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Backhanded barbecue compliment: Houston ranked the 5th best "big city" barbecue spot in America

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Franklin BBQ
Franklin's Barbecue in Austin. Photo courtesy of Franklin Barbecue
Pecan Lodge
Pecan Lodge in Dallas. Photo courtesy of Pecan Lodge
News_Peter Barnes_backyard barbecue_Levi Goode_THIS
Goode Company in Houston. Courtesy of Goode Company Barbecue
Franklin BBQ
Pecan Lodge
News_Peter Barnes_backyard barbecue_Levi Goode_THIS

There have been many great debates about the best barbecue joints in the country. And, if you believe Texas Monthly, they are all in Texas.

Travel + Leisure readers tend to agree that the majority of America’s great barbecue is served in the Lone Star State. On a recent roundup of America’s Best Cities for Barbecue, Texas took four of the Top 10 spots: Austin (No. 4), Houston (No. 5), San Antonio (No. 6) and Dallas-Fort Worth (No. 8).

The info was gleaned from the publication’s American’s Favorite Cities survey, in which readers ranked 35 metro areas for qualities such as people, nightlife, culture and, of course, dining. So bear in mind that this list of the “best in America” doesn’t even take into account cities like Lexington, Kentucky, or St. Louis, Missouri, which were not among those 35.

With that out of the way, let us bask in this barbecue glory.

In what it calls “big-business city” Houston, T+L mentions “mom-and-pop-style Gatlin’s BBQ, in The Heights, and (not surprising for a tourist curated ranking) Goode Company, with the old standby lauded for its smoked duck, jalapeño cheese bread and rich Brazos Bottom pecan pie.” Beaver’s also surprisingly receives praise as the place to go “to keep your blood-brisket level high.”

In the Dallas area, T+L just had to mention stalwarts Sonny Bryan’s and Angelo’s in Fort Worth, as well as current media darling Pecan Lodge (there was even a plug for its new Deep Ellum digs) and Lockhart Smokehouse, the “North Texas branch of Lockhart’s legendary Kreuz Market, where you eat your brisket, sausage and beef ribs right off the butcher paper (and sans sauce).”

About Austin, T+L writes, “Iron Works and the Salt Lick are traditional favorites, but these days the lines are longest at Franklin Barbecue in East Austin, which serves meat-market-style brisket, turkey, sausage and more on pink butcher paper, with white bread and three sauces (including an espresso-based version) on the side.” Nearby Lockhart — also a city not in the original T+L survey — gets a shout out as “barbecue-lover’s day trip” where Smitty’s Market and Black’s await.

No. 6-ranked San Antonio gets props for its “cutting-edge style” at new establishments like Granary ’Cue & Brew in the Pearl Brewery, where brisket and house-made sausage are served alongside dishes such as grilled quail, root-beer sauteed scallops and Texas toast glazed with a mixture of brisket drippings, butter and sea salt. But the River City also pleases traditionalists with Texas Pride Barbecue, which “keeps it classic.”

Here is the full list (and remember the bit about the cities in the original survey, because somewhere around No. 10, it starts to get silly):

  1. Nashville, Tennessee
  2. Memphis, Tennessee
  3. Kansas City, Missouri
  4. Austin, Texas
  5. Houston, Texas
  6. San Antonio, Texas
  7. Charleston, South Carolina
  8. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  9. Savannah, Georgia
  10. New Orleans, Louisiana
  11. Atlanta, Georgia
  12. Honolulu, Hawaii
  13. Chicago, Illinois
  14. Denver, Colorado
  15. Orlando, Florida
  16. Portland, Oregon
  17. San Diego, California
  18. Portland, Maine
  19. Providence, Rhode Island
  20. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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