East Texas

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linesSM

Lines, lines, everywhere we go there are BBQ lines

Long lines at Franklin BBQ in Austin, top, and Pecan Lodge in Dallas. (Photos © Daniel Goncalves) Aaron Franklin has made it cool to stand in a long line for barbecue. That has been the norm at his joint in Austin going back to its trailer days in 2009. Now, the phenomenon appears to be spreading, as we discovered on our recent Best of Texas BBQ Tour. When we left Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Que in Tyler about noon last Friday, three dozen people were in line and more appeared to be walking down the sidewalk to join the queue. This…
 - 02/13/2013
bro_inlaw

A respite from brisket, ribs and sausage on the Best of Texas BBQ tour

The Posse digs into a Brother-in-Law sandwich at Stanley’s. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves) Discipline and portion control were the guiding principles of our recent Best of Texas BBQ Tour. They have to be when you eat at 10 places over a period of about 48 hours. But while we focused on — and scored — only brisket, pork ribs and sausage, we did manage to sample other fare on the first day of the tour, when we visited only 3 places. At Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Que in Tyler, we loved the smoked turkey breast and the Brother-In-Law sandwich, made of chopped…
 - 02/12/2013
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Tuel’s M&ET Barbeque – Doing it right in Gilmer

On our way to Jefferson to last Saturday, we discovered an interesting new BBQ joint on Hwy. 154 about three miles west of Gilmer in the Kelsey bottom. Tuel’s M&ET Barbeque was just about to finish their fourth week in business the following Tuesday. Over the past six months, several people had messaged me desperately looking for good BBQ in the area. I didn’t have first-hand knowledge to help relieve their suffering. That might be changing. Tuel’s is a family affair, run by pitmaster Ryan Tuel and his folks, Linda and Ronnie. They built an impressive facility in the woods…
 - 07/03/2012
jospehs001

Rebuilt from the ground up, Jospeh’s Riverport BBQ is back in a big way

There were smiles all around on Saturday at Joseph’s Riverport Bar-B-Cue in historic downtown Jefferson. Five and a half months after a devastating fire that completely destroyed the building, owner and pitmaster Stephen Joseph reopened on Thursday to swarms of old friends and townsfolk who appreciate some of the best BBQ on this side the state. “We can’t live without Joseph’s,” said longtime customer Misty Baldwin of Jefferson. “When it burned, it was like losing someone in your family. It’s all new, but it’s just as good as ever” Around midnight on January 15, Stephen got the phone call that…
 - 07/02/2012
jeff001

Joseph’s Riverport BBQ in Jefferson reopens tomorrow

Here’s the news we’ve been waiting for. Joseph’s Riverport Bar-B-Que is reopening tomorrow, Thursday June 28, after a fire that totaled the restaurant last January. Owner/pitmaster Stephen Joseph sends these photos of his new joint, which was rebuilt from the ground up on the original location at 201 N Polk Street in downtown Jefferson. He installed a new Bewley pit, which he has been breaking in for the past couple of months. My wife Michele and I will be heading over for a return visit this Saturday. We had some great BBQ during our last trip there, ranking Joseph’s Riverport…
 - 06/27/2012
jeff0001

UPDATE: Joseph’s Riverport BBQ expected to reopen in 6-8 weeks

UPDATE TO AN UPDATE: Just heard some great news from owner/pitmaster Stephen Joseph about the reopening of Joseph’s Riverport BBQ in Jefferson. The restaurant was totally destroyed by a fire in January. Here’s Stephen’s note: “It’s probably about 6 to 8 weeks away from being ready. The exterior is about complete but the interior is unbelievably tedious and complicated. The new pit from Bewley should be ready in about 2 weeks and I’ll be doing a lot of test cooking.” We can’t wait to head east to Jefferson and check out Stephen’s new joint. I’m sure they will reclaim their…
 - 04/12/2012
bigsmiths001

