As Texans, we’ll admit that we can be overly proud of things like our state size and our sports teams, but I think we can all agree that we serve up some pretty mean barbecue. Juicy, slow-smoked brisket, tender ribs slathered in sauce, and more cheesy, buttery sides than you can imagine. In celebration of May being National Barbecue Month, I’m sharing some of my favorites featured from the past 4 seasons of Goodtaste with Tanji. Here are 12 of my go-to barbecue spots in the Lone Star State.
Franklin Barbecue – Austin
Photo Credit: New York Times
When you think of Texas barbecue, you probably think of Franklin’s. This world-famous spot has been crushing the barbecue game since it opened in 2009 and owner Aaron Franklin has the awards to prove it. The first pitmaster to earn himself a James Beard Award, his ‘cue has been on major lists in Texas Monthly, Bon Appétit and Esquire and praised by people like Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain.
La Barbecue – Austin
Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/austinfoodmagazine/
Austin has one of the best food truck scenes in the country and it wouldn’t be complete without the wood-fired meats at La Barbecue. Pitmaster Dylan Taylor learned his tricks and received his 3 smokers, housed across from the food truck, from a local barbecue legend, John Lewis of Franklin Barbecue. For brisket with a crispy “bark” (BBQ speak for “crust”), he seasons his meat with a simple course-ground rub of black pepper, kosher salt and garlic granules.
Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ – Austin
Photo Credit: Bon Appetit
Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ smokes some of Texas’ finest barbecue – just ask Texas Monthly, the New York Times, Forbes and Bon Appétit Magazine! Miguel Vidal started Valentina’s in 2013 in the Southside of San Antonio. His mission? To preserve the kind of ‘cue he grew up eating. With the help of his Mom’s homemade tortillas and Dad’s borrowed smoker, his brisket and ribs have won many awards and topped multiple “best barbecue” lists.
Pecan Lodge – Dallas
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The line at Pecan Lodge starts at 11am, but understandably – it was named the 2nd best barbecue in the state by Texas Monthly. Their crowd-favorite staples include smoked sausage and a pulled pork that is so delicate they pull it by hand. Their sides, like the three-cheese bacon mac and cheese, are some of the best in Texas.
Killen’s – Houston
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One of the secrets behind the moist, juicy brisket at Killen’s is the little piece of NASA space technology, a space shuttle tile, hidden inside their smoker. Also, don’t skip the crème brûlée bread pudding. This dessert is almost as famous as their meat and was named “one of the top 10 dishes in the country” in 2008 by Food & Wine Magazine.
Buzzie’s BBQ – Kerrville
Photo Credit: @irmasimona
It all started when Kerrville native, Harold E. “Buzzie” Hughes, began throwing backyard barbecues. Word spread quickly and soon over 200 people were showing up for his famous cookouts. Eventually his wife gave him an ultimatum: open a restaurant or start collecting donations. He renovated the old Comfort Grocery and Feed Store in Comfort, Texas for his first brick-and-mortar, then later expanded to his hometown of Kerrville. Featured in “Texas Monthly” as one of the 50 Best Barbecue Joints in the State, they continue to smoke meat over a mix of oak and mesquite wood, using spices that remain a secret to this day.
Davila’s BBQ in Seguin – Texas
As a 3rd generation Mexican American establishment you can find all the tradition and flavor in these ever so carefully smoked meats. l In 1959, Davila’s BBQ was first opened by Raul Davila in an old abandoned school house in Seguin, TX.Nearly sixty years and three generations later, Davila’s BBQ has continued to grow and been nationally recognized as one of the top BBQ places in Texas. Third generation Pitmaster Adrian Davila now leads the restaurant and continues the tradition with passed down family recipes. Adrian celebrates traditions of Latin America and Texas, taking inspiration from the vaquero lifestyle of his own family history, infusing classic brisket, ribs and sausage with Latin flavors and ingredients.
Black’s Barbecue – Lockhart
Photo Credit: Fed Man Walking
How could we NOT include a pick from Lockhart, the barbecue capital of Texas? At Black’s Barbecue, you can chow down on giant beef ribs, spicy jalapeño sausage and some of the most tender, heavenly slices of brisket you’ll ever taste. It all began when Edgar Black, the grandfather of present-day owner Ken Black, needed money during the Great Depression. Leading a cattle drive to Lockhart, he opened his own meat market and grocery store in 1932. This original market was located just across the street from the restaurant we know and love today.
The Shack BBQ – Lubbock
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The Shack BBQ is smoking some of the most tender barbecue in town, with juicy turkey, hulking ribs, and live music. Their apple pie cheesecake is also one of the best things I’ve eaten on the road. Pro tip: to guarantee a slice, make sure to call ahead because they sell out every day.
Central Texas Style Barbecue – Pearland
Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/tastehtx/
At Pearland’s oldest restaurant, Central Texas Style Barbecue, the female pit masters have been tending the flame since 1969. Their food fuses Texas-style bbq with flavors from their Cuban heritage. Try the Cuban black beans and rice, or Congri, and their super-popular loaded baked potato with butter, shredded cheddar, green onions and chopped beef.
It’s All Good BBQ – Spicewood
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The awards collected by It’s All Good BBQ speak for themselves. Their slow-cooked, pit-smoked brisket has been a finalist at every major BBQ cook-off in Texas! Although they’re known for their brisket, the Pedernales sausage is spicy and smoked to perfection. The Tater Tot Casserole is also killer. Bonus: we have the recipe for it here.
Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q – Tyler
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In addition to some fantastic barbecue, Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q also has great live music six nights a week. Their patio and fully stocked bar featuring Texas craft beers and over 70 American whiskeys, bourbons, and ryes invite guests to listen to live music, chow down on a slab of ribs, and enjoy each others company hours at a time. Their award-winning ribs are smoked over pecan wood for three hours and are so juicy and tender, you’ll see why Texas Monthly named Stanley’s as “One of the Best BBQ Joints in the World!”