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Best BBQ in Texas

  • t

I'll nominate The Country Tavern (btwn Kilgore and Tyler) and the Salt Lick BBQ (in Driftwood, just outside Austin)

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  1. There is suppose to be a place in Huntsville near an old church that is fantastic. Or at least several years ago it was there. Any help out there?

    30 Replies
    1. re: T-daddy

      The church is called New Zion. It's in Huntsville not too far off the interstate. The one time I was there, the meat was fair to good. Definitely not in the top 10 in Texas, IMHO.

      I'm glad you brough up Country Tavern, a much unheralded rib place. As a transplanted Sounthern boy, their ribs are the most reminscent of Dreamland and Interstate BBQ.

      As for the Saltlick, I have to disagree completely. But that's the fun of arguing barbecue.

      1. re: Carter B.

        Right on, Carter. Anyone who's eaten at the Salt Lick in the last few years and thinks that it's one of Texas' best must me missing out on the truly great 'que spots here in the barbecue belt.

        T-daddy, please give a try to Cooper's in Llano, Louis Mueller in Taylor, Black's and Kreuz in Lockhart and the City Market in Luling. IMO, these are some of the serious contenders for seriuos Texas barbecue. I'll be sure to go by the Country Tavern and give those ribs a try.

        1. re: Greg Spence

          Far be it from me to suggest that I have the kind of encyclopedic knowledge of texas barbecue that would qualify me to nominate a best, but Bob's Smokehouse out side of san antonio provided me a transcendental brisket experience. Having never been to Kreuz Market, or Louis Muellers I am obviously missing a couple of major barbecue benchmarks, but nevertheless. I had never before, nor ever since, experienced brisket as tender, long smoked, unpretentiously delicious, with fat as velvety and un-greasy as Bob's. Not to mention superlative sauce, (which never touches the meat before it emerges from the smoker). I think this place has gotten relatively little in the way of mentions during the various barbecue discussions that crop up on this board (you texans sure are singleminded!), and have always wondered why. What gives? Have i missed the barbecue boat? I have a lot of trouble imagining better brisket than Bob's.

          1. re: Seth

            Seth you may have missed the boat, I live in San Antonio and have been to Bobs on the East side and the one on the northside both are run by his daughters last I heard (Bob has passed away). Bobs made honarble mention in the infamous Texas Monthly article (may 1997 I think) that listed the top 50 BBQ joints in Texas. For San Antonio Bobs is probably one of the best and Rudy's is totally overated (good smoked turkey breast and cream corn), I have to agree with Spence the best are Kreuz, Coopers and Louie Muellers, also remembering nothing is carved in stone. In my opinion Bobs doesn't hold a candle to these establishments. Try them out and you may be opened to a whole new world of BBQ. After reading the article I tried these places and found out what really good Que taste like. I Also am not a walking encyclopedia of BBQ knowledge but I am working on it. Smokey trails

            1. re: Patrick

              Really interesting topic. I've done my best to eat my way through Texas and have been to virtually every place mentioned in this thread with the exception of Cooper's in Llano. Having said that I have several friends (whose opinions I trust) that insist it is the best anywhere. For what it's worth:
              1. Maurice's Western Kitchen (terrible name) in Glenrose (75 miles south of Fort Worth appropriately in the middle of nowhere) has legitimate 30 hour brisket with a deep red streak that only the Luling City Market can approach. (Value judgment: I like the Luling Market better than Kreuz. In fact Kreuz only smokes it's brisket for a fraction of this time.). There is another place in Glenrose that has a state wide reputation called Hammond's but I thought it was nowhere near as good as the Western Kitchen. Certainly not as flavorful or fall apart tender.
              2. Clark's Outpost in Tioga (70 miles north of Dallas) without question has the smokiest brisket on earth. They claim to smoke the meat for four DAYS! Is it the best? No but the Dallas Morning News ranks it higher than Sonny Bryan's on Inwood Avenue or any other place in the Dallas Metroplex. For what's it worth the wood in this joint is darker than the wood in Sonny Bryan's yet the darkest wood of all is that room at the Luling City Market where the Q is smoked.
              3. I didn't like the Salt Lick ten years ago. Great atmosphere. But not really good Q.

              I've actually done a driving trip where within seven days I ate at the following places and had their ribs:
              1. Lem's in south Chicago
              2. Arthur Bryant's and Gates in Kansas City (lunch and dinner)
              3. Interstate, Memphis
              4. McClard's in Hot Springs, Arkansas
              5. Clark's Outpost, Tioga, TX
              6. Dreamland Drive In, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

              Best atmosphere: Dreamland
              Best ribs: McClard's (On this trip-hot off the pit, not the next year when they had been left warming.)
              Best french fries: Arthur Bryant's (fried in pure lard)

              I have been told that until I go to Cooper's I still have not had good Q.

              1. re: Joe

                I agree that the City Market and Kreuz are both contenders for the heavyweight belt. I think that one of the reasons that there continues to be controversy about Kreuz is that Kreuz does smoke for a shorter time at a higher temperature. What results is different than most other barbecue in that you get a little less smoke but a lot more flavor, in the form of roasted fat.

                Now, most people think that as a general rule, the low and slow method is the only way to get true barbecue flavor. In fact, it's the method I use at home with terrific results. Now anything over 24 hours seems a little silly to me as the desired result can be had in 12 hours with the right technique.

                Still, there's room for different techniques as long as wood fire provides the heat and smoke. And that different technique that the use at Kreuz has found a big place in the heart (if not the arteries) of many Texans and in more than a few from other parts.

                1. re: Greg Spence

                  I have been to Kreuz three times including once where a friend of mine and I sat in our car and ate from two piles of butcher paper contained marbled beef-one from Kreuz and one from Luling. We both felt that Luling's texture was more "fall apart" while the intensity of flavor was deeper than Kreuz. I remember actually holding two pieces of brisket up and looking at the red streak and noting that Luling's was deeper.
                  But I liked the atmosphere of the rooms at the OLD Kreuz market better than Luling. (I have not been to the "new" Kreuz market.) Having said all this I honestly believe that the brisket at, perhaps a half dozen places in Texas are better than Kreuz. I've read all the posts below and know that it's considered the Holy Grail but I just think it's merely very good BBQ served in a tremendous amount of tradition with a heap of atmosphere. I would actually draw an analogy to Hammond's which Jane and Michael Stern popularized a number of years ago. It was two miles from the Western Kitchen but, sitting in my car eating sandwiches from both, it was not as good. More atmosphere, greater reputation but not as good.
                  Over Kreuz in my opinion: Clark's Outpost, Sonny Bryan's on Inwood Avenue(only the original), Luling City Market, Maurice's Western Kitchen and a place about 40 miles west of Houston off of the interestate whose name I can't remember but it had a wall of clippings from Texas Monthly, Houston magazine and other places proclaiming it Texas' best.
                  Still, probably Cooper's (according to my friend) is better than all of these.

                  1. re: Joe

                    I'd never argue that the Luling City Market brisket isn't a great piece of 'cue. I'd also never try to tell you that there's less smoke on Luling's brisket than on Kreuz. My argument is that the red ring is merely an indicator, not a true test.

                    You've got to order fatty brisket at Kreuz and you have to try a pork chop there. It's not the same as other 'cue in the barbecue belt and IMO, it's better. We'll probably settle on friendly disagreement over this one. I'd never call another 'cue lover's opinion wrong, unless they insist on bringing up the Salt Lick, or they judge the joint in question on anything that doesn't come off the pit.

                    I love the City Market. I just prefer that roasted fat thing that you get at Kreuz. A friend of mine calls it "beef crack" and I'd agree. I can't stop eating it even when I'm so full I'm in pain.

                    As for the holy grail of barbecue, I hope I never find it. After all, the quest must always continue... that's half the fun.

                    1. re: Greg Spence

                      IMO, Cooper's is not as good as it's cracked up to be. Very hot smoke, pretty much direct grilling, and a creosotey flavor that may remind you of the ashy off-tastes that often form when you cover meat on a charcoal grill for more than 30 minutes but less than an hour. And at the Luling City Market I have experienced great, crispy hot guts, but only tough, overcooked brisket.

                      On the other hand, both the brisket and the shoulder at Kreuz are the closest things to heaven.

                      1. re: sluglord

                        I did order "marbled" beef but obviously I'm going to have to revisit Kreuz and try it again. Have either of you been to Clark's or do you even know if the Western Kitchen in Glenrose is still there? It's been six or seven years since I was in Glenrose while Clark's I've been to recently.

                        1. re: Joe

                          Been to Clark's. It's okay--the quail is fine--but nothing like its outsize reputation.

                          I've heard there's even a restaurant near the L.A. airport that imports all of its meat from Clark's.

                          1. re: sluglord

                            Believe it or not but that might actually be true. One time when I was there I had them pack two pounds of brisket so I could carry it to Shreveport which is probably about 250 to 300 miles. They put it in Cry-o-vac. I was told it could survive, I believe, several days! Anyway, when we opened it up it tasted the exact same way it did at the restaurant. However, minus the atmosphere and the small town it did not taste as good. Still incredibly smoky but not as good. Probably Kreuz is better than Clark's but I honestly prefer the Luling Market over it as well as the sandwich at the Western Kitchen. But the Western Kitchen has been several years and, if memory serves me correct, the owner then was probably around 60 or so and looked like he had been eating his own Q for decades!
                            I really don't remember the name of the restaurant west of Houston, Hintze sounds familiar but it was about 50 or 60 miles out.

                            1. re: Joe

                              Try Black's BBQ in Lockhart. They are in a class by themselves well above Kruez and City Mkt..

                    2. re: Joe
                      Phil Wronski

                      Was that place west of Houston Hinze's Bar-B-Que in
                      Sealy? I was there in February and I think it's a
                      wonderful place but not as good as Kreuz. Best sides
                      and pies (except for a chocolate meringue at McLary's
                      in Arkansas) I've had with excellent 'que.

                      1. re: Phil Wronski

                        Probably was Hinze's, in both Sealy & Wharton. Great brisket, large servings, best desserts, above-average sides. Service at the Wharton location on US59 is terrible. Austin's Smokehouse in Eagle Lake is excellent also. Great desserts there too.

