BBQ Joint Reviews

Joel’s Bar-B-Q

Sep 17, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Back in 1978 Joycelyn and her then-husband Joel Kubesch were smoking meat at area parking lots on the weekends. They then moved into this current building around 1980. Joycelyn runs the place now, but the building looks like it came from another century. A tin roof over a clapboard exterior…

Cotten’s Barbecue

Sep 10, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Update: This joint is permanently CLOSED. 2013: This is the second in a dual review. It’s rare to find two barbecue joints with food so similar to one another, but Cotten’s Catering in Calallen and Cotten’s Barbecue in San Antonio are nearly dead ringers. It all goes back…

Cotten’s Catering

Sep 10, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

This is the first in a dual review. It’s rare to find two barbecue joints with food so similar to one another, but Cotten’s Catering in Calallen and Cotten’s Barbecue in San Antonio are nearly dead ringers. It all goes back to 1947 when Joe Cotten starting selling…

Nathan’s BBQ

Sep 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

State Highway 290 runs right through the middle of Brenham, Texas, a town know more for ice cream than smoked meats. Its location makes it a perfect mid-point stop for road trips between Houston and Austin. Living in Dallas I don’t travel this route much so I made a point…

Harris Bar-B-Que

Aug 27, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

If you’re headed south on Highway 77 you won’t see the sign for Harris Bar-B-Que, but it doesn’t matter. A huge, black offset smoker will likely be blowing smoke across the road just south of downtown Waxahachie. Kelvin Harris used this smoker when he was darting around Cedar Hill and…

Smolik’s Smokehouse

Aug 20, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Always seeking a route away from the interstate, I found myself driving the back way into Mathis, Texas on FM 666. When I saw that the state had failed to skip that number when naming farm-to-market roads I just had to take it. It was a humorous detour until I…

Raymond’s Pit Bar-B-Q

Aug 13, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Update: This joint is permanently CLOSED. 2013: A meat cutter stood next to a cutting block loaded with smoked meat. It was all illuminated by a heat lamp. This was where the cafeteria line commenced. A plate was stacked with sliced brisket, pork ribs and warm, buttered Texas toast. I…

Jambo’s BBQ Shack

Aug 6, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Since 1989 Jamie Geer has been manufacturing barbecue pits for his company Jambo Pits. These days, many of the smokers that come out of his welding shop in Burleson are destined for the competition circuit. You can find the shiny custom paint jobs of famous barbecue…

BBQ on the Brazos

Jul 30, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Driving southwest out of Fort Worth along Highway 377 you get out into the country pretty quickly. In just fifteen minutes you’ll be in Cresson which until now was best known for a country club for sports car enthusiasts called Motorsport Ranch. About the only thing between…

Freedmen’s

Jul 23, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Evan LeRoy has come a long way from New York. He worked for a while at Hill Country Barbecue in Manhattan before making his way to Austin. That’s a long way to come so you can cook in the back of a bar, but it’s not…

Hannah’s BBQ

Jul 16, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Driving around the south side of Lake Texoma, I was in search of the Shawnee Trail. It’s an old cattle trail that crossed the Red River about five miles west of where Highway 75 crosses it now just north of Denison. The cattle trail followed an even older…

Coleman’s Bar-B-Q

Jul 9, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

It’s a long drive out to Clarksville from Dallas. It was a sunny Thursday and I had called in sick at work. The deadline for my barbecue assignment was looming and I hadn’t yet come on board as the barbecue editor. A few members of the barbecue…

The Slow Bone Barbeque

Jul 2, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

“You can master this process fairly quickly.” This was the quote from Slow Bone owner Jack Perkins a few months before he opened his first barbecue joint in April of this year. Perkins has been a force in the Dallas dining scene since his much heralded burger joint,…

Woodshed Smokehouse

Jun 25, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Woodshed Smokehouse is a reflection of its owner and chef Tim Love. He’s an ambitious chef with several restaurants and a face made for television. He is a busy man with many talents and the menu at Woodshed Smokehouse is as busy. There are many genres of food…

The Brisket House

Jun 18, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Even if you know where it is, this unassuming storefront in a beige brick strip mall is easy to miss. I almost drove by it even as I stared at the blue dot on my iPhone signaling its location. I’d had eaten some samples from The Brisket House at the…

Circle J Bar-B-Que

Jun 11, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Over a year ago a friend of mine, Steve Dean, sent me a photo of this joint. The ramshackle look of the building had an outdated “Bush/Cheney 2004” sign in the front window and a sign on the door read “SHUT”. Steve and I both assumed it was…

3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House

Jun 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Jason Hall may be the owner of 3 Stacks, but Trace Arnold is the personality. You may have seen Trace manning the Ultimate Smoker & Grill during one of their cross-country road trips. The rig is essentially a traveling billboard for hire that also happens to be able to…

