Ooo-wee! Nothing is better on a warm May day than sitting on a picnic bench in front of a huge pile of barbecue and a few pints of sides. San Antonio is full of barbecue joints worth visiting all year round, so meat sweats be damned, this month we are making our way through perfectly barked brisket and expertly charred chicken to prove that where there’s smoke, there’s a whole lotta fire.
You know that little dance you do when you bite into a really good piece of smoked meat (we call it the brisket bounce)? Prepare to wear out your dancing shoes at this East Side joint, where Central and South Texas barbecue traditions collide. Faves include barbacoa, shockingly moist turkey breast, and the hefty 2M sandwich piled with chopped brisket, pulled pork, and sausage. All of them should be ordered with a side of Chicharoni Macaroni, which is exactly what it sounds like.
This may sound like sacrilege, but sometimes we need a break from Texas-style barbecue. For those moments, nothing beats this casual Dignowity Hill spot. The menu combines Midwest favorites like Kansas City burnt ends and St. Louis ribs with meats that would be right at home in a New York deli. Layered with caramelized onions and Swiss cheese, the house-smoked pastrami is the thing to get, but you should also know that Dignowity has a way with b-o-l-o-g-n-a.
The Granary ‘Cue & Brew
Wear your most formal bib to this Pearl delight, which switches over from a traditional barbecue service to a more upscale experience at dinner. The daytime’s meat-by-the-pound menu is certainly worth a try, but you’ll go gaga in the evening with dishes like brisket ramen; Texas toast slathered in barbecue butter; and smoked rabbit with bacon, celery root, mushroom chips, and lovage (think strong celery, but fancier).
With a logo that looks like it was scrawled in Microsoft Paint and a menu that sticks to the basics, this food truck isn’t trying to redefine the game. What they are trying to do is excel at everything they do — from succulent crusted brisket to chop-licking spare ribs. If you have a serious case of the munchies, you can’t go wrong with the Nasty Nate: Texas toast obliterated with sliced moist brisket, house smoked bacon, and a generous scoop of mac ’n’ cheese.
Pollos Asados Los Norteños
After a seven-month hiatus to make some equipment upgrades, San Antonio’s chicken king came back in April better than ever. We are still clucking over the outstandingly juicy charcoal grilled hens served with blackened onion, charro beans, and rice. Then there’s that green sauce. If you don’t see angels, your tongue’s gone numb.
Smoke Shack BBQ
There may be no way to prove that San Antonio invented Frito pie, but there’s no denying the city has made it its own. And this food truck turned brick-and-mortar has a version that instills deep civic pride. The eighth wonder of the world keeps it tight with a huge pile o' brisket, pintos, cheddar, and barbecue sauce. Daisy Doolin (the mother of the guy who invented the famous corn chips and the purported inventor of the dish that bears the name) would be proud.
Two Bros BBQ Market
The name refers to two men — Jake Dady and celebrity chef brother, Jason — but the buzz as of late has been about pitmaster Laura Loomis, one of few women in the business and one of the youngest pitmasters in the state. All three have had a hand in making Two Bros one of the best joints in the city. Don’t miss the Cheesy Chop (that’s chopped beef cuddled up with creamy mac ’n’ cheese) or the sweet and tangy cherry glazed baby back ribs.