                      2. re: Joe

                        Hinze's BBQ in Wharton, Texas along side highway 59 I believe is the restaurant that you may be thinking about. If it isn't, I think it's the better than Kruetz's, but then again I also believe Salt Lick in Driftwood is better than Kruetz's as well.

                        1. re: Joe
                          linda cooper

                          Hi, I just read your reviews of barbecues in Houston.
                          My son is getting married in Houston in April. We are looking for a fun, comfortable & nice atmosphere to have the rehearsal dinner. Which place would you recommend? There will be many out-of-town guests.

                          1. re: linda cooper

                            Linda, I've used Central BBQ many times for catered events and they are the finest people you'd ever want to deal with. It's been 2-3 years since I've used them but the food was excellent and they were so accomodating. They have the best bread pudding I've ever eaten and I'm from Louisiana. They used to have 2 or 3 locations but I know the one in Pearland is still there. They are NOT fancy.


                          2. re: Joe

                            Perhaps a bit further than 40 miles? Joel's in Flatonia is super. Just off I-10 on the north side, they do their thing quietly and with love....

                        2. re: Joe

                          I have eaten lots of q in my day, but I think the "old Kruez" is the best. I went to school in Lockhart and walked across town to eat lunch at Kruez at least once a week. At that time, the only seats were the long benches with the butcher knifes chained to the walls. Years later, they put in the air conditioned dining room. Never used it, never will.

                          Now, my next trip to Lockhart will tell me if Kruez is really that good or if it was the nostalga. Not sure what to expect at the "new" Kruez but if I were abettin, I bet Kruez is still the best in Texas .. er the world. Tom

                          1. re: Joe

                            I was going to Louie Mueller's in Taylor but I asked a local if there was someplace else in Town without the big crowd or better if possible. He said try the hole in the wall next door. Incredible Q! They gave me half a loaf of bread with the plate and said here you might need something to go with the sauce.

                            1. re: Joe

                              I really like Clark's Outpost. Great feel. BBQ can be different and equally as good to me. Not sure it is the best in the state but it is definitely good and worth checking out.

                              1. re: taldeac

                                I would agree that's it's worth checking out especially if you live in DFW. It's does not compare to Lockhart but it's better than anything in DFW. There smoked trout is "the bomb".. I buy it for salads.

                        3. re: Greg Spence

                          What happened to the Salt Lick? I last ate there in September 1991, before leaving Austin. My tastebuds are more discriminating now, but it did seem good back then. Maybe it was the joy of a short roadtrip with a cooler of beer.

                          1. re: chuck

                            Chuck, my guess on what happened to the Salt Lick is that it became too popular. Instead of everything being smoked on the open pit in the old, original building they now use several indirect heat models to take up the slack. They've added several bulidings to handle the crowds and it gets so busy that they have to hire Sheriff's Deputies to direct traffic and help contain the masses.

                            The result is consistent inconsistency, generally bad brisket and nothing much good except the cole slaw. It's gone from being a sleepy local place to being a barbecue banquet hall. Oh, and expect to wait.

                            And no, there's nothing wrong with indirect heat, but when you mix in open pit stuff you add to the inconsistence. Also, I don't think they've got a pitmaster who's mastered either type pit.

                            1. re: chuck

                              Just ate there for the first time. A real treat. I like it better than the County Line for the atmosphere. People are there to have fun and eat good BBQ.

                            2. re: Greg Spence

                              Black's in Lockhart is the place for barbecue. It's south of Austin via Hwy. 183.

                              1. re: Greg Spence
                                Mary L Marquis

                                That's Right! City Market in Luling serves the best
                                barbecue you ever dreamed of tasting.

                                1. re: Greg Spence

                                  IMO Kreuz's is the most consistent of these mentioned, but ideally you need to get there between 11 and 12:30 PM. After that the meat can be dry.

                              2. re: T-daddy

                                New Mt. Zion is amazing... True Texana...

                              3. b
                                Brian Lindauer

                                I disagree. I don't like the Salt Lick at all. My hands-down favorite is Cooper's in Llano.


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Brian Lindauer

                                  I agree with both of your comments. The Salt Lick may be the most overrated in terms of food but it does have wonderful ambience especially for a visiting Yankee like myself. But for the bbq itself I'd take the Llano Cooper's, the Luling City Market and Maurice's Western Kitchen in Glenrose. Clark's Outpost in Tioga is the smokiest.

                                2. Cooper's in Llano is very good all-round; however, the "Big Chop" is to die for. I got one to snack on during a trip to Colorado and it took almost two days to eat!!

                                  1. What about County Line in Austin & San Antonio or Bodacious in various towns in NE Texas? I know these are chains, and in the case of County Line aren't particularly cheap, but every time I've been they serve up some pretty good fare. Many years ago there was a place in Nacogdoches called Wagon Wheel- had the best brisket sandwiches I've ever eaten, at least in those days, which admittedly were kind of fuzzy. I appreciate some of the comments about Salt Lick. I've never been, had planned to go, but won't now.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Forrest A.

                                      best b-b-q is in the fort worth texas area. starting with the best,1. angelo's 2.cousin's 3. railhead 4. hickory stick 5. sonny bryans

                                    2. n
                                      Northern Okie

                                      Any dedicated chowhound with a nose for BBQ has to make the pilgrimmage to the Country Tavern near Kilgore. I haven't been there in probably ten years but still dream about the ribs and memories of the sauce bring tears to my eyes. Beyond the great food is the experience itself. Chances are you won't get a menu, just a waitress who'll stride to the table and ask, "Everybody havin' ribs?" Rumor has it Larry Hagman used to have the stuff shipped in to the set of "Dallas" by helicopter. Perfection.

                                      1. I think I have eaten BBQ at every one of those places and none of them can stand up to the Railhead in Fort Worth!! Incredible in every way from the great Sauce to the best sausage anywhere...and the Coldest beer Imaginable! Railhead also has a great slogan, "Life's too short to live in Dallas!" Railhead is a must try!

                                        For Atmosphere and some good BBQ you can't forget about Stubbs (Austin) and Angelos (Fort Worth. Stubbs has great music, and Angelos has lots of dead animals on the wall including a stuffed bear at the entrance. Great food!

                                        1. The "old" Kruez in Lockhart is now "Smitty's." It is run by Kruez sister and brother in law. I prefer it to the new Kruez. I generally shy away from Blacks when in Lockhart. They are trying too hard to appeal to the Sunday covered dish crowd and dont focus enough on their meats. If you are ever in Fort Worth try Sammy's on Beach St. Wonderful brisket and ribs and a sauce that you wont find anywhere else. It is my favorite place in Texas. Coopers? Bad experiences both times I ate there. The meat was dry. Over priced.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: toppertx

                                            I certainly have to agree with you on Coopers. I had to revive the dry meat with the sauce...or else it would have been inedible. Cooper's is definitely not in the same realm as Smitty's or even Kreuz. I even though Black's was better than Cooper's and I hated Black's on my tour of Lockhart (all 3 BBQ places in town on the same day and all the same meat (fatty brisket))

                                          2. Texas Road House is ultimate for me

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: FreeAmericanMan

                                              Wow talk about bringing back a thread from the dead. I've never eaten BBQ at Texas Road House (and don't plan to) but can vouch that the ribs at Country Tavern are still good as of last summer. Out of the Lockhart/Luling big hits, Smitty's seems to win out every time I'm down there.

                                            2. Agree in the main with most of the previous posters. Salt Lick is overrated. Luling City Market might be better than anyone in Lockhart. Cooper's deserves all the hype. I'm looking forward to the North Texas places mentioned.

                                              Opie's in Spicewood serves one of my favorite pork chops: they're one to two pounders, and I recommend the dip over the sauce.

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: Winehole23

                                                Headed down to the Hill Country tomorrow and will be going to Coopers, hopefully it will live up to the hype. Any other places in the Hill Country that I need to hit up? Definitely looking to try the "real deal" bbq with smoke and more smoke. Will give a report upon my return.

                                                1. re: GreenChileHeat


                                                  The top 50 List is provided in this month's edition of Texas Monthly. Unfortunately for you Cooper's did not make the Top 5 and I doubt the top 10. From what the review said the meat was inconsistent on the times they tried it out. I would stick to Smitty's, Luling City Market, Kreuz, Louie Muellers as they are continually in the top 5.

                                                  1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                                    There are a lot of good places outside of the "Smoke Ring" of Central Texas, hell, even some here in North Texas that not a lot of people talk about. The Mrs. and I have eaten at Bubba's in Ennis more times than we can count and everything on that menu is top notch.

                                                    We drove up to Lavon a couple of days ago to try out Big Daddy's Roadhouse, which made Texas Monthly's Top 50 list. It was well worth the short drive. The brisket was perfectly smoked, as were the sausage and hot links. The sides were amazing with the highlight being the Mashed Potato Salad with just the right amount of mustard. The beans were a little dry, but we got there pretty late. The sauce was another reason to go back. And hey, they have Lone Star longnecks which made everything that much better.

                                                    1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                                      FYI, City Market (in Luling) should not be confused with Luling City Market (in Houston). i doubt you meant to say that our CM ripoff in houston is one of your top 5.

                                                      1. re: neverfull

                                                        You are correct....I meant the actual one in Luling

                                                        1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                                          Next time you are in Houston, try this fairly new place (6 months) called Pierson & Co. BBQ on T C Jester. It is really the best I have had in Houston. There is a review on this board about it, and over at egullet too.

                                                          1. re: danhole

                                                            I agree Pierson's is by far the best that I have tasted in Houston. Great Brisket and Sausage and sauce. The ribs are the best that I have had in Texas, but there not as good as Rendezvous in Tennesses or Dinosaur in Syracuse.

                                                    2. re: GreenChileHeat

                                                      Cooper's in Mason, despite Texas Monthly's recent report, which always should be taken with a grain of salt. More often than not, I've found it to be better than Cooper's in Llano and would rate it up with Louis Mueller's (although its been years since I've been there) and City Market. And they have cabrito.

