This vibrant college town is surrounded by legendary Texas barbecue, and Louie Mueller Barbecue (louie muellerbarbecue.com), which opened in 1949 in nearby Taylor, may be the best of the best. In the cavernous dining room, filled with the sweet smell of beef steeping in the smoke of oak embers, patrons dig into such savory fare as sliced-to-order brisket, crusted with salt and pepper and so rich in flavor it needs no sauce. A must-stop for sausage lovers, 16 miles south on Texas State Highway 95: the Southside Market & Barbeque (southsidemarket.com) in Elgin, where spiced beef is packed into natural pork casing. For sweet refreshment on the BBQ trail, continue south and belly up to the old-fashioned soda fountain counter at Lock Drugs (lockdrugs .com) in Bastrop. Sit for a spell and sip a Frosted Coke, a blend of ice cream,m, flavored syrup, andd the classic beverage. Justust 34 miles southwest is the small city of Lockhart hart (population: 13,600),00), dubbed the BBQQ capital of the state, thanks to four real-deal eateries. At Smitty’s Market (smittysmarket.com), pork ribs and brisket slow-cook over an indoor pit. Kreuz Market (kreuzmarket.com), located in a barnlike building, does things the old-fashioned way, cooking choice cuts of brisket, prime rib, and pork chops by the pound and wrapping them in pink butcher paper for the trip from pit to table; plates are too fancy for this place. Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que (chisholmtrailbbq .com) goes beyond smoked meats (how do fajitas and fried catfish grab you?). And if you’ve got a hankering for hot links, Black’s BaBarbecue (blacksbbq .com) off offers hot and cold rings of 86year-old owner EdgEdgar Black’s homemade sausausage, available regular or flavored with jalapeño/ checheddar or garlic.