The 10 Best Texas Barbecue Joints, According to Texas Monthly

The long-awaited Texas Monthly barbecue rankings are here! For months, it was rumored that Texas Monthly would release a comprehensive ranking of Texas barbecue dives, and barbecue connoisseurs have been waiting with bated breath to see the results. Finally, they have arrived. The last list they published was in 2013, and it seems a few things have changed in four years around the Lone Star State.

So what are these famed pit stops for carnivores? Let’s take a trip across beautiful, meaty Texas and find out.

10. Truth Barbecue

Brenham, Texas

This place is the best in the world. You can trust me. @truth_bbq

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QUICK FACTS from Texas Monthly:

Opened: 2015

Pitmaster: Leonard Botello IV, 28

Method: Post oak; indirect-heat pit

Pro Tip: The “Love Texas” sign makes a perfect background for selfies.

The youngest pitmaster on the list, Botello is clearly aware of the fact that imitation is the highest form of flattery. It is obvious that this young proprietor is a fan of Aaron Franklin’s style. And apparently, in the barbecue world, it will get you far.

With decadently moist ribs, perfectly rendered brisket, awe-inspiring sides, and Instagram-worthy desserts, you will soon reassess your belief that only wizened old men can be competent pit masters.

9. Evie Mae’s Pit Barbecue

Wolfforth, Texas

QUICK FACTS from Texas Monthly:

Opened: 2015

Pitmaster: Arnis Robbins, 33

Method: Oak; offset smoker

Pro Tip: Grab a free Shiner from the beer tub while you stand in line.

Recently relocated from their Lubbock food trailer to a brand new brick and mortar, the quality of the food at this barbecue joint is clearly not suffering from growing pains.

Get their early to get your paws on one of the coveted beef ribs which are smokey all the way through and covered in just the right amount of peppery bark. Save a little room though so that you can sample the wide range of sides which includes spicy green-chile cheese grits and tangy smoked beans.

8. Micklethwait Craft Meats

Austin, Texas

QUICK FACTS from Texas Monthly:

Opened: 2012

Pitmaster: Tom Micklethwait, 39

Method: Oak; indirect-heat pit

Pro Tip: This place four-tenths of a mile from Franklin Barbecue, and the wait is usually only 15 to 30 minutes.

The “craft” part of the name really should be bolded, italicized, and underlined. Only a stone’s throw from the legend that is Franklin’s Barbecue, this little hobbit-like trailer can hold its own among discerning barbecue patrons. With offers including peppery, midnight-dark barked brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, chicken, and a marbled beef rib that will feed four, this is only the beginning of Micklethwait’s menu.

Take a moment to ogle the sausage menu. You’ll be salivating at the thought of biting into a tightly cased kielbasa, andouille, or the occasional specialty like coarse lamb-and-beef with tangerine zest.

7. Corkscrew Barbecue

Spring, Texas

QUICK FACTS from Texas Monthly:

Opened: 2011

Pitmaster: Will Buckman, 38

Method: Red oak; wood rotisserie pit

Pro Tip: You know you’re in Texas when you can add pico to any item for a dollar.

Corkscrew Barbecue is one of the few barbecue shacks where you can pull a number and come back later instead of languishing your day away in a line under the hot Texas sun. And this is somewhere where people would actually willingly do so; the barbecue here is first-rate.

Even Texas Monthly claimed that everything on the menu was superb. High praise even among the elites. Plus, the fact that they think of their patrons before their perceived popularity makes us like Corkscrew even more.

6. Tejas Chocolate Craftory

Tomball, Texas

This barbecue tray is waiting for you. Photo by @divaqbbq Add a beef rib and stay awhile.

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QUICK FACTS from Texas Monthly:

Opened: 2015

Pitmasters: Scott Moore Jr., 53, and Greg Moore, 51

Method: Post oak; indirect-heat pit

Pro Tip: The carrot soufflé will change your mind about what’s possible in a barbecue side.

The only barbecue outfit in Texas where the dessert may just hold its own next to some superbly smoked meats. Scott Moore and his partner Michelle Holland used to exclusively a bean-to-bar chocolate business. However, when they realized that it would be easier to make ends meet serving barbecue, they changed the menu. 

Thank God they did.

The pork ribs are moist to the point that chewing seems an unnecessary reflex. The brisket is cozied up under a layer of salt and pepper bark that crackles with all-American flavor. Saturday’s beef short ribs are all but perfectly cooked. The dessert too is irresistible. Remember that they used to be chocolate purveyors?

