BBQ Joint Reviews

Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Scott Moore and his partner, Michelle Holland, had a problem: their bean-to-bar chocolate business had a loyal following but not enough revenue. So they rented the oldest building in Tomball, roped in Scott’s brother, Greg (who just so happened to be a chef), and opened the most unexpected barbecue outfit…

Louie Mueller Barbecue (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Many a barbecue joint is named the Shack. Louie Mueller could be the Court. Not only is its building a former basketball court/gymnasium, its place in the history of Texas barbecue is unquestionably regal. Its ownership is a dynasty—founded by Louie Mueller in 1949, passed down to his son Bobby…

Corkscrew BBQ (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Moving into a brick-and-mortar from a cute but cramped trailer was a blessing for owners Will and Nichole Buckman. Their numbering system is a blessing for customers, who can now hang out and avoid the line. It’s pleasant inside the new digs, with touches like canning jars 
for light covers…

Hays Co. Bar-B-Que (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

You might find yourself pulling in here after a long stretch on I-35, not expecting much. Michael and Asenette Hernandez’s place sits on the frontage road alongside other restaurants you’ve probably never heard of. But two steps inside the door, you’re hit by a flood of rich meaty aromas and…

The Granary ‘Cue & Brew (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

From the outside, the Granary looks like hipster barbecue. The place inhabits a remodeled nineteenth-century house across the street from the brewery building in the Pearl development, with its pricey condos and upscale bakery. Inside, the place is sheathed in dark wood paneling and lit with filament bulbs. At one…

2M Smokehouse (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

In 2015 Esaul Ramos left San Antonio for Austin and became the lead pitmaster at La Barbecue. Now he’s back in his hometown with a barbecue joint of his own. 2M Smokehouse opened last year and quickly gained traction. Ramos could have done a La Barbecue copycat, but he went…

Pody’s BBQ (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

It took the whole family to transform an abandoned laundromat into a barbecue destination. Inside you’re likely to find Pody Campos’s wife, Veronica, or his mother, Margaret Franco, tending the pits. Even his aunt, Erma Soto, helps out sometimes. They need to, because while Campos’s passion is smoking meat, he…

Killen’s Barbecue (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Owner Ronnie Killen is first and foremost a chef. That training shows in sides (say yes to creamed corn), in desserts that exceed the norm (croissant bread pudding with tres leches sauce), and his restless quest for meaty perfection. One example is a recent dry-aged-brisket kick—yep, like dry-aged steaks. Not…

The Smoking Oak (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

After graduating from college, Mario Dominguez Jr. moved home to Mercedes, in the Rio Grande Valley, to join his family’s insurance agency. He enjoyed having his mama’s cooking once again, but he also found himself intrigued by Central Texas barbecue. After many barbecue “research” trips, he built a brick pit…

Hutchins BBQ (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Four decades ago, when Tim Hutchins’s father first started serving food in far north Texas, catfish was king and his smoked meats were almost an afterthought. But along the way, the barbecue evolution happened, and now it’s tough to find a hotter ’cue operation anywhere north of Dallas. Wood-paneled walls…

Smolik’s Smokehouse (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Just off Interstate 37, Smolik’s second location (the 1989 original is downtown) is worth a detour. On our stroll up to the counter, we perused vintage knickknacks and newspaper clippings lauding the proud Czech family’s history of smoking meat in South Texas since 1928. They throw some beef fat right…

City Market; Luling (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

The smoke room at City Market is worthy of a barbecue-lover’s bucket list. Tucked inconspicuously in the back right-hand corner of the building, its dark windows don’t let on about the meat magic happening behind them, but, boy, is it. The brisket on a recent visit was moist and flavorful,…

Bodacious Bar-B-Q (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Jordan Jackson graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, in Austin, in 2011, but he never wanted to be a chef. He moved back home to East Texas, honed his smoking chops at Stanley’s, in Tyler, and then made his move. In 2015, he took over the location…

Kreuz Market (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

We didn’t see pitmaster Roy Perez and his famous muttonchop sideburns on our last visit to the Lockhart institution, but the rest was reassuringly familiar. Rows of picnic tables ushered us back to a long, hallowed hall, and we soon found ourselves in a happy haze of post oak smoke.