                                                  2. This may not be the best in Texas, but I like Galvan's Sausage House on Alt. 90 about a mile east of the Brazos River in Richmond. Very small, 5 or 6 tables, very local, smokey brisket, leave the fat on, excellent beef sausage and good ribs. I've tried the usual suspects, Thelmas, Luling City Market, Pappas and Goode Company. I live 5 minutes from Goode Company, and blow by it to get to Galvan's. I can't understand why people stand in line for Goode, I find it below average, I heard Mr. Goode say on Food Network that he smokes everything with mesquite, to me every thing tastes the same. Can anyone explain the atrraction?

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: James Cristinian

                                                      Guys, I'm one of the biggest fans of Coopers out there, but I do agree that Louis Muellers brisket is more consistent. Where Coopers does earn its high praise is for the BBQ Prime Rib and the Double Cut Pork Chop. If you focus your attentions on those meats you won't go wrong.

                                                      1. re: Thefoodczar

                                                        According to Texas Monthly Junes edition. Snow's BBQ in Lexington, Texas is the best in Texas. Down side it's only open on Saturday's from 8AM till they run out of meat. I hope to drive down from Austin and give it try one. Here are the top 5 per Texas Monthly. *
                                                        Lexington: Snow’s BBQ »
                                                        Lockhart: Kreuz Market »
                                                        Lockhart: Smitty’s Market »
                                                        Luling: City Market »
                                                        Taylor: Louie Mueller Barbeque »


                                                        1. re: robbie6805

                                                          Snow's is now far and away the best brisket in Texas. If people claim to have had it and not liked it I'll ask them if they've eaten it at 7:30 in the morning, straight off the 'cue. last time before this one they were out by 9:30 am.

                                                          By the way, if you're even talking about how a place has good chicken you should do some self-examination. I like how the folks at snow's rightly refered to it as yardbird.

                                                    2. Just got back from Wichita Falls for work and gotta give props to Prine's BBQ. It is extremely good brisket and pork. The brisket was similar to the old John Mueller's in Austin. Extremely cheap too. Got a sliced brisket sandwich with about 3/4-1 lbs of meat on a buttered-toasted bun, a very good homemade hot link, potato salad, and coke for $8. Counter only, you gotta eat on the hood of your car basking in the smoke of the giant brick pit out front. Somehow that was appropriate.

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: achtungpv

                                                        I think the Texas Monthly article is garbage. Having eaten at most of the well publicized establishments in the Hill Country (Louis Muellers, Cooper's in Llano, Smitty's, Black's, Kreutz's, and City Market in Luling) in the past year or so, I would say that everywhere that all these places can have a sub-par day. But, I would give City Market the nod for most outstanding brisket (and consistently very good), I had some of the best ribs I have ever had at Smitty's the other day, Kreuz's and Cooper's are both good for meats outside the classic Texas staple (Brisket, Ribs, Sausage), Black's is not quite as good as Smitty's, but they are open more often.

                                                        1. re: El General

                                                          How is the State Line in El Paso? I keep hearing good things....I think it is the same group as The Country Line.......

                                                          1. re: ciaogal

                                                            I was extremely disappointed by the State Line. Found the meat to be tough, lacking flavor, and just a vehicle for the sauce. It didn't taste slow smoked at all. I have eaten at the County Line a few times, and I doubt that the two restaurants share ownership. The State Line is heavily marketed to the hotel crowd. I would be surprised if many locals consider it a favorite. Having said that, I dont have any suggestions for eating out in El Paso.

                                                            1. re: toppertx

                                                              Agreed. Not a true BBQ joint. A tourist trap and expensive to boot.

                                                              1. re: ciaogal

                                                                I'm surprised to hear people say the State Line isn't very good. I've travelled to El Paso on business many times over the past twenty years, and the State Line (we always got the family style BBQ platter, with chicken) was always a reliable favorite. It's been a couple of years since my last visit though, so things could have changed. It's a real pity if they did go downhill.

                                                                1. re: ciaogal

                                                                  State Line? Forget it. Too expensive. You are paying for ambience, phony reputation. Good BBQ joints don't have fresh baked bread or home made ice cream.

                                                                  You want to see and be seen? Go there. You want to impress someone who doesn't know BBQ, Take her to Stateline.

                                                                  State Line
                                                                  1222 Sunland Park Dr, El Paso, TX 79922

                                                              2. re: achtungpv

                                                                Yes, I live in Wichita Falls and I agree that Prines BBQ is one of the best bbq joints in WF.... Their BBQ sauce is mustard based and oh so perfect for dipping..... Their homeade pimento cheese is also worth the drive.

                                                              3. In my humble opinion, the best of the best: Louis Mueller's in Taylor.
                                                                The worst of the best: The Salt Lick in Driftwood.
                                                                But then again, that's my opinion.

                                                                Btw, I thought the June issue of Texas Monthly's reviews of the "Best BBQ in Texas" was "spot on"!

                                                                1. I'm votting for Cooper's. It's my fav.

                                                                  1. Y'all need to go to The Longhorn in San Benito, TX for the BEST bbq and the best beans in the world!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Susanmc615

                                                                      Mt Zion in Huntsville, WOW! you have to try it.

                                                                    2. Fayreen's in Monahans, Texas.

                                                                      1. I think everyone looks for something different in BBQ. Personally, I like to judge by depth of flavor. I learned a lot about BBQ when we started smoking ribs at home. My husband and I do like a 12 plus spice rub and let it sit in the fridge overnight, then we slow smoke the ribs for about 10 hours using wood soaked in beer with apples and whatever my husband comes up with. During smoking, we mop it with homemade BBQ sauce which has a lot of spice. It's a layering technique that gives it the complexity.

                                                                        With that said, Salt Lick definitely does not layer on its flavors. Totally one note. They may be blanching their ribs because no complexity whatsoever. I do like the Original Sonny Bryan's on Inwood for DFW, but Louie Mueller is probably the best I've had in Texas. I have not tried Kreuz or Cooper's. I still think, if you want good ribs, you gotta do it yourself these days. Good ribs require lots and lots of love.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: jindomommy

                                                                          One of the best BBQ experiences in Austin is Artz Rib House. The ribs are delicious, and there is live music especially on weekends which enhances the overall dining experience.

                                                                          1. re: TigerPaw2154

                                                                            I like Artz Ribs, too, but just for ribs. I don't care for their brisket at all. So for people looking for the 'best BBQ in Texas,' I'd have to add that caveat. Get the ribs. Skip the brisket. There's MUCH better brisket to be had in Texas.

                                                                        2. Looks like Cooper's is spreading it's wings and coming to FW.


                                                                          1. I am not asserting it is the best...but darned good and a price that took me back 30 years...Peter's in Ellinger. Chopped beef (not sitting in sauce...just meat) was moist and wonderful. The sides were good. The sauce (yeah, I tried it after I had checked the cue) was not too sweet, quite good.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: tim irvine

                                                                              I was in Luling yesterday for my usual visit for bbq and could not wait to go by City Market, taste buds were excited and stomach was growling, but when I got there they were closed. They had a death in the family.

                                                                              1. re: Sioux

                                                                                Did they say when they would reopen? We are flying in tomorrow and going there from the SA airport so I'd sure hate to waste a trip. We'd go to Lockhart instead

                                                                              2. re: tim irvine

                                                                                We passed through Ellinger a couple years ago a couple years ago, coming back from Austin and stopped there. I got the lunch buffet, without BBQ. Others got the BBQ only, so I only got to taste it. Interesting hodge podge of food on the buffet. Enchiladas, red potatoes, sweet rice, fresh sliced home grown tomatoes, fajita meat (but no tortillas and good that meat was the best ever), beans and I can't remember what all else. I wanted to stuff my pockets full of food to take for the rest of the trip back to Houston, but the grumpy guy (I guess Peter) kept giving our table the evil eye. I don't think he liked me sampling the BBQ from my families plates. plus we had 2 small children, and were obviously not locals. It was all very good, but next time I happen to go there I will sit far away from his gaze.

                                                                              3. So I just moved to Houston, and I have a question for all local BBQ fans: How on earth does Goode Co. stay in business?

                                                                                Went there last night and it was awful. Dry ribs, flavorless sausage. And what's up with that sauce? No tang or bite or even heat to speak of. It tasted more like it should go over a plate of spaghetti than over a pound of dry ribs that desperately needed some help.

                                                                                But the place was doing a very lively business.

                                                                                I'm puzzled.

                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                  Who knows, Jaymes? I think a lot of people just fall into the trap of going to Goodes because of name recognition. A small group of Chowhounds had a BBQ Smackddown last summer and Goode came in last. Top for brisket was Pierson & Co. on T. C. Jester, but they aren't open on Sun or Mon. Search for their name on google and here on the Texas Board. There are a lot of better BBQ places than Goode Co, but the pecan pie is great!

                                                                                  1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                    Take Goode Company for what it is: A good (not great barbecue) barbecue joint. They have some fantastic items. danhole mentioned the Pecan Pie; I happen to really like the sauce. The jalapeno cheese bread is also first rate, as are the sides, in my opinion. If you find yourself there again, just got a sliced beef sandwich on the cheesebread. Done.

                                                                                    1. re: Bulldozer

                                                                                      Well, that answers my question as to why it's still open. Everything is a matter of personal taste isn't it?

                                                                                      As for me, I think I'll keep trying to find a good BBQ place in Houston. It looks like Pierson's will be the next spot to try.

                                                                                      1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                        I agree with everything you've said, especially the ribs, they are pathetic. I make one exception, for some bizarre reason I like the sauce, to me it is the only thing that can help (not save), the meat. I live five minutes from the Katy Frwy. location and have not been in well over a year. People in Houston tend to flock to certain restaurants, take a look at the Houston Press best of issues. Year after year, it is very predicictabe. Best burger, Fuddruckers, seafood and Mexican, a Pappas joint, best BBQ, Goode Co. For BBq, I drive twenty plus miles to a small place in Richmond, Galvan's Sausage House. No sauce is needed here, the meat stands on it's own. They also have great beef sausage. I've posted this place several times, and the only responce is I believe from Bishopsitter, correct me if I'm wrong.

