On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn joins CultureMap food editor to discuss the magazine's quadrennial list of the state's top 50 barbecue restaurants. To assemble the list that will be revealed in October, Vaughn and the magazine's staff visited over 400 barbecue joints across the state.
Sandler asks Vaughn to identify some of the new trends he noticed in his travels. The barbecue writer identifies the rise of smoked burgers as an easier way to utilize brisket trim than making sausage and the growth of international flavors in smoked meats. In response to a question about the increasing diversity of sides and desserts, Vaughn acknowledges that it's rare to see a new place that only serves beans, cole slaw, and potato salad.
"You go to a place like Interstellar BBQ in Cedar Park and get smoked scallop potatoes, the smoked corn and elotes salad at Feges BBQ in Houston . . . just the creativity of those sides is what draws some people to a different barbecue place," Vaughn says. "I think these barbecue joints realize they've got to do more to appeal to a broad audience than just smoke meat really well."
The interview touches on a number of other topics, including the current state of Houston's barbecue scene, the amount of turnover in the top 50 from 2017, and a charming story about filmign an episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain.
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Matt Harris discuss the news of the week. Their topics include Bosscat Kitchen's plans to bring its sister concept Ten Sushi to Houston; Peli Peli closing to be replaced by South African restaurant Mozambik; and Daddy's Chicken Shack's plans to use Houston as a proving ground for future nationwide growth.
In the restaurants of the week segment, Sandler and Harris discuss their lunch at Urbe, the new street food concept from James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega. They also visit Ixím, the new Mexican restaurant at Bravery Chef Hall that's led by Caracol alums Tim Redding and Rebecca Aguirre.