While Texas carnivores bide their time waiting for the next edition of Daniel Vaughn’s quadrennial Top 50 Barbecue Joints, which is due in 2021, Texas Monthly has delivered something new to chew on. On April 22, the barbecue editor fired up his midterm report on the state’s most promising newcomers.
The unranked list is the result of frequent trips to every corner of the state to taste dozens of spots, with every possible spelling iteration of the word "barbecue." Despite the title, the timeframe for openings is relative with one eatery: Charlie’s Bar-B-Que in Beaumont, which originally opened in 2012, but Vaughn explains he didn't discover until late 2017.
Otherwise Vaughn held fast to a set of rules, confining the list to only places with permanent addresses, food trucks included, and eliminating satellite locations like Truth Barbeque’s Houston location and Micklethwait Craft Meat’s new outpost in Smithville from consideration.
The Houston area racked up four nods, right after the Austin area, which earned six nods — more than a fifth of the entire list. Here, CultureMap Tastemaker Award-winning Blood Bros. BBQ leads the charge. As CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler notes, the Bellaire spot is beloved by Vaughn for its Central Texas-style classics mixed with Asian-inspired twists like a smoked turkey banh mi, Thai green curry boudin (one of several housemade sausages), and brisket fried rice. Folks west will love the nod to Harlem Road Texas BBQ, while Inner Loopers will regale in the selection of the Greenway Plaza joint Feges BBQ. And locals know that Revellie Barbecue Co. in Magnolia is Houston's new destination for good 'cue.
In Austin, Vaughn was especially taken by the innovators of the Capital City scene, shouting out LeRoy & Lewis Barbecue for being “ahead of the curve with barbecue trends,” Loro for being “unfamiliar and exhilarating,” and The Switch’s unique Cajun-Texan mix.
Vaughn found the Capital City suburbs just as promising. Pustka Family Barbeque in Hutto, Brotherton’s Black Iron Barbecue in Pflugerville, and unsurprisingly John Mueller Black Box Barbecue in Georgetown.
More remarkable was the inclusion of two new restaurants nearby in Waco, once scoffed at for being just a highway pitstop between Austin and Dallas. Helberg Barbecue won high praise for its pastrami beef cheeks and Guess Family Barbecue for “the ideal version of Texas spareribs.”
Though Central Texas shined, Vaughn’s report proves that superlative barbecue is never hard to find in the Lone Star State. The selections traversed the entire map, from the Panhandle to the Gulf coast, as follows:
- Blood Bros. BBQ, Bellaire
- Harlem Road Texas BBQ, Richmond
- Feges BBQ, Houston
- Reveille Barbecue Co., Magnolia
- LJ’s BBQ, Brenham
- 1775 Texas Pit BBQ, College Station
- Panther City BBQ, Fort Worth
- Brick Vault Brewery & Barbecue, Marathon
- Butter’s BBQ, Mathis
- Rejino Narbeque, Olton
- Brett’s Backyard Bar-B-Que, Rockdale
- Black Board Bar-B-Q, Sisterdale
- Smokin’ Moon BBQ & Beer Garden, Pharr
- Smoke Sessions Barbecue, Royse City
- Pitforks and Smotherings BBQ, Slaton
- Convenience West, Marfa
Read the full list of Vaughn's pro tips at Texas Monthly, then hit the road for a meaty adventure.