BBQ Joint Reviews |
August 8, 2008

Scholl Bros. Bar-B-Que

This joint came with high praise, so I drove about two hours to give it a try. Approaching the place, my hopes seemed fulfilled. The sheet metal and wood exterior along with the faded sign reeked potential. Talk about disappointment. The ribs here were nearly devoid of flavor and were

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q

The Brother-in-Law, a sandwiched smorgasbord of chopped beef, butterflied hot links, and cheese, has a powerful (and well-deserved) reputation in East Texas, but order the old-fashioned hand-pulled-pork sandwich, filled with juicy shreds of perfectly smoked pork shoulder. Nick Pencis, the owner and pitmaster, follows a fifty-year-old smoking method—meats housed for

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Opie’s Barbecue

The prime rib at Opie’s is so tender you almost feel sorry for it. How will it protect itself? It lacks the brisket’s seasoned black bark, the baby back ribs’ sweet, chewy crust, or the all-pork jalapeño sausage’s threatening heat. Also try the tater tot casserole and the homemade, bigger-than-a-child’s-head

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Pappy’s Bar BQ

The mesquite-smoked brisket was well seasoned and tender, and the sliced German sausage was slightly sweet and spicy. But the real winners at this rustic locale, decorated with vintage posters for old cowboy flicks, were the sides. Green beans sprinkled with garlic, onion, and bacon and not-too-chunky potato salad with

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Tom and Bingo’s Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que

For more than fifty years, this boxy luncheonette has turned out sliced- and chopped-beef sandwiches as good as you’ll ever eat, plus smoked-ham sandwiches and smoked burgers. That’s all, but that’s enough. The brisket, cooked for sixteen to eighteen hours in a well-worn brick pit, is lean and succulent, with

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Snow’s BBQ

A small wood-frame restaurant, open only on Saturdays and only from eight in the morning until whenever the meat runs out, usually around noon, Snow’s is remarkable not only for the quality of its ’cue—“outlandishly tender brisket, fall-apart-delicious chicken”—but for the unlikeliness of its story. The genius behind this meat

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Smitty’s Market

Don’t bother going in the front door. You’ll end up in the parking lot behind the boxy brick building anyway, doing the Smitty’s shuffle: At peak hours, the lines invariably stretch out the back door. Patiently, you inch your way forward, passing the waist-high brick pits and perusing the list

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

City Meat Market

This friendly shop with blackened walls has been going strong for more than sixty years, and the locals swear by it. Though the brisket was average the day we went, everything else was excellent—pork, sausage, and chicken, all smoked with post oak in an iron-lined and tile-covered brick pit.

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Burns Bar-B-Que Cooking and Catering

There’s always a line at this clapboard take-out shack. Plump, pink pork ribs, cooked over post oak in a steel pit for four hours, were irresistible. Smoky brisket was fall-apart tender. Commercially made beef-and-pork links tasted decidedly uncommercial. The sauce was tangy, good for dipping ribs and links. The sole

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Louie Mueller Barbecue

Forty-nine years of post oak coals in the pit have smoke-cured the building, which previously housed a ladies’ basketball court and a grocery market. Louie moved in with his barbecue business in 1959; his son, Bobby, took over more than three decades ago, but not a thing has suffered from

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Cousin’s Barbecue

In barbecue time there’s before, during, and after. Before our meal at Cousin’s, we studied the brisket’s thin, dark crust. During our meal, the smoky taste made us lose track of our other senses. Ribs were rich. Sauce was tart. Sweet beans really were. After, we wondered where the time had gone.

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Bubba’s Bar-B-Q

Twenty minutes after opening, the wood-paneled dining room was already filling up with patrons. The hickory-smoked ribs were so good we ate everything that wasn’t bone . . . and kept the bones for marrow-sucking. Sides vary daily, but don’t miss the crisp coleslaw mixed with just enough mayonnaise and

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

TC’s Ponderosa

The meats at this convenience store with but three tables were so pleasingly smoky we were shocked to learn the pit burns propane. TC’s only sells meat by the pound and sandwiches. Of the eight meats, seventeen-and-a-half-hour brisket and piquant beef-pork hot links were the stars. Beans and slaw are

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

City Market (Luling)

