Gary Jacobson

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Food, music at Opie’s BBQ make the Posse happy

Our lunch of brisket, ribs, sausage, pork loin & turkey at Opie’s BBQ in Spicewood, with tater tot casserole and butterbeans. The last time Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins visited Opie’s BBQ, on an Easter Sunday four years ago, he was too late for the brisket. In the world of Texas barbecue, that’s called disappointment. So Wilkins was very happy on a recent return visit to the Spicewood joint when we ordered a full platter of brisket, ribs, sausage, pork loin and turkey. The meats are terrific at Opie’s BBQ, but don’t miss the homemade banana pudding either. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas…
 - 06/20/2017
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Going forward, a delicate balance for Austin’s Hot Luck Festival

Prime rib galore roasting on spits at the Hot Luck Festival in Austin. Austin’s inaugural Hot Luck Festival of food and music in May attracted 6,500 “patrons,” according to a recent release from the organizers. “Patrons” is an interesting term. In broad form, it includes paying customers as well as those who don’t pay admission, such as guests, clients, sponsors and friends. At Hot Luck’s food events, based on my observations, there were a lot of non-paying attendees. In a follow up email, I asked Courtney Knittel, handling Hot Luck’s public relations, for a breakdown of attendance between the music…
 - 06/18/2017
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Ronnie Killen says he’s selling brisket for no profit

Snake River Gold brisket at Killen’s Barbecue in Houston, which goes for $30 a pound. Seeking to improve quality, barbecue maestro Ronnie Killen recently changed brisket suppliers and is now paying so much for raw brisket that he doesn’t make any money on the final, smoked product. “If it means selling brisket for no profit, then that’s what it means,” Killen said on the Houston Chronicle’s BBQ State of Mind podcast Wednesday. “I don’t care.” Killen operates the popular Killen’s Barbecue in suburban Houston. He said on the podcast that he now pays $9.35 a pound for brisket supplied by…
 - 06/15/2017
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Tug or no tug on pork ribs? A Posse dialogue

The pork ribs at Truth BBQ in Brenham were excellent, taking no tug to get off the bone. One of the great things about weekend-long barbecue tours is the drive time between stops when Posse members can discuss some of the big philosophical issues regarding smoked meat. We had one of those experiences Saturday on the road to Houston after visiting Truth BBQ in Brenham. We’ll post the full tour story later, but first, the big issue: tug or no tug on pork ribs? There was almost no tug on Truth’s ribs and they were excellent. In texture, they reminded…
 - 06/13/2017
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The making of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ list

Without a doubt, it’s the most anticipated and influential list of its kind in Texas and beyond: Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ joints. It boosts business for those places that make it, and generates endless discussion among barbecue fans everywhere. If you have any doubt about the appeal of the list, just Google Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ, or check your Facebook and Twitter feeds over the past couple weeks. Or, view all the coverage the Posse has devoted to the list over the same span. Or, look at the longer lines at many of the top-ranked joints. A new…
 - 06/04/2017
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Top 10 brisket joints for Texas Monthly

Briskets on the smoker at 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio. With all the hullabaloo over the online release of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 barbecue joints early this week, the print edition of the magazine still contained a nice surprise when it arrived Thursday: a list of the top 10 brisket joints in Texas. While seven of them are also among TM’s overall Top 10, three are not, including 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio. Regular readers will remember that Chris Wilkins and I raved about 2M after our first visit there earlier this year. I even argued that it might be the…
 - 05/28/2017
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Big expansion for Hays County Bar-B-Que

The pits burn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at Hays County Bar-B-Que in San Marcos. Jessie Miranda, the general manager at Hays County Bar-B-Que & Catering in San Marcos, is old school. The joint doesn’t use temperature gauges to judge the doneness of its briskets. It’s all about how the meat looks and feels to the touch. “The only thing we probe is poultry, sausage and sometimes a pork chop,” he said. Miranda is also old school in his approach to competition: Bring it on. “We got room to go,” he said. “There’s plenty business for everybody.…
 - 05/25/2017
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Snow’s BBQ, well deserved No. 1 for Texas Monthly

Early Saturday morning light hits the smoker area as pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz works at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington. So we missed — widely — when we predicted last month that Killen’s Barbecue in suburban Houston would be No. 1 on Texas Monthly’s list of the Top 50 joints in Texas. But we applaud — loudly — the magazine’s decision this week to put Snow’s BBQ on top. In all the years the Posse has been touring, breakfast at the Lexington place on a Saturday morning remains our favorite trip. “It’s the ultimate Texas BBQ experience: great food, great people and the…
 - 05/22/2017
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2M Smokehouse video: Living the BBQ dream

2M Smokehouse video: Owners Esaul Ramos, left, and Joe Melig at the counter of their San Antonio restaurant. Esaul Ramos, co-owner and pit master at 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio, has some advice for anyone who thinks they might want to smoke meat for a living. “Don’t get into barbecue unless you really, really love it,” Ramos told the Posse recently during a visit to his joint when we also taped a short video in his smokehouse. With a mattress propped against a nearby wall, Ramos explained how he and partner, Joe Melig, literally camp out there during their long…
 - 05/21/2017
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Opening night of Hot Luck Austin at Franklin’s

BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn served a nice steak taco at Hot Luck Austin. Hot Luck Austin, the new food festival, officially opened Thursday night at Franklin Barbecue, near downtown. With the State Capitol building visible, the joint’s “back yard” is a great spot for a party. As normal, though, when Posse member Mike Gagne and I arrived a few minutes before the 6 p.m. start, there was a line. We were 40 or so back. But it moved quickly and there was never much backup at the seven chef stations over the next three hours. The event was open only…
 - 05/19/2017
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Why we wait in long barbecue lines

Diners stand in line as they wait to order on a recent Saturday at Cattleack BBQ in Dallas. The idea about barbecue lines started simply enough during our recent visit to Micklethwait Craft Meats in Austin. “Why would you wait in line at Franklin when you can get this so close?” Sherry Jacobson wondered as she ate some of Micklethwait’s brisket, every bit as fine as what you could get a few blocks away at world famous Franklin Barbecue. And there was almost no line at Micklethwait. So we assembled an email roundtable of the Posse, all line-standing veterans, to…
 - 05/17/2017
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Forget Texas, go to Smokey D’s for ribs

Lunch at Smokey D’s BBQ in Des Moines, Iowa. Clockwise from top left, Texas toast, pork ribs, turkey, sausage and brisket. I’m a Texan, so it has taken me a few days to get up the courage to write this. The best pork ribs I’ve ever eaten weren’t cooked in the Lone Star State. No, they were cooked about 950 miles north of ATX in Des Moines, Iowa, at a place called Smokey D’s BBQ. Sherry Jacobson and I stopped there in the middle of a recent Monday afternoon while driving to Minnesota. “Oh, yeah,” I said after taking a…
 - 05/14/2017
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New look for Micklethwait Craft Meats, same great brisket

Three-meat plate with fatty brisket, a big pork rib, and knockwurst sausage & sides at Micklethwait Craft Meats. Micklethwait Craft Meats, the excellent barbecue joint near downtown Austin, had a new look when we stopped there for lunch this week. “Gussied up” was the term that immediately came to mind, though it might be a tad high brow for a trailer operation. But it sure looked nice. The space leading to and under the service windows is now covered with pea gravel and several large concrete pavers, and a new planter near the main seating was ready for some greenery. Before,…
 - 05/11/2017
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No ghosts, just good BBQ spirit at Stiles Switch

Lunch at Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew in Austin, including sausage, pork ribs, brisket, beef rib, smoked fried chicken wings and sides. There’s a lot of history swirling around Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew in Austin. It’s located in what was the city’s first shopping center, built in 1951. And the space now occupied by the joint was the movie location for the pool hall in Dazed and Confused, the 1993 comedy that made Matthew McConaughey famous. “All right, all right, all right.” But if you’re a railroad fan, particularly one who might be partial to ghosts, there’s an even…
 - 04/30/2017
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Finding BBQ truth, wisdom in the land of sauce

A clock showing the legendary pitmaster hangs on the wall at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque in Kansas City. When in Rome, the saying goes. And that’s exactly what we did recently in Kansas City. We went to Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque. While the food didn’t sync with my Texas tastes, the atmosphere was wonderful at this classic joint on the edge of downtown. Of course, when talking about Bryant’s, sooner or later, Calvin Trillin’s 1972 Playboy article gets mentioned. Trillin, from Kansas City, wrote then: “It has long been acknowledged that the single best restaurant in the world is Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque at 18th…
 - 04/28/2017
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Fargo’s brisket might be best BBQ value in Texas

Brisket, chicken, pork ribs & sausage at Fargo’s BBQ in Bryan, a favorite stop for the Posse. Frugal isn’t a word I’d use to describe the Posse. When we see something at a joint that looks good, we order it, whatever the price. But as we’ve journeyed the Texas BBQ trail the past couple weeks, I’ve been struck by brisket prices: $22 a pound at Franklin Barbecue, $24 at LeRoy and Lewis, the excellent new trailer joint in south Austin, $20 or so at several other places. Fargo’s BBQ co-owner Belender Wells shows their new barbecue sauce.(Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ…
 - 04/21/2017
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Killen’s will be #1 on Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ list, the Posse predicts

Diners wait for Killen’s BBQ to open on a Saturday morning in Pearland, a suburb of Houston. Be bold. That advice from an old boss recently ran through my head here at Posse HQ as we contemplated stepping off the barbecue cliff. We took the step. Yes, we are predicting that Killen’s Barbecue in suburban Houston will be No. 1 on Texas Monthly’s highly anticipated list of the Top 50 BBQ joints in Texas, displacing the legendary Franklin Barbecue in Austin. It shouldn’t take long to know whether that call is indeed bold or just plain boneheaded. The list will…
 - 04/19/2017
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What do BBQ bloggers have in common with Homer, Chaucer and Twain? A lot!

