Author

Daniel Vaughn

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Daniel Vaughn is the author of The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue, the coauthor of Whole Hog BBQ: The Gospel of Carolina Barbecue, and the barbecue editor at Texas Monthly. He has traveled the world sampling smoked meats at over 1,800 barbecue joints, most of which are in Texas.

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Gatlin’s BBQ (Top 50)

Pitmaster Greg Gatlin used to be a defensive back at Rice, which was no doubt good mental training for running a barbecue business. He upgraded his highly successful operation a couple of years ago from a small house to new digs with more than four thousand square feet of space.

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Heavy’s Outdoor Bar-B-Que (Top 50)

The Hill Country west of San Antonio has always been something of a barbecue desert, but that may be changing as former cow towns like Hondo and Sabinal absorb a wave of urban professionals looking to become part-time gentlemen ranchers and weekend bikers. On Saturdays, the back roads are clogged…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Blue Moon BBQ (Top 50)

After driving down Old San Antonio Road for long enough to decide you’ve surely gotten lost, you’ll finally arrive at the tiny wooden building—and we do mean tiny—that belongs to Blue Moon BBQ. The address makes you think that the place is in the city of Hearne, but it’s actually…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Rio Grande Grill BBQ & Tex Mex (Top 50)

Whimsical art and bright colors are unusual in a barbecue joint, but Rio Grande Grill throws the rules right out the kitchen door. Daniel Wright and his wife, head chef Stefania, break the rules with the food too, even battering up the smoked chicken to make the best of both…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Baker Boys BBQ (Top 50)

After Phil Baker and his son, Wayne, had some success on the barbecue competition circuit, they decided it was time to do more more than feed judges. They opened Baker Boys BBQ in a metal building on the east side of Gonzales two years ago. Their selections exhibit a subtler…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Heim Barbecue (Top 50)

Travis and Emma Heim jumped into business ownership with little experience or capital in 2015. The Heim truck hadn’t been parked a year before they got an offer to build out their very own spot on West Magnolia. Their barbecue was that good. That location opened in late 2016 with…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

4-T’s Bar-B-Q (Top 50)

Something moved Mike Thomas to purchase his first barbecue pit at the State Fair of Texas in 1988, and Kaufman County should be grateful for that. His backyard hobby slowly became a passion, and, after losing his telecom job in 2003, he set up a roadside brisket stand, which morphed…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Top 5 BBQ (Top 50)

Strip centers are seldom homey, but the first thing you’ll notice at Top 5 is a sense of community. Kendon Greene greets every customer with “It’s a smoking good day!” and the staff is equally friendly and chatty. They’re good people, and they produce great, highly distinctive ’cue, thanks largely…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Pecan Lodge (Top 50)

The influence of Pecan Lodge on Dallas’s barbecue scene cannot be overstated. At their (relatively) new place in Deep Ellum, they crank out four times the amount they did before. It’s all cooked in an array of unique offset smokers, and the sausages, both the original pork and the jalapeño-cheese…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Lockhart Smokehouse (Top 50)

It’s all in the family here. Co-founder Jill Grobowsky Bergus’s grandfather was Edgar Schmidt, the man who made Kreuz Market famous. That’s why three of the Lockhart joint’s specialties show up here: two great sausages and the cut known as shoulder clod. If you order actual brisket, you may find…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Cattleack Barbeque (Top 50)

Every ounce of your being recoils at the idea of eating barbecue in an industrial-area strip center in north Dallas. It’s just wrong! How could it have any soul! Calm down. Walk to the end of the line and start inching along (it’s like going through airport security). Pass the…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

BBQ on the Brazos (Top 50)

Not quite as scenic as it sounds, BBQ on the Brazos is located inside a Texaco station just off U.S. 377. Barbecue aficionados have already sniffed the joint out, though—the line was deep at nine o’clock on a weekend morning, with bleary-eyed customers ordering everything from brisket-and-egg tacos on handmade…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Payne’s Bar-B-Q Shak (Top 50)

Hugging the edge of Texas Highway 29, Payne’s is a true side-of-the-road joint, a turn-on-your-blinker-half-a-mile-ahead, career-off-the-road-in-a-cloud-of-dust kind of place. Once safely inside, you’ll take comfort in the wood-paneled walls, shiny picnic tables, dainty window coverings, and hospitality of Robert and Penny Payne, retirees turned pitmasters who work out of what…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Fargo’s Pit BBQ (Top 50)

We foolishly thought pitmaster Alan Caldwell might finally be ready to chat about the secrets of his smoking method. Ha. Caldwell said only, “You can ask . . .” and then broke into a big smile followed by silence. When we arrived, the eight or so tables were all taken,…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que (Top 50)

With roots in Mexico, barbacoa became a mainstay on South Texas ranches, where cowboys were hungry and cow heads were plentiful (Texans were expert at nose-to-tail eating long before it became trendy). Today, most commercial barbacoa is steamed or done in pressure cookers to comply with health codes. Vera’s time-honored…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Truth Barbeque (Top 50)

Truth looks too cute to be serving serious barbecue. The carefully curated interior—with its hand-lettered signs, Texas license plates, and Instagram-ready desserts—is a far cry from a no-frills meat market or a rusty roadside pit. The first bite announces the fact that youthful proprietor Leonard Botello IV has been an…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Miller’s Smokehouse (Top 50)

