BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Cowpoke’s

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Pody’s BBQ

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Hatfields BBQ & Blackjacks Beer Garden

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

The Granary ’Cue and Brew

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Two Bros. BBQ Market

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Kirby’s Barbecue

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Hutchins BBQ

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Que

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

City Market (Luling)

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Kreuz Market

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Black’s Barbecue

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Hays Co. Bar-B-Que and Catering

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Zimmerhanzel’s BBQ

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Opie’s Barbecue

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Corkscrew BBQ

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Big Boy’s Bar-B-Que

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.

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 16, 2013

Mumphord’s Place BBQ

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 15, 2013

Longoria’s BBQ

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 15, 2013

Cranky Frank’s Barbeque Company

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 15, 2013

Meshack’s Bar-B-Que

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 15, 2013

City Meat Market

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 15, 2013

Bartley’s Bar-B-Q

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 15, 2013

Bob’s Bar-B-Que

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 15, 2013

Gatlin’s BBQ & Catering

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…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 15, 2013

Virgie’s Bar-B-Que

The brawny pork ribs that emerge from the big metal smoker set a standard for the genre. They are massive, pink, and delicious, their meat lightly clinging to the bone until you grab a bite with your teeth and give a light tug. A heavy, salty-peppery crust, without a trace…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 15, 2013

Billy’s Old Fashion BBQ

You could lose a lot of tire tread and a little bit of soul looking for good barbecue in East Texas. But if you should find yourself in Jasper, mosey down Main Street, past the modest houses and packs of free-range dogs, and make the acquaintance of George Ralph Mahathay,…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 15, 2013

Joseph’s Riverport Barbecue

A devastating fire in 2012 destroyed all but the thin brick facade of this joint, which faces Polk Street in downtown Jefferson. But once the flames were extinguished, owner and pitmaster Stephen Joseph started rebuilding, and seven months later he was christening the new Bewley smoker. The refurbished interior is…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 15, 2013

Buzzie’s Bar-B-Q

Ordering brisket is a reflexive action for most eaters of Texas barbecue. And at a joint like Buzzie’s, with a reputation for expertly smoked beef, it’s truly a no-brainer. Where your tough choices come into play at this Hill Country standby is farther down the menu. If for some crazy…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 15, 2013

Hitch-N-Post BBQ

Billy Ray Nelson is the former sheriff in these parts, but he had always dreamed of making real-deal barbecue his full-time gig once he retired. His wish came true four years ago, and boy, is that a good thing for the rest of us. Situated in a wide-open field on…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

Cousin’s Bar-B-Q

With six locations—two of which are in the Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport—this family-run operation could be considered a chain now and, thus, not admissible for this list. But rules are made to be broken, especially when a plateful of expertly smoked meat is before you. We still like the original…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

McMillan’s Bar-B-Q

The tiny town of Fannin is famous for exactly two things. The first is for being the site of the 1836 Battle of Coleto Creek during the Texas Revolution, where Texians under Colonel James W. Fannin surrendered to the Mexican army, only to be marched to Goliad and executed en…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

Lockhart Smokehouse

The closest some Dallasites will get to a Central Texas barbecue experience could well be ordering meat by the pound at Lockhart Smokehouse. The similarity to Kreuz Market, in Lockhart, isn’t an accident. Co-owner Jill Bergus is part of the Schmidt family, who run Kreuz Market, and she and her…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

Austin’s BBQ and Catering

If you’re in the market for brisket, be sure to get the fatty rather than the lean, and be sure they leave the crust on when cutting your order. We didn’t know to say anything on our first visit, and our brisket came out looking scalped. When the bark is on,…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

Brooks’ Place

Trent Brooks was working as a materials specialist for a gas-compression company when a supervisor, who knew of Brooks’s talent as a part-time pitmaster, referred him to an ad on Craigslist for a $12,000 mobile smoker. Brooks negotiated the price down to $4,500, and the rest, as they say, is…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

