Others may have their Top 50 or Top 40 lists. Not the Texas BBQ Posse. After years of eating and months of debate, we’re listing our Favorite 41 joints in the state, including a ranking of the Top 10. 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio is No. 1. Of course, there wasn’t universal agreement among Posse members so we’ve included Top 5 lists from others elsewhere in this package.
Austin/San Antonio region
Brotherton's Black Iron BBQ, Pflugerville: Traditional Texas barbecue and creative sandwiches including brisket grilled cheese, pastrami rueben, smoked cheeseburger, fried chicken with bacon, tomatoes and spinach. Brotherton’s Black Iron BBQ, 15608 Spring Hill Ln #105, Pflugerville, 512-547-4766. Open Tues-Sat 11am-8pm or until the meat runs out.
Brown’s Bar-B-Que, Austin: Call it a continuing smoked meat puzzlement for the Posse: Why aren’t the lines longer at Brown’s Bar-B-Que trailer on South Lamar in Austin? The food is great. Brown’s Bar-B-Que, 1901 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, 512-517-8520. Open Thurs-Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-5pm.
Franklin Barbecue, Austin: The Posse has been eating at Franklin since it's trailer days a decade ago and has never been disappointed, especially by the brisket. Even waiting in line can be fun, talking to first-timers who come from all over the country. Bring a folding chair. If there is a rock star in Texas barbecue, it is Aaron Franklin. Franklin Barbecue, 900 E. 11th St.; 512-653-1187. Open Tues-Sat, 11 am until the meat runs out, usually around 2pm.
Guess Family Barbecue, Waco: Located a block from Magnolia Market, Guess has one of the best slogan’s we’ve seen: “. . .old school Texas barbecue. . . the kind Jesus ate!” Guess Family Barbecue, 324 S. 6th Street, Waco, 254-313-3436. Open Wed-Sat 11am-4pm or until the meat runs out.
John Mueller Black Box Barbecue, Georgetown: Some might call John Mueller the bad boy of Texas BBQ, but the dude can cook. Just try a bite of his crusty, fatty brisket. John Mueller Black Box Barbecue, 201 E 9th St, Georgetown, 512-635-6024. Open Thurs-Sun 10:30am until the meat runs out.
Kerlin BBQ, Austin: Don’t miss the Frito pie, topped by chopped brisket, cheese, onion and jalapeños. “That’s some kind of flavor explosion,” Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins says. Kerlin BBQ, 1700 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, 512-412-5588. Open Wed-Sun 11am-4pm or until the meat runs out.
Kreuz Market, Lockhart: The Posse has been going to Kreuz since 2009 and the food remains every bit as good as that first trip when co-founder Chris Wilkins coined our motto: “Let the meat speak for itself.” Kreuz Market, 619 N. Colorado St, Lockhart, 512-398-2361. Open Mon-Sat 10:30am-8pm, Sun 10:30am-6pm.
la Barbecue, Austin: The place is owned by LeAnn Mueller of the famous Mueller barbecue family and Alison Clem, who have also cooked there, along with others, from the very beginning. la Barbecue, 2027 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, 512-605-9696. Open Wed-Sun 11am-6pm.
Leroy and Lewis Barbecue, Austin: Eclectic might be the best word to describe the fare. Smoked beef cheeks. Peaceful pork. Kimchi on a barbecue sandwich. Avocado stuffed with barbacoa. LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue,121 Pickle Rd, Austin, 512-775-3392. Open Wed-Sun, 11am-9pm or until the meat runs out.
Louie Mueller Barbecue, Taylor: Louie’s grandson, Wayne, runs the place now. As joints in urban areas get better, he says, that puts more pressure on out-of-the-way places like his to continually improve. Louie Mueller Barbecue, 206 W Second St, Taylor, (512) 352-6206. Open Mon-Fri 11am-6pm or until the meat runs out, Sat 10am-6pm or until the meat runs out.
Louie’s BBQ, Austin: One special is called The Sleeper, after a famous wrestling hold. It’s a huge baked potato with a couple scoops of mac and cheese, customer choice of double meats, sour cream, barbecue sauce, green sauce and more cheese. Louie’s BBQ, 122 N Main Street , Buda, 512-649-2727. Open Tues-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-5pm or until the meat runs out.
