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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.

793 Articles

BBQ |
October 8, 2014

Interview: Leon O’Neal of Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que

Owner/Pitmaster: Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que; Opened 1987Age: 74Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie SmokerWood: Post OakLeon O’Neal didn’t get into the barbecue business until he was forty-five years old, but he’s managed to be successful in Galveston for nearly three decades in a converted house that once contained

BBQ Joint Reviews |
October 3, 2014

Florida’s Kitchen

It’s just a mile or so off 190, the state highway that runs through Livingston, but Florida’s Kitchen feels like it’s way out in the country. I passed it on my way to visit Hitch-N-Post BBQ, a Texas Monthly top 5o barbecue joint, just another mile

BBQ |
October 1, 2014

Interview: Samuel “Bo” Phillips of Cooper’s Bar-B-Que

Pitmaster: Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que; Opened 1962Age: 64Smoker: Charcoal-fired steel cooker and electric rotisserie smokerWood: Lump Mesquite CharcoalThere’s more than one cook at a big operation like Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano, but Bo Phillips is the one who gets up early enough to

BBQ |
September 16, 2014

Wet, Dry, and Rubbed All Over

“There is no one definitive way to make Memphis barbecue.” So says Craig David Meek, author of Memphis Barbecue: A Succulent History of Smoke, Sauce & Soul. After a four day tour through the River City, I must agree with him.Those who

BBQ |
September 10, 2014

Interview: Jimmy Harris of David’s Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: David’s Barbecue; Opened 1988Age: 49Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie SmokerWood: HickoryJimmy Harris doesn’t have much time for barbecue reviewers. “The real judge is that cash register.” And it hasn’t let him down for over two decades since he and his dad opened the

BBQ |
September 9, 2014

The Bryan Barbecue Empire

If you’ve eaten barbecue in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there’s a good chance you’ve eaten it at Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse. For more than a century, four generations of Bryans have operated barbecue restaurants, eventually creating a national franchise that’s now nine strong (eight in DFW and one in Utah). Their saturation in the market

BBQ |
September 8, 2014

Bryan Family Artifacts and Mementos

This week on TMBBQ we’ll take a look at the Bryan family’s barbecue legacy. From Elias, to Red, to Sonny Bryan and beyond, the Dallas roots of this family tree run deep, but the branches extend well beyond Texas.With so much family history, there are plenty of artifacts and mementos that I’ve

BBQ |
September 2, 2014

Getting Your Goat

You’d think finding good barbecued goat in the Texas Hill Country wouldn’t be so difficult. This area has been the U.S. epicenter of sheep and goat ranching since the nineteenth century when wool and mohair (wool from goats) production took a foothold. Herds expanded greatly in the twentieth century, and while numbers have fallen in this

BBQ |
July 29, 2014

The Lowest and Slowest, Part I

Smoking brisket takes time—sixteen, eighteen, even twenty hours. These cooking times get thrown around with a little pride, but none of the braggarts can top the hours a brisket spends in the smoker at Clark’s Outpost in Tioga. I’m talking more time in the smoker than Jesus spent in the tomb. It takes

BBQ |
July 28, 2014

BBQ Signs Gone By

Barbecue joints come and go, and they usually take their signs with them. Some linger. They either cling to our memory or remain attached to the building that no longer serves as their home, becoming ghosts of the past. A few have become revered – their images shared with the

BBQ |
July 14, 2014

A Tour of Houston Sausages

As one third of the Texas barbecue trinity, smoked sausage has important stature in Texas. Central Texas has its beef sausages, East Texas has got hot links, and you’ll find plenty of smoked boudin along the Louisiana border. In Houston, they have it all as J.C. Reid and Michael Fulmer

BBQ |
July 9, 2014

Interview: Greg Gatlin of Gatlin’s BBQ

Photo by Nicholas McWhirterOwner/Pitmaster: Gatlin’s BBQ; Opened 2010Age: 34Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: HickoryGreg Gatlin went from breaking up pass plays as a member of the Rice Owls to the world of corporate real estate, but he always knew he wanted to

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 17, 2014

Brown’s Bar-B-Que

Brown’s Bar-B-Que has one of the best briskets in Austin, and one of the best side items in Texas. When I visited a year ago (at their previous location) I found the brisket to be the weak link, but no longer. Pitmaster Daniel Brown has found the sweet spot in his

BBQ |
June 13, 2014

Whole Hog

During the nineteenth century public barbecues in Texas, you were likely to find a whole calf, goat, or lamb roasting for the crowd. But it was more likely that you’d find a whole hog. Hogs were prevalent in the eastern part of the state, which made them easier to come by,

