Valentina's Tex Mex Barbecue is fusion at its finest.
Valentina's is all about the elevated breakfast taco.
Cattleack Barbecue went from semi-retirement project to full-blown barbecue joint.
Cattleack's bringing it on with venison chorizo sausage.
Corkscrew BBQ's got an idyllic setting and tasty meats.
Corkscrew's perfected the basics, no extras needed.
Franklin Barbecue is famous for a reason.
Franklin is worth the wait.
Micklethwait Craft Meats is tradition meets novelty.
Mickelthwait offers up unexpected options like pulled lamb and strip loin of beef.
Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue makes it all in a giant custom smoker.
Tejas is known for its succulent sausage.
No matter how you slice it, smoke it or spell it, there’s something special about barbecue. It’s smoky, savory, meaty and so much more. People take a lot of pride in their barbecue, whether they hail from Texas, the land of brisket, call Tennessee home as they chow down on their pulled pork, or come by way of the Carolinas with their whole hog.
That leads to some regional debates, the curious quarrels over merit and tradition. But one brave barbecue-loving soul has put territory aside and selected The South’s Top 50 Barbecue Joints of 2018.
And Texas makes an appearance, big time. No less then 10 Texas barbecue havens made the cut, from Luling to Lockhart, and, of course, Dallas to Austin. The Lone Star State boasts three of the Top 10 barbecue spots, as ranked by Southern Living magazine. But Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, South Carolina took the No. 1 overall spot.
Robert Moss, Southern Living’s contributing barbecue editor, compiled and ranked the list of the juiciest joints across the South. Some places tout pitmaster practitioners honing their skills for decades and decades. Others are newer on the scene, converting their temporary trailers to brick-and-mortar barbecue oases.
The Texas picks alone span categories, from the fusion fun of Austin’s Valentina Tex Mex BBQ to the good ol’ classics of Franklin Barbecue in Austin. (Let’s face it, the name ‘Franklin’ alone is synonymous with barbecue these days.)
The mouth-watering meat meccas in Texas that made the Top 50 are listed below, from the highest ranking on. Read ahead for the true barbecue breakdown.
- Louie Muelle Barbecue (Taylor)
- Snow’s Barbecue (Lexington)
- Franklin Barbecue (Austin)
- Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue (Tomball)
- Cattleack Barbeque (Dallas)
- Kreuz Market (Lockhart)
- Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ (Austin)
- Corkscrew BBQ (Spring)
- Micklethwait Craft Meats (Austin)
- City Market (Luling)
We’ll shine a spotlight of some of the top picks from Austin, Dallas and the Houston area.
Austin’s Barbecue Kingpins
Where better to start than Franklin Barbecue? People wait in line to get a taste of the pro pitmaster’s eats longer than they’ll wait for an appointment at the Apple Store.
The legendary Austin spot draws throngs and throngs of locals and tourists — even if they’re not crazy about barbecue, Moss writes. It’s all in the Austin experience.
Part of it’s in the name, he argues. Franklin’s got a best-selling cookbook, James Beard Award and a PBS television show to his name. But strip all that away and you still have one of “the very best practitioners of the modern Texas barbecue style.” That means flawless prime-grade brisket, meaty sausage and smoky pork.
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ takes things with a taco twist. There’s no denying that the brisket is top-notch and that the barbecue-trailer-turned-brick-and-mortar-establishment has mastered the basics. But that’s not all you’ll find at 11500 Manchaca.
Moss praises their mix of Tex-Mex cooking with smoking, resulting in carnitas tacos with tender strands of pork in homemade flour tortillas and fajitas in the style of smoky cerveza-marinated beef.
Valentina’s see your salt rubs, and they’ll raise you tomatillos, cilantro and lime.
If you’re thinking about passing on Austin’s Micklethwait Craft Meats, Moss says you’d better wait a minute. The barbecue at 1309 Rosewood east of downtown Austin is tender as it gets.
Moss credits Micklethwait with blending the classic with the contemporary, which comes out in traditional brisket, ribs and sausage alongside pulled lamb and strip loin of beef.
It’s a daring move, but that’s what the “vibrant, bohemian” vibe of Austin is all about in Southern Living’s estimation.
Dallas’ Barbecue Winner
Cattleack Barbeque on the north side of Dallas started out as a quasi-retirement project in a small storefront that skyrocketed into two full spaces and an extra dining room, complete with 13 big picnic tables.
You’ll have to come by 13628 Gamma during lunchtime on Thursdays and Fridays to get your hands on “Cattleack’s brisket, with its tangy, pepper bark and superb texture” along with pound after pound of ribs, turkey, sausage or pork.
Or swing by the first Saturday of each month for a Carolina-style whole hog. True barbecue knows no bounds.
Houston Area Barbecue Champs
Spring’s own Corkscrew BBQ stole Moss’ heart because it stole the scene, thanks to its comfy-as-can-be setting with picnic tables spread out on the big grassy yard. Moss gives bonus points for the background sound of freight trains rolling behind the space at 26609 Keith.
That’s not to say you should overlook the food. The prime grade brisket is slow-smoked over red oak, just like the pork, turkey, sausage and ribs Corkscrew serves up.
Moss says it’s simplicity at its finest, a big platter bursting with meat with no sides needed, except for your standard sliced onions, jalapenos and pickles.
Now, for dessert. Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue in Tomball is just what your sweet tooth needs, thanks to mouth-watering meats and artisan chocolates.
What started as a ballsy bean-to-bar operation “has been transformed into a serious barbecue destination” as Southern Living details with a mega custom smoker in a shed and diners congregating on the yard and front porch.
You can sip on free Lone Stars while you wait, gearing up for prime brisket or the rotating sausage selection. Think barbacoa boudin and chile relleno link.
We don’t know about you, but to us this sounds like the beginning of beautiful road trip. Or if you can wait, there’s always the Southern Smoke barbecue festival headed to Houston at the end of the month.