Your mouth’s guide to the Super Bowl, fresh from the ’Texas Monthly’ archives.
2015's most read in longform, news, food, and general Texanness.
Rounding up a year of Texas oddballs and oddities with the Bum Steer 2016.
Readers respond to the October 2014 issue.
Readers respond to the July 2014 issue.
As if defending the TMBBQ Top 50 weren’t enough, Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn is also in the middle of his book tour for The Prophets of Smoked Meat, which brought him last week to the city he now says is “the capital of Texas BBQ.” That’s
LAST WEEK WE RELEASED our quinquennial list of the state’s top fifty joints. Today the full story is online and on newsstands everywhere. It’s packed with reviews explaining why we liked our top joints and how we picked the best (and incredible photography by Wyatt McSpadden). This year, however,
Things have changed dramatically since Texas Monthly published its last list of the state’s top fifty barbecue joints, in 2008. Not only has there been an unprecedented flourishing of great new joints in the past five years (sixteen of the places on this year’s list were not even open in
While the list of the best barbecue in the state of Texas (therefore, the world) is limited to just fifty joints, there’s plenty more out there to love in the Lone Star State. Our team of dedicated tasters came back from their travels with notes on everything great about Texas
The best barbecue joint in Texas is only four years old. This is an unusual development, but one that will surprise no one familiar with Franklin Barbecue, which, since opening in 2009, in a trailer off Interstate 35, has built a cult following for its meats. Has any other restaurant
Bad news, Memphis: not only are your Grizzlies on the way to losing to the Spurs, but you still won’t get to eat the world’s best barbecue! Taking up on a suggestion made by @tmbbq on Twitter, San Antonio mayor Julian Castro is wagering smoked
You may have noticed that when we released our list of the Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas this week, we went ahead and declared them to be the Top 50 BBQ Joints in the World. It’s right there on the cover, where we crossed out
For some in the small town of Lexington (population roughly 1,200), Saturdays are as holy as Sundays. It’s hard to miss these devotees. They congregate at the end of Main Street, within view of some grain elevators dressed in a gingham rust—a line of farmhands, ranchers, well-off weekenders, and groggy
Louie Mueller Barbecue has been described as a “cathedral of smoke,” and indeed, many of the trappings of organized religion are present here: the sacramental offerings, the priesthood in their ecclesiastical red apron-robes, the flock of devoted congregants, even the disciples (Austin barbecue star Aaron Franklin credits a bite of
Shed #2 at the Dallas Farmers Market is a vast, enclosed, and fully air-conditioned structure that essentially serves as a city-owned food court where up-and-coming restaurateurs crowd in to show off their skills. The unquestioned anchor tenant of this gastro-carnival is Pecan Lodge, a three-year-old barbecue joint producing what is
Staunch traditionalists who refuse to eat meat that’s been smoked in a gas-fired pit should drive right on past this remote joint just north of Mineral Wells without stopping. That way, there’ll be more of the smoky brisket—cut into thick, beautifully fatty slices—for the rest of us. And the ribs,
Even if the meat at Cowpoke’s were terrible, the joint would be jam-packed at all hours, since it’s located on the edge of the booming Eagle Ford Shale formation. But luckily for the patrons jawing about oil prices in the tidy dining room, the barbecue here is exceptional, certainly among
Israel “Pody” Campos used to live in Austin, where he worked for the Texas Municipal Police Association, training cops all over the state. When budget cuts forced the association to downsize a few years ago, he moved back home to Pecos and took up a job as the chief deputy
This tidy cedar cabin only opened in November, but pitmaster and owner Kenny Hatfield has been perfecting his craft for years, barbecuing brisket each Friday for his friends and employees at his nearby flooring store. Hatfield smokes his brisket for eighteen hours over a mix of oak and mesquite in
Not a typical joint by any means, the Granary is part of the flashy new Pearl retail/residential complex and occupies a renovated nineteenth-century home with high ceilings and dark-brown wood trim. The vibe is hipster carnivore: the music is modern, and the walls are covered with barbecue folk art, such
Local celebrity chef Jason Dady—who co-owns the place with his brother Jake and wife, Crystal—has gone the route of high-end barbecue in this north San Antonio location. Here, just about everything is done by hand and recipes are original. The brisket has a deep, rich taste; the crust is thick
Kirby’s is a living testament to the adage, “Teach your children well.” Owner and pitmaster Kirby Hyden learned to smoke meats from his father, who learned from his father, and this family know-how proves to be a rich inheritance. In 1960 Hyden’s grandfather opened a joint called Holloway’s in a
Last June, after a one-alarm blaze left their pit room in shambles and their business on hold, the father-son team of Roy and Tim Hutchins began to rebuild. They documented the process on Facebook, offering reports from the construction site and musing about the psyche of the Texas barbecue purveyor
You’ll smell Whup’s long before you see it, and despite signage and GPS, you’ll probably miss the left turn that you have to make from Business State Highway 6. This cozy joint is not so much off the beaten the path as on it: a small, tidy house on a
There are few places we love as much as the pit room at City Market. Entering the smoke-filled, glass-enclosed chamber at the back of the dining room is an experience you will remember for decades—a trip into an iconic, sacred space in the world of barbecue. Like Kreuz Market and
We wanted to keep this renowned spot at the top of our list, where it’s been since our very first barbecue story, in 1973. But after repeated visits by various staffers, we had to be honest: we couldn’t. The brisket was consistently disappointing. The scanty fat on the “fatty” was
Black’s has little in common with the more publicized Kreuz or Smitty’s other than that they are all in the same town. Instead of a mesmerizing encounter with a picturesque fire blazing at the end of an ancient brick pit like you’ll find at Smitty’s, at Black’s you’re funneled through
Texas is in the midst of a barbecue renaissance, an age of smoky enlightenment. One need only sample the goods at new-guard establishments like Franklin Barbecue, in Austin, or Pecan Lodge, in Dallas, to realize it. Yet in the face of all this newfangled excitement, Cooper’s continues to soldier on—an
Longtime San Marcosans may recall this place as the former home of Woody’s, a barbecue joint that opened in 1984. It was taken over in 2007 by the Hernandez family, and in 2011 they changed the name to Hays Co. Bar-B-Que and Catering. Last we checked, this venue does welcome
Only a few folks were eating lunch when we arrived in this small, well-lit room decorated with mounted deer, but since we had seen the massive pits outside and the piles of post oak, we speculated that a good meal was ahead. We were right. The fat on the brisket
Upon walking through Opie’s front door you will immediately be confronted by a gleaming black metal box. If it’s your first visit, you’ll probably think to yourself that this behemoth is a little too clean and a little too showy to contain top-quality barbecue. But just wait until the lid
Set among a relentless suburban grid of drab brown-and-gray strip malls north of Houston, Corkscrew BBQ’s riotous pink-and-black mini-campus of trailers and smoke shacks stands out like a Longhorn in College Station. This is appropriate, however, considering that Corkscrew represents a new generation of barbecue in Houston. Pitmaster
The exceptional thing to note about Big Boy’s Bar-B-Que is the fact that it exists at all. Located in a caliche lot along a desolate road in Sweetwater next to a bowling alley turned bar, Big Boy’s has the feel of an oasis—or a mirage. Blink and it might disappear.
