AUSTIN: Artz Rib House, for its laid-back South Austin vibe, plus live music every evening but Wednesday, and Stubb’s Bar-B-Que, for its historic buildings, live music, and resounding Sunday gospel brunches.
BOERNE: The Back Porch, for its wildlife viewing, with many feeders for birds and axis deer.
CARTHAGE: Daddy Sam’s BBQ and Catfish, for having one of the best twofers in Texas: barbecue and bail bonds.
DRIFTWOOD: The Salt Lick, for its sprawling limestone building that may be the best barbecue setting in the state.
GRUENE: Guadalupe Smoked Meat Co., for its location overlooking the Guadalupe River and for being less than one hundred yards from the dance hall of dance halls, Gruene Hall.
HALLETTSVILLE: Novosad’s BBQ and Sausage Market, for having the right stuff for a Central Texas meat market—a scattering of tables around a big three-sided meat case, with a liars’ table in back.
HUNTSVILLE: Mount Zion Baptist Church, for its unparalleled church-social setting.
KYLE: Railroad Barbecue, for its location in a converted feedstore by the tracks that comes by its aged look honestly.
LA FERIA: Wild Bill’s, for owner Bill Gray, who—wearing cowboy gear and twirling his handlebar mustache—personally delivers Certified Angus brisket to your table.
MIDLAND: Johnny’s Bar-B-Que, for smoke so thick that when you walk in the door, you can barely see past the overstuffed booths of this downtown landmark.
RANKIN: McComb’s, for its old-timey ambience, with rough cedar columns, picnic tables, and waitresses wearing blue gingham aprons that match the tablecloths.
RICHMOND: The Swinging Door, for its dance hall, where the country band Brazos holds forth every Saturday night.
ROBSTOWN: Joe Cotten’s B-B-Q, for its waiters in snappy maroon jackets who recite the menu, then deliver the goods on white butcher paper with a dramatic flourish.
SAN ANTONIO: Bob’s Smokehouse, for the innumerable slogans, including “Let Go and Let Bob,” painted on its otherwise charm-challenged location on Roland, and Casey’s Bar-B-Q and Smoked Meats, for its inviting, wood-furnished setting with a fireplace.
VAN HORN: Leslie’s Bar-B-Que, which is in a Texaco station, for pits shaped like train engines (sitting about fifteen yards from the gas pumps) and a pit boss named Abe Lincoln.
WACO: Jasper’s, for its cozy setting in an 84-year-old building.