                                                                                        1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                          Well, people mentioned the pecan pie. I don't go to BBQ joints for pecan pie. I can get great pecan pie at a bakery or, for that matter, make it myself. I go to BBQ joints for great BBQ. And I thought Goode Co. was stunningly awful. I actually can't get over it. I think it's the worst I've had in the entire state of Texas. I won't be going back.

                                                                                          I just moved to Houston from Austin, and was quite accustomed to driving a few miles to Taylor, Lockhart, Llano, Luling, etc. Even Giddings when I was in the mood. I'll really look forward to trying Galvan's Sausage House. Twenty miles is certainly not too far to go for good 'Q.

                                                                                          But across the street is too far to go for bad.

                                                                                          1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                            well hell if that's your basis of comparison... welcome to Houston and good luck. I don't mean to dog Pierson, because I do think it's the best in Houston, but it really doesn't compare to the greats of Lockhart, Luling, and Taylor. Of course we may be talking about a difference in styles. You're not going to get the central Texas barbecue experience, unless you go to Houston Barbecue or the Luling City ripoff on Richmond.

                                                                                            1. re: Bulldozer

                                                                                              I'm willing to cut folks down here a pass on the brisket, for just the reason you cite. And I'll grant you that although I personally find Goode's sauce weird and more like some kind of strange Southwestern-style tomato-marinara pasta sauce than BBQ sauce, that's really a matter of taste, and obviously some people like it. So good for them.

                                                                                              And I don't have to have Central Texas style - although it is my favorite, I can go the "east Texas into Arkansas" style of sweet beans & 'cue, too. I even like Carolina pig.

                                                                                              Also, my dad lives in Missouri and I go up to Kansas City often - took the Kansas City Barbecue Society's "BBQ Judge" classes so I can judge at cookoffs. Completely different style than Central Texas, and I like it as well.

                                                                                              So I get that there are differences I have to take into consideration.

                                                                                              I know that brisket is the hardest cut to smoke, and you have to make allowances. But flavorless sausage and dry, tasteless ribs, most of which I threw away rather than eat?

                                                                                              No excuse.

                                                                                              I seriously can't get over how bad Goode's is. Yes the jalapeno cheese bread is good. Way too good, in fact, to ruin with that brisket and sauce.

                                                                                              So I guess I'll just have to take the bread to go because I ain't never having another meal there again. What a cryin' waste of money that was.

                                                                                              I'm absolutely positive that in a city the size of Houston, in a state with such a great barbecue tradition as Texas, even if there isn't fabulous 'cue here, there's good 'cue to be had, and I'm determined to find it.

                                                                                              And BTW, if local Chowhounds have another BBQ Smackdown, count me in!

                                                                                              1. re: Jaymes


                                                                                                You are in the wrong thread. You should look at some of the old threads specifically about Houston. I looked a couple up for you. Unfortunately there are a few Goode fans out there. Here they are:

                                                                                                Best BBQ in Houston (recent)

                                                                                                Best BBQ in/around Houston (from July

                                                                                                BBQ Smackdown link

                                                                                                The last link takes you to a blog with the smackdown review and also will take you to a link, so that if you want to join a group of local people who get together to eat, drink wine, cook, and share reviews, like we do here, but it is a large group. There are a lot of Houston food blogs out there also. Since you come from Austin I think you know good que already, now you just have to taste what we have here, and we have way better than what you tasted.

                                                                                                1. re: danhole

                                                                                                  Thanks, Dan. I appreciate your taking the time to find those and link to them. I'll sure check them out.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                    So I have put together a map with most of the places I have eaten/want to try. I am driving across the country in March and plan on eating my way through the I10 corridor. Any additions/comments?

                                                                                                    here is the google link:


                                                                                                    1. re: erimol

                                                                                                      From where to where? How leisurely a drive is this? I'd sure suggest an overnight in San Antonio or Houston (depending upon which direction you're coming from) in order to facilitate an excursion to Luling & Lockhart. You do need to know that these central Texas BBQ temples often sell out of the most choice cuts of meat by early afternoon. They're not dinner places. If you want to be certain they've got everything available, you need to plan to get there by noon. 1pm at the latest.

                                                                                                      1. re: erimol

                                                                                                        Wow, hats off to you sir. That's an ambitious trip. As Jaymes said, places do run out of meat so if you want to try most place, I'd say 3 is about the latest you want to get there. Before 3 they won't usually have sold out of everything so you can at least try *something*, if you want the best though it's a good idea to be there around lunch time. From what I've heard, the Goode Co in Houston is overrated so by the end of the trip it might not be worth it. I don't know anything about the Cooper's in Junction City, Llano is where you want to go. If you can hit Smitty's or Kreuz on a Saturday you'll have more options such as prime rib (unbelievable) and pork chop.

                                                                                                        1. re: luniz

                                                                                                          I had prime rib at Smitty's on a Monday morning, as well as a pork chop and ribs, plus brisket. This was after a trip to City Market in Luling for sausage, brisket, and ribs.

                                                                                    2. There are two great bbq places in Glen Rose and at one time or another both have been listed in Texas Monthly's 50 Best in the State.
                                                                                      Hammond's BBQ
                                                                                      1106 NE Big Bend Trail
                                                                                      Glen Rose, TX 76043
                                                                                      Ranch House Bar-B-Que
                                                                                      1408 NE Big Bend Trail
                                                                                      Glen Rose, TX 76043

                                                                                      Someone referrenced a Maurice's Western Kitchen near Glen Rose. I have lived in the area seven years and I have never hear of it.

                                                                                      1. So far, I would say City Market in Luling and Blacks in Lockhart. I am not physically able to determine which of these two is superior. They both have mouthwatering brisket and the ribs that we had at City Market were fantastic, smoky (but not TOO) and tender. YUM!

                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Rene

                                                                                          We are going west to east, San Diego to Jacksonville. I wasn't planning on staying in San Antonio, but I think we may have to if I can't get good Q after 3pm. I used to live in SA a long time ago, so I have been to a couple of the places. Are the Luling CM and Kruezs open regular hours on Sunday? Does Kreuz's only do the prime rib on Saturday?

                                                                                          1. re: erimol

                                                                                            Hummm... San Diego to Jacksonville. Sounds like a navy PCS to me.

                                                                                            Good ol' I10. I've done that drive more times than I could possibly count, even with all my fingers and toes. I'm doing half of it again this summer. I'll have to get out my maps and notes and get back to you.

                                                                                            1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                              I am so sorry... I screwed up. It was Smitty's that we visited this weekend. Smitty's is open until 6:00 or 6:30, Sunday until 3:00. City Market is open 'til 9:00 and 7:00 on Sunday. I don't know Kruez's hours, but you can call or email them from their website.

                                                                                            2. re: erimol

                                                                                              Well post drive we stopped at: Mesquite BBQ, Iraan; Lem's in Junction; Original Rudy's in Boerne; and some off the beaten track gas station BBQ in Alabama. Mesquite was far and away the best brisket and the jalepeno sausage was awesome too. The rest were good but very similar in quality. All of the brisket was from the lean end and Mesquite was still juicy and so tender! 2 pounds of meat in two days was pretty fantastic.

                                                                                              1. re: erimol

                                                                                                Whoops. I see it is history. I hear Lem's in Junction is good but have not gone because of the hours. I was referring to the other place.

                                                                                              2. re: erimol

                                                                                                Your trip may be history, but if not, when you get to Junction just drive on by.

                                                                                                1. re: waistedinkerrville

                                                                                                  I totally agree about Junction. We have property there and have eaten all over town finding no decent bbq. Even Lum's only took our money once. If you must eat in Junction, the Milky Way has a great patty melt and fresh cut ff's. Their malts are the best!!! There's a next Mexican food place next door to Cooper's in Junction we haven't tried but other than that, Junction food is nothing to drive out there for. It's not bad, it's just not outstanding.

                                                                                            3. Country Tavern in Kilgore is so overrated and over priced it is sad that it even comes up in this conversation. I agree with the others being an east texas boy and living a while in new braunsfels City Market in Luling and Blacks in Lockhart are hands down contenders in true Texas BBQ. I would give Carter's BBQ in Longview some love but they have died off lately and my last outing their was a bit on the dry side. For those with big apetites two always come to mind with ribs from Barbecue Station in San Antonio and Big Dave's hot pucker in Longview and now Kilgore.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: jorgejacquez52

                                                                                                The problem with Texas barbecue is that it can change from great to horrible almost overnight sometimes because barbecue is an art not a science. And sometmes a joint gets so famous and popular they just think they can do any damn thing they want and get away with it. A true native Texan wont put up with it forever we know great barbecue. So be ware a name is only as good as the people cooking there. In other words yesterday may have been great but what about today.

                                                                                              2. Living in Austin I've hit all the Central TX BBQ joints and the best BBQ I've had hands down is:

                                                                                                Church of the Holy Smoke aka New Zion Missionary Baptist Church BBQ
                                                                                                2601 Montgomery Road
                                                                                                Huntsville, Texas
                                                                                                (936) 295-3445

                                                                                                #2 would be
                                                                                                Whup's Boomerang Bar-B-Q
                                                                                                1203 Bennett
                                                                                                Marlin, TX 76661
                                                                                                (254) 883-5770

                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: edberg

                                                                                                  Unless Zion is going through a revitalization, I think most BBQ lovers/knowers will be disappointed. They have the advantage of slim-pickings in that area between Houston and Dallas.

                                                                                                  1. re: vwgto

                                                                                                    I like Zion. But I'd definitely say it's second tier.

                                                                                                    On my 'top 10-15,' but not 'top 5.'

                                                                                                    1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                      Zion is special not only b/c of the food, but the whole thought of how it came to be... I mean, c'mon - a couple of old church ladies, a fellowship hall, and the good lord's blessing? Awesome.

                                                                                                      1. re: davhud

                                                                                                        I completely agree with that. Which is why I always stop there when I'm passing through. And the church ladies' desserts are wonderful.

                                                                                                        The 'cue is good, too. All I said was that the 'cue itself is not in my top five.

                                                                                                        Is it in yours?

                                                                                                        1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                          I have never been there; but I have always wanted to. I hope to get there some trip down to Houston soon.

