Daniel Vaughn

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Daniel Vaughn is the magazine’s Barbecue Editor.

In a former life, the Dallas-based Vaughn was an architect and a mere barbecue hobbyist, eating, reviewing, and writing about smoked meats for his popular blog, Full Custom Gospel BBQ. Then, in March 2013, hobby turned to profession, as he became the country’s one and only barbecue editor.

His first book, The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue, was released in May 2013 by Ecco, Anthony Bourdain’s line of books.

Articles by Daniel Vaughn

BBQ
Interview: Alan Caldwell of Fargo’s Pit BBQ

Jul 31, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Owner/Pitmaster: Fargo’s Pit BBQ, opened 2000 Age: 50 Smoker: Wood-fired offset pit Wood: Oak with a bit more mixed in As we sat at a table inside Fargo’s Pit BBQ in Bryan, I asked owner and pitmaster Alan Caldwell if I could see his pit. He said no. In…

BBQ
Pitmaster Interview: Nick Pencis of Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue

Jul 24, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Photo by Nicholas McWhirter Owner: Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue since 2006 Age: 36 Smoker: Gas-fired rotisserie for ribs, offset wood-fired smoker for everything else. Wood: Pecan Nick Pencis was once the pitmaster at Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue in Tyler. He tried his best, but knew he had a real…

BBQ
Which Hatfield’s Is the Real McCoy?

Jul 17, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

In the business world, verbal partnerships are notoriously fraught with discord, and Kenny Hatfield, the pitmaster at Hatfield’s BBQ and Blackjacks Beer Garden in Rockport, Texas, recently learned this firsthand. Earlier this year, just six months after opening the restaurant with two friends, he was celebrating the news that his…

BBQ
McMillan’s Bar-B-Q

Jan 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

The sign outside reads “World Famous” and Louis McMillan won’t hesitate to tell you how good his barbecue is. He was about done for the day, so we admittedly got the tail end of the days offering, but this wasn’t praiseworthy. Sausage was barely warmed…

BBQ
City Market (Luling)

Dec 13, 2012 By Daniel Vaughn

There are many folks around the country that may have just been introduced to the existence of City Market, in Luling, earlier this year when Newsweek published their list of the “101 Best Places to Eat” around the world. I myself…

BBQ
Woodshed Smokehouse

Sep 24, 2012 By Daniel Vaughn

FORT WORTH: Woodshed Smokehouse 3201 Riverfront Dr. Fort Worth, TX 76107 817-877-4545 Open Daily 11-’til www.woodshedsmokehouse.com Where’s the beef, or more specifically brisket? Just a few days ago chef and owner Tim Love bragged via Twitter that a record number of…

BBQ
Bob’s Bar-B-Que

Aug 20, 2012 By Daniel Vaughn

This joint is a family affair run by the tight-lipped Bob Allen, his wife, and son. A steel wood-fired pit was hidden by a fence, and they weren’t willing to give us a tour. Bob assured us that “there’s no gas up on this hill.” It’s all hickory…

BBQ
Mumphord’s Place BBQ

Mar 24, 2012 By Daniel Vaughn

Barbecue south of San Antonio generally means indirectly smoked meats done with mesquite. As we walked up to Mumphord’s the smell coming from the screened in pit room at the back of the joint was unmistakably from direct heat BBQ. We started our visit right there with…

BBQ
Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Que

Feb 1, 2012 By Daniel Vaughn

This is a tiny joint in a small town with a compact patio and a tight parking situation. I was momentarily trapped between another car and a sleeping dog in the narrow drive that leads past the smoker to the gravel road behind the joint. Orders are taken…

BBQ
Fargo’s Pit BBQ

Jan 27, 2012 By Daniel Vaughn

Most professional food critics will make at least three visits to a restaurant before completing a review or issuing a star rating. Given the miles that I travel (without a traveling budget) in search of smoked meats around Texas, I don’t get this luxury. I routinely provide…

BBQ
Gatlin’s BBQ & Catering

Jan 6, 2012 By Daniel Vaughn

It was the end of a long day. My friends Nick and Clark had stayed with me bite for bite through six other barbecue joints and we were on our way to Houston to eat at this mightily heralded joint in northwest Houston…