Miller’s roots are decidedly humble. They started selling sausage wraps part-time out of a meat-processing business (with a taxidermy operation in the back). A mere eight years later, after making our Top 50 list, they moved into bigger and better digs. These days they have it all: near-flawless brisket smoked…

BBQ |
June 1, 2017

Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ (Top 50)

At the moveable feast known as Valentina’s—which still occupies a shiny truck but is headed for a brick-and-mortar home later this year—the term “fusion cuisine” has a very Texas twist. The cuisines getting fused are barbecue and tacos. Pitmaster Miguel Vidal’s fifteen-hour mesquite-smoked brisket, lush and moist, is at its…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Terry Black’s Barbecue (Top 50)

Twins Mark and Michael Black jumped into the barbecue business with their father, Terry, three years ago just south of downtown Austin. It didn’t take long for them to get out of the shadow of Lockhart (Terry’s brother, Kent, runs the Black’s in that city as well as two other…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew (Top 50)

You just feel good after a visit here. The super-friendly counter folks might hand you a bit of sausage or brisket to nibble. Plus, the roomy place, with beer signs and communal tables, is fun for families and groups. If you think you’ve had this style of barbecue before—heavy on…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Micklethwait Craft Meats (Top 50)

With its rounded corners and neatly painted garlands of oak leaves and acorns, Micklethwait’s fat little cream-colored trailer looks like part of a Hobbit community. It sits amid picnic tables on a tree-shaded lot in East Austin and offers superlative victuals, including brisket (embraced by a super-peppery, midnight-dark bark), rosy…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

la Barbecue (Top 50)

Owners LeAnn Mueller (yes, of the Louie Mueller clan) and Ali Clem have hunkered down at the Aztec Food Park in their fancy new food trailer. Until they move a block east this month, that’s where you’ll find folks lining up for a slow march to brisket and hot-guts glory.

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Freedmen’s (Top 50)

Freedmen’s is no stranger to the pages of Texas Monthly.They made our list of the best new and improved barbecue joints in 2015 under the direction of talented former pitmasters Evan LeRoy and Chris McGhee. Now Bradley Robinson has taken the helm at the historic building. We worried that Freedmen’s…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Franklin Barbecue (Top 50)

Four years ago, Franklin Barbecue was our hands-down pick for best barbecue in the state (i.e., the world). A couple of years later, Aaron Franklin published a best-selling cookbook and won a James Beard award for best chef in the region, a first for a pitmaster. He’s the most famous…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 1, 2017

Tyler’s Barbeque (Top 50)

Tyler Frazer is at the heart of the operation, greeting customers and making recommendations—a lot of time and care go into the food and overall experience here. When we arrived, a little before noon, and joined the crowd of locals, it was the thick cuts of brisket that grabbed our…

BBQ |
May 25, 2017

BBQ News: 05/12 – 05/25

– We had a little barbecue joint list come out this week: The 2017 Top 50 BBQ Joint list. – Three new names have been added to the Barbecue Hall of Fame. – The Houston Chronicle had some thoughts about how hard it is to get barbecue…

BBQ |
May 9, 2017

Hot Luck Preview

Aaron Franklin’s Hot Luck festival will debut in Austin in a couple weeks. Despite Franklin’s involvement, this isn’t strictly a barbecue festival, but smoked meat fans needn’t worry. There are still plenty of talented pitmasters coming to Austin for the highly anticipated food festival. The Hi Lo and Al…

BBQ |
March 10, 2017

When Barbecue Was Against the Law

A Denison newspaper described Al Hall as “a magnificent specimen of physical manhood.” When a local alderman pistol-whipped him during an argument at Hall’s barbecue joint in 1891, Hall retaliated with two swift punches to the face, sending the alderman home in a carriage. “Blood flowed quite freely,” noted The…

BBQ |
February 21, 2017

Wood Cooking in West Texas

From the view on either side of the highway, Notrees—the town between Kermit and Odessa—seems to have been born of the simplest observation. Not much out here grows any higher than cotton. Heading further north, they don’t even have the luxury of scrubby mesquite. So if you’re going to cook barbecue…

BBQ |
February 13, 2017

Interview: Christine Jones of Christine’s Blues ‘N BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Christine’s Blues ‘N BBQ; Opened 2000 Age: 53 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Mesquite and Pecan Records line the wall above the bar at Christine’s Blues ‘N BBQ. As soap operas played silently on the television, I asked her where all the good music was. With a smile, as if…

BBQ |
January 26, 2017

BBQ News: 01/20 – 01/26

– “I think people that have secrets in cooking, I really think they’re a**holes.” – Pat Martin: – The KCBS is now accepting nominations for their BBQ Hall of Fame through March 1st. – Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland is now open for dinner, and they’re planning…

BBQ |
January 25, 2017

Weighing Your Options

Update: Mark Loeffler, communications director for the Texas Department of Agriculture*, provided more details on their enforcement effort. Operation Maverick was launched in June 2015 to target any business buying or selling goods by weight. He didn’t have current numbers, but by March 2016, they had inspected 1,400 barbecue joints.