                                                                                                          Kind of disappointed to hear the cue isn't that great. Is it not Luling, Taylor, etc. good or would you say it is better than most you can find in Houston and Dallas meaning it's still better than most?

                                                                                                          1. re: Dallassooner

                                                                                                            My top five sorta rotate, but the 'usual suspects' are City Market in Luling, Louie Mueller's in Taylor, Smitty's & Black's in Lockhart, Cooper's in Llano.

                                                                                                            I haven't been to Snow's in Lexington.

                                                                                                            After that top five, there are a lot of really good second-tier spots that I patronize regularly. Smokey Mo's in Cedar Park (north of Austin), City Market in Giddings, Zion in Huntsville all come immediately to mind, but there are others.

                                                                                                            And I'm still looking.

                                                                                                            Of course, location is a factor. I did live in Austin; now live in Houston. Thus far have found no brisket in Houston that even comes close to my fave second-tier spots, much less the top five.

                                                                                                            1. re: Dallassooner

                                                                                                              I agree with the assessment that Zion's is second tier, and definitely better than anything in Houston or Dallas. It's nice that you don't have to go all the way out to Central TX. My usual Dallas/Houston (specifically, Katy) route involves going through Madisonville, but if I ever take 45 all the way into Houston and the time is right, it's good place to stop if you are passing through.

                                                                                                              My personal favorites are the big 3 in Lockhart (I like Kreuz the most) and City Market in Luling. Still gotta make a trip out to Snow's...

                                                                                                              1. re: air

                                                                                                                The last few times I've been to Kreuz, the brisket was just horrible. Dry and tough. Although the sausage and pork chops were good, the brisket was damn near inedible. In fact, I was going to toss it out, but decided to throw it into the food processor with some sauce to make chopped beef, because it was so expensive that I hated to waste it.

                                                                                                                And that has happened several times. I'll forgive anybody once. Even twice. But when we're up over three, that tells me something.

                                                                                                                Plus, I don't like the atmosphere there.

                                                                                                                So all in all, have skipped it entirely the last few times I've been to Lockhart.

                                                                                                                I mean, really... There are other places that are more consistent, so in my view, why bother just because of the name.

                                                                                                  2. I have noticed several mentions of Maurice's Western Kitchen in Glen Rose. I started work out of college in 1982 at the nuclear plant just outside Glen Rose. Ate there about two or three times before it closed. Maurice was getting up in years even then. It has been closed for about 25 or 26 years best I can remember. But it was nice to see someone remember it. The first time co-workers took me there I got the brisket plate. they told me I was crazy. The plate was one of those big oval plates used at diners. It was completely covered with 4 slices of brisket about two inches thick each. Then there was the bowl full of thick hearty beans and the cole slaw and potato salad. I am a big boy and can eat a lot, but I couldn't eat it all. And talk about moist and juicy!. It is something to be remembered. Wish it was still there. BTW, Hammonds became our go to place after that. It has survived fires and other stuff but still good.

                                                                                                    1. Barbecue is a funny business. Here in Texas, brisket is the real test I suppose. I wont mention the name of the place (in Abilene) where I recently ate. Had a brisket sandwich there. Best brisket I ever put in my mouth, and I have eaten a lot of it in my lifetime all over the state. The next day at lunch, I couldnt wait to get back to the place for another sandwich. Ordered an extrat one to take home. Ended up tossing both in the trash. Inedible. Tough, dry, terrible meat. I find the time of day and piece of the brisket they slice from can have as much to do with the quality of the meal as the skill of the pit boss.

                                                                                                      After 20 years of living in Austin, I will drive to the Salt Lick if I have out of town guests. My experiences there tend to be good, and my guests always tell me they prefer it to anyithing in the city or in Lockhart. I agree.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: toppertx

                                                                                                        Boy does this post ever hit the nail on the head. Brisket is without doubt the hardest of the typically-smoked meats to cook properly. By far. And sometimes, it's transcendental. And sometimes it's damn near inedible. The last three or four times I've gotten brisket at Kreuz, it was so dry and tough that I thought about pitching it into the trash, but instead put it into the food processor with some sauce for sloppy joes. Still, I wouldn't mark Kreuz off of my list because sure enough, I know that sometime in the future, I'll go and and it will be wonderful.

                                                                                                        About the Salt Lick. No, I never, and I mean never ever, go there by myself and order a pound of brisket, half lean and half moist, to sit there and enjoy, or to take home, but it is where I take out-of-town guests unfamiliar with barbecue and looking for a fun evening. It's hard to beat the ambience and those all-you-can-eat family-style dinners out on the porch are an undeniably good time.

                                                                                                        1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                          Ok, all you losers in Texas, I'm in Kansas City right now, lows at night in the mid-50's, highs near 80, and my poor wife is back in Houston with all the BS that is summer '09. It's KC Royals baseball on Sunday, preceeded by Arthur Bryant's BBQ. We'll see if this stuff is any good. The only bad thing is it actually might rain back home, and I'm going to miss it. I guess you can't have everything.

                                                                                                      2. Playboy mag makes the call for the country - Top 10

                                                                                                        Angelos and Smitty's makes the list for TX


                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: CocoaNut

                                                                                                          With apoligies to mattyboy in Kansas City, I went to Arthur Bryant's last Sunday, and I found the brisket, pre-sliced on a slicer, dry, the ribs ok, and the burnt ends similar to chopped beef soaked in sauce. I asked for sauce on the side, and was informed that they are sauced. I found the vaunted fries, ok, nothing more. On the other hand, the city was wonderful, we hit the WW1 museum, plus a Royals game at beautiful Kaufman Stadium, and some enjoyable time at the lakes just east of the city. For history buffs, like myself, the World War One Museum is a not miss, very well done.

                                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                            Odd turn of features for a Dallas thread, but if you must go to KC don't miss the Negro League Museum. It is by the stadium. Learn about such wonders as Satchel Paige and Goose Tatum. I must preface, I found the KC BBQ shallow and pedantic. Strangley enough, I do remember a decent 'baked' potato that was whole and deep fried.

                                                                                                            1. re: DallasDude

                                                                                                              I thought it was a Texas thread, although, unfortunately this board is dominated by Dallas. I was referencing the Playboy article CocoaNut posted listing Bryant's as one of the top ten places in the US. I do agree on the barbque, I just don't get it as standing in line good, much like Goode Company here in Houston, to each their own.

                                                                                                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                Kudos to you for the great PR for our fair town. Sorry Bryants didnt float your boat. Hope to meet you next time you are in town. Did not see your message until you were on the road as I generally work Saturdays. Could have saved you the price of admission to the National WW1
                                                                                                                Museum as I am an associate. I think that when it comes to local BBQ it would be easier to recommend what to avoid rather what is best. To paraphrase the bumper sticker : BBQ is like sex , even when its bad its still pretty good!

                                                                                                        2. Just spent some time in Cedar Park, a suburb north of Austin. Friends there really like Smokey Mo's, in the HEB parking lot. I've been there before - when I used to live in Lago Vista - and thought it was pretty good for a neighborhood joint, when we didn't have the time to, or feel like, driving to Taylor or Lockhart. During this last visit, we went to Smokey Mo's and picked up a lot of food for a big picnic. This place is not transcendental, top 5 Texas barbecue, but it was definitely good. If any of you are going to be spending time in the Cedar Park/Leander area and are interested in finding a convenient local spot, you should check it out.

                                                                                                          1. I can't understand why everybody talks about the big 3 in Lockhart, when all the locals go to Chisholm Trail BBQ. Floyd owns the place and grew up cooking at Blacks. Good food, but nobody ever mentions it. 2nd place in Lockhart in my book is Smitty's.
                                                                                                            I have found that almost nobody mentions the Gonzales Food Market in Gonzales, Texas. It's only 18 miles from Luling. Best BBQ sauce I have ever had. The sausage is great, and they sell it raw so you can take it home and BBQ it yourself. The brisket is very good too....
                                                                                                            I like the Gonzales Food Market better than the Lockhart and Luling locations. It's located in downtown Gonzales.

                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: tuckspop

                                                                                                              I like the Gonzales Food Market, too. But, as you say, its only 18 miles from Luling. And I personally like City Market in Luling better. Because it's at least an hour drive to get there, once I've driven all that way, I'd rather go to City Market.

                                                                                                              If I lived in Gonzales, I'd definitely be a regular.

                                                                                                              1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                I finally got to try out Gonzales this weekend. It was absolutely outstanding in every way. We beat in the lunch rush so we had our time to look around the pits, and it was our second stop of the day so we didn't order chicken but they brought some out to us anyway- damn lucky for us they did. Maybe the best chicken I've ever eaten. Amazingly uniform, moist texture with great chicken flavor inside versus the smokey, perfectly seasoned skin. Very good sausage (I liked the spicy the best) although maybe too greasy/oily for some. Intensely lamb flavored lamb ribs, very good (not perfect) brisket, and solid if unspectacular pork ribs. More in the Smitty's style with a pretty heavy smoke and meat flavor to everything versus Kreuz or Snow's, which are good but less "masculine" imo. I will absolutely be detouring to Gonzalez any time I'm anywhere near it from now on, I'd rate it as a close second to Smitty's for best BBQ in TX.

                                                                                                                1. re: luniz

                                                                                                                  Is Gonzales Food Market just off of 183? We're heading back out that way sometime next month and it sounds like an easy stop. I adore bbq chicken if it's done right and am anxious to try it along with some of the other things mentioned.

                                                                                                                  I'm guessing this is the place....... http://www.gonzalesfoodmarket.com/

                                                                                                                  Gonzales Food Market
                                                                                                                  311 Saint Lawrence St, Gonzales, TX 78629

                                                                                                                  1. re: texasredtop

                                                                                                                    We ate at Gonzales Food Market last Thursday and got 2 sandwiches to eat then, some sliced brisket, sausage and chopped beef to go. The sliced brisket sandwiches were good and very inexpensive but on thin sliced white bread? The sandwich just fell apart and there was NO sauce, pickles or onions on it at all. Just meat and bread and it still fell apart. That's not acceptable for us because we travel with the cat and eat in the car. It was quite a mess. If I did go there again, I'll just get a plate lunch. The chicken looked really good, wish I would have gotten one.

