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 looks like a home kitchen. The place is charmingly no frills, and so is the barbecue, a Platonic ideal of smoked meat embodied in the snap of the house-made sausage, the perfect bite of a substantial pork rib, the smoky flavor of the juicy, black-barked brisket. There are sides of potato salad, coleslaw, and Southern-style vegetables to round out your repast, as well as gratis beans. And the sandwiches are decidedly above average.
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