Daniel Vaughn has arguably the best job in Texas. As barbecue editor for Texas Monthly, he travels the state seeking the tastiest morsels from the state's smoked meat purveyors. To wrap up 2019, he compiled his list of the 16 best Texas BBQ bites.
Vaughn deliberately excludes both the restaurants in Texas Monthly's list of the state's top 50 barbecue joints as well as 2019's list of the top 25 barbecue newcomers. That means that the obvious choices — say, brisket at Franklin Barbecue, pork steak at Snow's BBQ, or the chile relleno sausage at Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue — are all ineligible for inclusion. It also rules out some newer favorites like the brisket fried rice at Blood Bros. BBQ or the smoked burgers at Leroy & Lewis.
Leaving out 75 of the state's best barbecue joints allows Vaughn's list to highlight up-and-comers, under-the-radar spots in small towns, and some promising pop-ups.
In Houston, the representatives are the beef short rib at Brett's BBQ Shop in Katy, the smoked chicken and rice from Khói Barbecue, and the brisket puffy tacos from Los Muertos BBQ in Katy. Traveling south, Galveston's Buck's Barbecue Co. gets a shout out for its brisket grilled cheese.
Austin earns three spots on the list courtesy of the whole hog sausage at Banger's, the jalapeño popper sausage and scalloped potatoes at Interstellar BBQ, and the smoked sausage kolache at Kerlin BBQ. Like Brett's, B-Daddy's BBQ in the San Antonio suburb of Helotes makes the list for its beef short rib.
The takeaway is obvious. Texas has a lot of great barbecue, and diners who are willing to drive a bit will be richly rewarded in deliciousness.