May 1997 Issue

On the Cover


Don’t miss your ’cue: We pick the top joints in Texas for brisket, ribs, sausage, and all the sides. Plus, the godfather of barbacoa, the biggest free feast in the state, and more.


Big Fish

In the eighties Tilman Fertitta’s seafood restaurants earned him millions while his hard-nosed business tactics earned him enemies. But these days the Galveston native is winning new respect in his hometown by standing up to the most powerful family on the Island.


The War for the Colorado

Battles over the river’s precious waters are pulling in everyone from pecan growers in Central Texas to shrimpers in Matagorda Bay, not to mention thirsty cities like San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Who will be left high and dry?

And Honorable Mention To…

For Specialties of the HouseABBOTT: the Turkey Shop, for steamed cabbage, black-eyed peas, and cornbread dressingABILENE: Joe Allen’s, for yeast-risen whole-wheat breadAUSTIN: ArtZ Rib House, for country pork ribsBRADY: Mac’s Barbecue, for crisp-skinned chickenCUERO: Barbecue Station—B&D Catering and Smolik’s Quality Meats, for exemplary brisketDEL VALLE: Dan’s Bar-B-Q, for exceptional

Lockhart and Soul

It’s been the same for years. At Kreuz Market in Lockhart, you enter from the dirt parking lot through the hellishly hot pit area in the rear. If the line is long enough—and the line at Kreuz is seldom short—the exposed post-oak-wood fire at the end of the pit may

Where There’s Smoke

There’s something vintage cadillac about Louie Mueller’s. As ’cue joints go, its chassis is a classic—a weathered old brick building on a small-town main street with a black screen door that slams behind you when you enter. The interior? Pure comfort. High green walls faded brown from years of smoke,

Really, It’s the Pits

You can tell from the roadside that Cooper’s is serious. At one end of the parking lot is a small mountain of enormous mesquite logs. Next to it is a barbecue fanatic’s dream landscape: five old rectangular, closed steel pits, lined up in a row. At the pit closest to

The Other Cabeza de Vaca

At seven on a Saturday morning, I find Armando Vera and his assistant in the prep room of the tin smokehouse behind Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que in Brownsville. The assistant is cleaning about fifty cow heads with a powerful spray hose; when he finishes, Vera wraps them in extra-heavy aluminum foil. In

The Pit Parade

ABILENE Betty Rose’s Little Brisket Briskets generally don’t get prettier by closing time, so at 4 p.m. Betty Rose’s juicy, tender, well-marbled, mesquite-smoked brisket and meaty, black-pepper-rub-encrusted pork ribs were nice surprises, expertly held through the long, post-lunch slump. Not so the wrinkled pork-and-beef sausage. We helped ourselves to above-average

Gone To Kansas City

I went; I ate; for the most part I snickered. Of all the alleged barbecue capitals in the United States, the only serious rival to Texas is Kansas City, Missouri. This is because Kansas City barbecues beef, whereas Memphis, the Carolinas, and the rest of the Deep South barbecue pork.

Underground Round

On the first Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in August for the past 61 years, thousands have converged on a park on the outskirts of Dalhart for the XIT Rodeo and Reunion, celebrating the history of the XIT Ranch, once the biggest ranch in Texas. (This year’s dates: August 7—9.) In


Steve Brodner’s Sketchbook (4)

“Cake is a great band. It’s soulful music. It’s food for the soul.” — Krys Holland, audience member, watching Cake at the Austin Music Hall.“When I say go, turn that s—t all the way up.” — Wayne Coyne, lead singer of the Flaming Lips, having passed out cassette tapes to

Steve Brodner’s Sketchbook (2)

“The artists that are performing tonight have written compositions or have been influenced by compositions written in Spanish, traditional Mexican music, and what’s called border music, if you will, a marriage of Tex-Mex. And so tonight they are celebrating that acoustically, singing the songs they’ve learned.”— Susan Charney, co-producer of

Steve Brodner’s Sketchbook (3)

Mark: “They’ve mixed a lot of the Western side with the original, but they’re not original. And this right here is the biggest joke I’ve ever heard. She’s doing mudras [hand movements] through the whole thing, but she’s not even doing the mudras right.” Dan: “It’s nonsensical, the way they’re singing.

Steve Brodner’s Sketchbook (1)

“And don’t forget to come back next week for the Greensheet Awards. Everybody in Austin can win something if you just stick around long enough in this town. A lot of people dressed up tonight and a lot of people didn’t give a s—t, did they? Nobody’s going to work


Bill, Due

After more than two decades in the movie business—including star turns in Apollo 13, Twister, and now his own Traveller—Fort Worth’s Bill Paxton is finally getting what’s coming to him.


Jaci Velasquez

“Sure, I miss having a locker and going to the prom,” says gospel-singing sensation Jaci Velasquez. True enough, the seventeen-year-old Houston native has not had what you would call a normal adolescence. At age ten she began traveling around the U.S. and Latin America with her family’s music ministry. Four

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDsAbra Moore’s wispy, quivering voice works hard to be heard among the loud, rude guitars of Strangest Places (Arista/Austin). It’s a far cry from her earlier, softer work with Poi Dog Pondering and as a solo artist. Even when she falters, the Austinite’s transformation into a rocker adds resonance

Liz Smith

I entered the University of Texas before World War II ended; I was fresh out of divorce court. I didn’t know a soul in Austin, and there were only very young men—prodigies—or very old men on campus. American guys were still at war! So I spent my time swinging between

Power Outage

The state’s big investor-owned utilities, aptly nicknamed IOUs, are in big trouble—and Wall Street knows it. Historically, the IOUs have been able to block damaging legislation calling for the deregulation of electricity and immediate rate cuts, but the once-friendly Public Utility Commission has turned against them. In a sweeping and


Mission Accomplished

The newest game from Dallas’ Digifx Entertainment is ready for prime time. In Mission to Nexus Prime, whose storyline has been crafted by Star Wars author Timothy Zahn, you command your troops through a series of battles to gain control of planet Nexus Prime and its complex network of wormholes


Naval Gazing

As the Navy’s top civilian leader, Texan John Dalton has navigated one scandal after another. He might also be charting a course back home—and to elected office.

Katherine the Great

Indian Creek native Katherine Anne Porter is the finest author ever to come out of Texas. But only recently has her home state stopped writing her off.


Drawing Conclusions

Before chronicling the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference for Texas Monthly, New York illustrator Steve Brodner had never been to Austin—but that actually worked to his advantage. “The idea was to capture the scene as someone who just happened upon it,” he says. “I wasn’t trying to get



Summer Soups

Recipe from Ruth Carter, soups-and-specials cook at Austin’s Eastside Cafe.Dewberry-Orange4 cups dewberries or blackberries, rinsed 2 cups water 1/2 cup sugar 4 ounces cream cheese 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 4 cups fresh orange juice mint leaves for garnish (optional)Combine berries (reserve a few for garnish) with water in a

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