★★★★ (Excellent)

The Original Willie’s Bar-B-Q

May 13, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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.

Gatlin’s BBQ

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Carry your order to a picnic table outside or settle down in the small room adorned with snapshots and a painting of a white-robed Jesus holding a miniature model of Gatlin’s in his hands.

Stiles Switch

May 3, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Sides and desserts are solid, and those who don’t have to go back to work can choose from six kinds of beer on tap or dozens of other selections in bottles.

Kirby’s Barbeque

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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.

Mumphord’s Place BBQ

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

This is “cowboy-style” barbecue, where the wood is burned to coals, then transferred to large metal pits in which the meat is placed on grates set about four feet directly above the heat.

Brooks’ Place

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

In time, even the most skeptical of Houston ’cue hounds were making regular trips to Cypress to taste Brooks’s brisket

Gonzales Food Market

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

2009: Pass through the glass door and you’ll hear a hum of activity as you walk toward the large glass cases that display the plethora of smoked meats available. Behind the counter to take your order will most likely be Richard Lopez, the third generation owner. I ordered a plate…

Hutchins BBQ

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Being able to see your meat being chopped, sliced, and portioned can really improve your meal if you know what to ask for. After ordering up a three-meat combo of ribs, sausage, and sliced brisket, I noticed the knife man grabbing for a dried-out hunk of lean brisket from the…

Bartley’s Bar-B-Q

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

2010: It’s always good to ask for a mix of lean and fatty brisket and not get an odd stare. Instead, the knife man just grabbed a beautiful piece of the point and starting slicing. They were out of ribs, so I added pork loin to the order based on…

Two Bros. BBQ Market

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Longoria’s BBQ

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Lockhart Smokehouse

May 3, 2013 By Texas Monthly

The closest some Dallasites will get to a Central Texas barbecue experience could well be ordering meat by the pound at Lockhart Smokehouse.

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

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Cowpoke’s

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

The brisket fell into delectable shards while remaining moist, even after sixteen hours in the smoker. We missed the ribs, but the porcine portion of the barbecue family was well represented by two kinds of sausage, plain and spicy. Darn-good sides rounded out the offerings. The thick, sweet, tomato-tart sauce…

Zimmerhanzel’s BBQ

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Trophies from local Little League teams are usually a sign of quality barbecue, and Zimmerhanzel’s is equipped with both.

City Market (Luling)

May 3, 2013 By Texas Monthly

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,…

Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Que

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Opie’s Barbecue

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

The Brother-in-Law, a sandwiched smorgasbord of chopped beef, butterflied hot links, and cheese, has a powerful (and well-deserved) reputation in East Texas, but order the old-fashioned hand-pulled-pork sandwich, filled with juicy shreds of perfectly smoked pork shoulder. Nick Pencis, the owner and pitmaster, follows a fifty-year-old smoking method—meats housed for…

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Can a place that cooks its meat in a gas-burning rotisserie make really great ’cue? Well, the brown-sugar-and-coffee-rubbed brisket was delicious, the maple-and-coriander-encrusted pork ribs were tender, the pulled pork was perfect, and the chorizo-ish jalapeño hot links were unforgettable. Sides and desserts were extraordinary. A jícama-and-carrot slaw, in particular,…

Austin’s BBQ and Catering

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

This converted gas station, its service bays occupied by two portable cast-iron pits, immediately filled our tanks with pecan-smoked brisket and tender pepper-crusted pork ribs. The fresh coleslaw made up for a tomatoey sauce better suited to pasta. We ignored the five chain-link-enclosed picnic tables and ate by the car—whose…

McMillan’s Bar-B-Q

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

The secret? “Love,” says Louis McMillan, the owner of this six-table outpost in this tiny town, just west of Victoria. Corny, sure, but that love—along with sixteen-plus hours over an oak-pecan-mesquite mix—turns out moist, tender brisket and fat little baby back ribs that are nicely charred on the outside and…

Cousin’s Bar-B-Q

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

In barbecue time there’s before, during, and after. Before our meal at Cousin’s, we studied the brisket’s thin, dark crust. During our meal, the smoky taste made us lose track of our other senses. Ribs were rich. Sauce was tart. Sweet beans really were. After, we wondered where the time…

Virgie’s Bar-B-Que

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Three-plus years ago, Adrian Handsborough converted the neighborhood convenience store his mom, Virgie, ran for 35 years and began cooking over oak and pecan in two small barrels. His brisket, only a tad fatty, smokes for ten to fourteen hours; we could cut ours with a plastic fork. Well-seasoned pork…

Buzzie’s Bar-B-Q

May 3, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Be advised: Several years ago a man was arrested after breaking into Buzzie’s at four in the morning to fix himself a chopped-beef sandwich.