With respect to Houston native Beyoncé and her mega-hit, Single Ladies, I had to use the play on words based on what everyone tells me about Texas barbecue. It’s cooked low and slow and when you slice it, there better be a smoke ring. The distinctive pink color, which represents the ring, is located on the outermost portion of smoked meats. While it’s not always a guarantee that the meat is going to taste good, it’s certainly a positive. If the seasoning isn’t right, it can certainly ruin a great meal.
Every TV chef, backyard griller, or BBQ cook-off competitor who knows their stuff will talk to you about the importance of the ring. So now it’s time to dig in. While I don’t eat barbecue every day from the Official World Headquarters in San Angelo, I do love it.
I don’t recall eating a lot of BBQ when I was younger but have enjoyed my fair share over the years. What’s not to like? It’s smoked and savory and filled with flavor. Some spell it barbeque and some barbecue. I don’t care how you spell it, as long as it’s delicious, and I get invited to the table.
A Variety of Pits
Having judged a few cooking competitions over the years, including the World Championship Goat Cook-off in Brady a couple of times, I’ve seen some pretty interesting pits and grills. And having eaten a good amount of BBQ, I’ve enjoyed delicious meals from restaurants and home cooks across the state. There seems to be no limit on what people can create to make the mouth-watering smoked meats we all know and love.
My Friend’s Tips
Since the state is so vast and the number of BBQ restaurants are plentiful, I asked others about their favorites. The following are suggestions by my Facebook friends and my How Big is Texas Facebook followers. Enjoy!
- City Market BBQ in Luling – Heather said to try the brisket and sausage, which is served old school on butcher paper. She also said her family washes it down with a Big Red.
- Smokehouse Barbecue in San Angelo – Annetta said it’s wonderful and the owners are exceptional.
- Natty Flat Smokehouse in Mineral Wells – Rose’s suggestion, probably best served with a bottle of Crazy Water.
- The Pit Room in Houston – Darren enjoys their BBQ with a side of elote.
- LJ’s BBQ in Brenham – Darren likes this one, too.
- Jay’s BBQ Shack in Abilene – Jeff enjoys the El Rey sandwich. Tiffany suggested their BBQ, also.
- Heim BBQ in Fort Worth or Dallas – Both Tina’s and Barry’s Suggestion.
- Mimsy’s Craft Barbecue in Crockett – Michael’s suggestion.
- Burnt Bean Company BBQ in Seguin – Michael’s next suggestion.
- Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue in Tomball – Michael’s third suggestion. What can I say, Michael likes his ‘cue? I get it.
- Smitty’s Market in Lockhart – Shane shared that the fire hasn’t gone out in over 100 years, even during a move to a new location downtown, burning logs were wheelbarrowed downtown to the new location.
- Kreuz Market in Lockhart – Jim recommends the sausage.
- True Texas BBQ in College Station – Jim tossed this name out, as well.
- Cattleack Barbeque in Dallas – Cassie shared it’s one of her faves in Dallas.
- Joseph’s Riverport in Jefferson – Laura said Texas Monthly and Texas Highways has written about them several times and that Stephen Joseph is both owner and head cook.
- Rejino Barbeque in Olton – Candi says it’s a Texas Monthly top selection.
- Butter’s BBQ in Mathis – Sabrina stated it’s the best BBQ ever and enjoys the brisket, ribs, homemade sausage, and smoked barbacoa with elote and homemade tortillas on the side.
- Brisket Love Barbecue & Icehouse in Lindale – Mary Kay mentioned it’s the best of the best.
- Chuck’s Country Smoke House in Carthage – Joanie was emphatic that it’s the best around.
- Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano – Darla and Bubba mentioned it’s nice to find some things are still the same.
- Evie Mae’s BBQ in Wolfforth – Allison suggests both the jalapeño sausage and brisket with potato salad, green chile cheese grits, and their unique cornbread.
- Corkscrew BBQ in Old Town Spring – Elizabeth says it’s her favorite.
And here’s my personal list in no particular order:
- R.J. BBQ in San Angelo – Love their sliced brisket sandwich. It was one of the first places I visited when we moved here so it’s got a warm place in my heart…and stomach. They were featured in Texas Monthly in 2019. San Angelo is loaded with great places to eat.
- Riscky’s in Fort Worth – This one’s for my husband. He loves their beef ribs, but he loves their Texas fries, (a combination of french fries, onions, and jalapeños) even more.
- Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood – Only a short distance from Buda, where we lived when I worked in Austin, I’ve taken many of my friends and family there to enjoy a great meal and get their picture in front of the pit. I love the Marino’s Triple Chop sandwich with brisket, sausage, and ribs. And I’m a big fan of their burnt ends.
- The Smoking Oak in Mercedes – Great brisket and ribs.
- Leroy and Lewis Barbecue in Austin – Barbacoa, citra hop pork sausage, and Texas Red Chili Frito Pie are my faves.
- Shugabees in Buda – Love their sliced brisket or smoked sausage in an over-sized flour tortilla. First brisket I’d ever seen served that way.
- Already listed above by friends, I’m including both Kreuz Market and Smitty’s Market in Lockhart – We learned about the family feud between these two restaurants, so Dan and I ordered the exact same meal to share at each location to see if we liked one over the other. It was a draw.
While I’m no culinary ‘cue expert like the publishers of top lists around the state of Texas, I’m sharing what I personally like. This list could be even longer, as there are so many incredible options in the great state of Texas. Still, it’s a pretty good start.
The Sides Have It
Now the sides may not be that big of a deal for many, but I’m a big lover of the different options available. Potato salad, coleslaw, and beans tend to be pretty consistent offerings but they are certainly not always the same recipes. I prefer mustardy potato salad, creamy coleslaw, and pinto beans. And just about every restaurant serving BBQ offers pickles and onions, and maybe even a pickled jalapeño on the side. You might also get a roll or cornbread, but white bread is a common accompaniment. There are also some unconventional choices, all for the win. I won’t even go there with sauce or no sauce. That’s for you to decide and people like what they like.
Mixin’ It Up
I’ve even experienced barbecue incorporated with the sides, which makes for an easy option, like this BBQ Sundae with layers of mashed potatoes, brisket, and sauce. You might enjoy brisket nachos with all the trimmings. Or why not take it even a step further and add some mac and cheese to your sandwich alongside some pickled onions. How can you go wrong with any of these?
What other barbecue restaurants do I need to add in the future? Was your favorite included? Did you know there’s a Texas Barbecue Trail?
Here’s one I created from all of the suggestions on the two lists in this blog. If you squint a little when looking at the map and turn it on its side, it kind of looks like a longhorn head. Coincidence? Hmmm.
Thanks for joining me on this BBQ adventure. Should you have a hankering to eat in the heart of Texas and enjoy some barbecue, you shouldn’t have any problem locating it across the Lone Star State. Wherever you stop, let’s hope it’s cooked low and slow…and see that it has a ring on it.
Until next time from Texas…safe travels