, spicy, dark sausage can be on the rough and snappy side on its own, but when it’s chopped into nuggets, it acts like meaty salt and pepper for the eggs and melted cheese. ($2.50)
 Brisket and beyond: A taco with brisket, eggs and cheese is more than just unrecognizable chop. There’s some good sliced brisket in there, showing off the smoke ring and big flavor generated by the cords of oak firewood stacked outside. A taco with pulled pork and cheese is almost as good, with a proper ratio of pink meat and bronzed skin, but it’s dry enough for a sauce intervention. Need a thick, gooey bean and cheese taco? They’ve got it covered, with rich, peppery beans that are more than just a chalky frijole mash. ($2.50; $2 for bean and cheese)
 Complete barbecue breakfast: Breakfast is limited to tacos, but the cashier said they’d sell sides if they were ready. Turns out coleslaw and mac and cheese were ready this time around. Coleslaw adds a little sweet crunch to the meat-and-cheese taco party, and the elbow mac is thick and cheesy — although I felt better about it before I saw it being poured out of a bag into the carryout cup. ($2.25 each)
 Tortillas: Schmidt Family uses the corn-and-flour Mixtla tortillas from the HEB just down the street. The slick, pliable texture takes some getting used to, but it’s just as strong and tastes better than plain storebought flour.
 Salsa: There’s too much garlic powder in the mild salsa fresca, but Schmidt’s sweet barbecue sauce is there if you need it.
 Another thing: We’ve all wondered what happens to the barbecue that restaurants don’t sell at the end of the day. Truth is, some of it winds up being sold on the main menu the next day. That’s not how Schmidt Family does it, but Franks is up-front about the fact the breakfast taco business arose in part to make good use of that remaining meat without reheating it for the main menu. I’ll say this: While barbecue at this level is best when it’s cut and served the same day it’s smoked, Schmidt Family’s work is as good as many shops’ first-line barbecue when it’s folded into a taco with eggs the next morning.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)