BBQ sign on Hwy. 71 outside of Spicewood, TX., not one of the monsters of The Odyssey. A long while ago, we attended a gathering of BBQ bloggers at Louie Mueller’s in Taylor. Organized by Daniel Vaughn, then just the BBQ Snob now also the BBQ editor of Texas Monthly, the group included Don O., J.C. Reid, and others. It was a fun day of camaraderie and food. Fast forward most of a decade and I found myself engaged in a Facebook discussion about the “food press” last weekend with Jack Perkins, who created and sold Slow Bone in Dallas. My…
 - 04/18/2017
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The beef cheeks at LeRoy and Lewis in Austin, Yes!

The beef cheeks stole the show during lunch at LeRoy and Lewis in Austin. All the Argentine reggae on my playlist lately has put me in a very “vibra positiva” state of mind. So do the great beef cheeks at LeRoy and Lewis, the new truck and trailer joint in south Austin. Saturdays, the place serves more traditional smoked meats. We went on Good Friday. No line. What a treat in barbecue crazy ATX! This story of discovery begins early that morning. Posse member Michael Ainsworth messaged me that he was on the road to San Antonio from Dallas. “You…
 - 04/14/2017
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Prediction: Franklin Barbecue won’t be No. 1 on Texas Monthly’s new Top 50 list

The BBQ world is anxiously awaiting the release of the 2017 Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ list next month. If Blackie Sherrod were writing this column, he would call it Scattershooting while wondering if Geddy Lee still loves Texas barbecue. . . Sherrod, of course, was a legendary newspaper columnist. After he died last year, his obituary in The Dallas Morning News began: “Blackie Sherrod, the greatest Texas sportswriter of his generation or any other, now and forevermore, died Thursday afternoon at age 96.” Kevin Sherrington, a good wordsmith himself, wrote that. Sherrington tells me Blackie’s food tastes tended toward…
 - 04/12/2017
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Is 2M Smokehouse turning out the best barbecue in Texas?

Our lunch of brisket, pork ribs, sausage & turkey at 2M Smokehouse. The first thing you see in the pit room at 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio is, of course, the giant smoker. Built by Texas barbecue legend John Lewis, it is named El Mexicano. Next, you notice the big-screen TV, hanging on one wall. Not far away are two outdoor chairs, and a mattress propped against the wall behind. “Our landlord owns a mattress store next door so he gave us a good deal,” Esaul Ramos said. 2M Smokehouse is open Thursday through Sunday, so Ramos and his partner,…
 - 04/08/2017
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Keep an eye on J.Leonardi’s, Cedric Griffin’s new trailer joint on Austin’s Eastside

Cedric Griffin gets ready for a Thursday morning opening at J.Leonardi’s Barbeque in east Austin. Barbecue and football have a lot in common, says Cedric Griffin, the former University of Texas star and NFL veteran who recently opened a trailer joint on Austin’s Eastside with partner Jerome Faulkner. “It’s a mental game,” Griffin explained, referring to cooking and playing ball. “Getting up and preparing yourself every day to be consistent. We have to be consistently good. We have to do our thing and cook our food to our taste.” J.Leonardi’s Barbeque (the J is for Jerome and Leonard is Griffin’s…
 - 04/06/2017
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Smoked pastrami recipe that is sure to impress your guests

By Bryan Gooding It was more than two years ago when the Posse heard a rumor that Cattleack Barbecue in Far North Dallas was going to be serving smoked pastrami for its Saturday special. I remember thinking “Wow! This is different!” Pitmaster Todd David would be cooking “outside the box.” Afterward I told Posse co-founder Gary Jacobson that Cattleack had thrown down the gauntlet with its smoked pastrami and that there would be a lot of pitmasters experimenting with recipes over the next year.  The times were ripe for some new barbecue. In the fall of 2015 Gary and I…
 - 04/05/2017
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Welcome to our new Texas BBQ Posse website

In Texas, Robert Earl Keen probably comes as close to being the official Bard of Barbecue as anybody we’ve got. You might quibble with his spelling, but not his sentiment: Don’t give me no broccoli Or any Swiss fondue Baby if you want to rock me Give me good ole barbeque And what, you ask, puts us in such a mood for song? After seven years of blogging about smoked meats, the Texas BBQ Posse is launching a full blown Web site about our favorite topic. Don’t worry. Our main mission remains the same. We’ll tell the stories of the people and places…
 - 03/31/2017
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Lights, Camera, Eat BBQ! The Posse — briefly — goes Hollywood

George Clooney and Leo DiCaprio can relax because it’s unlikely anyone from the Texas BBQ Posse will challenge them for leading roles in Tinseltown. Still, we had our brush, very briefly, with video fame. And while nothing came of it — yet, anyway — the experience was great fun so we thought we would share it with you. About a year ago, the folks at 12 Forward Entertainment in Dallas approached the Texas BBQ Posse about making a “pitch” video for a reality TV show based on the Posse. The video would then be used to sell the concept to…
 - 01/02/2017

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