Barbecue news posts were once a mainstay at TexasMonthly.com, but we’ve just had too many other stories to tell lately. This past month seems different. November was full of barbecue triumphs, in the form of openings and expansions, but also tragedies. You need to burn wood to make barbecue, and sometimes the fire gets out of control. On Thanksgiving, Rusty Buckle BBQ Company in New Caney, northeast of Houston, was destroyed by fire. Owner Allen Rhoden has vowed to rebuild, and a family member started a GoFundMe donation page.
Later that weekend, a fire broke out in the pit room of Helberg Barbecue in Waco. The fire spread, and the entire restaurant was damaged. The restaurant is closed indefinitely, but the Helbergs are working to get a mobile operation up and running very soon. Mallory Robbins, co-owner of Evie Mae’s Barbecue in Wolfforth, has set up a GoFundMe page for Helberg.
Matt Horn brought Texas-style barbecue to Oakland, California, when he opened Horn Barbecue in 2020, and we recently covered the restaurant’s impressive brisket. Before Thanksgiving, vandals defaced the restaurant with graffiti, and two days later the building was burned badly. Despite the tragedy, Horn still made good on his promise of a turkey giveaway the day before Thanksgiving. Matt’s wife, Nina Horn, has established a GoFundMe page to support the restaurant’s rebuild.
As the year comes to a close, accolades are being handed out. The Houston Chronicle named its thirty top barbecue joints in the Houston area. Eater named Barbs-B-Q in Lockhart one of the best new restaurants of the year.
Zain Shafi, an alum of Goldee’s Barbecue in Fort Worth, has opened Sabar BBQ in Fort Worth. It’s a Pakistani-influenced Texas barbecue trailer serving only on Saturdays.
East Texas barbecue joints are getting new digs in droves. Slaughter’s BBQ in Sulphur Springs and Sunbird Barbecue in Longview have moved on from their food trucks to new brick-and-mortar restaurants. Wright On Taco & BBQ left its location in tiny Harleton and found a larger spot nearby in Marshall.
Some big names in Texas barbecue are expanding. The Driftwood location of the Salt Lick is iconic. A second location opened in Round Rock in 2008, and a third planned for Grapevine in 2018 never materialized, but the restaurant has announced a new location will open in Fredericksburg in 2025. Terry Black’s Barbecue has plans to open in Waco early next year and in Fort Worth later in 2024. It’s also secured demolition permits for properties it owns in Houston, and has plans to develop a hotel and restaurant on the site of the former Elks Lodge in South Austin.
Down San Antonio way, the folks behind popular 2M Smokehouse have opened two new restaurants in Castroville, forty minutes west of the city. Blu Lacy Smokehouse opened in late October serving a similar menu to 2M, while 2M’s pastry chef (and co-owner Esaul Ramos’s wife) Grecia Anais Ramos is serving her desserts at Baked next door.
In the DFW area, Hurtado Barbecue will add yet another location in Mansfield. The space was formerly occupied by Big D BBQ, but the joint abandoned it to focus on its bigger spot in Midlothian. Heim Barbecue opened a fourth location in Burleson. Smoke’N Ash BBQ recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new, larger location in Arlington, and Vaqueros Texas Bar-B-Q announced a new brick-and-mortar location that will open next year in Allen.
A visit to Cattleack Barbeque in Dallas is now less of a challenge. The possibility of a long line is still there, but it’s added Wednesdays and first Saturdays to its schedule.
Out west of DFW, Dayne’s Craft Barbecue has left its temporary location in Fort Worth and opened a new brick-and-mortar in downtown Aledo.
Meat Church BBQ Supply Store celebrated the grand opening of its new and larger store in Waxahachie over the weekend.
CBS Sunday Morning recently featured Texas barbecue with some words from yours truly from the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival in Lockhart, where the crew sampled whole hog from Khói Barbecue. In the segment, the reporters also visited KG BBQ and Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, both in Austin.
The Twelve Days of Smoked Meat has kicked off at Stiles Switch BBQ. Enjoy unique barbecue specials like smoked prime rib and chicken-fried beef ribs at the Austin and Cedar Park locations through December 17.