                                                                                                                    I liked the sausage, hubby did not. The bbq sauce was very good, reminded me of Rudy's spicy sauce which I like a lot. The chopped beef was good but was packaged dry. I'm lucky I bought a container of their sauce or that would have been a mess. We were 18 miles from the nearest store when I took it out to heat up for supper. It was good, I liked it the best. The brisket was good fresh but reheated it turned to shoe leather.

                                                                                                                    I doubt we'll make that detour again. Next trip out there, I'm going to give the Rudy's in Boerne one last try. We haven't been to that one in several years because it just wasn't good the 3-4 times we tried it. In the last year we've tried the Rudy's in New Braunfels and the one in Houston out 290 and they were both surprisingly good. We got sliced beef to go and it heated up nicely even several days later.

                                                                                                                    Gonzales Food Market
                                                                                                                    311 Saint Lawrence St, Gonzales, TX 78629

                                                                                                            2. It seems most people judge a BBQ joint on their brisket, but I don't like it very much. I'm a huge sausage fan though, the spicier the better. Which of these fabulous places would you recommend for a sausage connoisseur?

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                                                                Very interesting point.

                                                                                                                I think one reason why it's common to judge joints on their brisket is because it's much easier for everyone to agree what makes good brisket - tender, moist, smoke flavor.

                                                                                                                With sausage, there are so many variables that it's utterly impossible to agree as to what is "best." Not only could you not get general agreement on that, I can't even agree with myself. What I most like in sausage varies, not only from day to day, but sometimes even from hour to hour.

                                                                                                                Maybe I was more in the mood for spicy yesterday, but today, I'd like a little cheese. Tonight, I might be feeling more "purist," and want nothing but a little snap and grease and texture.

                                                                                                                That said, I like the sausage at all of the markets that are usually mentioned in the "top five": City Market in Luling, Smitty's, Black's, Louie Mueller's in Taylor. Kreuz Market is also good, but I've had such bad luck with their brisket that I stopped going there and haven't been in a couple of years so don't know how it is now. I've had Snow's, but don't really remember it one way or another. Both of the famous sausage places in Elgin are great. We usually get a little of each and bring it home. My family argues over which is best, so I can't give a definitive winner.

                                                                                                                There's lots of really terrific sausage to be had in Central Texas, so undertaking a personal expedition to determine your personal fave should be fun. And sausage has one huge advantage over brisket in that it travels, ships, and holds much better.

                                                                                                                1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                  "Famous sausage places" in Elgin? I found a website called texasbbqtrail.com that talks about two places, Meyers Smokehouse and Southside Market. Are those the ones you're referring to?

                                                                                                                  For that matter, is texasbbqtrail.com a good reference for places to visit?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                    Jaymes & Aynrandgirl:
                                                                                                                    Please allow me to give a tip on sausage... I was in bbq business & catered for several years. Always got my sausage at Weimer tx.meat mkt off I-10 between SA & Hou. It is so consistently good it would make "Atlas Shrugg". get the half & half. good on the pit or in skillet w/ a little water & lid, steamed. all my customers always said it was the best they ever tasted...

                                                                                                                2. While I'm on the subject of sausage, I was wondering how much compromise affects the perceived downgrade some posters are talking about. For example, I just read an old article in the Austin Chronicle about Southside Market, Elgin. In it, they write about Southside's "Elgin Hot Sausage": 'The recipe has changed over the years, and now the sausage is not very hot, but they kept the trademarked name due to the great popularity of the product. "We use less pepper in the recipe so everyone can enjoy the product, even the children," says Brian Bracewell, grandson of Ernest and the third generation in the family business.' As we all know, anything can be justified if it's "for the children". They could easily have developed a second, mild sausage for those who prefer it, but instead they sell a cheapened (in my opinion) mass-market product in place of the sausage that put them on the map.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                                                                    We just did a quick trek down the "Barbecue Trail," escorting a visitor from California. The Kreuz brisket was the best I've had there in some four years. Perfectly delicious. A huge step up from nearly inedible, which is what it's been recently until this visit. We all liked Smitty's best, though.

                                                                                                                    Regarding sausage: We didn't get to Elgin (and yes, the two 'famous sausage places' in Elgin are Southside and Meyer's), but did make it to Kreuz, Black's, Smitty's, and City Market in Luling. Of those places, Luling was the consensus best this visit.

                                                                                                                  2. Soon after they hauled the coals down the street to the new place, I stopped in at Kreuz.
                                                                                                                    Had heard a lot about it and thought I would try it. Got two sausage links for a late breakfast and put it to the test. Sorry but it reminded me of floorsweepings and and red chili grease when I bit into the first one. Never touched the second one. May be better now but i'll pass. Ate at the church in Huntsville and it was good when I was there.

                                                                                                                    1. Ah you read Brenner. Good to see new initiates. The best sausage is at Jimmy's Food Store. You need to cook it yourself. Smoked, grilled or otherwise, the spicy Italian is nothing short of amazingly God sent.

                                                                                                                      1. Been going to Austin twice a year for the last two decades. The best brisket I ever had was cooked for a party by a former staffer on The Austin Chronicle. According to him, even though he tried several times thereafter, he could never again come close.

                                                                                                                        The "new" Kreuz's in Lockhart is my favorite for driving distance and it's overall consistency BUT ONLY if you can manage to get there between say 11 and 12:30. Then their famous brisket won't be dried out (I usually get the fat and not the lean). Also recommended: their pork chop, pork ribs and, of course, the sausage. Tried Smitty's once but preferred Kreuz's. I should go back to Louie Mueller's in Taylor or drive past Lockhart to Luling and hit City Market - it's been a while. As for the Salt Lick which has had its ups and downs - the airport location is above average for airport food but not for best bbq.

                                                                                                                        1. Texas BBQ varies and the perfection lies in the perception of those eating it. Top of my list: Luling City Market, Rudy's (yes a chain), Houston BBQ Company, Louie Mueller's, and Black's. On the BOTTOM of my list are Salt Lick, Coopers, and Elgin City Market. Sauce can make or break BBQ, IF you like sauce on your meat. I prefer just the flavor imparted by the rub. BTW- I went back to Salt Lick for the sixth and FINALLY time and it continues to be the fattiest, greasiest, toughest, and most tasteless BBQ in the ENTIRE STATE!! And their side dishes are HORRIBLE. I can't believe people flock to this joint..

                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Mr.Bill

                                                                                                                            RE Salt Lick - I think people go partly for nostalgia (remembering the old days when it was good) and partly for the name (as it's probably the most famous place in the state among folks that don't really know about barbecue). But mainly for the ambiance.

                                                                                                                            It's hard to beat sitting out on that porch in the cool of a sublime evening.

                                                                                                                            I do sometimes take out-of-towners there. But it's not a place I'd ever go by myself. And certainly not just to pick up some 'cue to bring home for the freezer.

                                                                                                                            I've recently relocated to Houston, but haven't tried Houston BBQ Company.

                                                                                                                            You think it's on a par with Louie Mueller's? And when you say "Luling City Market," do you mean City Market in Luling? Or the ripoff in Houston.

                                                                                                                            I'm slowly getting around to the barbecue spots in Houston. I'll have to put Houston BBQ Company on my list.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                              trouble is with all those reviews by mags like tex mnthly, etc. is the reviewers (& people in general) don't know good food from good atmosphere... one has to go back several generations to find good cooks. most mothers, gmoms, ggmoms these days don't have the food experiences to draw from. as for bbq, my taste buds have been forever tainted by having eaten Matt Garner's BBQ on west gray in houston for yrs & yrs. nothing these days will ever compare. salt lick, and 95% of these "fast food" bbq places is done on stainless steel or too fast.- briskets should cook at 225 for 2 days,Sauce should be cooked for 4 hrs using many ingredients including pickling spice & vinegar.... I still search for palatable q tho... coopers is trash... best i've found is kruez & small blk stands beside a highway on a given saturday. when a 'FAIR" place opens & gains a measure of success, they start cutting corners on quality of meat, wood, cooking time, etc. Thanks for listening...

                                                                                                                              1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                sausage --- I was a caterer & in the bbq business for sev yrs. always looked for best ingredients. best sausage was at meat mkt in Weimer Tx off I-10 tween S.A. & Hou.
                                                                                                                                Buy raw & smoke or bbq urself -- or steam in skillet w/ lid & an inch of water...
                                                                                                                                All my customers raved!!!

                                                                                                                                1. re: uncle petey

                                                                                                                                  got to Stanley's world famous in tyler tuesday. they weren'r sold out of anything.. got sliced brisket sand,, chopped brisket sand., chopped pork sand.
                                                                                                                                  sliced brisket was very well done, sliced nice, good taste, sauce was very good.
                                                                                                                                  didn't care for the pork... chopped brisk was just ok..
                                                                                                                                  sliced brisk was far & away the best.
                                                                                                                                  would be about a 9. will go back & try ribs & sides...

                                                                                                                            2. Country Tavern may be among the best in Texas. I totally disagree that Salt Lick is great BBQ. It's just a neat drive and OK BBQ

                                                                                                                              Salt Lick Restaurant
                                                                                                                              18300 Fm 1826, Driftwood, TX 78619

                                                                                                                              1. In the last 12 months I've eaten at City Market, Smitty's and Black's. To me Black's tastes artificially smokey. Smitty's and City Market's pork ribs and sausage are to die for. City Market's brisket was fair. I ate at Cooper's in Llano a few hours ago and was very disappointed. The pork loin was very good; brisket was good; pork ribs were dry and bland; sausages (jalapeño and not jalapeño; and they're massive, by the way -- seriously, like two feet long) were boring.

                                                                                                                                While I fear a law of diminishing returns on these trips from SAT and AUS, I guess since I'm in this far I'll have to get to Louie Mueller's and Kreuz and Southside and Elgin Meyer's and Gonzales...

