Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que

Goat in Texas 15

Getting Your Goat

You’d think finding good barbecued goat in the Texas Hill Country wouldn’t be so difficult. This area has been the U.S. epicenter of sheep and goat ranching since the nineteenth century when wool and mohair (wool from goats) production took a foothold. Herds expanded greatly in the twentieth century, and while numbers have fallen in this century, Texas remains the largest wool-producing state in the country. Despite the wealth of this livestock in the Hill Country region, there’s still some aversion…

TM_CoopersFood_2013

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que

Texas is in the midst of a barbecue renaissance, an age of smoky enlightenment. One need only sample the goods at new-guard establishments like Franklin Barbecue, in Austin, or Pecan Lodge, in Dallas, to realize it. Yet in the face of all this newfangled excitement, Cooper’s continues to soldier on—an intrepid old-timer, a barbecue stalwart that has appeared on every single one of these lists. If it ain’t broke, as the saying goes, don’t fix it…

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que – Statewide (Fort Worth)

This was my third, and best visit to the newest Cooper’s near the Fort Worth Stockyards. This is the newest in the Wootan empire, and it pays to get here early as well. Even at 11:00 the ‘Big Chop’ was starting to lose some of those juices. Fatty brisket edges which I usually relish for their richness can hardly be enjoyed here given the massive amount of salty rub applied. Pork ribs had a bit…

Cooper’s Bar-B-Q & Grill (Junction)

The sign may claim that they’ve been smoking since 1953, but this joint opened in 1999. Current owner Mark Cooper is a grandson of George Cooper, so they’re sort for taking credit for a few decades of Cooper’s operation in Mason. The woodpiles and pits are just as impressive as the Llano and Mason versions, but its position at the off ramp of I-10 belies some of the quaintness offered in the smaller towns. The…

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que – Statewide (Llano)

In 1962, Tommy Cooper was sent out by his father George to expand the Cooper’s BBQ business from Mason to Llano. Tommy sadly died in an accident in 1979 and the business was sold. It was sold again in 1986 to current owner Terry Wootan who has seen this Hill Country staple’s fame reach new heights. The Wootan’s have also taken to some expansion of their own and have seen new stores open in New…

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que – Statewide (Mason)

This is the original. Started by George Cooper in 1953, but sold to Duard Dockal (who still runs it) in 1983. This is where the family traditions of cooking directly over mesquite coals and ordering straight from the pit were born. It was one of my favorites of mine and Sam’s inaugural BBQ tour back in 2006, but it disappointed a few years later. This visit would sadly be more like the second than the…