You’ve come for wholeness, for satisfaction deep within your soul. Your searching has brought you here, to the company of fellow pilgrims in the snaking line. Slowly, you advance across the tile floor, past the knotty-pine walls, and up to the inner sanctum: a glass-enclosed chamber where a host of

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Thompson’s BBQ

As a general rule, the barbecue biz is pretty low-tech, but we noticed that owner Robert Thompson and his wife, Linda, both wore wireless telephone headsets. Perhaps this be-prepared attitude is the secret to Thompson’s success. He insists that pecan is the correct wood and that twelve hours is the

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Kreuz Market

The old Kreuz Market was like a one-room chapel. The humble brick building off the courthouse square in Lockhart had turned out divine smoked meat since 1900. But just as churchgoers nowadays worship in larger halls, so too does the visitor to the new Kreuz Market, which opened in 1999

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue

Can a place that cooks its meat in a gas-burning rotisserie make really great ’cue? Well, the brown-sugar-and-coffee-rubbed brisket was delicious, the maple-and-coriander-encrusted pork ribs were tender, the pulled pork was perfect, and the chorizo-ish jalapeño hot links were unforgettable. Sides and desserts were extraordinary. A jícama-and-carrot slaw, in particular,

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Cripple Creek B-B-Q

Though the usual fare can be found at Bill and Patty Flowers’s joint, it would be a barbecue sin not to sample their famous hog wings. The delectable hickory-smoked wing—actually a pork shank—looked like a juicy meat lollipop. Instead of dipping this treat in the unremarkable barbecue sauce, try the

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

The Smokehouse

This modest spot with vinyl tablecloths and a TV mounted on the wall is brought to life by the old players handling the forty-foot indoor pit. We encountered laborers, families, and professional types all enjoying crunchy-on-the-outside, flavorful-and-moist-on-the-inside 24-hour brisket along with juicy pork ribs and not-too-greasy sausage, all smoked over

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Hashknife on the Chisholm

Like a mirage in the desert, the Hashknife springs up out of nowhere at an otherwise unremarkable intersection just north of Mineral Wells. Pitmaster Jim McLennan and his wife, Lesa, have been in business here only since 2006, but Jim’s been serving up ’cue for oil field workers and nearby

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Cowpoke’s

The brisket fell into delectable shards while remaining moist, even after sixteen hours in the smoker. We missed the ribs, but the porcine portion of the barbecue family was well represented by two kinds of sausage, plain and spicy. Darn-good sides rounded out the offerings. The thick, sweet, tomato-tart sauce

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Luling Bar-B-Q

Locals were in cheerful abundance: law enforcement, men in blue jumpsuits, kids lingering by the cooler of sweet tea. One taste of the juicy mesquite-and-post-oak-smoked brisket and ribs and we understood why. The potato salad and coleslaw each set the gold standard, and the red sauce was so rich and

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Scholl Bros. Bar-B-Que

When we asked a resident Parisian to impress us, he whisked us away to Scholl Bros. The ribs are prepared in the region’s signature style, using a sweet mustard rub, in a pecan-fed gas smoker. The thirteen-hour brisket wasn’t as good, but the sauce, a concoction flavored with brown sugar,

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Baby J’s Bar-B-Que & Fish

Pecan-smoked meats with dark, flavorful crusts are owner Jeremiah “Baby J” McKenzie’s game. It’s all good, so forget the sauce. Southern-style pulled pork provides a juicy wake-up call to jaded taste buds. Replace the usual sides with fried okra, turnip greens, and cornbread for a soul-food feast.

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Van’s Bar BQ

The combination of the frequently awesome mesquite-smoked meats and a terrific vibe have attracted barbecue hounds from far and wide for more than a quarter century. Inside, you’ll find old-timey claw-foot tables and a relaxed attitude about housekeeping, which is to say the place hasn’t seen a mop in ages.