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: lachristian

                                                                                                                                  Please include Snow's on your list. I can honestly say from having been to all the places you mention that are a little further away, Snow's is most worth the trip. Husband and I went three times last summer and fall and the brisket was equally excellent on each visit. My other favorite thing there is the pork butt. If you can get yourself up early on a Saturday morning, you'll be rewarded with the best barbecue breakfast you could ever hope for.

                                                                                                                                2. Ate at New Zion in Huntsville for lunch. It was a good thing I didn't make a special trip up there because the bbq was just so-so. I think it would have been better without all the sauce. I usually ask them to put me a little sauce on the side and don't usually use it but I was distracted because the cat was in the car and I ordered and went back to the car while my husband waited for the food. The potato salad was real good!! I had chicken, ribs and beef. The chicken was the best and I'd say it was better than average. Ribs and beef just so-so. Even when passing down I-45 again, I won't stop there again.

                                                                                                                                  Another side note for those that have to try it for themselves - it's only open Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun.

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: texasredtop

                                                                                                                                    Actually not Sunday. Sunday, they say, is for "saving souls."

                                                                                                                                    1. re: texasredtop

                                                                                                                                      agreed new zion is nothing special anymore barely average

                                                                                                                                    2. The best brisket in Texas, hands down, is Snow's in Lexington. And I'm talkin' on-line order, UPS next day delivery; comes frozen, but if you thaw and warm it right it's worth every high-end dollar it costs you. They ship on Tuesdays. I hope someday to have a reason to be in Lexington on a Saturday morning.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: waistedinkerrville

                                                                                                                                        Wow. That's really news you can use.

                                                                                                                                        My daughter's husband's family lives in Lexington, so I often am there "on a Saturday morning," but it's really great to know that they will ship brisket all over the country. My BBQ-lovin' son and his family out in California will be pretty excited about this.


                                                                                                                                      2. I'm fond of Rudy's not just for their great brisket, but also the fact that they show support to our military by offering our country's finest a discount. I'm happy to spend my money at a place like that.

                                                                                                                                        1. The Food Network did a BBQ, show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Bobby Flay and Duff Goldman loved Salt Lick, which has it's critics on this board. I was lucky enough to go in the halcyon days of the late 70's to early 80's, but haven't been back since so I can't add an accurate coment. Ted Allen liked the brisket at North Main BBQ in Dallas. I've never heard of this, and most Dallas hounds admit that the city is lacking in decent BBq. Does anyone have any comments on this place?

                                                                                                                                          Salt Lick
                                                                                                                                          3350 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                            North Main is actually west of the airport (it's in Euless), closer to Ft. Worth than Dallas. So it doesn't do anything to improve the quality of what's available in Dallas itself, if you're willing to drive out to Euless, you might as well head out to Ft. Worth which also has a handful of legitimate BBQ places. I haven't actually been there, I've heard mixed reviews.

                                                                                                                                          2. I've never understood the brisket fascination. I've tried many places over the years and they've been good but often in need of sauce for that 'something'.

                                                                                                                                            I tried the fatty brisket at Smitty's Market in Lockhart this past week and now I understand. That was legitimately amazing tasty meat. A bit chewy but I'll take the flavor over the tenderness. No need for any sauce and I actually ate the fat. People say 'fat is flavor' but most of the time I find it's just grease. Not this brisket on this day. The fat soaked through three layers of butcher paper and I found myself wondering if the paper would taste good.

                                                                                                                                            Smitty's Market
                                                                                                                                            208 S Commerce St, Lockhart, TX 78644

                                                                                                                                            1. Railhead Fort Worth
                                                                                                                                              Parboiled ribs, weak sauce. Doesn't serve any Texas or Fort Worth beers!!!!

                                                                                                                                              1. This is from a total outsider visiting Texas and sampling BBQ. My past best Texas BBQ experience was at Pappas in Houston when there on a business trip. I thought Pappas was just great. This trip first BBQ stop was Smitty's and then Kreuz in Lockhart. I was buying two pounds of brisket at each for a dinner for ten soon thereafter. We also bought a whole brisket at Smitty's. The experience at Smittys was great, entering the restaurant though the pit area. Added to the experience. Going to Kreuz is just like entering a big empty barn. It could be a bad eating hall at an amusment park. Like at a Busch Gardens or something. The brisket a either place did not look like what I had been hoping for. An hour or so later at the dinner, I was really disappointed and embarrased. The brisket was dry and tough. The next night we went to City Market in Luling. They had run out of brisket and we had pork ribs and sausage which were just fine but no brisket was disappointing. Then on Saturday morning, we made the trek to Snows. We got there at 8am as we had been advised to do. There were about 20 in line at opening. I have to say my wife accompanied me on this trek and I promised her that we did not have to eat BBQ for breakfast. We would get some BBQ to take for lunch and go somewhere else for breakfast. When we got near the window and saw the workers cutting the brisket I saw exactly what I had been looking for. It looked absolutely beautiful. When we got inside, it smelled so damn good my wife said lets not go somewhere else for breakfast, lets eat the BBQ. So I ordered two whole briskets and a combination plate of brisket and sausage. I cannot describe to you how good the brisket was. I got back in line and ordered another combination plate of chicken and pork and an extra pound of brisket for lunch (and after). Not only was the food fantastic but the people who work there were the freindliest people we ran into the whole trip (except maybe for the Alamo Springs Cafe - see different post). What a wonderful experience, espcially in light of the other places we visitied. I cant reccomend Snows enough to anyone who would like to try great BBQ. IMHO

                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: thespiritualmidget

                                                                                                                                                  I'd like to point out to you that the brisket you thought was far and away the best was also the brisket that you ate right away at the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                  That's not to say that great brisket shouldn't stay great after you hold it for a while, but I would suggest that before you make up your mind entirely, you should go back to Lockhart and try the "moist" at Smitty's, Kreuz, and Black's. Just get some small samples at each place, along with a hot link, and eat them right then and there.

                                                                                                                                                  Don't think you'll find it to be "dry" or "tough." Affter all, these places are literally iconic in the opinions of several generations of Texans. I doubt that would be the case if they were consistantly serving meat that was "dry and tough." Hard for me to believe that hundreds of thousands of Texans are wrong and one person is right.

                                                                                                                                                  I will say that I like Kreuz the least of Lockhart's legendary spots, but think you'll have a far different experience at all of those places, including Kreuz, if you order the moist brisket and sit down there and eat it right away.

                                                                                                                                                  You should at least give that a try before you decide definitively.

                                                                                                                                                  But for folks that need to buy brisket to take away for one reason or another, here's a tip. Never get it sliced at the market. It dries out much more quickly than if you just get a large chunk of meat and slice it yourself right before serving.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                    And speaking of Kreuz.... i was there today... as well as Smitty's and Blacks and i have to say you are right about them. i got a half pound of wet brisket to take home at all 3 places and Kreuz was just not as good as Blacks and Smittys.

                                                                                                                                                    that doesnt mean i wont go back again but.... next time i do .... i am gonna make sure i examine more closely what they are slicing for me. when i got it home there was a whole HALF of a slice was nothing but FAT !
                                                                                                                                                    now i like fat..... but NOT THAT much !
                                                                                                                                                    i saved it in the freezer..... i'll put it in to flavour my beans next time i make them. LOL

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BBQaddict

                                                                                                                                                      again, this is just the "humble" opinion of a random tourist. But we had the "takeout" about an hour after it was bought. The brisket looked dry and tough when it was cut.
                                                                                                                                                      Yes if I did it again, I would buy it uncut. But one thing I will tell you for absolutely sure, when I get back to Texas again, I am going to Snows.

                                                                                                                                                      Also, having great respect for all who are veterans at this, I now have two whole briskets from Snows and one from Smittys in the freezer. Frozen within two hours of when purchased. I would appreciate suggestions for the best preparation

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thespiritualmidget

                                                                                                                                                        I bought a brisket on-line last month from Snow's. It came next-day delivery frozen. I allowed two days in the fridge for it to thaw, let it come to room temp, then wrapped it in foil with a little water; put it in a propane oven outdoors at 225 F for 2 hours. Best in Texas! Serve your BBQ sauce (if you must) slightly warmed on the side. I use Snow's sauce or Red Mud. Enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: waistedinkerrville

                                                                                                                                                          We recently took a road trip to Lockhart to check out the BBQ situation down there. We tried the "Big Three...Smittys, Kreuz and Blacks". I have to say that the we wished we had only gone to Blacks. The smoke ring on the brisket there was twice the size of the others, and SO much more delish. We wanted to return the BBQ we had already purchased at the other places....yes, they were good, but Black's was just SO MUCH BETTER ;-)

                                                                                                                                                2. I currently live in Taylor and was shocked the first time that someone told me that Louie Mueller's was great barbeque. I had only been there a couple times, when I wanted some barbeque and was feeling too lazy to do it myself. As such I came to realize that most restaurant eaters have only scratched the surface of great barbeque. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy eatting barbeque at all the "great" places and a bunch of hole in the wall joints that stay off the radar, but not one of them compare to anything that would score in the top ten of a barbeque competition.

                                                                                                                                                  I used to experiment in the backyard with barbeque but wanted to turn up my skills and started going to contests to get samples. Amazing. The best barbeque you will ever have is going to be at one of those fairgrounds or parks where guys are giving their everything to make the absolute best product. Now before you condemn this as no viable way to get hold of some top shelf barbeque just do a little checking into it and you will discover that on over half of the weekends of the year there is a barbeque contest going on in Texas.

                                                                                                                                                  If eating the best is worthy of a road trip for you then do some searching, get a map, and hit the road.

                                                                                                                                                  Most competitive barbequers are a very friendly lot and will hand out anything that they are not using for turn in. Eating from the contests I was finally inspired to join a team and learn some serious skills myself. Now anyone that has had my brisket will tell you that my own greatly outshines what you'll find in any of the legendary barbeque joints. But to top it off I don't consider mine the best out there but far from it. It is just that there is a lot out there better than the best barbeque restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                  Although, I am still searching for absolutely great barbeque. I'm heading to Snow's next Saturday and I'll let you know what I think.

                                                                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Big Q

                                                                                                                                                    You're heading to Snow's...

                                                                                                                                                    I think I'll take this opportunity to again make my point that nobody should judge a bbq joint based on one visit.

