Nineteen joints we couldn’t countenance not noting at all.
Beans N Things
A cozy country cafe plunked down on a busy city street.
Hard Eight Pit Bar-B-Que
Meats are cooked cowboy style directly over hot mesquite coals.
Baby Back Shak
Owner Clarence Cohens is from Memphis, where, apparently, they have their own barbecue traditions.
The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que
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.
Willie B’s Bar B.Q.
What’s better: the tangy brisket, the meaty ribs, or the small porky sausages? Debate it at the long communal table.
Novosad’s B-B-Q & Sausage Market
A Michelangelo of pitmasters carves out well-marbled cuts of brisket.
Norma Galvan, who is type A to the max, ramrods this six-month-old start-up. Her husband, Ademar, whose father was a vaquero on the King Ranch, mans the electric smoker.
Goode Company Texas Bar-B-Q
Every meat in the barbecue pantheon, plus duck.
Customers crowd in every day of the week to claim a sturdy chair and table in the blond-pine dining room.
The smoke-blackened pit looks like the antechamber to hell, but what emerges from it is often heavenly.
The Pit Bar-B-Que Texas-Style
Good choices are the ginormous ribs and the tender brisket (though the latter was truly smoky only around the edges).
Cooper’s pit Bar-B-Q
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 cabrito—was very dry, and this was before the lunch rush. Slightly redeeming the overcooked meats was a deep, complex mesquite flavor.
Lone Star Bar-B-Q
In all of Texas, only a handful of places have sausage you can get excited about. This is one of them.
The pork chops were skinny but packed big flavor, and the mesquite-smoked brisket, while a tad dry, was fork-tender and wore deep-red smoke rings and a crusty char.
Joe Cotten’s Barbecue
In the past six months this spacious roadhouse has dished up its meats for a certain quarterback from Dallas (who is rumored to have left a $300 tip, as if that would make up for an early exit from the playoffs) and the staff of a certain senator from New York (we’ve put in calls to Mrs. Clinton to see what kind of gratuity her staff bestowed, but no one seems to be answering the phone).
Fuschak’s Pit Bar-B-Q
Hints of hickory and oak were evident in the brisket, which is cooked for about 24 hours in a commercial smoker, joined in the morning by pork ribs and tenderloin.
Trophies from local Little League teams are usually a sign of quality barbecue, and Zimmerhanzel’s is equipped with both.
Hard Eight Pit Bar-B-Que
Brisket was tender, jalapeño sausage kicked, ribs were thick-n-smoky. Try the cornbread salad with a ladleful of pintos from the bean pot.
Big Boys Barbecue
Exterior: small, corrugated-metal building. Interior: a Shangrila of Southwestern decor.