Fargo’s Pit BBQ

A few months back Fargo’s moved out of its original building, a cramped place that lacked indoor seating—or outdoor seating, for that matter. Though the restaurant is now located just a few blocks from the first location, the large dining room, lined with big windows, feels miles away. One thing…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

Miller’s Smokehouse

If Miller’s were in Austin, it might have started in a food truck. Instead, Dirk Miller began cooking in the front room of his meat-processing and taxidermy business, which opened in 2006. First came sausage wraps and pulled pork in 2008; he started “throwing briskets” on the smoker a year…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew

This place comes with rock-solid credentials: The pitmaster, Lance Kirkpatrick, worked under Bobby Mueller at Taylor’s Louie Mueller Barbecue for nine years. Following that, he briefly succumbed to the lure of a fine-dining kitchen, but last year Austin entrepreneur Shane Stiles beckoned Kirkpatrick to the pits once again. We’re grateful…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue

Some people may be turned off by the description at the bottom of the Lamberts menu: “Fancy Barbecue?” But there are so many outstanding dishes at this establishment, we urge you to put preconceived notions out of your mind. Plus, the restaurant (we can’t bring ourselves to call it a…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

La Barbecue

In this case, “La” is not a definite article referring to the “Cuisine Texicana” this relatively new joint says it serves; it’s an abbreviation referring to the first name of the co-owner LeAnn Mueller, granddaughter of the founder of Taylor’s famous Louie Mueller Barbecue (disclosure: LeAnn is a contributing photographer…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

John Mueller Meat Co.

If there’s a dark prince of Texas barbecue, it’s probably John Mueller, the famously irascible, hugely talented, at times erratic master of meat who left his family’s legendary joint—Louie Mueller Barbecue, in Taylor—and set out on his own in 2001 with John Mueller’s B-B-Q, on Austin’s East Side. By 2003,…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

Tyler’s Barbeque

Our first visit to Tyler’s Barbeque was a failure. The staff was friendly and the food was great, particularly the tender brisket with its peppery crust and subtle smoke ring, but we arrived too late to try the pork ribs, whose praises were being sung all over the High Plains.

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 14, 2013

The Original Willie’s Bar-B-Q

With rattlesnake skin tacked to the particleboard walls, wagon wheel chandeliers, and black-and-white-checked tablecloths, Willie’s aesthetic can be described Little House on the Prairie chic. This joint has a large menu that caters to local tastes (brisket tacos, fajita plates), and it was packed during the weekday lunch rush. Meats…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
May 3, 2013

R&G Bar-B-Que

2011: When we arrived at about 2:00 in the afternoon, the place was empty. We grabbed a couple cans of High Life at $1.75 a piece, then settled down for a snack. The sausage link was well seasoned with plenty of smoke, but it was obvious that it had been…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
February 5, 2013

John Mueller Meat Co.

You may remember last October when John Mueller was shut out of his well-regarded JMueller BBQ trailer on South First Street in Austin. He wasn’t happy about it, to say the least, but stayed quiet, plotting his return. That…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
January 11, 2013

Pappy’s Bar BQ

If it’s been a long day of poor-quality smoked meat, then I start ordering dessert. If the meat is bad, then the sweet stuff is usually pretty good. I watched the knife man cut the brisket and it looked tough and springy, so I added a slice…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
January 10, 2013

Johnny’s Bar-B-Q

The smoke was thick coming out of the Oyler smoker in the back of this joint, and the neon was bright over the door as we entered. Toward the back of the room was a long cafeteria style counter with the meats on display, but the bright…

BBQ Joint Reviews |
January 4, 2013

Van’s Bar BQ

Van’s sits all alone along a long stretch of interstate between Corpus Christi and San Antonio. I had high hopes for this joint given the praise received from Texas Monthly in their 2008 Top 50 BBQ list, but little that they served on this day was worth…