Dirk Miller chats with a customer outside Miller's Smokehouse in downtown Belton. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins) 

One of the best-kept secrets in Texas BBQ is located just a stone's throw from Interstate 35 in downtown Belton.

The next time you're speeding down the freeway on your way to stand in line for two hours to get BBQ in Austin, you might want to take the Main Street exit in Belton to 208 N Penelope St., the home of Miller's Smokehouse.

I dropped in for a late lunch at Miller's on my way to Austin on Friday. This was my third visit there and it was quite good the first time Marshall Cooper and I visited a year ago. It was exceptional on Friday.

Pitmaster and owner Dirk Miller doesn't take any shortcuts whatsoever. It's all wood, all the time. Low and slow, cooked the true Texas way. He doesn't have secret techniques or tricks that he's not willing to share. Without hard work, he doesn't believe it's possible to produce great BBQ on a consistent basis.

Dirk always takes the time to talk shop with anyone milling around the pits, which are located just to the left of the joint's front door. You walk through an inviting curtain of oak smoke as you enter the dining room. Once inside, he works the room like a politician, greeting his customers by name. Most importantly, he wants your honest assessment of his BBQ.

Besides being a pitmaster/owner, Dirk has a taxidermist business along with meat processing & butcher shop. He makes all his sausage from scratch, a rarity these days in Texas BBQ.

My lunch at Miller's Smokehouse: Pork spareribs, fatty brisket, burnt ends and sides.  (Photo ©Chris Wilkins)

I sampled fatty brisket, pork spareribs, hot links and jalapeño and cheese sausage for lunch. Pitmaster Robert Reid tossed a couple of burnt ends on top, so I had to try those too. This proved to be some great barbecue, with an almost perfect balance of smoke, rub and tenderness.

A note on the spareribs, they are served only on Friday and Saturday. You won't want to miss the ribs, with a slight tug the meat came perfectly off the bone. That's a flawless pork rib in my book.

Also, we don't often talk about sides on the Posse blog, but the butter potatoes were great. Dirk halves the potatoes and puts them on his smoker, covered in onions and butter. The result is one of the more unique and tasty sides I've had at a Texas BBQ joint.

After I ate lunch, we talked about the hard work and success of Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin. Dirk has been wanting to try them and check out the operation, but it's hard to get away when you run a BBQ joint.

He mentioned he'd love to have lines like Franklin BBQ one day. With the quality of meat he's turning out, I told him to watch what he wishes for, it might come true.....

Miller's Smokehouse, 208 N Penelope, Belton, 254-939-5500. Open Tues-Thurs 10:30am-6:30pm, Fri and Sat 10:30am-9pm or until the meat runs out.

Pitmaster Robert Reid, right, and owner Dirk Miller work the pits.  (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

A perfectly smoked rack of spareribs comes off the pit at Miller's Smokehouse.  (Photo ©Chris Wilkins)

A coule eats lunch in the front dining room at Miller's Smokehouse. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

The fatty end of a brisket sits on the cutting board. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Owner and pitmaster Dirk Miller shows off his new catering van, gotta love that logo.  (Photo ©Chris Wilkins)
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