Heading east to Big Smith’s Bar-B-Q in Sulphur Springs

We first heard of Big Smith’s Bar-B-Q after our first East Texas BBQ Tour story was published in The Dallas Morning News a couple of years ago. Several readers wrote to tell us we had missed the best BBQ in East Texas. They urged us to visit Big Smith’s, located 8 miles south of Sulphur Springs on on Hwy 154. We put it on the list and intended to get there for a visit. The problem was, we always try to hit two or more joints when we head out of town, getting a sample of BBQ available in the area. Quite…
 - 02/29/2012
etxLede

The Barbecue Chronicles: Back to East Texas where we find proof that wood rules

It had been a few months since the Posse’s last barbecue tour. So, we reminded ourselves to be conservative and not overeat at the first stop. “I’m just going to have one rib,” said tour veteran Marshall Cooper as he drove east from Dallas on I-20. His passengers laughed. “Well, if they’re good I might have four or five,” he conceded. In the end, somehow, Texas barbecue always manages to bring out the truth. For this chapter of our barbecue chronicles, we traveled 290 miles over 10 hours on a beautiful spring Saturday that was chilly when we started and…
 - 05/01/2011
smokinjsEXT

Best name ever for a barbecue joint? Smok’n J’s Butt Nekkid BBQ

Editor’s note: This just is now closed. We were driving on Highway 19 between Palestine and Athens when we spotted the smoke. No one wanted to cram an extra stop into our East Texas barbecue tour last weekend. We were stuffed after eating at three places and we wanted only to sample the Hog Wings at Cripple Creek in Athens before returning to Dallas. But the smoke on the side of the highway in Montalba was enticing. We drove past, but Posse co-found Chris Wilkins said, “We probably should turn around.” Wheelman Marshall Cooper obliged. And so we pulled into…
 - 04/20/2011
babyjake2

Pitmaster and preacher, Baby J McKenzie wins BBQ converts in Palestine

Editor’s note: This joint is now closed. It’s the most unusual smoker any of us have seen. A giant black metal box on short stilts with a smokestack reaching 20-feet high, located just out the side door from Baby J’s Bar B Que and Fish near Palestine. With a flick of his wrist, Jeremiah “Baby J” McKenzie toggles one of the huge counterweights and a door magically lifts, exposing eight rotating cook racks filled with chicken and ribs. There is an identical cooking chamber on the opposite side. “That’s just heaven,” says Posse veteran Marshall Cooper, clearly smitten with an…
 - 04/17/2011
stanleysign

On the road again: East Texas II BBQ Tour begins tomorrow at Stanley’s

The posse returns to one of our favorite joints in the state on Saturday to begin the second East Texas BBQ tour. Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q in Tyler was the starting point for our first East Texas tour in February 2010. We’ve gotten to know owner and pitmaster Nick Pencis pretty well since then, he’s one of the “young gun” pitmasters who are leading the next generation of great Texas BBQ cooks. We can’t wait to try Stanley’s ribs, considered by many to be among the best in the state. The first time the Posse was there, a customer bought…
 - 04/15/2011
pats1977web

Sad news for fans of Pat Gee’s BBQ in Tyler

The first time I stepped into Pat Gee’s Barbecue in the late 1970s, Vida Gee was manning the counter as husband Pat handled the smokers and cutting board. Mrs. Gee greeted you with a smile and some of the best BBQ to ever come out of the piney woods of east Texas. After Pat died in 1999, she continued to run the historic BBQ joint with her sons Arthur and Billy. My family members were regulars at Pat’s, so I continued to go there through college and then on visits back home in Tyler over the years. I really enjoyed…
 - 01/08/2011
patschop

Visiting friends in East Texas- Pat Gee’s & Hickory Hill BBQ

We took a slight detour Saturday afternoon on the ride back to Dallas from Jefferson, exiting from I-20 on to Hwy. 31 west at Kilgore. The plan was to check in on a couple of friends on the east Texas BBQ trail, one old and one new. Our first stop was Hickory Hill BBQ, a fun little joint east of Kilgore on Hwy. 31. We got to know the husband and wife team of Kerry and Kelly Shaw during our East Texas BBQ Tour last February. Kelly greeted my wife Michele and I with her 100-watt smile, which can light…
 - 09/19/2010
broinlaw