BBQ Joint Reviews |
June 10, 2014

Hickory House Bar-B-Que

Johnny Doyle cooks on a gas rotisserie, but he’d do it differently if he could. He takes pride in the barbecue he puts out in his nearly forty-year-old Denison restaurant, so when a pit fire destroyed his Oylers, he wanted to replace them. “[J&R Manufacturing] told me it would be

BBQ |
May 23, 2014

Eatin’ on Tulsa Time

Last week I went searching for good barbecue in Oklahoma. I wasn’t looking just for barbecue joints in the state, but was instead trying to find a defining factor of how barbecue in Oklahoma is unique to that state. With my wife’s family still living in Oklahoma City, I’d canvassed the

BBQ |
May 21, 2014

Interview: Adrian Handsborough of Virgie’s Bar-B-Que

Photo by Nicolas McWhirterOwner/Pitmaster: Virgie’s Bar-B-Que; Opened 2005Age: 49Smoker: Wood-Fired Offset SmokerWood: Post OakOn Virgie’s website they have a brief description of their restaurant, but what has stuck with me was their promise of a “barbecure.” It’s a

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 20, 2014

Mack’s Split Rail Bar-B-Que

In Wyatt McSpadden’s book Texas BBQ from 2009 there are two evocative early-morning photos of the tall smokestack at Mack’s Split Rail Bar-B-Que in Mineola. Other than these photos, I hadn’t seen or heard much about the place and wondered if maybe it had closed. On a trip to Tyler

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 13, 2014

Ed’s Smok-N-Q

A accolade from two years back brought me to this renovated Sonic on the east side of San Antonio. A local media outlet (I don’t recall which one) wrote that Ed’s Smok-N-Q served the best brisket in the city. That claim in San Antonio doesn’t carry quite the weight as the same

BBQ |
May 2, 2014

Smokin’ in the Girls’ Room

Arguably the most beloved figure in Texas barbecue is Tootsie Tomanetz, a septuagenarian pitmaster who’s been tending the fires at Snow’s BBQ since it opened in 2003.  She was first discovered by Texas Monthly in 2008, stooped over the hot smoker on the outskirts of Lexington,

BBQ |
April 12, 2014

Texas Talent Coming to BBQ Pitmasters

The fifth season of BBQ Pitmasters will premiere tonight on Destination America at 8:00pm Central. Georgia smoked ham will be the focus, but next week the show is full of Texans. “Lone Star Smoke War,” will air on Saturday, April 19 at 8:00pm Central and will feature three teams

BBQ |
March 28, 2014

Barbecue Sequels

If 2013 was the year of the new barbecue joint, 2014 will be the year of barbecue expansion. Some legendary Texas barbecue stalwarts who for decades were happy to be one-offs are looking to write their sequels. Southside Market (1882), in Elgin,

BBQ |
March 19, 2014

Interview: Ernestine Edmond of Mama E’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Mama E’s BBQ & Home Cooking, opened 2006Age: 61Smoker: Wood-fired offset smokerWood: Pecan, Oak, PearErnestine Edmond has cooked most of her life. She learned about killing and processing chickens from her mother, and her mother-in-law taught her about cleaning a fresh hog. She’s never looked at chitterlings the

Food & Drink |
February 14, 2014

A Dictionary of Charcuterie . . .

Bresaola A beef eye of round, salt-cured and aged for several months.Coppa Marbled pork neck muscle, salt-cured and aged for several months.Lardo Pork back fat rubbed with salt and aromatics and aged for several months.Lonzino A whole pork loin, salt-cured and aged for several months.Mortadella A finely

BBQ |
February 14, 2014

Texas’s Best BBQ Sandwiches

At Prause Meat Market in La Grange, there is a green paper sign right next to the barbecue counter. It reads “Sorry We Do NOT Make Sandwiches.” It’s a reminder to customers that this is a meat market where meat—smoked or raw—is sold by the pound. If you want a

BBQ |
February 12, 2014

Interview: Billy McDonald of Mac’s Bar-B-Que, Part I

Owner/Pitmaster: Mac’s Bar-B-Que; Opened 1955 (1982 in current location)Age: 60Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired PitWood: HickoryThe McDonalds have been a fixture in the Dallas barbecue scene since 1949. Mac’s has moved around a bit, but Billy McDonald has no plans to leave his current spot on Main Street just outside Deep Ellum. He sat

BBQ |
February 7, 2014

The Antebellum Chef in Texas

Michael Twitty was cold, and his pig wasn’t much warmer. He was six hours into an eight hour cook, and the February winds were whipping across the top of the hill at the French Legation in Austin. A makeshift pit about the size

