The popularity of Texas barbecue—and specifically Texas-style smoked brisket—has launched a frenzy of new activity. New joints pop up all the time, and relatively new pitmasters are hailed as masters of craft. Many of these places and people are deserving of considerable attention and high praise, but we shouldn’t lose sight of what came before. Let’s not forget the historic barbecue joints that built the foundation of Texas barbecue many decades ago. The places that began operating a century ago, before barbecue was cool.

Old barbecue joints can be overlooked or ignored in favor of the new generation, but they should never be dismissed. An article in the Wall Street Journal last year praised The New Barbecue, even going so far as to take historic barbecue joints to task. Author Josh Ozersky wrote that the old-timers had “become stagnant and so dogmatic that many pit masters haven’t changed their recipes or routines in decades.” Well, that’s kind of the point. Respecting tradition isn’t exactly disinterested stagnation.

The average age of the celebrated barbecue joint is getting younger. Earlier this year, two respected barbecue critics, Mike Sutter and Matthew Odam, ranked the top ten barbecue joints in Austin, and the most senior spot on either list was only eight years old. Even in the latest statewide Top 50 barbecue list from Texas Monthly (from the June 2013 issue), more than half of those listed—27—were opened this century. The average age was was just over 22 years old. As a point of comparison, the oldest barbecue joint in Texas, Southside Market in Elgin, is 132 years old.

Longevity isn’t the only appropriate measuring stick for a barbecue joint, but in a tough business, just staying open is something to laud. The Texas Historical Commission has even created an award to help recognize these storied businesses. It’s called the Texas Treasure Business Award, and any business that has been open continuously for fifty years is eligible. I first became aware of the award when I saw it displayed in the window of Prause Meat Market in LaGrange. New Braunfels Smokehouse is the only other barbecue joint with the designation. The potential members include familiar names like Southside Market and Kreuz Market, but also ones that might be new to you like Patillo’s in Beaumont or Lenox BBQ in Houston.

We’ve compiled a list of fifty-plus year old barbecue joints in Texas deserving of recognition for their storied smoked meat history.

1882 Southside Market in Elgin

1900 Kreuz Market in Lockhart

1904 Prause Meat Market in La Grange

1912 Patillo’s Bar-B-Q in Beaumont

1914 Bolner’s Meat Market in San Antonio

1915 Vitek’s BBQ in Waco (serving BBQ sine the 1950’s)

1918 Jasper’s Bar-B-Que in Waco

1925 Martin’s Place in Bryan

1925 Prine’s BBQ in Wichita Falls

1927 Neely’s in Marshall

1927 Riscky’s Bar-B-Q in Fort Worth

1931 Bailey’s Bar-B-Que in Fort Worth

1932 Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart

1935 Pizzitola’s in Houston

1941 City Meat Market in Giddings

1941 Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Dallas

1943 House Park Bar-B-Que in Austin

1945 Underwood’s Bar-B-Q in Brownwood

1946 Sammie’s Bar-B-Q in Fort Worth

1946 Tony DeMaria’s Bar-B-Que in Waco

1948 Taylor Café in Taylor

1948 Ernie’s Pit BBQ in Greenville

1949 Lenox BBQ in Houston

1949 Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor

1950 Old Sutphen’s BBQ in Borger (current location since 1963)

1950 Stringer’s Lufkin Bar-B-Que in Lufkin

1952 Jack Jordan’s BBQ in Odessa

1952 New Braunfels Smokehouse in New Braunfels

1952 Tom & Bingo’s Bar-B-Que in Lubbock

1953 Bill Miller Bar-B-Q in San Antonio

1953 Cooper’s Bar-B-Q in Mason

1953 Sam’s Original Restaurant & BBQ in Fairfield

1955 Mac’s Bar-B-Que in Dallas

1956 Jerry Mikeska’s Bar-B-Q in Columbus

1956 Mikeska’s Bar-B-Q in El Campo

1956 Vance Godbey’s in Fort Worth

1957 City Market in Luling

1958 Angelo’s in Fort Worth

1958 Gonzales Food Market in Gonzales

1958 Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse in Dallas

1958 Tony’s The Pit Bar-B-Q in El Paso

1959 Davila’s BBQ in Seguin

1959 Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que in Bellaire

1959 Mesquite BBQ in Mesquite

1959 Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue in Tyler

1962 Wilhite’s BBQ in Creedmoor

1963 Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano

1964 Inman’s Ranch House Bar-B-Q in Marble Falls

1964 Smokey Denmark’s in Austin


We need your help. Ideally, each of the barbecue joints in the state that are older than fifty years old would be nominated to receive the Texas Treasure recognition from the Texas Historical Commission. We have a good list started, but we need your help to complete it. Please comment below if you know of a barbecue joint in Texas that has been continuously operated for the last fifty years that is not on the list above. We hope to see them all go at least another fifty.