Killen's BBQ line

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 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 BBQ smoke meats

Brisket, sausage, turkey, beef and pork ribs from Killen's BBQ. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

— 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?

Cattleack BBQ Dallas

Cattleack BBQ in north Dallas was also a favorite as the Posse debated about the top joints in Texas. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

BBQ Hound

7 years ago

When is the last time most of you ate at Killen's? I echo the BBQ hounds that have eaten there over the last year in saying that Killen's BBQ has definitely declined as Ronnie Killen has gotten busy opening a BBQ joint, reopening a steakhouse, opening Killen's STQ, and serving BBQ at NRG Stadium. Killen's will still almost certainly be top ten, maybe even top 5, but they are not serving the best BBQ in Texas like they were 2-3 years ago. We liked Texas BBQ Posse better when it was dormant.

Brandon Fulcher

7 years ago

Miller's Smoke house is a whole another leave. From chicken, ribs, brisket, great side to drinks and top it off with Mama Miller's dessert. Your day is complete after you eat there go home and go bed and start over by going to Miller's Smokehouse.

Chuck M

7 years ago

Hutchins BBQ. McKinney, Texas

Albert Nurick

7 years ago

Killen's is very good, but you need to revisit Corkscrew BBQ (you still have their old location on your map). Since they've moved to Old Town Spring, they've upped their already impressive game, and their 'Q is now the best in the Houston area. Considerably more consistent than Killen's.

Corkscrew doesn't have Killen's PR machine, so they don't get nearly as much press. But foodies in the know rate their 'Q as the best in the Houston area.

Ronnie Killen

7 years ago

We actually haven't had a "PR machine" in at least 1 year. I agree Corkscrew is great BBQ. When is the last time you have been to Pearland? You seem to base all your opinions off of festivals (houbbqfest).

Keith Patrick

7 years ago

It would appear y'all haven't made it out to West Texas and tried Evie Mae's in Wolfforth. Otherwise I'm not sure why they get no love here. They were Newcomer of the Year and were invited to the TM BBQ Fest.

It's a legit spot, don't forget about Em.

Jessie Gragg

7 years ago

No doubt it's good stuff but not as good as Corkscrew BBQ in Old Town Spring! Consistent great BBQ!!

Russell Wing

7 years ago

Killen's isn't even the best BBQ in the Houston area, let alone Texas. His sides are great, but the brisket is woefully inconsistent. You clearly aren't from the Houston area. It's laughable that you have left places like Corkscrew, Tejas Chocolate, and the Pit Room off your list of places worthy of top 5 or 10 consideration. They're all as good or better than Killen's. Corkscrew especially. They are Killen's without the PR machine, but better, more consistent barbecue. They may not have chef created sides like creamed cord and banana pudding, but they're much more representative of traditional barbecue and absolutely nail everything they do make.

Kevin Foster

7 years ago

Hutchins BBQ in McKinney is definitely a top contender for best BBQ in Texas. Their consistency for great tasting barbecue and delicious sides is second to none. Whenever I want BBQ, Hutchins is always my top choice. I highly recommend trying Hutchins before casting votes.


7 years ago

I don't feel Killens has the consistency to be number 1. Have had two mediocre visit there. More importantly they travel badly. Texas Monthly BBQ fest two years in a row and various events around Houston have constantly shown variables levels of quality. Great place, and deserving of top 50, but not best. Think of what Franklins and Louie Mueller have been doing over the last years, you know how amazing it will taste everytime you go, and it hits it perfectly when you are there. Think of LA Barbecue when John was working with Esaul and it was clearly the best in the state every day of the week. Inconsistentcy killed Smittys off the list, and it will keep Killens from #1.

Gerald Parker

7 years ago

Mighty hard to beat the barbeque, or any of the grub for that matter, that Loyd and Becki McClanahan puts out at The Loco Coyote Grill in Glen Rose Texas. It is some kinda good. Definitely worth the drive out to the Coyote Strip and you had best come hungry cause the servings are Texas sized and good to the last bite.

Dana Wells

7 years ago

Hutchins #1 this year

Jamie Jordan

7 years ago

Why don't you try Jordan's Bar-B-Que in downtown Farmersville... that's good food there.

Chris Wilkins

7 years ago

Added to our list, thanks Jamie! Regards/Chris

Austin Top 5 plus Snow's

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