Micklethwait Craft Meats, Austin: In barbecue, it’s one of the great unanswered questions: “Why would you wait in line at Franklin when you can get this so close?” Posse member Sherry Jacobson wondered on our last visit to Micklethwait, holding up a piece of brisket. “The brisket is fantastic.” Located within walking distance to Franklin, there are rarely lines. Micklethwait Craft Meats, 1309 Rosewood Ave, Austin, 512-791-5961. Open Tues-Sat 11am-until the meat runs out.
Miller’s Smokehouse, Belton: Along with excellent meats, there’s a sense of community here. Dirk Miller and his crew seem to know everyone who comes in, greeting them with handshakes. Miller’s Smokehouse, 300 E Central Ave, Belton, 254-939-5500. Open Sun-Thurs 11am-3pm, Fri and Sat 11am-9pm.
Snows BBQ, Lexington: For the Posse, it all started on a Saturday morning many years ago when we first visited Snow’s. Until then, we didn’t know what real barbecue was. And the atmosphere is unmatched. “If you were to design a Hollywood set for a barbecue joint you couldn’t do better than this,” Bruce Tomaso once said as we ate outside surrounded by smoking pits. Snow’s BBQ, 516 Main St, Lexington, 979-773-4640. Open Sat 8am–until the meat runs out.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, Austin: With regular dinner service, keeping the pits fired is a job. “There’s no automation,” pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick says. “You gotta be loading wood on the fires all the time.” Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew,6610 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin. Open Tues-Thurs 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm & Sun 11am-9pm. (Don't miss their new restaurant The Switch located in far west Austin.)
2M Smokehouse, San Antonio: Pitmaster Esaul Ramos and his partner Joe Melig are using a combination of old-school techniques and new school — yes, craft barbecue — approaches to turn out the best smoked meat around. The side dishes are terrific, too. Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins calls 2M’s cooking style “Texican.” 2M Smokehouse, 2731 S WW White Rd,, San Antonio, (210) 885-9352. Open Thurs-Sun 11am-4pm or until the meat runs out.
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, Austin: There’s nothing like the Ultimate Bean & Cheese taco, with brisket, from Valentina’s, even when one of your Posse mates brings it to you while you’re standing in line at Franklin. Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ, 11500 Manchaca Rd., Austin, 512-221-4248. Open 7 days a week 8am-until the meat runs out.
Dallas/Fort Worth region
BBQ on the Brazos, Fort Worth: After a long and hugely successful run in rural Cresson, BBQ on the Brazos moved up Hwy. 377 to southwest Fort Worth. Their new location is as good as ever, offering some of the greatest smoked meats in the DFW area. BBQ on the Brazos, 3803 Southwest Blvd, Fort Worth, 817-386-2970. Open Tues-Sun 10am-3pm.
Cattleack BBQ, Dallas: Posse member & Cattleack regular Jim Rossman sums up his favorite spot, “Todd (David) really has his meats dialed in and everything is tasting great. He’s a rarity in top-tier Texas BBQ pitmasters, in that he not only does the prep and cooking, he also cuts every customer’s order himself.” Cattleack BBQ, 13628 Gamma Road, Dallas, 972-805-0999. Open: Thurs & Fri 10:30am-2pm & the first Sat. of the month 10:30am-2pm.
Flores Barbecue, Whitney: EDITOR'S NOTE: We're sorry to report that Flores Barbecue has closed effective Sept. 2019, after moving to a new location in Fort Worth. Flores has moved from their home in Whitney to a new location in south Fort Worth. It might just be the best value for great BBQ in Texas. CLOSED: Flores Barbecue, 4801 Edwards Ranch Road in Fort Worth, 254-580-3576. Open Thurs-Sun 11am-4pm.
Heim Barbecue, Fort Worth: Owner Travis Heim brought serious craft barbecue to Fort Worth in 2015 and hasn't looked back. The joint's bacon burnt ends are becoming a Texas barbecue legend. Heim Barbecue, 1109 W Magnolia Ave, Fort Worth, 817-882-6970. Open Wed-Mon 11am-10pm.
Hutchins BBQ, McKinney & Frisco: The Hutchins family is one of the first families of North Texas barbecue, opening in McKinney in 1978. Not only is the BBQ damned good, it's a great value as well. Hutchins BBQ/McKinney, 1301 N Tennessee St, McKinney, 972-548-2629. Open Sun-Thurs 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-9:30am; Hutchins BBQ/Frisco, 9225 Preston Rd, Frisco, 972-377-2046. Open Wed-Sun 11am-9pm.
