Texas Monthly has shaken up the barbecue world. The magazine’s newly released list of the state’s top 50 barbecue joints makes major changes to the conventional wisdom surrounding where to find the best 'cue in Texas.
Presented as a ranked top 10, 40 additional restaurants listed alphabetically by city, and 50 honorable mentions, the magazine’s team of 32 staff writers and three freelancers compiled the rankings by visiting 411 establishments during the spring and summer. With 29 new entrants — including four of the top five — the list leans heavily towards restaurants that have opened since Texas Monthly last ranked barbecue joints in 2017.
Despite all the changes, barbecue fans shouldn't panic. Texas Monthly’s message to readers isn’t that the old places have gotten worse in the last four years. Rather, they’ve been outshined by restaurants that cook a wider selection of meats than the classic Texas trinity of brisket, ribs, and sausage; prepare a more diverse selection of sides than potato salad, beans, and cole slaw; and show a willingness to incorporate international flavors into their preparations.
“In short, if you were hoping for an argument that innovation is getting out of hand and it’s time to retrench and return to the simpler days of barbecue, you won’t find it here,” the magazine writes. “But have no fear: if you’re an old-school stalwart who blanches at the thought of smoked cauliflower, plenty of places on our list will make you very happy.”
Here’s the top 10 in order:
- Goldee’s Barbecue (Fort Worth)
- InterStellar BBQ (Austin)
- Truth Barbeque (Houston)
- Burnt Bean Co. (Seguin)
- LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue (Austin)
- Cattleack Barbeque (Dallas)
- Franklin Barbecue (Austin)
- Evie Mae’s Pit Barbeque (Wolfforth)
- Snow’s BBQ (Lexington)
- Panther City BBQ (Fort Worth)
Compared to 2017’s top 10, Franklin Barbecue, which ranked number one statewide in 2013 and number two in 2017, now ranks third in Austin. Snow’s, which took the top spot in both 2008 and 2017 and became an international sensation after Netflix’s Chef’s Table documentary series featured pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz, drops to ninth. Truth rises from 10th to third, while Evie Mae's moves up one spot. Louie Mueller Barbecue, CorkScrew BBQ, and Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue move from top 10 to second 40, while Bodacious Bar-B-Q in Longview is off the list entirely.
Overall, Houston’s results are a mixed bag with six restaurants in the top 50 and five honorable mentions. In addition to Truth, three new restaurants join the top 50: Blood Bros. BBQ (Bellaire), Brett’s Barbecue Shop (Katy), and Feges BBQ in Spring Branch. They're joined by CorkScrew BBQ (Spring), Killen's Barbecue (Pearland), and Tejas Choclate + Barbecue (Tomball). While Pinkerton’s BBQ’s location in the Heights isn’t listed, the restaurant’s bigger, grander San Antonio location earns a spot on the top 50; we’ll assume both restaurants serve similar quality food.
Gatlin’s BBQ and Roegels Barbecue Co. move from 2017’s top 50 into the honorable mentions where they’re joined by Dozier’s BBQ & Meat Market (Fulshear), Pizzitola’s Bar-B-Que, and Harlem Road Texas BBQ (Richmond). Montrose restaurant The Pit Room, a top 50 restaurant in 2017, does not make the list at all in 2021.
Two restaurants with Houston ties also earned spots in the top 50. Eaker Barbecue in Fredericksburg started as a Bayou City food truck, while Mimsy’s Craft Barbecue in Crocket is owned by pitmaster Wade Elkins, an alum of both Feges BBQ and Magnolia’s Reveille Barbecue Co, and his wife Kathy, a chef whose resume include Hunky Dory and Harold’s in the Heights.
As for the rest of the state, the Austin area leads the way with eight restaurants in the top 50 plus six honorable mentions. Dallas restaurants earn seven spots in the 50 and five honorable mentions, with Fort Worth taking four spots in the top 50 and three honorable mentions. San Antonio has three top 50 restaurants plus three honorable mentions.
In addition to the lists, the magazine's coverage includes features on the merits of barbecue sauce, favorite barbecue dishes, standout sides, and the best desserts. See the Texas Monthly website for all the delicious details.