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Texas’ Best Barbecue Rankings Bring Big Surprises and a Top 10 Houston Snub

Did Texas Monthly Get it Wrong?

BY // 05.22.17

My junior year of high school brought forth many firsts: I finally turned 16; I landed a spot on the evening news for contracting swine flu; and for the first time in my life, I encountered someone with a passionate distaste for barbecue.

“I just don’t eat barbecue,” my friend muttered. “I hate it. The smell of the smoke, the meat — just all of it.” The utterance was shocking. How could anyone, especially a native Texan, implement an indefinite barbecue ban at such an early age?

To be fair, the friend in question’s father owned a barbecue trailer, which she and her sister were forced to frequent on a weekly basis. The experience undoubtedly tainted her view of Texas ‘cue.

However, as a girl who worked many summers at her grandfather’s Beaumont-based barbecue joint, I just couldn’t relate to the barbecue hate. From the intoxicating smoke to the sounds of meat cleavers slicing through rib racks, the entire experience always felt electrifying.

While working summer after summer gave me a special appreciation for the art that is barbecuing, the annual treks to Beaumont also contributed to my extremely narrow purview of Texas barbecue’s true scope.

At the time, if it wasn’t my grandpa’s barbecue, chances are I wasn’t eating it. That is until I discovered Texas Monthly and its mammoth listing of the Lone Star State’s 50 Best Barbecue Joints — a finding that would forever change the way I looked at the Texas barbecue landscape.

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The coveted list — which showcases the diversity of the best barbecue scene in the world — is published every four years. This morning, the latest much-anticipated installment was released.

Shockingly, Ronnie Killen’s beloved Killen’s Barbecue is noticeably absent from the Top 10 lineup.

Unlike previous lists, this year’s lineup highlights the state’s Top 10 barbecue joints separately in an article labeled  “The Golden Age of Barbecue.” A fitting title considering the rise of stellar barbecue joints in the past four years. The entire “50 Best” listing is broken down by city alphabetically.

Snagging the No. 1 spot is barbecue institution Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas, followed by the famed Austin-based Franklin Barbecue helmed by brisket master Aaron Franklin, who just wrapped his inaugural Austin food festival Hot Luck this past weekend.

Franklin Barbecue, makes Texas Monthly’s list again at number two. Proprietor Aaron Franklin debuted his inaugural Hot Luck Festival this past weekend. (Photo courtesy Franklin Barbecue Facebook page)

Dallas grabs a spot in the coveted Top 10 with Cattleack Barbecue — which is only four-years-old — clocking in at No. 3. Stationed in Longview, Bodacious Bar-B-Q takes the fourth spot in the rankings — led by Le Cordon Bleu graduates Jordan Jackson and Scott Turner.

The storied Louie Mueller Barbecue, which has been in business since 1949, comes in at number five. Touting one of the most creative barbecue concepts, the No. 6 spot goes to Tejas Chocolate Craftory in Tomball, which actually started as a bean-to-bar chocolate business (making for outrageous dessert options).

Houston-area favorite Corkscrew BBQ, which is stationed in Spring, is seventh; Austin’s Micklethwait Craft Meats lands at No. 9; and Evie Mae’s Pit Barbecue in Wolforth grabs the ninth spot.

Clocking in at No. 10 is newcomer Truth Barbecue in Brenham, which has been the talk of the barbecue scene all year long. Shockingly, Ronnie Killen’s beloved Killen’s Barbecue is noticeably absent from the Top 10 lineup, however he does snag a spot in the top 50.

Texas Monthly’s highly anticipated barbecue list has just been released, and the results may surprise you. Pictured: Truth BBQ, number 10 of 50 (Photo courtesy Truth BBQ’s Facebook Page)

While no inside-the-loop Houston barbecue joints made Texas Monthly‘s Top 10, Gatlin’s BBQ made a repeat appearance in the Top 50 alongside newcomers Pinkerton’s Barbecue, The Pit Room, and Roegel’s Barbecue Co. However, Pappa Charlie’s, which was a predicted frontrunner for the list, did not make the cut.

In addition to Dallas’ Cattleack Barbecue, Lockhart Smokehouse and Pecan Lodge also represented Dallas in the Top 50. Desoto’s Top 5 BBQ also made the Top 50 after just one year in business, as did Fort Worth’s Heim Barbecue — another top 50 newcomer.

Is your favorite barbecue joint missing from Texas Monthly’s Top 50 Barbecue Joints ranking? Are you upset over the Killen’s Barbecue Top 10 omission? Let us know in the comment section below.

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