Lockhart Smokehouse, Dallas, Plano & Arlington: Owners Jeff & Jill Bergus helped start the barbecue explosion in Dallas in 2011. Their third location just opened next to the new Texas Rangers ballpark. It's a true BBQ palace. Lockhart Smokehouse/Dallas, 400 W Davis St, Dallas, 214-944-5521. Open 7 days a week 11am-9pm; Lockhart Smokehouse/Plano, 1026 East 15th St., Plano, 972-516-8900. Open 7 days a week 11am-9pm; Lockhart Smokehouse/Arlington, 1650 E Randol Mill Rd, Arlington, 817-769-1747. Open 7 days a week, Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-midnight.
Meat U Anywhere, Grapevine & Trophy Club: These guys brought great smoked meats to the northwest DFW suburbs. Don't miss their breakfast burritos, some of the best in the state. Meat U Anywhere/Grapevine, 919 W Northwest Hwy, Grapevine, 817-251-1227. Open Mon-Sat 6:30am-8:30pm, Sun 6:30am-3pm; Meat U Anywhere/Trophy Club, 91 Trophy Club Dr, Trophy Club, 682-237-7854. Open Mon-Sat 6:30am-8:30pm, Sun 6:30am-3pm.
Pecan Lodge, Dallas: The Dallas barbecue scene took a quantum leap when Diane & Justin Fourton opened Pecan Lodge in the Farmer's Market in 2010. Their unique craft meats and sides draw Franklin-esque lines to the Deep Ellum restaurant. Pecan Lodge, 2702 Main St. Dallas, 214-748-8900. Open: Tues-Thur & Sun 11am-3pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm.
Smoke Sessions Barbecue, Royse City: This is some of the best brisket you’ll have in the DFW area. Despite seriously increasing the quantity of meat he’s cooking over the past year, pitmaster Chad Sessions has maintained top quality across the board. Smoke Sessions Barbecue, 7126 FM 548, Royse City, 817-319-1080. Open Tues-Sun 11am-8pm or until the meat runs out.
The Slow Bone, Dallas: If you want great barbecue in Dallas without the long lines, The Slow Bone is your place. Creative sides complement great smoky meats in a cozy environment just west of downtown. The Slow Bone, 2234 Irving Blvd., Dallas, 214-377-7727. Open daily 11am-3pm.
Winner’s BBQ, Plano & Cedar Hill: Owners De’Andre and Maegan Jackson may have hit a BBQ goldmine when they opened their second location in the barbecue desert of Cedar Hill. Hard work & dedication to excellence has made them a don't-miss DFW barbecue destination. Winners BBQ-Cedar Hill, 1435 US-67, Cedar Hill, (972) 293-5899. Open Fri-Sat 11am-8pm or until the meat runs out, Sun 12pm-6pm; Winners BBQ-Plano, 3200 14th St, Plano, (972) 424-2400. Open Tues-Thurs 11am-3pm, Fri-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12pm-6pm or until the meat runs out.
Zavala’s Barbecue, Grand Prairie: These guys are putting out some of the best Texican BBQ you'll ever taste from their new home in old downtown Grand Prairie. Don't miss the barbacoa on a fresh tortilla or their infamous brisket taco, the Sloppy Juan. Zavala’s Barbecue, 421 W. Main St., Grand Prairie, 214-564-2799. Open Saturdays 11am-until the meat runs out. Internet pre-orders can be picked up from 10-10:30am.
East Texas region
Bodacious Bar-B-Q on Mobberly, Longview: Bruce Tomaso succinctly summarized the Posse’s opinion after eating at Bodacious early this year. “Jordan (Jackson) and team are turning out meats on a par with the best of the best in Texas. And their formal culinary training shines through in their creativity. Who the hell ever heard of French onion and Gruyere sausage?” Bodacious Bar-B-Q, 2227 S. Mobberly Ave, Longview, 903-753-8409. Open Tues–Sat 11am–5pm or until the meat runs out.
Fatboy's BBQ, Cooper: There's not a lot of top tier barbecue in this neck of the woods, making Fatboy's the place to go for excellent Q in far northeast Texas. Fatboy's BBQ, 15 Texas Highway 24 N, Cooper, (903) 300-3287. Open 11am-7pm Tues-Fri, Sat 11am-2pm.