                                                                                                                                                    I have relatives that live in Lexington. Was up there visiting a couple weeks ago, and so of course, we drove the three blocks over to Snow's.

                                                                                                                                                    Later, as we were working our way through the somewhat dry and tough brisket, one of our party, someone that has been eating Tootsie's brisket for decades and knows her personally quite well said, "Boy, I think Tootsie left this brisket on the fire too long. Ever since that Texas Monthly article came out, they've been so busy over there that it's gotten to be really 'hit and miss.' I think next time I'm going to Giddings."

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                      Sorry Jaymes, but I'll just have to dissagree with your point. We are not talking rocket science. I can consistently turn out Q on by back yard smoker which will taste the same on a regular basis. I can control the fire, the seasoning based on the rub, and smoke ring over and over again. If someone doesn't care for the flavor of the Q it is not likely to change in a given period of time. Again, just my opinion, but it is very unlikely I would ever return to Snow's.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: TXStingray

                                                                                                                                                        Except that I have been to Snow's many times and had superior 'cue. I think I'd be a damn fool to stop going because I got one overcooked brisket. And, more to my point, if that had been my first time, I still think I'd be a damn fool not to give them (or anybody) another chance.

                                                                                                                                                        Of course, from your post, it does appear that you are much better at consistently smoking meat than are Tootsie and company (although some unkind cynics might point out that it probably would be considerably easier for her to only have to handle one or two briskets at a time, as you undoubtedly do, rather than dozens).

                                                                                                                                                        So from the perspective of your stated and remarkable expertise, it makes perfect sense for you to mark Snow's (or anyone, for that matter) off of your list because of one bad experience.

                                                                                                                                                        I, however, am a mere fallible mortal. From my perspective, I would not feel justified in making such hasty and snap and unforgiving and irrevocable decisions based on one mediocre outing.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                          Was not a personal attack on you Jaymes, just my opinion of a bad experience shared by others. Sorry you felt compelled to make a personal attack against me....

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: TXStingray

                                                                                                                                                            I do take it personally. Sorry. But I know some of these restauranteurs. I know how hard they struggle to keep their doors open, put out a quality product that they care about and are proud of, pay overhead, meet a payroll, especially in these difficult economic times and in a business that has a notoriously skimpy profit margin. It makes it doubly difficult when they are dealing with an organic raw product, and many other uncertain variables, and have to compete with the chains down the street that indeed are turning out standard, uniform and consistent food, because it arrives pre-packaged and frozen in a truck from some corporate headquarters kitchens somewhere.

                                                                                                                                                            So when you say, here on a public forum, that because you are always and unfailingly capable of perfectly controlling all those variables, wood, smoke, quality of the meat, heat of the smoker on cool days, hot days, wet days, etc., on what is most likely your one or two briskets a month, you're not about to cut any of these commercial pitmasters any slack on their hundreds of briskets a week, I find that ludicrous.

                                                                                                                                                            I'd like to see these folks stay in business.

                                                                                                                                                            Even the imperfect ones that you don't believe to be deserving of a second chance.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                              well thought out post, Jaymes; nicely done.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                                Shoot guy, I'm an engineer. I probably only do 4 or 5 briskets a year. Will just leave it at that..... Have a lot more to say, but will keep it yo myself. Might consider rereading your posts.....
                                                                                                                                                                Oh yeah, I'll buy you a root beer float should you wish to discuss further?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: TXStingray

                                                                                                                                                                  Well, maybe I'll go for that root beer float sometime. I do love them, and a lively conversation is always intriguing.

                                                                                                                                                                  And I must admit, your post has really stayed with me. Perhaps I'm the only one, but your remark that "We are not talking rocket science" has been rattling around in this old brain ever since I first read it.

                                                                                                                                                                  I do realize that you meant it as a facetious and gratuitous insult and not in any way intended as the basis for a serious discussion, but it really set me to thinking. And I've about decided that in many ways, being a legendary pitmaster actually might be more difficult than "rocket science."

                                                                                                                                                                  Rocket science is finite, mathematical, exact. Seems to me that once you get the formulae down, you can teach them, share them, learn them, pass them down, build upon them. And if you're smart enough to just follow what's written, what's gone before, what someone else worked out, the laws of physics, etc., you're golden.

                                                                                                                                                                  But being one of the true greats of the smoke pits doesn't seem quite so simple to me. In addition to requiring the sorts of skills, formulae, knowledge, etc., like rocket science that one "learns," it also seems to require other, more intangible abilities that are built on skill and knowledge, sure, but that aren't so easy to teach. Things like intuition and patience. Unlike rocket science, you can't just follow someone else's formula for meat and wood and smoke and time. Certainly not over and over and over. This log burns hotter than that. This brisket more marbled than that. Or bigger, or heavier, or leaner, or whatever. Always checking the pits. Always another judgement call.

                                                                                                                                                                  I am sure every single person that has ever been interested in barbecue can tell you about at least one once-favorite joint that, when the pitmaster died or left, was no longer so good. Oh, the ribs are still fine. And the chicken. And the sausage.

                                                                                                                                                                  But the brisket?


                                                                                                                                                                  It's not just because the pitmaster took all his (or her, in Tootsie's case) secrets and skill and knowledge with him. Often, the barbecue restaurant has passed down from father to son. And father tried mightily to pass down that knowledge and son tried mightily to learn it. But father just "knew." He "got it."

                                                                                                                                                                  And son is trying to continue the successful business that father built up. Son is trying to take what he learned at his father's stained white apron. But he can't quite master it. There's an intangible something about the alchemy of meat and smoke that his father understood that the son doesn't.

                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry, TXStingray, but in my experience, there have been many more rocket scientists throughout history than legendary, world-class pitmasters. Even now, today, in Texas, you can count off the truly greats of the smoked brisket BBQ world on one hand. But NASA is crammed full with rocket scientists.

                                                                                                                                                                  Of course, I know that there are many other reasons why somebody with the capability of doing each might choose NASA over a hot smoky pit but, to me anyway, they each require a much different skill set. And I'm not so certain as you that I'd say one is "more difficult" than the other.

                                                                                                                                                                  It just happens that I've known a few rocket scientists in my day.

                                                                                                                                                                  They may have been brilliant.

                                                                                                                                                                  But they were lousy barbecuers.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                                    So the bottom line is you like it, I don't. All the paragraphs about business models, payrolls, and etc. are not likely to change my, or anyone elses mind. Either a person likes a product or they don't.
                                                                                                                                                                    What establishments do you like for root beer and vanilla ice cream? Hope we will at least agree on Blue Bell?
                                                                                                                                                                    (heck of a dissertation on rocket scientists by the way!)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: TXStingray

                                                                                                                                                                      ~~~"So the bottom line is you like it, I don't. All the paragraphs about business models, payrolls, and etc. are not likely to change my, or anyone elses mind. Either a person likes a product or they don't."~~~

                                                                                                                                                                      No, no, no, TXStingray. That's not the bottom line at all. At least not MY bottom line. That's not even close to what I'm trying to say. I can't believe I've done all this typing and haven't made myself any clearer than that.

                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not saying I'm right and you're wrong and you should like what I like. I don't know what you like and I don't care what you like and, whatever it is, I'm sure it's right for you and that's just dandy with me.

                                                                                                                                                                      All I'm saying, and I don't think it's that radical, is that my personal policy, and what I advise others (and after all that's what we're all doing here - asking for and receiving and giving our thoughts, opinions, advice) is that when it comes to smoked brisket at a commercial barbecue establishment, before one reaches a definitive decision as to which "product" one "likes or they don't," they would be wise to try it at least twice, because it can vary considerably, not only from day to day, but even from brisket to brisket.

                                                                                                                                                                      Not only is it not my "bottom line" that I like "it" and you don't, I don't even know for sure which specific "it" it is that you're talking about. For all I know, perhaps I don't like "it" either.

                                                                                                                                                                      Obviously, if someone has given a product a fair try and they don't like it, they absolutely should not support a business just because of "payrolls, and etc." That's not the capitalistic way.

                                                                                                                                                                      If you try out a new (to you) barbecue joint, and the sauce tastes like some sort of weird pasta sauce (and I'm talkin' to you, Goode Co), or there's a roach in your beans, or the flavor of the sausage doesn't appeal to you, or the food is way overpriced, or the staff is surly and rude, or whatever else is off-putting or unacceptable to you, don't go back.

                                                                                                                                                                      But I repeat, speaking in general terms, my personal opinion is that if the brisket is a little tough that day, you might consider giving them, whoever they are, at least one more chance before you write them off of your list permanently.

                                                                                                                                                                      That's my issue. You go to a hypothetical new barbecue joint. You've heard it's pretty good. The brisket is a little dry.

                                                                                                                                                                      Should you give them another shot before you make up your mind for sure?

                                                                                                                                                                      Or is that it for you.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Jaymes


                                                                                                                                                          Have you hit Franklin BBQ in Austin yet? If Snow's is #1 (which it is), then Franklin is 1a (we tried them both back to back).

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bulldozer

                                                                                                                                                            I haven't hit Franklin yet. It's been about five years or so since I lived in Austin, and that's not a name I'm familiar with. Is it new? Where is it?

                                                                                                                                                            I do still visit there often and will definitely give it a go. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                              Franklin is fairly new (I think it opened late 2009). We lined up on a Saturday AM (10:30 for an 11am opening). They were sold out before noon.

                                                                                                                                                              This was our trip: http://manuptexasbbq.blogspot.com/201...

                                                                                                                                                              Some other info on Franklin: http://www.robbwalsh.com/2010/06/the-...

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bulldozer

                                                                                                                                                                I checked out your links. Wow. Impressive!

                                                                                                                                                                And Austin certainly can use a top-tier barbecue place. I'm really looking forward to trying it, and wish them the best. If their reputation grows, they should be quite successful. So many visitors to Austin are eager to try world-class barbecue, but are not in a position for one reason or another to drive to one of the famous BBQ joints out of town. There definitely is a need to have one in Austin, and I think if Franklin's is it, it will be very well-supported.

                                                                                                                                                                So, thanks again.