Texas Monthly executive editor and food writer Pat Sharpe graciously comments on our blog posts regarding their Top 50 BBQ rankings. We wanted to publish her comments in a seperate post to be sure everyone got a chance to read it.

Hello, all.

Since I am the person who heads up Texas Monthly’s top-fifty list every five years, let me respond to a couple of questions. We do, in fact (as Jacob said, above), indicate whether each place uses wood or gas/electric, but it’s in the form of a symbol (of flames or a commercial smoker) so a reader might not notice it immediately.

This thread suggests we should put the description in words next time. Forty-one places on the list use wood and nine use gas or electric (one of those has a combo).

Like all of you, I prefer wood-smoked barbecue (who in their right mind doesn’t?). But if we had not considered ‘cue done in a commercial smoker when we did the tasting in 2008, we would have left out these cities altogether: Austin, Crockett, Dickens, Harlingen, Jacksonville, Los Fresnos, Paris, Peadenville, and San Benito.

No matter how much we might regret it, the barbecue world is moving rapidly in the direction of commercial smokers. When I participated in my first Texas Monthly barbecue round-up in 1997, there was probably not a commercial smoker in use except at the big chains. Now they are all over the place.

We made the decision to judge the meat solely on the basis of taste, on the theory that there is more to smoking than fuel source (like keeping the temperature constant and quality of meat, to name just two).

Was that a good or a bad decision? I’m curious to know what readers of Texas BBQ Posse think. We’ll be doing the story again in two years, so there is time to mull it over.

Pat Sharpe, executive editor and food writer, Texas Monthly

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Jim Rossman

6 years ago

Pat,
I'd like to know how much weight is given to a BBQ joint's taste versus their location.
It seems like you've made your choices based on both taste and tried to spread around your choices to include all parts of the state.
I get that.
It's not exactly fun to have a top 50 list with more than half within an hour of Austin. But if you're going to be putting some places on the list just because they're in a location that may be lacking in good BBQ, I'd like to know that up front.
We ate at one of your commercial smoker choices last Saturday and found the food to be lacking any flavor besides the sauce.
The meats were well cooked, the right texture and moisture, but after talking to the pit master he told us that he purposely did not put any rub or spices on his brisket because he didn't want to alienate his clientele who preferred a more bland tasting meat.
Now this man moves a lot of brisket and is well known in his town, but none of us on the trip thought that place belonged in the top 50.

On the other hand, kudos for putting Baby J's on your list. Jeremiah was a true character and very gracious host as well as a pit master worthy of the list.

Thanks for your hard work,
Jim Rossman
Dallas

Pat Sharpe

6 years ago

Hi, Jim: Thanks for inquiry. Our scoring is based on taste only. We (our tasters) have sheets that they fill out right after eating and we choose the top fifty based on the scores. Yes, we do make a point of visiting all areas of the state and we always hope for more outside Central Texas, but the Barbecue Belt endures. As for the sad dearth of seasoning at the place you mention, all I can say is that our visit was in 2008 and perhaps it was better on the day we tried it. We will retry all our top-fifty places when we do the story again in 2013. Last time, I recall that only 13 or 14 previous entries carried over to the current list. Best regards, Pat

Marshall Cooper

6 years ago

The great undisputed Top BBQ joints in Texas only use wood burning pits, no gas! Franklin BBQ Snow's BBQ, Kreuz, Black's, Smitty's, City Market Giddings, Meshacks, Off The Bone, Louie Mueller Barbecue, City Market Luling, Prause. How many BBQ joints in Texas that use silicone & gas or electric (with 2-3 wood logs) realistically compete with these joints? Why should The Texas Monthly Top 50 even consider gassers? Who cares if cities are not included? Anyone care to comment on these questions ….

Drew Thornley

6 years ago

Pat,

Thanks for weighing in. Isn' it true that your tasters go to joints alone? In other words, doesn't just one person score a particular meal? If that's not true, then disregard the following: My suggestion for the next issue would be to have more than one person rate/score, for the purpose of balance/accountability/fairness. It seems strange that a place could make or not make the list based on one person. For my site, a place cannot be given a score unless at least two people ate the meal; and we require a 24-hour waiting period before scoring, so as to eliminate any premature reaction (good or bad).

Cheers, and thanks again for commenting.

Drew Thornley
Man Up Texas BBQ




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