Second fiddle barbecue

Oct 27, 2011 By Daniel Vaughn

The luminaries of Texas barbecue are justly revered—from Lockhart's century old Kreuz Market, to Taylor's estimable Louie Mueller Barbecue to the ever-popular Cooper's Old Time Pit BBQ in Llano. For the BBQ dabbler these names are familiar, but their pitmasters may as well be Hollywood celebrities to the smoked meat enthusiast. There is little more that can be added to their exaltation, but what about those hard working pitmasters whose toils aren’t lit by the same spotlight? Demand is so high for the offerings of the Texas all-stars that most of these towns have a few other joints to serve the hungry locals. These places may put out good, even drive-worthy barbecue, but they are destined to remain in the shadows, always obscured by the thousand-pound gorilla down the block. They are as Scottie Pippen was to Michael Jordan and Andre Agassi to Pete Sampras. But remember, Pippen and Agassi had game. Some of these joints have been recognized for their well-smoked meats, and most are known to the serious BBQ hound (as defined by his or her willingness to eat more than two lunches in a single day), but for average tourist these restaurants will rarely win out over their more famous counterpart in the same town. That’s too bad. My advice is, when BBQ-ing, to always consider multiple (small) meals in quick succession, and to make these particular joints your second or third stop while in any of these hallowed barbecue towns. Chisholm Trail, Lockhart "Starting a barbecue place here was like putting a ballpark across from Yankee Stadium." These are the words of owner Floyd Wilhelm on his decision to open Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que in Lockhart, home to three legendary joints, Kreuz Market, Smitty’s Market, and Black’s. Wilhelm worked at Black’s before opening the doors here, and over thirty years later his son Daniel does most of the cooking. They do many of the same things their more popular competitors do down the street like making their own succulent beef and pork sausage and smoking their meats in an all wood-fired smoker. They also change things up a bit by offering a wider menu of main courses and a large salad bar. This helps Chisholm Trail stay popular with the locals as evidenced by them winning the title of Best Barbecue in Caldwell County in a reader’s poll conducted by the local paper.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Taylor Cafe

Oct 23, 2011 By Daniel Vaughn

Editor’s Note: The Texas Monthly BBQ Festival is almost here! Each day until then, we’ll be talking to one of the featured pitmasters, with questions from TM staffers, esteemed BBQ experts, Twitter followers and you, the readers of this blog. Today we bring you Scott Morales, 45 and Vencil Mares, 87, of Taylor Café in Taylor. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. As far as your heat source, I assume you guys use all wood there? Scott: Yes. And what kind of wood? Scott: Post Oak Who did you learn your craft from? Did you previously work at another barbeque joint? Scott: I learned the majority from Vencil and then a little bit on my own, just barbecuing on weekends. How about you, Vencil? Vencil: From Southside Market in Elgin, Texas. And at your place do you have a meat that you consider a signature meat? Scott: Probably our turkey sausage. The turkey sausage and pretty much everything’s to die for. The turkey sausage, you guys make that in-house. Do you have another sausage? Scott: Yes. We also make our own beef sausage also. Is that like an Elgin "hot guts" style? Scott: No it’s pretty much a signature of Vencil’s. It’s always been.

BBQ Snob: Dallas Enjoys a BBQ Renaissance

Sep 7, 2011 By Daniel Vaughn

Editor's Note: Daniel Vaughn, writing under the name BBQ Snob, runs the Full Custom Gospel BBQ blog and will also be writing about barbecue for Texas Monthly. This is his first column. Texas barbecue is having a moment. It seems like every time I turned around this summer, another national media outlet was stumbling over itself to name its own best BBQ joint in the state. Most of the adulation, of course, was pointed at Franklin Barbecue, the small Austin joint that has skyrocketed over the past two years from a humble little trailer on the side of I-35 to an eternally overcrowded restaurant that Bon Appétit declared, in July, to be the best BBQ joint in America. The incessant buzz (and incredibly long lines) even prompted a "Hitler reaction" parody, a sure sign that the joint's success has penetrated to the far corners of the popular imagination. But it hasn’t been all Franklin. USA Today bucked the trend by naming the Salt Lick the best of the Central Texas bunch, and CNN sang the praises of City Meat Market in Giddings. You will, by now, have noticed a common denominator. As is usual when the BBQ buzz machine starts running, most of the attention this summer has been on Austin and Central Texas. In the statewide discussion about smoked meats, there is one city whose offerings are routinely dismissed or derided, a city that, to judge from the attention it gets, you wouldn’t even know had any smoked meat within its limits. That city would be Dallas. That the BBQ of Big D has enjoyed little renown for some time is mostly warranted. Until recently, Dallas was afflicted with a smoked meat malaise that allowed subpar barbecue to be praised based on days long passed. As recently as five years ago, the city’s food critics were giving top BBQ nods to the likes of Sonny Bryan’s and Dickey’s—joints that were rightly praised in their decades ago heyday, but which currently don’t even try to compete with the big boys in the state. I am happy to report that change is afoot. In the past two years, almost while no one was looking, a full-fledged barbecue renaissance has taken root in neighborhoods all over Dallas. For the first time since Sonny Bryan was still manning his pits those many decades ago, Big D is making a bid to be taken seriously as a BBQ town. I’ve zeroed in on five restaurants as the torch bearers of this movement, which above all, is marked by a deeply traditional approach. Certain common themes bind these five joints together—they all use wood, not gas, and they all have prominent, thoughtful pitmasters. Their attention to detail and quality has bred a new population of connoisseurs, who, in turn, are raising expectations beyond good sauce and free soft serve.