BBQ Joint Reviews |
January 27, 2014

Delysia/Salt Lick Truffles

A few years ago a group of barbecue aficionados met up for a pow-wow at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor. We wanted to share stories and some great smoked meats, and one of the attendees brought in some contraband dessert. It was homemade ice cream made with Dr Pepper flavored

BBQ |
January 24, 2014

The History of Smoked Brisket

What you know about the history of smoked brisket in Texas is probably wrong. People have been eating brisket since the first pits were dug in the earth, but only by a sort of default: it was standard practice to cook whole animals for the big community celebrations, which means

BBQ Joint Reviews |
January 21, 2014

DBQ

Editor’s note: The name of this joint has been changed to DBQ since this article was published.Kyle Lewallen started his barbecue catering company while still a junior at Texas A&M. A few years later he bought a food trailer and parked it just a block away from campus. He couldn’t

BBQ |
January 17, 2014

What I Learned at Brisket Camp

The director of Foodways Texas, Marvin Bendele, asked me to come and lead a couple of panel discussions at the organization’s annual Camp Brisket, held last weekend at the Rosenthal Meat Center on Texas A&M’s campus. And even though I was presented

BBQ |
January 15, 2014

Interview: Joe Capello of City Market in Luling

Pitmaster: City Market in Luling, opened 1958Age: 67Smoker: Wood-fired brick pit and a gas-fired rotisserie smokerWood: Post OakIf you’ve been to City Market in Luling, chances are you’ve seen the hard-hat clad Joe Capello. If their doors are open, then he’s probably there working the pit like he’s done for the last few

BBQ |
January 10, 2014

Fargo’s Pit Unveiled

Alan Caldwell, the pitmaster at Fargo’s Pit BBQ in Bryan, has been making great barbecue for fourteen years. And for all of those fourteen years, he has denied people access to his pit room. When he denied my first request to take a look at his pit, in 2010, he

BBQ Joint Reviews |
January 7, 2014

City Market (Schulenburg)

If I had it my way, City Market in Schulenburg would have a warning sign on their barbecue menu: “Pit in use only on Saturday, microwaves the rest of the week.” You see, first and foremost this is a meat market. Making sausage (including weiners) is their biggest business, on

BBQ |
December 11, 2013

Interview: Bob Allen of Bob’s Bar-B-Que

Photo by Nicholas McWhirterOwner/Co-Pitmaster: Bob’s Bar-B-Que, opened 1980Age: 74Smoker: Wood-fired offset smokerWood: HickoryHenderson, Texas is a small town of about 13,000 between Tyler and Nacogdoches in East Texas. This is where Bob Allen was born and raised, and where he aims to stay. He’s seen a lot of

BBQ |
November 6, 2013

Interview: Travis Mayes of Meshack’s Bar-Be-Que

Travis Mayes at his walk-up window.Pitmaster: Meshack’s Bar-Be-Que, opened 2009Age: 64Smoker: Wood-fired Brick Smoker w/ gas assistWood: PecanIt was a Monday morning and Meshack’s was closed like normal. Travis and I had arranged this time to meet since the tasks to get ready for Tuesday were pretty slow-paced. There

BBQ |
October 31, 2013

A New Menu Item

In this age of barbecue’s expansion and experimentation we see cuts of meat enter the smoker that have never previously been even figments of barbecue culture. But, there’s one protein that has gone largely ignored in real life, but has a rich history in art and film – human flesh.

BBQ Joint Reviews |
October 22, 2013

Larrie’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que

If you live in Austin, chances are you wouldn’t pass by Larrie’s Smokehouse in Bastrop. Billy’s, Cartwright’s and Fittie’s along busy four-lane Highway 71 may be familiar, but Larrie’s sits on the north side of town along tree-lined Highway 95. Coming south from Elgin the sign is hard to miss.

BBQ |
August 30, 2013

BBQ Anatomy 101: Pork Ribs

The Texas Trinity combo plate—beef, ribs, and sausage—is probably the most commonly served dish at Texas barbecue joints, and usually, the beef brisket gets all the glory. But we should shine a little more light on pork ribs, which are often a joint’s better tasting meat (it’s difficult to perfectly

BBQ Joint Reviews |
August 27, 2013

Harris Bar-B-Que

If you’re headed south on Highway 77 you won’t see the sign for Harris Bar-B-Que, but it doesn’t matter. A huge, black offset smoker will likely be blowing smoke across the road just south of downtown Waxahachie. Kelvin Harris used this smoker when he was darting around Cedar Hill and

BBQ |
July 31, 2013

Interview: Alan Caldwell of Fargo’s Pit BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Fargo’s Pit BBQ, opened 2000Age: 50Smoker: Wood-fired offset pitWood: Oak with a bit more mixed inAs 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 total I probably asked

BBQ |
July 24, 2013

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

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