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

“Blood makes you related, but barbecue makes you family,” said the camo-clad guy to a young boy across from him at our long communal table. It was three o’clock on a Saturday, but the bare-bones place was humming like Grand Central Station, nearly every table populated by smoked-meat devotees from…

Snow’s BBQ (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Joseph’s Riverport Bar-B-Cue (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Riverport is a quintessential small-town barbecue joint, sitting on a corner in a charming East Texas town. After the place burned to the ground five years ago, the city rallied around owner Stephen Joseph. When he could barely make a profit in this secluded small town, the townspeople stepped up…

Roegels Barbecue Co. (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Husband-and-wife owners Russell and Misty Roegels have been operating at this location since 2001, but three years ago they said goodbye to their Baker’s Ribs franchise and went their own way. Their hallmark is pepper—lots of it. The bark on the brisket and beef rib is a thing of black…

The Pit Room (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

The smoked meats hanging under heat lamps might remind you of a Chinese barbecue restaurant, but the Pit Room’s culinary heritage is rooted in Texas and Mexico. They even make their own tortillas here, using fat drippings from the brisket. One of the secrets of the joint’s exceptional quality is…

Pinkerton’s Barbecue (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

When you go to Pinkerton’s, you are going to Grant’s house. No, really, he lives upstairs. It’s a family affair in more ways than one, because his parents help run things too (though they live elsewhere), and his mom does the baking. The smoking technique is a bit unusual, because…

Gatlin’s BBQ (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Pitmaster Greg Gatlin used to be a defensive back at Rice, which was no doubt good mental training for running a barbecue business. He upgraded his highly successful operation a couple of years ago from a small house to new digs with more than four thousand square feet of space.

Heavy’s Outdoor Bar-B-Que (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

The Hill Country west of San Antonio has always been something of a barbecue desert, but that may be changing as former cow towns like Hondo and Sabinal absorb a wave of urban professionals looking to become part-time gentlemen ranchers and weekend bikers. On Saturdays, the back roads are clogged…

Blue Moon BBQ (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

After driving down Old San Antonio Road for long enough to decide you’ve surely gotten lost, you’ll finally arrive at the tiny wooden building—and we do mean tiny—that belongs to Blue Moon BBQ. The address makes you think that the place is in the city of Hearne, but it’s actually…

Rio Grande Grill BBQ & Tex Mex (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Whimsical art and bright colors are unusual in a barbecue joint, but Rio Grande Grill throws the rules right out the kitchen door. Daniel Wright and his wife, head chef Stefania, break the rules with the food too, even battering up the smoked chicken to make the best of both…

Baker Boys BBQ (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

After Phil Baker and his son, Wayne, had some success on the barbecue competition circuit, they decided it was time to do more more than feed judges. They opened Baker Boys BBQ in a metal building on the east side of Gonzales two years ago. Their selections exhibit a subtler…

Heim Barbecue (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Travis and Emma Heim jumped into business ownership with little experience or capital in 2015. The Heim truck hadn’t been parked a year before they got an offer to build out their very own spot on West Magnolia. Their barbecue was that good. That location opened in late 2016 with…

4-T’s Bar-B-Q (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Something moved Mike Thomas to purchase his first barbecue pit at the State Fair of Texas in 1988, and Kaufman County should be grateful for that. His backyard hobby slowly became a passion, and, after losing his telecom job in 2003, he set up a roadside brisket stand, which morphed…

Top 5 BBQ (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Strip centers are seldom homey, but the first thing you’ll notice at Top 5 is a sense of community. Kendon Greene greets every customer with “It’s a smoking good day!” and the staff is equally friendly and chatty. They’re good people, and they produce great, highly distinctive ’cue, thanks largely…

Pecan Lodge (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

The influence of Pecan Lodge on Dallas’s barbecue scene cannot be overstated. At their (relatively) new place in Deep Ellum, they crank out four times the amount they did before. It’s all cooked in an array of unique offset smokers, and the sausages, both the original pork and the jalapeño-cheese…

