9 Legendary Barbecue Joints in Texas to Add to Your Must-Visit List
Texas is famous for its lip-smacking barbecue, not just across the United States but all around the world. Texas barbecue is as rich in history as it is in flavor – each local pitmaster raising the bar and striving to serve the best. So, for those seeking to experience a true taste of Texas, this article covers the essential pitstops for the most iconic and noteworthy names in the world of barbecue.
I. Killen's Barbecue, Pearland
One of the most popular barbecue joints in Pearland is Killen's Barbecue, famous for its traditional Texas-style smoked meats. Run by Ronnie Killen, a fine-dining chef and pitmaster, the six-day-a-week restaurant accepts reservations and sells out daily. Guests can relish the melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork, succulent beef ribs, and perfectly-seasoned brisket. Despite the cleanliness and convenience of the place, the pitmasters' preparation of the meat and perfect seasoning will make every dish the undisputed winner.
II. Snow's BBQ, Lexington
Located fifty miles east of Austin, Snow’s BBQ is renowned for the long queue it attracts early in the morning on Saturdays. The proud pitmaster, Tootsie Tomanetz, is what sets Snow's BBQ apart and makes it a "must-visit" place for food enthusiasts. Tootsie’s 50-plus years of expertise working at a pit have earned her countless accolades. Lexington is a pit-stop to try their now-famous smoked pork steak and chicken with Tootsie’s scintillating, onion-y, vinegar-y, and mustard-y sauce.
III. Vera's Backyard Bar-B-Que
Vera's Backyard Bar-B-Que in Brownsville is the only remaining restaurant in Texas with a permit to cook meat in an earthen pit, using barbacoa tradition. The star of the show, barbacoa de cabeza (barbecued cow’s head), is slow-cooked in an underground pit, rendering it fall-off-the-bone tender. Armando “Mando” Vera added brisket to the menu to accommodate the new generation of customers to his modest operation, which has recently attracted significant recognition such as a James Beard Award. Make sure to tuck into warm handmade flour tortillas combined with the heavenly barbacoa, topped with onion, cilantro, and fresh salsa.
IV. Louie Mueller Barbecue, Taylor
In Taylor, Louie Mueller Barbecue is synonymous with offering the quintessential Texas-style BBQ experience complete with a wall of old and yellowed business cards. Louie Mueller founded the “Cathedral of Smoke” in 1949, and it ran for three decades before his son Bobby took over. Wayne Mueller, Bobby’s son, became the next pitmaster/owner in 2007. The restaurant was awarded a prestigious James Beard Award in 2007, the first Barbecue to receive this honor. It's highly recommended to try their thick-sliced black-barked brisket paired with colossal beef ribs and perfectly "snappy" house-manufactured sausage.
V. Kreuz Market, Lockhart
One of the oldest barbecue joints in Texas, Kreuz Market, has been operating since 1900 and is known for serving authentic Texas-style smoked meats. In the 1999 hulking orange structure, brisket is not the darling as the simultaneously crisp-yet-juicy housemade sausage and moist smoked turkey steal the show. The traditional atmosphere of the place is endearingly stuck-in-time, making every visit to Kreuz Market unique.
VI. Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, Llano
In business since 1962, Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que eschews Central Texas-style barbecue, using a method more typical of West Texas or Hill Country barbecue that cooks meat directly over hot mesquite coals, Cowboy-Style. This process creates a smoky, distinctly delicious flavor in every bite. The juicy double-thick pork chops, enormous beef ribs, and ribeye (available only on Saturday after 5 pm) are must-tries.
VII. Smokey Joe's BBQ, Dallas
Smokey Joe's BBQ was established in 1985 by Kenneth Manning and Joe Melton. However, the place rose to fame after Kenneth's son, Kris Manning, took over in 2013 and brought a wave of innovation while staying true to the community's traditions and long-time patrons. The restaurant serves almost everything delicious but excels in moist brisket, pork ribs, jalapeño cheddar sausage, and "The Maxi." The menu item 'The Maxi' is sliced brisket, smoked sausage, and housemade sweet and spicy pickles on a brioche bun.
VIII. Franklin Barbecue, Austin
The Franklin Barbecue in Austin needs no introduction. Its legendary barbecue pitmaster Aaron Franklin needs no introduction either. His restaurant is renowned across the world for serving the best brisket ever. The meat is Creekstone Prime beef dry-rubbed with a salt and pepper blend and then smoked for 18 hours over post oak. The waiting line starts forming well before the restaurant opens daily, and the waiting time can extend up to a few hours, but the experience is worth every second.
IX. Stanley's Famous Pit BBQ, Tyler
The oldest mom and pop barbecue spot in Tyler, Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ, was established in 1958 by JD Stanley. The restaurant was taken over by Nick and Jen Pencis in 2003, who brought with them an extra layer of elevation to the classic joint, maintaining the warm and homely vibe. Stanley's offers an exciting live music lineup, as well as a selection of whiskies and Texas craft beers. Get meat by the pound or opt for one of their delicious sandwiches like the Brother-In-Law, grilled hot link cheese, or chopped brisket, or the enormous Mother Clucker with smoked chicken thigh, spicy barbecue mayo, cheddar, and fried egg on toasted jalapeno cheese sourdough.
Texas is famous for its varied, lip-smacking barbecue options that cater to every palate. The joints mentioned in this article are the essential pitstops to experience the most iconic and noteworthy names in the world of barbecue. From well-established places to the latest restaurants, these pitstops are sure to take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey of flavors.
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