Posse favorites: Stanley’s Brother-in-Law sandwich

One of the great discoveries on our recent East Texas BBQ Tour was the brother-in-law sandwich at Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q in Tyler, the first stop on our four-joint tour. Several of us went directly for the 4-meat sampler, no sides, as a way to quickly judge the long-time barbeque joint. Fortunately, a couple of our posse members ordered and loved the brother-in-law sandwich, not your everyday BBQ sandwich. Author David Gelin writes a great description of the infamous sandwich in his book, “BBQ Joints: Stories and Secret Recipes from the Barbeque Belt.” “STANLEY’S FAMOUS BROTHER-IN-LAW HOT LINK, BUTTERFLIED. Grill…
 - 04/30/2010
pats1

Pat Gee’s: BBQ palace in the piney woods of East Texas

Pat Gee’s Barbecue is a few miles east of Tyler, nestled under towering pine trees near the small community of Chapel Hill. Dallas Morning News writer and Texas BBQ Posse founding member Gary Jacobson set the stage for the joint perfectly in his story, “The barbecue chronicles: One day, four pit stops in East Texas.” Gary writes, “The small, wood-frame building sits on a small lot notched between pine trees and pasture. An outhouse is out back. Inside the main room, near the front door, is a fridge. Once, it was white. Four fly swatters hang from the counter, under…
 - 04/29/2010
HICKORYHILL1

Unexpected stop on the East Texas BBQ Tour

We spotted the smoke while cruising eastward down Hwy. 31 toward the Country Tavern in Kilgore. Since we were in no particular hurry, the BBQ posse hooked a u-turn and headed back to Hickory Hill BBQ. It turned out to be a great stop on the journey. Like Pat Gee’s, they are open Friday through Sunday, closing when the meat runs out. Husband and wife team Kelly and Kerry Shaw opened the joint seven months ago, after years of preparation by Kerry. “I’ve been cooking BBQ all my life,” he said. We ordered up some ribs for the crew and…
 - 03/20/2010
PATGEES

The Barbecue Chronicles: One day, four pit stops in East Texas

The wheelman on a barbecue tour needs thick skin and quick reflexes. During a 240-mile trip from Dallas through East Texas on a recent Saturday, our driver had both. Moments after getting needled for poking along at 50 in a 70 mph zone, David Woo quickly had his car at the speed limit. Then we spotted smoke coming from a portable smoker in front of a low building. We were headed east on State Highway 31, between Tyler and Kilgore, about 115 miles from Dallas. “That looks interesting,” one posse member said. “Let’s go back.” Woo, a photographer at The…
 - 03/13/2010
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Flashback at Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q

We started our recent East Texas BBQ Tour at Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q in Tyler. It’s been around since the 1950s, when W.G. Watson owned the joint. J.D. Stanley, a former oil field worker, bought and renamed it in 1960. Nick & Jen Pencis now own Stanley’s, with deep respect to a 50-plus years of the history within. I grew up in Tyler and some of my earliest dining memories are from Stanley’s. Much to my surprise, the place is almost exactly how I remember it 40 years ago, when Mr. Stanley was taking orders at the counter. I always…
 - 03/09/2010
PATGEES-1

Coming soon: Tales from the East Texas BBQ Tour

A couple of weeks ago, the Texas BBQ Posse headed to east Texas in search of the best BBQ in the area. Posse founding member Gary Jacobson will once again be writing a story on the road trip for The Dallas Morning News, but you can click here for a sneak peek at the slideshow from our journey to the piney woods. We’ll let you know when the story is published in two weeks or so. The posse was made up of three of our members from the central Texas tour and five newbies. My dad James Wilkins, a Tyler…
 - 03/07/2010
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