TMBBQ Fest 2014

This is the second consecutive year and third all-time that I have gone to the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest. There are 25 joints at this year's event, and the two place I have yet to try are The Granary ’Cue and Brew and Cranky Frank’s Barbeque Company. They are both on my radar. I need to make a BBQ trip to San Antonio, and I am sure my wife would not mind a wine trip to Fredericksburg that includes a visit to Cranky Frank's. I have eaten at or tried the rest at last year's event. I am not sure why I even go anymore. It is probably because I am a BBQ fanatic/nut and will jump at a chance to eat some of the best barbecue in the world all at one location.

I volunteered this year to get a complimentary ticket into the festival. The two hours flew by as I was checking in guests. I was meeting up with my wife and some friends after my shift ended. The dynamics of going as a group is completely different than going by yourself. I would have probably wanted to try way more, but today, I was going to relax, enjoy myself, drink a few beers, and eat some great barbecue. We were going to hit a lot of the top spots.

Killen’s Barbecue (Pearland) - This was our first stop, and the line was relatively short. I actually kept an eye on their line all day. This should have been one of the busier tents, but it was not. Ronnie Killen cooked a ton of barbecue. Our trays included a piece of the beef rib, brisket, and pork rib. Everything was excellent. I wish Pearland was a suburb of Austin.

Pecan Lodge (Dallas)- Because we had to wait for a little bit, I was disappointed that all we got was brisket. Sure their brisket is great, but how about some sausage?

Snow’s BBQ (Lexington)- One of the longer lines netted you the Texas trinity. I ate all of the pork rib, sausage, and brisket if that means anything. I was supposed to be pacing myself. It always great to see pitmaster Tootsie doing her thing. She is the gem of barbecue.

The Granary ’Cue and Brew (San Antonio)- Their dinner menu is very eclectic, but they still serve traditional BBQ for lunch. They had some smoked pork belly at their booth. I was a not a fan which is hard because I love pork belly. It was chewy, and the rub did not help it out. I am still going to make a trip to San Antonio soon.

Opie’s Barbecue (Spicewood)- No baby back ribs? Bummed. The brisket and sausage were good. The tater tot casserole was a good change of pace.

Cranky Frank’s Barbeque Company (Fredericksburg)- I thought the brisket and pork butt was all right. It is not fair for me to judge them completely at an event like this.

La Barbecue (Austin)- This was the second longest line, but I got a chance to do a little bit of socializing. I probably should have jumped around and hit up a few other spots in the meantime. I got hooked up when I got to the stand. I basically had a three meat plate (brisket, hot guts, and beef rib) in my hand. Everything was fantastic. A line is always warranted anytime John Lewis is manning the smoker.

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Llano)- The sausage, pork rib, and brisket were all cooked nicely. Remember they do it high and fast. The rubs were really salty though.

Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor)- I need to make a trip back to Taylor. The beef rib, sausage, and brisket were on point. Nothing needs barbecue sauce from here, but I love the sweet jalapeño sauce. I need to buy that stuff by the gallon.

Miller’s Smokehouse (Belton)- We were slowing down at this point, but it was not going to stop me to grab some meat from Miller's. The brisket and sausage were tasty. Heed my advice and stop in Belton sometime soon.

Franklin Barbecue (Austin)- No surprise this was the longest line at the event. It was longer than previous years. The line might have been longer than the one to get in. This was going to be our last stop because we were running out of time. We ended up waiting for about 50 minutes for a pile of brisket, pulled pork, and turkey. Everything was juicy and tender. Aaron Franklin was the front greeting and taking pictures. What a genuine guy!

The other BBQ joints that were there, but we did not make it around to sample:

Black’s Barbecue (Lockhart)
Buzzie’s Bar-B-Q (Kerrville)
City Meat Market (Giddings)
Cousin’s Bar-B-Q (Fort Worth)
Hatfield’s BBQ (Rockport)
Hays Co. Bar-B-Que and Catering (San Marcos)
Hutchins BBQ (McKinney)
Lamberts Downtown Barbecue (Austin)
Lockhart Smokehouse (Dallas)
Pody’s BBQ (Pecos)
Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue (Tyler)
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew (Austin)
Two Bros. BBQ Market (San Antonio)
Tyler’s Barbeque (Amarillo)

It was the Super Bowl of Texas BBQ. It was better than the Super Bowl because it was not all hype. TMBBQ put on an excellent event. It was organized, and the weather worked out. It was overcast and cool which is rare for September in Austin. I was afraid with the festival being moved up a month that it was going to be blazing hot. Not this year. Killen's and La Barbecue were my favorites from the event. VIP tickets might be worth the price because trying to eat all 25 places might not be possible in three hours. The lines and crowd were longer and bigger this year. Barbecue is just a hot commodity right now, and I love it. So many great places to try and eat at.

Until next time, happy smoking...


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