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Texas City’s Touted as the Barbecue Capital of the World by a National Magazine

Why Franklin Barbecue is Suddenly an Afterthought

BY // 08.05.17

The great barbecue debate is all but over. A national magazine with plenty of food cred is casting Austin as the virtually undisputed barbecue capital of the world.

Sorry Kansas City. Better luck next time Memphis.

GQ magazine does not even consider another spot outside Austin for this month’s barbecue guide. The magazine calls Austin, “The South’s boldest city” and writes about it like the barbecue center of the universe. “You could fly down to Austin and witness it now, or wait for the movement to expand your way,” GQ’s Cedric Angeles argues.

In other words, don’t bother going anywhere else for barbecue. What, you’re surprised?

The six page spread centers around six Texas barbecue restaurants: Birdhouse BBQ, LeRoy and Lewis, J. Leonard’s Barbeque, Terry Black’s BBQ, Kemuri Tatsu-ya and Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ. The world famous Franklin Barbecue plays more of a supporting role this time. Though the story does refer to Aaron Franklin as “the high priest of low-and-slow cooking.”

Austin’s Weird Barbecue

Yes, it’s better to be in Austin. Especially if you want meat.

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Austin’s supposed to be weird — just look at a million T-shirts — and in barbecue, at least, that may actually still be true. Texas’ hottest city is picked by GQ in large part because of its barbecue inventiveness. “Barbecue’s getting crazier, combining technique with creativity,” the magazine argues. “It’s happening in Austin, of course, the city where Texas Tradition meets Texas Weird.”

Kemuri Tatsu-ya and Valentina’s draw particular praise for expanding the boundaries of barbecue far beyond the traditional. GQ notes that Kemuri’s meat portions are small (especially by barbecue norms), its fish also gets smoked and its ramen features brisket. In other words, Kemuri’s Japanese-born chef Tatsu Aikawa gives the Texas barbecue tradition a new spin.

Valentina’s also elevates and evolves Texas barbecue. Only,this still humble spot in a trailer does it by making it even more Texas. Valentina’s Tex-Mex touches — you get its barbecue wrapped in tortillas — bring two great cuisines together.

That’s how things are done in Austin — nothing’s taken for granted and no meat laurels are rested on. What else do you expect from the center of the barbecue universe?

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