Joseph's Riverport Bar-B-Que, Jefferson: Pitmaster Stephen Joseph learned how to cook from an old school pitmaster. No temperature probes or formulas, he was taught that the brisket is “done when it’s done.” It's great East Texas barbecue cooked the traditional way. Joseph's Riverport Bar-B-Que: 201 N Polk St, Jefferson, TX, 903-665-2341. Open Tues-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 11am-3pm.
Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q, Tyler: Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins grew up eating chopped brisket sandwiches at Stanley's in the 1960s. In 2009, new owner Nick Pencis took the place to the next level. Don't miss their ribs, considered by many to be among the best in the state. Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q, 525 S. Beckham Ave., Tyler, 903-593-0311. Open Mon-Fri 7am-10pm, 11am-10pm, Sat 11am-10pm.
Blue Moon BBQ, Hearne: Located on the dusty corner of Old San Antonio Road & Macey Road near Hearne, Blue Moon is a barbecue oasis for the locals. You can join them on your next trip to College Station. The smokey brisket is worth the drive. Blue Moon BBQ, 18746 E. OSR, Hearne, (979) 549-4800. Open Wed & Sun 11am-3pm, Thurs 11am-6pm, Fri-Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 11am-3pm or when the meat runs out.
Corkscrew BBQ, Spring: Owners Will and Nichole Buckman have one of the most family-friendly barbecue joints we’ve ever experienced. And the meats are pretty damned good too! Corkscrew BBQ, 26608 Keith St, Spring, (832) 592-1184, Open Tues-Sat 11am-6pm or until the meat runs out.
Fargo’s Pit BBQ, Bryan: Co-owners Belender Wells & Alan Caldwell bring you some of the most consistently excellent barbecue we’ve had. Quite simply, we’ve never had a bad meat there in numerous visits. Fargo’s Pit BBQ, 1220 N. Texas Ave., Bryan, 979-778-3662. Open Tues-Sat, 11am-7pm.
Killen’s Barbecue, Houston: Restaurateur Ronnie Killen started the Houston barbecue renaissance when he opened his Pearland spot in 2014. The chef is one of the most creative forces in Texas BBQ today. Killen’s Barbecue, 3613 E. Broadway, Pearland, 281-485-2272. Open Tues-Thurs & Sun 11am-8pm, Fri & Sat 11am-9pm. (They also take dinner reservations)
Pinkerton’s Barbecue, Houston: The Posse loves going to Pinkerton’s for the outstanding food and conversation. Owner/pitmaster Grant Pinkerton was named to Forbes magazine’s prestigious 30 Under 30 list last year after serving first-responders in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Pinkerton knows how to cook and run a business. Pinkerton's Barbecue, 1504 Airline Dr, Houston, (713) 802-2000. Open Wed-Fri & Sun 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm, bar open until midnight on Fri-Sat.
Roegels Barbecue Co., Houston: If we lived in Houston, Roegels would become a regular lunch stop. Everything we've had there was really good. The smoked boudin, a southeast Texas staple, gets bonus points from the Posse. Roegels Barbecue Co., 2223 S. Voss Rd, Houston. 713-977-8725. Open Mon–Tues 11am–6pm, Wed-Sun 11am–8pm or till meat runs out.
Tejas Chocolate Craftory, Tomball: Chocolate and barbecue — or barbecue and chocolate if you prefer — is a hard combination to beat. Posse co-founder Wilkins called the burnt ends, eaten with the tiniest drop of mole sauce, the highlight of his meal. “If you told me I’d ever put something chocolate on a piece of brisket I never would have believed it,” he said. Tejas Chocolate Craftory, 200 N Elm St, Tomball, (281) 892-1700. Open Tues-Sat 11am-6pm or until the meat runs out.
Truth Barbeque, Brenham: All of Leonard Botello IV’s smoked meat offerings draw the highest praise from the Posse, as do the corn pudding and collard greens with bacon side dishes. Michael Ainsworth absolutely loved the garlic sausage. “Wow,” he said after taking a bite. “If I’d have known how good this is I would have ordered a whole pound of it.” Truth Barbeque, Brenham, 2990 US-290, Brenham, TX 77833, (979) 830-0392. Open Fri-Sun 11am-until the meat runs out. (Botello and company will be opening a Houston location in late 2018-early 2019.)
Other links from the Posse's Favorite 41 project:
2M Smokehouse is the Posse's No. 1 Favorite
Posse members share their Favorite 5 BBQ lists
See a map of our Favorite 41 BBQ joints
Dear readers, now it's your turn