Texas magazine Texas Monthly has shaken up the barbecue world. Their newly released list of the state’s top 50 barbecue joints makes major changes to the conventional wisdom surrounding where to find the best 'cue in Texas.
The list is presented as a ranked top 10, with 40 additional restaurants listed alphabetically by city and 50 honorable mentions.
Here’s the top 10 in order:
- Goldee’s Barbecue (Fort Worth)
- InterStellar BBQ (Austin)
- Truth Barbeque (Houston)
- Burnt Bean Co. (Seguin)
- LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue (Austin)
- Cattleack Barbeque (Dallas)
- Franklin Barbecue (Austin)
- Evie Mae’s Pit Barbeque (Wolfforth)
- Snow’s BBQ (Lexington)
- Panther City BBQ (Fort Worth)
The magazine's team of 32 staff writers and three freelancers compiled the rankings by visiting 411 establishments during the spring and summer. With 29 new entrants — including four of the top five — the list leans heavily towards restaurants that have opened since Texas Monthly last ranked barbecue joints in 2017.
Overall, Fort Worth has to be considered the big winner of 2021. In addition to Goldee's and Panther City, the city's restaurants earn two more spots on the top 50 with Dayne’s Craft Barbecue and Smoke-A-Holics BBQ. Heim Barbecue moves from 2017's top 50 to the honorable mentions, where it's joined by Derek Allan’s Texas Barbecue.
Other restaurants on the list in the Dallas-Fort Worth area include:
- Hurtado Barbecue in Arlington
- Zavala's Barbecue in Grand Prairie
- Cattleack Barbeque
- Slow Bone in Dallas
- Smokey Joe's BBQ in Dallas
- Terry Black's Barbecue in Dallas
Despite all the changes, barbecue fans shouldn't panic. Texas Monthly’s message to readers isn’t that the old places have gotten worse in the last four years. Rather, they’ve been outshined by restaurants that cook a wider selection of meats than the classic Texas trinity of brisket, ribs, and sausage; prepare a more diverse selection of sides than potato salad, beans, and cole slaw; and show a willingness to incorporate international flavors into their preparations.
"In short, if you were hoping for an argument that innovation is getting out of hand and it’s time to retrench and return to the simpler days of barbecue, you won’t find it here," the magazine writes. "But have no fear: if you’re an old-school stalwart who blanches at the thought of smoked cauliflower, plenty of places on our list will make you very happy."
Franklin Barbecue, which ranked number one statewide in 2013 and number two in 2017, now ranks third in Austin.
Snow's, which took the top spot in both 2008 and 2017 and became an international sensation after Netflix’s Chef’s Table documentary series featured pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz, drops to ninth.
Truth rises from 10th to third, while Evie Mae's moves up one spot. Louie Mueller Barbecue, CorkScrew BBQ, and Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue move from top 10 to second 40, while Bodacious Bar-B-Q in Longview is off the list entirely.
Goldee's at No. 1
At Goldee's (4645 Dick Price Rd. in southeast Fort Worth), a talented team of rising star pitmasters teamed up to open the restaurant in 2020. While it has earned considerable buzz among barbecue obsessives since day one, few would have predicted the restaurant would dethrone the legendary Snow's to take the top spot. The magazine explains how it earned such a lofty ranking.
"While many places have come to rely on the common crutches of excess — too much salt on the brisket, too much sugar on the ribs — Goldee’s demonstrates a confident restraint that belies the pitmasters’ youth," it writes. "They trust the meat and the smoke more than an arsenal of seasonings. That attention doesn’t waver when it comes to sides, especially the peppery cheese grits and the mustard-heavy pork hash."
Of 10th-ranked Panther City (201 E. Hattie St. in Near Southside), the magazine says, "House-made sausages burst with juice, and the pork belly burnt ends, now a Cowtown barbecue staple, are sweet, sticky, fatty morsels that eat like meat candy. Even more over-the-top are the pork belly poppers: burnt ends stuffed inside jalapeño halves along with a bit of cream cheese, then wrapped in bacon. The sensation of biting through the crisp bacon into the meltingly tender cube of pork and fat beneath is pure heaven. But the showstopper is the brisket elote."
As for the rest of the state, the Austin area leads the way with eight restaurants in the top 50 plus six honorable mentions. Dallas restaurants earn seven spots in the 50 and five honorable mentions, with Houston-area restaurants also taking seven spots in the top 50 and five honorable mentions. San Antonio has three top 50 restaurants plus three honorable mentions.
In addition to the lists, the magazine's coverage includes features on the merits of barbecue sauce, favorite barbecue dishes, standout sides, and the best desserts. See the Texas Monthly website for all the delicious details.