2011: We needed some serious sustenance to weather the line that would be ahead of us just to see some frozen Peanuts characters in ICE at the Gaylord Texan. What arrived after ordering the $26 ’Kitchen Sink’ was a thrown together mess of meat and sauce with a wet nap.
Notable decor: School desk–style dining tables.
The peppery chicken is also a standout as is the generous selection of sides.
2010: It was plenty busy on a Saturday at lunch time, but I was taking my order to go. They allow you to order by the quarter pound, so I went for a pork spare rib, a beef rib, and some brisket slices. The knife man clued me in that
2008: Before we get to the meat, the sides here were great. The potato salad was mustard based with nearly mashed potatoes, flecks of red pepper, and a hint of sugar. Pinto beans rather than barbecue beans are the standard in this area of Texas, and this joint puts out
This is the best of the living legends.
2010: A four-meat sampler is available, so I watched as they heaped on sliced brisket, pork ribs, a beef rib, and that famous sausage (a.k.a. hot guts). Hot guts aren’t quite as hot as they were back in the old days since they took some of the cayenne out of
2008: This part of town is home to a variety of businesses that vary from high tech to transmission service. At 11:35 a.m. on a Thursday I appeared to be the first customer of the day. Everything looked as it should. The brisket displayed a promising black crust and pink
2010: My second trip to Two Bros. was just a month after the first, but I had to get back there to see if the brisket would be great twice in a row. The smoked beef was good, but not as good as the first time. The slightly tough slices
Corkscrew represents a new generation of barbecue in Houston.
Rudy’s is a consistent chain barbecue joint. Rarely have I found it to be incredible, but there isn’t a Rudy’s location that I’ve visited that I would consider bad. This location can be tricky to get to. When traveling north there’s a big old texas U-turn required to get here.
2008: This is one of many locations run by the Cooper family, and the meat is smoked in a similar fashion as the other joints but not displayed in the large smokers outside. Instead, the meat is displayed on the counter at the entry, and it all looked great. We
2009: The exterior doesn’t look like much, and the interior is sparse as well, with large picnic tables for those eating in. Most of my fellow customers were ordering to-go just in time for dinner at home. Signs beside the menu let customers know that the popular menudo was now
2009: I’d prefer a big-ass picture of Lorenzo Lamas to the creepy desperado character on their marquee. Plus, they serve breakfast. This Grand Prairie establishment, in my mind, is trying to be a few too many things to a few too many people. The results in brisket and ribs were
2009: This purveyor’s name is probably familiar to most of you out there from Pappadeaux, Pappasito’s, and Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. This Houston-based family of chains churns out some decent quality grub at most every location, so I wanted to see how well they could handle smoked meat. I stepped up
Getting a taste of Pecan Lodge’s wondrous grub means a bit of a wait (up to an hour on weekends), but any hardships will be forgotten when you’re wiping that speck of beef rib off your chin.
Since Joe Melton and Kenneth Manning opened Smokey Joe’s in the mid-eighties and later passed it on to Manning’s son Kris, the joint has smartly adapted to the evolution of Texas barbecue. Its original brick pit has been replaced with offset smokers that put out lean brisket covered by swooshes
“Life’s too short to live in Dallas,” is the motto at Railhead.
In short, it’s excellent.
A good barbecue joint on the edge of nowhere.
2010: Side dishes do not usually get a high billing on the pages of this site, but Leon’s “stepped up” rice does—the combination of tender rice, stewed celery, onions, and a few other veggies along with a nice spicy kick made for one memorable dish. I placed a to-go order
2008: The brisket was passable for sandwich fodder but not good on its own. The ribs were dry and flavorless.
2009: We opted for a three-meat plate of sliced brisket, St. Louis–style ribs, and the famous brisket sausage. Also on the plate were unremarkable green beans and over-sweet potato salad. But with meat of this quality staring you in the face, we were firmly focused on the protein. Tales of
2010: Luling City Market has been described as an identity bandit. They stole an employee and a sauce recipe from the original City Market, in Luling, but the meat isn’t quite up to that level. Orders arrive on butcher paper accompanied by that signature clay-colored sauce, and there’s no denying
2008: We didn’t expect much from a gas station trying to serve ’cue on the side, but we soon learned that the gas station was the side business. We ordered brisket, ribs, and sausage. The links had a great snap and a medium grind with lots of visible spices. They
2010: I drove by the joint looking for the sign that I’d seen in Wyatt McSpadden’s Texas BBQ book, but the wall facing the corner had been whitewashed. I learned from the owner that he’d paid a man to repaint the sign, and he’d all but disappeared after the single
Bare-bones locale with barbecue done right
The closest some Dallasites will get to a Central Texas barbecue experience could well be ordering meat by the pound at Lockhart Smokehouse.
Mike Anderson Jr. runs one of the most popular barbecue lunch spots in Dallas.
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 of post oak-smoked meats (brisket, pork ribs and chops, shoulder clod, sausage, prime rib). Salivating, you finally place your order for a pound or
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,
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
Be advised: Diabetics may want to tread lightly.
Remarkable employee: A jocular pitman who hails arriving and departing guests.
Notable decor: Hundreds of signatures carved in the pads of a giant prickly pear hedge out front.
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
The line at Louie Mueller was moving slowly when we visited, and the woman taking orders had no time for small talk. But our request for a beef rib stopped her cold. “You know what you’re doing, right?” she said. “That’s gonna be more than two pounds of meat. Yep,
The tagline stenciled on nearly every surface at Stanley’s is “Be Kind, Have Fun,” a somewhat incongruous entreaty in this traditionally rough-and-tumble East Texas railroad town. But Stanley’s lives up to the motto, combining a world-class barbecue joint with two bars stocked with a dizzying selection of beer and assorted
Owner Clarence Cohens is from Memphis, where, apparently, they have their own barbecue traditions.
The vinegar-based sauce is good on everything—ribs, brisket, sausage, bread, onions, cobbler, the sleeve of your jacket, a balled-up napkin, the menu, stray bits of pocket lint.
When we compiled our last list, in 2003, the Cooper’s in Mason was in our top five. (The more famous Cooper’s, in Llano, is operated independently.) Sadly, it has now fallen out of our top fifty. Each piece of barbecue we sampled—from the brisket to the pork ribs to the
In all of Texas, only a handful of places have sausage you can get excited about. This is one of them.