Daniel Vaughn has arguably the best job in Texas. As barbecue editor for Texas Monthly, he travels the state seeking the tastiest morsels from smoked meat purveyors. To wrap up 2019, he compiled his list of the 16 best Texas BBQ bites.
Vaughn deliberately excludes restaurants in both Texas Monthly's list of the state's top 50 barbecue joints as well as 2019's list of the top 25 barbecue newcomers. That means that the obvious choices — say, brisket at Franklin Barbecue, pork steak at Snow's BBQ, or the chile relleno sausage at Tomball's Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue — are all ineligible for inclusion. It also rules out some newer favorites like the smoked burgers at Leroy & Lewis or brisket fried rice at Bellaire's Blood Bros. BBQ.
Leaving out 75 of the state's best barbecue joints allows Vaughn's list to highlight up-and-comers, under-the-radar spots in small towns, and some promising pop-ups.
On his most recent list, the San Antonio area earns one spot: B-Daddy's BBQ in Helotes is honored for its beef short rib.
Elsewhere in Texas, the Houston area wins the most spots, represented by Brett's BBQ Shop and Los Muertos BBQ in Katy, Galveston's Buck's Barbecue Co., and Khói Barbecue.
Austin earns three spots, including new upstarts and an old favorite. Vaughn praises the Whole Hog sandwich at Banger's, the jalapeño popper sausage and scalloped potatoes at Interstellar BBQ, and the smoked sausage kolache at Kerlin BBQ. And, like San Antonio, Dallas earns one nod for Slow Bone's mammoth smoked pork chop.
The takeaway is obvious. Texas has a lot of great barbecue, and diners who are willing to drive a bit will be richly rewarded in deliciousness.