I’m really excited about this week’s contributor to “My Favorite BBQ Joints”. Chris Wilkins is the deputy director of photography at the Dallas Morning News, specializing in sports and special projects. He previously worked as a photo editor at the Chicago Tribune and a photojournalist for the international wire service Agence France Presse. That’s an impressive resume, but what makes me most interested in his BBQ knowledge is the fact that he and Gary Jacobson co-founded the Texas BBQ Posse in 2009.
What is the Texas BBQ Posse? They are a group dedicated to the pursuit of great BBQ in the great state of Texas whose mission is to tell stories of the the kinship & history of barbecue, both in words and picture. The Texas BBQ Posse is a group of writers, photographers & BBQ hardcores. We love to travel and discover new places to eat the best in Texas barbecue. Follow the blue highways and keep an eye out for the smoke.
I really do appreciate Chris letting me share this list. Here are Chris Wilkin’s favorites in no particular order of ranking. Per Chris, “Being that we’re the Texas BBQ Posse, they’re all in Texas, of course!”
Baby J’s Barbecue & Fish – Palestine
Owner and pitmaster the Rev. Jeremiah “Baby J” McKenzie will make you feel like family. He might even give you samples right off the pit. It’s worth the drive just to see his 20-foot-tall smoker, the one he calls “Big Baby.” Don’t forget to try the fish.
Photo of Baby J’s Barbecue & Fish courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ
City Market – Luling
Just 15 miles from the BBQ mecca of Lockhart, some folks call this joint the best in Texas. The twin swinging doors that lead in and out the smoker room and serving counter add to the mystique. These may be some of the best pork ribs you’ll ever eat.
Photo of City Market courtesy of Donna Cooks
Fargo’s Pit Barbeque – Bryan
In two trips to Fargo’s, every single thing we’ve ordered was outstanding. That’s rare even at the best places, but consistency makes kings in the BBQ business. This little blue BBQ shack may just be the best BBQ in Texas.
Photo of Fargo’s Pit Barbeque courtesy of Texas BBQ Posse
Franklin Barbecue – Austin
Aaron Franklin is the reigning rock star of Texas barbecue, praised by everyone from the BBQ blogs to Bon Appetit. His brisket hits a 10 on a scale of 10 every time we eat there. And to think he started from a trailer less than three years ago. Warning: Get there early because the lines are long and meat runs
Photo of Franklin Barbecue courtesy of Texas BBQ Posse
JMueller BBQ – Austin
The return of John Mueller to the Texas BBQ scene can not be understated. He’s giving Franklin BBQ a run for their money and may just be smoking the best meats not only in Austin, but the state of Texas. And don’t miss the beef ribs.
Photo of JMueller BBQ courtesy of Fed Man Walking
Loco Coyote Grill – Glen Rose
If there were a perfect place to end a barbecue tour, this might be it. Harvest moon rising over the patio. Willie and Waylon on the sound system. The BBQ poor boy sandwich alone might be worth the trip.
Photo of Loco Coyote Grill courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ
Louie Mueller Barbecue – Taylor
Easily among the top three joints in Texas. Decades of smoke coat the walls and the food is terrific, especially the giant beef ribs. Don’t be surprised if owner Wayne Mueller stops by your table to see how you enjoyed your meal.
Photo of Louie Mueller Barbecue courtesy of Man Up: Tales of Texas BBQ
Meshack’s Bar-B-Que Shack – Garland
There’s nothing fancy about this small joint, run by Travis and Donna Mayes. He may be the top pitmaster in the DFW area. Their place looks like a cross between a drive-up snow cone stand and a doughnut shack. There’s nowhere to sit, and service can be slow. But try the pork ribs and I’ll bet you’ll be
Photo of Meshack’s Bar-B-Que Shack courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ
Pat Gee’s Barbecue – Tyler
Nestled between a pasture and pine trees in rural East Texas, this small wooden shack has more atmosphere than any other joint we’ve visited. The late, legendary pitmaster Pat Gee first fired up his smoker in the early 1970s. His sons keep the tradition alive.
Photo of Pat Gee’s Barbecue courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ
Pecan Lodge – Dallas
Justin and Diane Fourton are relative newcomers to the Texas barbecue scene, but they’re quickly making a mark. On a couple of occasions that we’ve eaten there, Justin’s brisket has rivaled Aaron Franklin’s. And Justin uses only mesquite wood.
Photo of Pecan Lodge courtesy of Texas BBQ Posse
Smitty’s Market – Lockhart
Tourists use the front door, locals use the back, where you walk just past an open wood fire to place your order. Eating at Smitty’s is like stepping back 100 years in the history of Texas BBQ. It’s an experience you won’t forget.
Photo of Smitty’s Market courtesy of Never Trust a Skinny Chef
Snow’s BBQ – Lexington
If you love barbecue, then watching the sun come up on a Saturday morning as you wait for Snow’s to open is almost a religious experience. Splash just the tiniest bit of Snow’s sauce on a brisket sandwich and you might have one of the best breakfasts you’ve ever eaten. Every Central Texas barbecue tour should start
Photo of Snow’s BBQ courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ
Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Que – Tyler
For the past two years, Texas Monthly declared Stanley’s pork ribs to be the best in the state. No arguments from us. Pitmaster and owner Nick Pencis bought the joint a few years ago and continues a 60-year tradition. Try the brother-in-law sandwich and you’ll never scoff again at eating cheese
with brisket and sausage.
Photo of Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Que courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ
What are your thoughts of this list? Have you been to any (or all) of these?