Owner Nick Pencis isn’t going to take it anymore. For years he felt compelled by regional tastes to serve lightly seasoned briskets without a speck of fat on them. But when he renovated his restaurant in 2012 (adding a new bar and patio along with an impressive pit room), a
The minute you park, you’ll be drawn like a moth to the glowing fireboxes and pits in the screened-in shed out back. That’s where the action is—and frankly, we wondered how the pitmaster gets any work done, he’s so busy posing for pictures with guests and explaining to newbies how
In 1975 a Bell Helicopter employee named Fidencio “Fred” Longoria began making his own sausage in his kitchen at home. He wanted to create links as good as those he remembered eating in Gonzales as a child. In 1990, after years of tinkering, he finally solidified his recipe for sausage
As popular as this Hill Country hamlet is among the day-tripping set, Fredericksburg has historically suffered from a surprising dearth of top-rate barbecue. No more. Just a mile and a half south of the knickknack and potpourri emporiums of bustling Main Street stands Cranky Frank’s Barbeque Company. Once inside the
Brazoria County native Leon O’Neal doesn’t usually dress up, but he does often don a cowboy hat, even in the summer (when the headgear is made of straw and he may be wearing shorts). Dressed up or not, he and his sister will welcome you like honored guests to their
Meshack’s takes the concept of a barbecue joint and reduces it to its most basic element: the meat and nothing else. There are no tables at which to sit and enjoy your food, no whimsical décor, really no ambience at all. Just a cinder-block shack crudely painted with images of
A welcome landmark on U.S. 290 between Austin and Houston is the boxy brick building of City Meat Market, in Giddings. The red painted sign reads “Bar-B-Q and Sausage”—sausage being one of their specialties. Walk through the main room, with its high ceilings, two rows of tables covered in
We walked through the doors of this thoroughly nondescript suburban strip center spot and were greeted by the heavenly incense of smoked meat—which carried us to the counter in a happy daze. Next, came an unsolicited, excruciatingly upbeat testimonial from a fellow patron, waiting and antsy for service: “Best barbecue
Owner and pitmaster Bob Allen is just as guarded as he is hospitable, so don’t expect a pit tour here. But though we could not see the equipment, we were assured that no gas was used in the preparation of the meat. The menu is simple, but it does include
Greg Gatlin is in charge of the smoker, but he also bustles around taking orders and tidying up. So does his mom, who is responsible for the fine bread pudding and other sweets. After a wait—which is often lengthy—you’ll receive plates neatly stacked with precisely sliced meat. In case you’ve
The brawny pork ribs that emerge from the big metal smoker set a standard for the genre. They are massive, pink, and delicious, their meat lightly clinging to the bone until you grab a bite with your teeth and give a light tug. A heavy, salty-peppery crust, without a trace
You could lose a lot of tire tread and a little bit of soul looking for good barbecue in East Texas. But if you should find yourself in Jasper, mosey down Main Street, past the modest houses and packs of free-range dogs, and make the acquaintance of George Ralph Mahathay,
A devastating fire in 2012 destroyed all but the thin brick facade of this joint, which faces Polk Street in downtown Jefferson. But once the flames were extinguished, owner and pitmaster Stephen Joseph started rebuilding, and seven months later he was christening the new Bewley smoker. The refurbished interior is
Ordering brisket is a reflexive action for most eaters of Texas barbecue. And at a joint like Buzzie’s, with a reputation for expertly smoked beef, it’s truly a no-brainer. Where your tough choices come into play at this Hill Country standby is farther down the menu. If for some crazy
Billy Ray Nelson is the former sheriff in these parts, but he had always dreamed of making real-deal barbecue his full-time gig once he retired. His wish came true four years ago, and boy, is that a good thing for the rest of us. Situated in a wide-open field on
The following is the transcript of a conversation between Gregory Curtis and Calvin Trillin. Curtis, who was born in Texas and raised partly in Kansas City, was the editor of Texas Monthly from 1981 to 2000. Trillin, a native of Kansas City, is a staff writer at the New Yorker, and the author of numerous books. CALVIN