Top 50 list
Believe it or not, I have not opened the magazine since I got it almost three weeks ago. This should have been like Christmas morning for me. I was out of town for a marathon; and when I went to pick up the mail, it was there. I actually saw the list online about a month ago when Texas Monthly released it on Twitter. Amber and I subscribed to Texas Monthly after reading the last list released back in 2008. This was the last issue we were getting in our current subscription. We are planning not to renew because I am pretty disappointed in the magazine over the current years. I feel like 75% of the pages are advertisements.
I waited to read this issue until I was ready to write this post. The article starts off by ripping other regional barbecue styles. I have only had Carolina pulled pork which I thoroughly enjoyed. I like smoking pulled pork because it is definitely easier than smoking brisket. One of days I will have to travel and try the other styles. Number one on the list is Franklin. Surprise, surprise. Not really. Ever since the second time I ate there, I knew it was going to be numero uno the next time the list came out. Did you know I have friends who have never eaten there? That amazes me. Rounding out the top four in no particular order are Snow's (Lexington), Louie Mueller (Taylor), and Pecan Lodge (Dallas). We have been meaning to make it to Snow's and Louie Mueller. They are within driving distance. We do not make it to Dallas enough, but next time, I will make sure we make it to Pecan Lodge.
There are others on the list I have heard of, but never been to. I am just going to quickly go over the ones I have been to.
Franklin Barbecue (Austin)- I have a review of Franklin ready to be posted next. Try it. Take a day off if you need to.
John Mueller Meat Co. (Austin)- I have not eaten here since he has moved to the new location. I have been to John Mueller's B-B-Q back in the day and most recently at JMueller BBQ. He had a falling out with his sister and moved. His sister then opened LA Barbecue once he left. I am fan of his barbecue even if he acts like a grouchy guy. He hooks you up with a free beer so he cannot be that bad. Beef rib is king here, but the brisket and sausage are great too. I will have to try out the new location. I stopped by one day, and he was out of everything but pork ribs.
La Barbecue (Austin)- They are operating where JMueller BBQ used to be. Their pitmaster is John Lewis who used to work at Franklin. I have stopped by for some moist brisket as a snack one day. I had some Vietnamese food for lunch right before, and on the way driving south, I saw no line and stopped by. I really liked the brisket. I would definitely go back.
Lambert's Downtown Barbecue (Austin)- I have mixed feelings about this place. It does have good barbecue, but it is a little bit pricey. They use a gassy smoker. Their sides are really good especially the macaroni and cheese. They also have a fantastic brunch.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew (Austin)- Amber does not like this place. I like it fine. There is no line, and the food is good. They even gave me a free shirt one time when I wore a Franklin shirt there.
Black's Barbecue (Lockhart)- It is good. The beef ribs are huge here. They have a bunch of sides to choose from. You cannot go wrong getting any of the meats.
Kreuz Market (Lockhart)- I have yet to have a good experience with this place. I have been here twice. I thought the brisket, pork ribs, and sausage were okay. There are no forks or sauce. I have to try it again. We keep going later in the day, and that could be a reason why it is not up to par. I feel like barbecue is best when it is fresh and eaten earlier in the day.
Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Llano)- Disclaimer- I have been only to the one in New Braunfels. Apparently the one in Llano is so much better. The first time we went here we spent 70 bucks! We got brisket, sausage, prime rib, chicken, turkey, and pork chops. The prime rib was the only thing that stood out. They do give you free beans which are pretty good. We will have to try the one in Llano someday.
City Market (Luling)- We drive through Luling to go to Houston all the time. Every time we have driven through, it was too late, too early, or it was closed. We finally made a trip one time to try it out. It was good, but not great. I could get better barbecue without driving out of the way. It is worth a try though.
I read a lot of commentary on how certain places did not make the list. I was surprised that Smitty's (Lockhart) did not make the list. Amber and I love their sausage rings, and I used to think their brisket was the best. They made it back in 2008 as one of the top five. Apparently there was a lot of inconsistency in the meat when Texas Monthly visited. Another one people were questioning was The Salt Lick (Driftwood). I like The Salt Lick because it is all you can eat family style. It is also BYOB which is a plus. It is good, but the brisket is boring though. They recently started smoking beef ribs which are pretty good. My favorite quote from there was back in college, one of my drunk friends asked if they had "any dessert with meat in them." Micklethwait Craft Meats (Austin) was also another one people were questioning. It is definitely good. My review of it is in the works. It has not been opened for very long so it was not included on the list.
I am also going to go over ones I went to off the 2008 list.
Mann's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que (Austin)- I went here late one night, and it was okay. It all goes back to eating barbecue after 2pm or so effect. The quality is not at the prime later in the day. They have catered events at work before, and I think they are comparable to PoK-e-Jo's which is not a good thing.
Smitty's Market (Lockhart)- This used to be number one on my list until I tried Franklin. Apparently the quality has gone down. The last time I ate there was last summer, and I thought it was really good. The brisket was a little greasy though. I will make a return trip back soon to see what has happened there.
Tom and Bingo's Hickory Bar-B-Que (Lubbock)- We always wanted to try this place, but they have the weirdest hours. They are not open very late and not open on Sundays. Granted their hours are not that far from Franklin, but back then, we thought it was weird. There are no lines here though. There are only two options on the menu- the brisket sandwich and Bingo burger. The brisket sandwich is the best. You can get it sliced or chopped. The Bingo burger is a smoked beef patty. I thought it was okay. I feel like the items are overpriced and under portioned. I would probably have to eat 15 bucks worth of brisket sandwiches to be full.
Amber and I tried a lot of the places on the 2008 and 2013 list at the second annual Texas Monthly BBQ Festival. We missed out on the first one when the tickets sold out within a few hours. We went with our friends and ate so much barbecue. There were 20 BBQ joints there. We skipped a few of the Austin and Lockhart places that we have been to. We were trying to pace ourselves. We were getting stuffed with barbecue and booze. I might have been hallucinating at the end because I had so much protein in my system that I felt crazy. Some of the places at the end started to taste terrible. The last place we tried was Franklin. Even though we felt disgusting, his lean brisket was the best brisket at the festival. I am not even a fan of lean brisket which tells you a lot. Franklin's moist brisket is where it is at.
I want to address a new term. Hipster barbecue? I am not even sure what that means. There are a bunch of BBQ joints popping everywhere. I am pretty sure they are not just catering towards hipsters. Yeah if you wait in line at Franklin, you will see them. Hipsters have to eat right? Good food is good food regardless who you are. The regulars do not get waiting in line for BBQ. They do not like their favorite place packed. I guess the younger crowd has more time on their hand. The older bunch expects the "BBQ bubble" to burst. I am going to doubt this. Have they seen how many Tex-Mex restaurants Austin can support? Who are they kidding? Maybe the pitmaster are hipsters? Yeah I still do not get the term. Call me young then.
I am going to try to post an entry every week. I might need to start eating a lot of barbecue for material. My life sounds so hard.
Until next time, happy smoking...