Rating: 4 Opened: 1992 Pitmaster: Arturo Lanteros, age 61 (since 2003) Method: Pecan; indirect-heat pit Pro tip: Get a few slices of the smoked fajita meat.
With rattlesnake skin tacked to the particleboard walls, wagon wheel chandeliers, and black-and-white-checked tablecloths, Willie’s aesthetic can be described Little House on the Prairie chic. This joint has a large menu that caters to local tastes (brisket tacos, fajita plates), and it was packed during the weekday lunch rush. Meats are all available by the pound, with the tender pork ribs (smoked to perfection with pecan wood, a rarity in South Texas, where mesquite tends to be the norm) being the standout protein. Willie’s thin, sweet sauce serves as a nice complement. While beef ribs are sometimes more visually appealing than they are delicious, the ones here do not disappoint, featuring a hearty smoke flavor and fully rendered fat. Skip the bland sausage.