SPICEWOOD — This blog was supposed to be about Cooper’s in Llano, one of my favorite places on Earth. But there was a line stretching a far piece, close to doubling back on itself, and I’m one of those oldtimers who think a grown man shouldn’t wait in line an hour (or more) for lunch.
So I drove on, to this gray building, where there was also a line, but a short one that moved quickly. Five minutes, tops. I hadn’t been to Opie’s, but have long wanted to check it out.
(Short version: The brisket is really, really good. Go.)
It’s the kind of place where I asked the first fellow for a “man-sized” hunk of brisket and was greeted by a blank stare. “Oh, about a pound,” I clarified. I ended up with two pounds. Not the worst thing to happen with me.
Two pounds of brisket and a drink ran me $23, but the beans and bread were free, like Cooper’s. Also like Cooper’s was the barbecue sauce, a thin, piping-hot, vinegary sauce that was just right for the meat. And the brisket? Some of the best I’ve ever had. The fatty pieces were buttery delicious and the firm pieces, sliced thick, were moist all the way through, just right for chewing contentedly and wondering if you’ll ever try cabrito again.
The pinto beans fell far short of Cooper’s, I have to say, running just about average and workmanlike. The “butterbeans” seemed to me to be also rather plain, but with an aftertaste of butter. Neither did much for me, but the writing on the wall was that they are very popular …
If you care about the atmosphere, I probably could have done without being serenaded by a guy singing fragile falsetto acoustically gentle pop while eating lunch. At one point, I’m relatively sure he heard Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” and thought “Hey, that’s a good song. How can I chick that up?” And the decor was of the “wow these antique farm tools are very expensive, let’s just put a handful up on the walls” variety.
But the meat and sauce is what counts. Far and away one of the best first-time visits I’ve had in a long, long time.