Lockhart Smokehouse (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

It’s all in the family here. Co-founder Jill Grobowsky Bergus’s grandfather was Edgar Schmidt, the man who made Kreuz Market famous. That’s why three of the Lockhart joint’s specialties show up here: two great sausages and the cut known as shoulder clod. If you order actual brisket, you may find…

Cattleack Barbeque (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Every ounce of your being recoils at the idea of eating barbecue in an industrial-area strip center in north Dallas. It’s just wrong! How could it have any soul! Calm down. Walk to the end of the line and start inching along (it’s like going through airport security). Pass the…

BBQ on the Brazos (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Not quite as scenic as it sounds, BBQ on the Brazos is located inside a Texaco station just off U.S. 377. Barbecue aficionados have already sniffed the joint out, though—the line was deep at nine o’clock on a weekend morning, with bleary-eyed customers ordering everything from brisket-and-egg tacos on handmade…

Payne’s Bar-B-Q Shak (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Fargo’s Pit BBQ (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

We foolishly thought pitmaster Alan Caldwell might finally be ready to chat about the secrets of his smoking method. Ha. Caldwell said only, “You can ask . . .” and then broke into a big smile followed by silence. When we arrived, the eight or so tables were all taken,…

Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

With roots in Mexico, barbacoa became a mainstay on South Texas ranches, where cowboys were hungry and cow heads were plentiful (Texans were expert at nose-to-tail eating long before it became trendy). Today, most commercial barbacoa is steamed or done in pressure cookers to comply with health codes. Vera’s time-honored…

Truth Barbeque (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Truth looks too cute to be serving serious barbecue. The carefully curated interior—with its hand-lettered signs, Texas license plates, and Instagram-ready desserts—is a far cry from a no-frills meat market or a rusty roadside pit. The first bite announces the fact that youthful proprietor Leonard Botello IV has been an…

Miller’s Smokehouse (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Miller’s roots are decidedly humble. They started selling sausage wraps part-time out of a meat-processing business (with a taxidermy operation in the back). A mere eight years later, after making our Top 50 list, they moved into bigger and better digs. These days they have it all: near-flawless brisket smoked…

Terry Black’s Barbecue (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Twins Mark and Michael Black jumped into the barbecue business with their father, Terry, three years ago just south of downtown Austin. It didn’t take long for them to get out of the shadow of Lockhart (Terry’s brother, Kent, runs the Black’s in that city as well as two other…

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

You just feel good after a visit here. The super-friendly counter folks might hand you a bit of sausage or brisket to nibble. Plus, the roomy place, with beer signs and communal tables, is fun for families and groups. If you think you’ve had this style of barbecue before—heavy on…

Micklethwait Craft Meats (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

With its rounded corners and neatly painted garlands of oak leaves and acorns, Micklethwait’s fat little cream-colored trailer looks like part of a Hobbit community. It sits amid picnic tables on a tree-shaded lot in East Austin and offers superlative victuals, including brisket (embraced by a super-peppery, midnight-dark bark), rosy…

la Barbecue (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Owners LeAnn Mueller (yes, of the Louie Mueller clan) and Ali Clem have hunkered down at the Aztec Food Park in their fancy new food trailer. Until they move a block east this month, that’s where you’ll find folks lining up for a slow march to brisket and hot-guts glory.

Freedmen’s (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Freedmen’s is no stranger to the pages of Texas Monthly.They made our list of the best new and improved barbecue joints in 2015 under the direction of talented former pitmasters Evan LeRoy and Chris McGhee. Now Bradley Robinson has taken the helm at the historic building. We worried that Freedmen’s…

Franklin Barbecue (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Four years ago, Franklin Barbecue was our hands-down pick for best barbecue in the state (i.e., the world). A couple of years later, Aaron Franklin published a best-selling cookbook and won a James Beard award for best chef in the region, a first for a pitmaster. He’s the most famous…

Tyler’s Barbeque (Top 50)

Jun 1, 2017 By Daniel Vaughn

Tyler Frazer is at the heart of the operation, greeting customers and making recommendations—a lot of time and care go into the food and overall experience here. When we arrived, a little before noon, and joined the crowd of locals, it was the thick cuts of brisket that grabbed our…