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 be in the magazine’s June issue.
If we’re wrong, the crow has already been ordered. We’ll cook it low and slow with a nice salt and pepper rub.
In 2013, Texas Monthly put four joints in its top tier. Franklin No. 1, Pecan Lodge in Dallas, Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, and Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor.
We think there is a chance the magazine will expand that top group this time because more joints across the state are producing excellent barbecue.
Based on a Posse e-mail roundtable, here are our prediction’s for TM’s Top 10, somewhat in order, but please allow us some hedging room. There was general agreement on most of the joints in our ranking, including Killen’s at No. 1, but not all.
— Killen's Barbecue, Pearland
— Cattleack Barbecue, Dallas
— Snow’s BBQ, Lexington
— Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew, Austin
— Franklin Barbecue, Austin
— Miller’s Smokehouse, Belton
— Hutchins BBQ, McKinney
— Pecan Lodge, Dallas
— Louie Mueller Barbecue, Taylor
— Truth Barbecue, Brenham
We also think 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio will be very highly rated and, perhaps, designated for some special recognition, even though it hasn’t been open a year. Under Texas Monthly’s previous rules, that would eliminate 2M from top-tier status, but the joint is turning out terrific stuff.
Strong contenders mentioned by Posse members included Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ in Tyler, Micklethwait Craft Meats in Austin and Heim Barbecue in Fort Worth.
Generally, we think, there will be a move on TM’s part toward favoring full-service joints. And while the atmosphere is still great at the traditional Central Texas places, the food has not kept up to the competition.
I lost a spirited debate with Posse member Phil Lamb — never argue with an attorney — about whether 2M qualified for the top tier, maybe even No. 1. He cited facts, i.e., Texas Monthly's rules. I cited emotion -- i.e, they can change the rules.
That debate over, no one argued with Counselor Lamb’s solid case for Killen’s.
“Predicting the No. 1 is the only definitive answer I feel strongly about,” he said. “We’ve been saying it for at least two years now. Every time I visit Killen's, I walk away thinking their total collection of meats, considered collectively, is the best in Texas. The sides, desserts, and atmosphere are all there, too. They are leading the pack and I’ve eaten there recently enough and frequently enough to know they have not slipped. And remember, they barely missed inclusion in the last issue, so TM may feel the No. 1 spot is a long time coming.”
Killen’s opened after TM's 2013 list came out.
Posse member Jim Rossman tended to agree with Lamb about Killen’s but added that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Cattleack in the top spot.
“I do think it's time for the No. 1 spot to move from the Austin/Central Texas corridor,” Rossman said. “There's just too much good meat being smoked all over the state.”
So, there you have it, our predictions for what Texas Monthly will do.
What do you think?