5. Louie Mueller Barbecue

Taylor, Texas

The Royal Feast….

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QUICK FACTS from Texas Monthly:

Opened: 1949

Pitmaster: Wayne Mueller, 51

Method: Post oak; indirect-heat pit

Pro Tip: Call in your order to skip the line.

The name Louie Mueller has been familiar in barbecue-loving Texas households for generations, and it seems that age has only improved things. When Bobby Mueller took over from his father, Louie, in 1974, this barbecue shack went from a local sensation to a James Beard Award winner.

When Bobby’s son, Wayne, took over in 2008, he brought a modern twist to a classic. Today, old patrons and new enthusiasts alike enjoy what comes off the pits. Jalapeno sausage and pulled pork are just exactly what they should be – oozing with flavor and prepared with care.

Bobby Mueller’s daughter LeAnn Mueller also owns her own barbecue trailer in Austin called La Barbecue.

4. Bodacious Bar-B-Q

Longview, Texas

Literally "Texas"

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QUICK FACTS from Texas Monthly:

Opened: 1968 (reopened in 2015)

Pitmaster: Jordan Jackson, 34, and Scott Turner, 30

Method: Mesquite, post oak; four different pits: vertical flow, offset, indirect heat, direct heat

Pro Tip: The brisket is marathon-smoked for 24 to 26 hours. Get some.

Bodacious Bar-B-Que is a mini-chain in Texas, but the original location in Longview has stepped up its game. Today, Jordan Jackson, a Le Cordon Bleu graduate, has taken over and is bringing perfectly packed sausages and hormone-free Angus briskets from 44 Farms to an East Texas audience.

However, he did happen to marry the original owner’s daughter which makes Bodacious Bar-B-Que a true family business. 

3. Cattleack Barbeque

Dallas, Texas

See anything on this tray you like? 4 features coming next week. Stay tuned

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QUICK FACTS from Texas Monthly:

Opened: 2013

Pitmaster: Todd David, 59

Method: Post oak and hickory; indirect-heat pit and wood-fired rotisserie

Pro Tip: For the best twenty seconds of ‘cue porn in Texas, go to Cattleack’s website (sorry, it’s not on mobile).

Take a deep breath. Yes, the #3 spot on the list goes to a barbecue shop in a north Dallas strip mall. We know you’re thinking that’s impossible, but hold onto your horses and give this place a chance. One bite and you’ll be inextricably hooked.

Cattleack’s Akaushi ribs redefine “well-marbled.” The brisket is a fusion of bark and meat in the most enticing way possible. And the slabs of pulled pork are soft enough to eat with a spoon. Leave some room for the sausage specials too. You won’t want to miss house-made boudin or lamb-and-fig sausage.

2. Franklin Barbecue

Austin, Texas

QUICK FACTS from Texas Monthly:

Opened: 2009

Pitmaster: Aaron Franklin, 39

Method: Post oak; indirect-heat pit

Pro Tip: Beef ribs are Saturday only, making them the hardest get in Texas barbecue.

For years Franklin’s place has reigned as king of Texas barbecue. His credentials include being the author of a best-selling barbecue cookbook, winning a James Beard award, and becoming the co-founder of the new food-centric Hot Luck Fest in Austin. With so much happening simultaneously and a brand to carry him, no one would be surprised if the quality began to slip slightly. However, that is far from the case.

The brisket as always is a perfect harmony between fat, meat, and bark, and even the turkey – a notoriously underwhelming barbecue menu addition – is good enough to encourage seconds (if you can get them).

1.  Snow’s Barbecue

Lexington, Texas

Breakfast @ 8am ?

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QUICK FACTS from Texas Monthly:

Opened: 2003

Pitmasters: Tootsie Tomanetz, 82, and Kerry Bexley, 50

Method: Post oak; both direct- and indirect-heat pit

Pro Tip: This is some of the least expensive top-quality brisket—around $15.95 a pound, in case you’re planning a party.

The #1 spot is held by Snow’s whose mean rests on time-battered pits located under an open-air shed and slow-swaying oak trees. In a tiny town of 1,200, you wouldn’t think there would be much to impress you, but if you pass up this flyover town and its resident pitmasters, you’ll regret it deeply.

Manned by an 82-year-old woman named Tootsie, the barbecue coming off these pits speaks of experience and time-honored tradition. The result is a sublime experience which will cause you to involuntarily close your eyes and savor the moment while you listen to the whisper of trees and thank your lucky stars that you pulled off the highway.