It’s early morning and the air is not yet blistering, so you roll the car windows down. You turn off the highway onto a farm road and meander through pastures and farmland, anticipation growing with every mile. Thirty minutes later you arrive in the micropolis of Lexington (population 1,200) and head for a small red building. Joining the line, you turn to gaze at the big open-air shed out back. That’s where the magic happens. Moving deliberately amid an array of magnificently battered barbecue pits—which resemble something from the dawn of the industrial revolution—are three people oblivious to the gawkers fifty feet away. They consist of the dean of Texas pitmasters, Tootsie Tomanetz; her boss and the owner of Snow’s, Kerry Bexley; and the new kid on the block, pit hand Clay Cowgill. Their skill and the indelible experience that they create are the reasons why Snow’s is once again at the top of our list. They might lift the lid on a pit occasionally to prod a pork steak (the cut’s gnarly exterior belies the succulent meat within), they might pause to inspect the rows of briskets. Every so often, Tomanetz will take a little cotton mop and baste the chicken halves with a thin, sweet sauce. Periodically, trays of aromatic meats are toted inside to be sliced by the efficient crew overseen by Kim, Bexley’s wife, in the small dining room. Meanwhile, you’ve ordered and paid up. You look for a picnic table to share (if you’re lucky, there’s space at one under the shed—think of them as chef’s tables). You settle down and dig into brisket so succulent your eyes close involuntarily. But it’s the chicken (yes, chicken!) and salty pork steaks with pockets of buttery fat that will have you wondering why you don’t spend more Saturday mornings in Lexington.
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