While the Bayou City failed to break into the coveted top four spaces — damn you, Austin, and your Franklin Barbecue — the Houston area has a hale and hearty presence on list with five entries. But only . . . five? Out of 50?
Virgie's on Gessner, which made Texas Monthly's last list in 2008, represents Houston along with Galtin's on 19th Street. Leon's in Galveston and Brooks' Place in Cypress also got their hats in the ring, as did Spring's celebrated Corkscrew.
"We still can't believe it," says Will Buckman, who launched the Corkscrew BBQ trailer with his wife Nichole less than two years ago.
"Texas Monthly contacted us recently to check some facts and the spelling of our names. We knew they were putting a something together, but we were thinking it was just a mention. We definitely didn't expect to make the Top 50."
Of the three BBQ scouts the magazine reportedly sends to each of its selections, Buckman tells CultureMap he only spotted food editor Patricia Sharpe at the trailer in recent months. The others flew under his radar.
Knowing how seriously Texans take their meat, Texas Monthly prides itself on following the letter of it own laws. Its team of 15 staffers — plus one "carefully vetted" freelance writer — spend eight full months attempting to get to as many of the state's 2,000-odd BBQ establishments as possible.
The trained eaters fill out scorecards that mainly concentrate on the meats, with the brisket factor weighed above all else. Atmosphere, service and history play minor roles as well.
"At each joint, the eaters sample at least three meats, a couple of sides and a dessert," the article explains. "In areas of high barbecue density, they may visit as many as nine places in a day." (That's 27 pieces of BBQ in a single day, by the way.)
Texas Monthly's final BBQ reviews will be available on the magazine's website May 22 and on newsstands May 23. The full content is offered only to subscribers.