From the Centex rider thread here:
Originally Posted by slowoldguy
Gee. This a tough crowd.
The fifty times I've eaten at the Llano Cooper's, it's been pretty damn good. I had some sirloin, and some outrageously tender pork loin last Sunday, in fact.
IMO Hard Eight ain't the Llano Coopers (Junction sux), but it's good enough. But I guess that's why they make 31 flavors, huh?
I was impressed with the Coopers in Llano. In my one visit, it was better than the Cooper's in Fort Worth. That confirms my suspicions of chain BBQ places - the original may be great, but the clones seldom live up to that big reputation. My brisket was super tender and very tasty. My Beef rib was also wonderful. The pork chop was very good (not great, but very good).
IMHO, Coopers and Hard8 are long lost brothers. Both restaurants are very similar. Use the same types of pits, serve the food the same way, have free beans, have some pretty tasty meats, and its real easy to get way too much food at both of them. Their businesses are so close, that I'm gonna guess that one of them copied the other. The main difference (food-wise at least) is the sauce. Coopers uses a vinegary (my spell check says that is a word) sauce while Hard8 has a more traditional tomato based sauce. I like both sauces, but I think after a couple of tries, I am really starting to like the Cooper's sauce.
I like to group restaurants into 4 grades - exceptional, great, average, and poor. I think both Coopers and Hard8 belong in the great category. Maybe in the top of the great category.
I had heard from some other people as well as Fototex that Coopers was over-rated. Well, today at least, it was pretty damn good.