Smitty’s Market

May 28, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Fire is hypnotic. Staring into it can be mesmerizing and may even alter your state of mind. Take the fire at Smitty’s Market for example. Just inside the back door, which is really the primary entrance, an open fire is the first thing you encounter. The flames lick their…

Franklin Barbecue

May 21, 2013 By Texas Monthly

The best barbecue joint in Texas is only four years old. This is an unusual development, but one that will surprise no one familiar with Franklin Barbecue, which, since opening in 2009, in a trailer off Interstate 35, has built a cult following for its meats. Has any other restaurant…

Snow’s BBQ

May 17, 2013 By Texas Monthly

For some in the small town of Lexington (population roughly 1,200), Saturdays are as holy as Sundays. It’s hard to miss these devotees. They congregate at the end of Main Street, within view of some grain elevators dressed in a gingham rust—a line of farmhands, ranchers, well-off weekenders, and groggy…

Louie Mueller Barbecue

May 17, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Louie Mueller Barbecue has been described as a “cathedral of smoke,” and indeed, many of the trappings of organized religion are present here: the sacramental offerings, the priesthood in their ecclesiastical red apron-robes, the flock of devoted congregants, even the disciples (Austin barbecue star Aaron Franklin credits a bite of…

Pecan Lodge

May 17, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Shed #2 at the Dallas Farmers Market is a vast, enclosed, and fully air-conditioned structure that essentially serves as a city-owned food court where up-and-coming restaurateurs crowd in to show off their skills. The unquestioned anchor tenant of this gastro-carnival is Pecan Lodge, a three-year-old barbecue joint producing what is…

Hashknife on the Chisholm

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Staunch traditionalists who refuse to eat meat that’s been smoked in a gas-fired pit should drive right on past this remote joint just north of Mineral Wells without stopping. That way, there’ll be more of the smoky brisket—cut into thick, beautifully fatty slices—for the rest of us. And the ribs,…

Cowpoke’s

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Even if the meat at Cowpoke’s were terrible, the joint would be jam-packed at all hours, since it’s located on the edge of the booming Eagle Ford Shale formation. But luckily for the patrons jawing about oil prices in the tidy dining room, the barbecue here is exceptional, certainly among…

Pody’s BBQ

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Israel “Pody” Campos used to live in Austin, where he worked for the Texas Municipal Police Association, training cops all over the state. When budget cuts forced the association to downsize a few years ago, he moved back home to Pecos and took up a job as the chief deputy…

Hatfields BBQ & Blackjacks Beer Garden

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

This tidy cedar cabin only opened in November, but pitmaster and owner Kenny Hatfield has been perfecting his craft for years, barbecuing brisket each Friday for his friends and employees at his nearby flooring store. Hatfield smokes his brisket for eighteen hours over a mix of oak and mesquite in…

The Granary ’Cue and Brew

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Not a typical joint by any means, the Granary is part of the flashy new Pearl retail/residential complex and occupies a renovated nineteenth-century home with high ceilings and dark-brown wood trim. The vibe is hipster carnivore: the music is modern, and the walls are covered with barbecue folk art, such…

Two Bros. BBQ Market

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Local celebrity chef Jason Dady—who co-owns the place with his brother Jake and wife, Crystal—has gone the route of high-end barbecue in this north San Antonio location. Here, just about everything is done by hand and recipes are original. The brisket has a deep, rich taste; the crust is thick…

Kirby’s Barbecue

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Kirby’s is a living testament to the adage, “Teach your children well.” Owner and pitmaster Kirby Hyden learned to smoke meats from his father, who learned from his father, and this family know-how proves to be a rich inheritance. In 1960 Hyden’s grandfather opened a joint called Holloway’s in a…

Hutchins BBQ

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Last June, after a one-alarm blaze left their pit room in shambles and their business on hold, the father-son team of Roy and Tim Hutchins began to rebuild. They documented the process on Facebook, offering reports from the construction site and musing about the psyche of the Texas barbecue purveyor…

Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Que

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

You’ll smell Whup’s long before you see it, and despite signage and GPS, you’ll probably miss the left turn that you have to make from Business State Highway 6. This cozy joint is not so much off the beaten the path as on it: a small, tidy house on a…

City Market (Luling)

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

There are few places we love as much as the pit room at City Market. Entering the smoke-filled, glass-enclosed chamber at the back of the dining room is an experience you will remember for decades—a trip into an iconic, sacred space in the world of barbecue. Like Kreuz Market and…

Kreuz Market

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

We wanted to keep this renowned spot at the top of our list, where it’s been since our very first barbecue story, in 1973. But after repeated visits by various staffers, we had to be honest: we couldn’t. The brisket was consistently disappointing. The scanty fat on the “fatty” was…

Black’s Barbecue

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Black’s has little in common with the more publicized Kreuz or Smitty’s other than that they are all in the same town. Instead of a mesmerizing encounter with a picturesque fire blazing at the end of an ancient brick pit like you’ll find at Smitty’s, at Black’s you’re funneled through…

