We had a lot of ground to cover and proceeded south to Lockhart, home to the second of Texas Monthly's (www.texasmonthly.com) top three BBQ legends, Kreuz Market (pronounced "Kritze's").

What it lacked in an authentic look (such as Mueller's smoky walls), due to a recent move to a more spacious facility, it more than made up for with Texas friendliness as we received the royal treatment from its owner, Rick Schmidt, with a guided tour of the smoking pits. There we sampled smoked prime rib, something not found at many barbecue establishments, in addition to brisket.

From Lockhart, we continued south to Luling, to City Market. Open for more than 50 years, it features a primitive smoking room at the back of the establishment. The menu is Atkins-friendly: pork chops, salty brisket, coarsely ground sausage, and ribs.

Next, we headed toward San Antonio to Harmon's BBQ, for what turned out to be, even though we were already full, the best chicken on the entire trip. I mentioned to my drive partner that never in the course of human gluttony have so many variations of BBQ been consumed in such a short period of time. He turned to me and smiled.