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Que

No, this is not some newfangled, Aussie-inspired, Marlin-born culinary calamity. Have no fear, smoked kangaroo is not a featured menu item. “Boomerang,” in this instance, is meant to indicate that you’ll be so satisfied you’ll come back. Turns out there’s truth in advertising. Whup’s is tidy and small, but there

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Llano)

The horror! Our first pass through the Hill Country’s most renowned barbecue joint was utterly disappointing. The pork ribs were tough, the sausage was bland, and the fatty brisket was downright chewy. Even the sides were lackluster. Still, no one seemed to mind; the place was packed on a weekday

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Casstevens Cash & Carry

Though several tables have been added since we last wrote about this obscure gem at a Diamond Shamrock station (there’s no sign outside to advertise the unbelievably good ’cue within), it’s still hard to snag a seat at Casstevens. The reason? Mesquite-smoked meats, including thick hunks of brisket that are

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Big Daddy’s Roadhouse BBQ

Big Daddy’s prides itself on being biker-friendly, but it’s really just friendly. The first time we visited (anonymously, of course) the server insisted on putting extra meat on our plates so that our party could try a bit of everything. We came away with a profound respect for the moist,

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Country Tavern

The prettiest ribs in the region come steaming out of the Country Tavern’s enormously efficient kitchen, and the brisket’s good too. A dark-red sauce gives the hickory-smoked meats a sweet East Texas edge. The big, bustling place is like a cave tarted up with neon, but the waitresses have a

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Buzzie’s Bar-B-Que

This clean, bright establishment in downtown Kerrville didn’t look seasoned enough to produce a brisket that had much character. But from the first bite, we felt humbled to be in its presence. The meat was juicy and packed with oak flavor, and its marbled edges were as soft as warm

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

New Zion Bar-B-Q

For more than 30 years, holy smoke has wafted from ancient black pits in front of this rickety, low-slung hall next door to the New Zion Missionary Baptist Church. The provender that emerges from the glowing embers (mostly oak, with a little hickory and pecan mixed in) has funded congregational

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Virgie’s Bar-B-Que

Three-plus years ago, Adrian Handsborough converted the neighborhood convenience store his mom, Virgie, ran for 35 years and began cooking over oak and pecan in two small barrels. His brisket, only a tad fatty, smokes for ten to fourteen hours; we could cut ours with a plastic fork. Well-seasoned pork

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Vincek’s Smokehouse

The deer-processing guidelines and Future Farmers of America trophies make one thing clear: Vincek’s loves meat. The brisket, pork ribs, and sausage verified the impression. In a sense, so did the irrelevant, too-sweet sauce. Arrive before noon for homemade bread and kolaches. Stay late for conversation with the regulars.

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Austin’s BBQ and Catering

This converted gas station, its service bays occupied by two portable cast-iron pits, immediately filled our tanks with pecan-smoked brisket and tender pepper-crusted pork ribs. The fresh coleslaw made up for a tomatoey sauce better suited to pasta. We ignored the five chain-link-enclosed picnic tables and ate by the car—whose

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

McMillan’s Bar-B-Q

The secret? “Love,” says Louis McMillan, the owner of this six-table outpost in this tiny town, just west of Victoria. Corny, sure, but that love—along with sixteen-plus hours over an oak-pecan-mesquite mix—turns out moist, tender brisket and fat little baby back ribs that are nicely charred on the outside and

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Bubba’s Bar-B-Que

Twenty minutes after opening, the wood-paneled dining room was already filling up with patrons. The hickory-smoked ribs were so good we ate everything that wasn’t bone . . . and kept the bones for marrow-sucking. Sides vary daily, but don’t miss the crisp coleslaw mixed with just enough mayonnaise and

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Coleman’s BBQ

Northeast Texas may be populated with more pine trees than people, but at three in the afternoon, this small shack, located about a quarter mile off Main Street, was brimming with locals ordering the hickory-smoked brisket, served in a broth of beef juices and savory barbecue sauce. The crackly crust

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Schoepf’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que

The moment we entered the smoke-filled patio and beheld the meats-a-plenty (brisket, chicken, pork ribs, pork chops, sausage, sirloin, turkey breast, and venison sausage), we knew we were in business. The pitman was patient as we made our exacting selections, then—plop, joy: the tenderest of briskets, the thickest of pork

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 21, 2008

Mann’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que

Owner Jim Mann and his jovial staff served us fatty brisket, pork ribs, and pulled pork that offered a surplus of smokiness and juice. (The salty sauce worked well with the loin.) Jim’s wife, Sallie, makes sides from Southern family recipes. Her black-eyed peas, lima beans, and cornbread perfectly accompanied