BBQ
Meshack’s Bar-B-Que

Apr 2, 2011 By Daniel Vaughn

Travis Mayes, the pitmaster at Meshack’s, poked his head out through the side door to ask when he’d get his fifth star. He knows the power that his barbecue has over the locals, and he was feeling his oats today. No wonder with all of the accolades, long…

BBQ
Black’s Barbecue

Nov 11, 2010 By Daniel Vaughn

This was the morning where instead of discovering another great barbecue joint in Texas, Smokemaster1 and I were taking my friend Rob to the heart of barbecue country to find out what all the fuss was about. A stop at Chisholm Trail for excellent sausage and brisket but no…

BBQ
Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que

Aug 5, 2010 By Daniel Vaughn

Traveling down I-45 into Galveston, the road quickly turns from interstate into Broadway. Just a few blocks after is a small wood sided building that could be mistaken for a house if not for the sign out front that claims not only Texas’s finest BBQ, but “World’s…

BBQ
Virgie’s Bar-B-Que

Jul 10, 2010 By Daniel Vaughn

Update: This joint had a fire on 03/11/11, but they have reopened and are back in business.   BBQ Snob: “Who is your hot link supplier?” Virgie: “That’s my secret. Are you folks food critics or something?” BBQ Snob: “That’s our secret.” This…

BBQ
Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q

May 17, 2010 By Daniel Vaughn

On a trip down to Nacogdoches, the family stopped for ‘cue in Tyler at Stanley’s. I’d visited once before with a friend and found many faults with Stanley’s although it seemed to have potential. After meeting owner Nick Pencis at the Gettin’ Sauced event in Austin, he urged…

BBQ
City Market (Luling)

May 16, 2010 By Daniel Vaughn

Showing this joint to a friend for the first time is always fun, but the huge line can be daunting. Luckily we were stuffed, so waiting for a half hour or so wasn’t the worst that could have happened. Once inside the smoking room we were…

BBQ
The Smokehouse

Mar 4, 2010 By Daniel Vaughn

As I pondered my order, a surly pitmaster noticed my FCGBBQ T-shirt and made some smart comments about me spying on his joint to get some tips for mine. He didn’t know I was just there to review it, so it was great to talk with him…

BBQ
New Zion Bar-B-Q

Feb 16, 2010 By Daniel Vaughn

Sometimes known as the “Church of the Holy Smoke,” this joint is a destination for BBQ lovers all over the state. It has made it onto countless “best of” lists when Texas BBQ is being discussed, and the church’s incredible story has been told in…

BBQ
Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q

Jul 1, 2009 By Daniel Vaughn

The four meat sampler plate should become a staple of every self-respecting BBQ joint. The idea of piling a plate with multiple proteins, and diggin’ in without the distractions of cole slaw, pinto beans or anything else to slow down the ingestion pleases me. The folks over at Stanley’s seem…

BBQ
Kreuz Market

May 14, 2009 By Daniel Vaughn

On two previous trips to Lockhart, Kreuz was solid, but it has never been otherworldly. I assumed this trip would be no different, but it turned out to be one of my best barbecue experiences. I’ve eaten mounds of barbecue in my time, but this day was different. Two companions and…

BBQ
Baby J’s Bar-B-Que & Fish

May 14, 2009 By Daniel Vaughn

Sweet Baby J’s may be a more appropriate name for this joint. The sauce was sweet, the greens were nearly candied, and the tea was downright syrupy. Even cut with half a glass of unsweet tea, this was liquid sugar that required a water chaser. The meats…