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Texas is in the midst of a barbecue renaissance, an age of smoky enlightenment. One need only sample the goods at new-guard establishments like Franklin Barbecue, in Austin, or Pecan Lodge, in Dallas, to realize it. Yet in the face of all this newfangled excitement, Cooper’s continues to soldier on—an…

Hays Co. Bar-B-Que and Catering

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Longtime San Marcosans may recall this place as the former home of Woody’s, a barbecue joint that opened in 1984. It was taken over in 2007 by the Hernandez family, and in 2011 they changed the name to Hays Co. Bar-B-Que and Catering. Last we checked, this venue does welcome…

Zimmerhanzel’s BBQ

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Only a few folks were eating lunch when we arrived in this small, well-lit room decorated with mounted deer, but since we had seen the massive pits outside and the piles of post oak, we speculated that a good meal was ahead. We were right. The fat on the brisket…

Opie’s Barbecue

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Upon walking through Opie’s front door you will immediately be confronted by a gleaming black metal box. If it’s your first visit, you’ll probably think to yourself that this behemoth is a little too clean and a little too showy to contain top-quality barbecue. But just wait until the lid…

Corkscrew BBQ

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Set among a relentless suburban grid of drab brown-and-gray strip malls north of Houston, Corkscrew BBQ’s riotous pink-and-black mini-campus of trailers and smoke shacks stands out like a Longhorn in College Station. This is appropriate, however, considering that Corkscrew represents a new generation of barbecue in Houston. Pitmaster…

Big Boy’s Bar-B-Que

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

The exceptional thing to note about Big Boy’s Bar-B-Que is the fact that it exists at all. Located in a caliche lot along a desolate road in Sweetwater next to a bowling alley turned bar, Big Boy’s has the feel of an oasis—or a mirage. Blink and it might disappear.

Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Owner Nick Pencis isn’t going to take it anymore. For years he felt compelled by regional tastes to serve lightly seasoned briskets without a speck of fat on them. But when he renovated his restaurant in 2012 (adding a new bar and patio along with an impressive pit room), a…

Mumphord’s Place BBQ

May 16, 2013 By Texas Monthly

The minute you park, you’ll be drawn like a moth to the glowing fireboxes and pits in the screened-in shed out back. That’s where the action is—and frankly, we wondered how the pitmaster gets any work done, he’s so busy posing for pictures with guests and explaining to newbies how…

Longoria’s BBQ

May 15, 2013 By Texas Monthly

In 1975 a Bell Helicopter employee named Fidencio “Fred” Longoria began making his own sausage in his kitchen at home. He wanted to create links as good as those he remembered eating in Gonzales as a child. In 1990, after years of tinkering, he finally solidified his recipe for sausage…

Cranky Frank’s Barbeque Company

May 15, 2013 By Texas Monthly

As popular as this Hill Country hamlet is among the day-tripping set, Fredericksburg has historically suffered from a surprising dearth of top-rate barbecue. No more. Just a mile and a half south of the knickknack and potpourri emporiums of bustling Main Street stands Cranky Frank’s Barbeque Company. Once inside the…

Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que

May 15, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Brazoria County native Leon O’Neal doesn’t usually dress up, but he does often don a cowboy hat, even in the summer (when the headgear is made of straw and he may be wearing shorts). Dressed up or not, he and his sister will welcome you like honored guests to their…

Meshack’s Bar-B-Que

May 15, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Meshack’s takes the concept of a barbecue joint and reduces it to its most basic element: the meat and nothing else. There are no tables at which to sit and enjoy your food, no whimsical décor, really no ambience at all. Just a cinder-block shack crudely painted with images of…

City Meat Market

May 15, 2013 By Texas Monthly

A welcome landmark on U.S. 290 between Austin and Houston is the boxy brick building of City Meat Market, in Giddings. The red painted sign reads “Bar-B-Q and Sausage”—sausage being one of their specialties. Walk through the main room, with its high ceilings, two rows of tables covered in…

Bartley’s Bar-B-Q

May 15, 2013 By Texas Monthly

We walked through the doors of this thoroughly nondescript suburban strip center spot and were greeted by the heavenly incense of smoked meat—which carried us to the counter in a happy daze. Next, came an unsolicited, excruciatingly upbeat testimonial from a fellow patron, waiting and antsy for service: “Best barbecue…

Bob’s Bar-B-Que

May 15, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Owner and pitmaster Bob Allen is just as guarded as he is hospitable, so don’t expect a pit tour here. But though we could not see the equipment, we were assured that no gas was used in the preparation of the meat. The menu is simple, but it does include…

Gatlin’s BBQ & Catering

May 15, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Greg Gatlin is in charge of the smoker, but he also bustles around taking orders and tidying up. So does his mom, who is responsible for the fine bread pudding and other sweets. After a wait—which is often lengthy—you’ll receive plates neatly stacked with precisely sliced meat. In case you’ve…