Chris Wilkins

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What the Posse looks for in great Texas BBQ

A diner eats his lunch at City Meat Market in Giddings. (Photo ©Guy Reynolds) Here’s the third video from our Best of Texas BBQ Tour multimedia package on dallasnews.com. In this piece, Gary Jacobson, Jim Rossman, Bruce Tomaso and me talk about what we look for in great Texas barbecue. When we sit down to a plate of brisket, ribs and sausage, here are the basic criteria used to judge what we’re eating: Taste, tenderness, appearance, texture and smokiness. Click the video below to see more of our tips on judging great Texas BBQ.
 - 03/25/2013
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How to plan your own Texas BBQ Tour

       The posse samples meats during our first trip to Franklin BBQ. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/The Texas BBQ Posse) When it comes to Texas BBQ tours, the Posse has a few tips to share with our readers. We’ve had 12 BBQ tours since 2009, covering around 5,000 miles. Our last trip, the Best of Texas BBQ Tour, covered 700 miles and 10 top Texas BBQ joints over 48 hours. Tip no. 1: Do your research and planning, have an agenda. Check out website’s like Daniel Vaughn’s Full Custom Gospel BBQ blog. Daniel has been to every BBQ joint in Texas and…
 - 03/20/2013
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Here’s your chance to buy another piece of Texas BBQ history

The original brick smoker at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, built in 1959. (Photo © Philip Lamb) A couple of weeks ago we wrote about a chance to buy a piece of Texas BBQ history – the original catering smoker rig at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington. Here’s a slightly less expensive opportunity to buy another item representing the best in Texas BBQ. You may have heard about the fire that recently destroyed the original brick pit at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor. The pit, which was built in 1959, was a total loss after back-to-back pit fires over the weekend…
 - 03/15/2013
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Checking in with Fatboy’s BBQ in Cooper

A customer waits for his order at Fatboy’s BBQ in Cooper. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) You meet some great folks as you travel the blue highways of Texas BBQ. Shannon Bankston and Heather Hoff of Fatboy’s BBQ in Cooper are those kind of people. A year ago, Marshall Cooper and I met Shannon and Heather at Fatboy’s, then located in the tiny town of Ladonia in northeast Texas. It was a slow day in the town of 613 residents, so we talked BBQ for half of the afternoon, which of course is one of our favorite things to do. Fatboy’s had…
 - 03/13/2013
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The Barbecue Chronicles: Best of Texas BBQ Tour

Brisket, ribs and sausage at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor. (Photo by Tom Fox/DMN) By Gary Jacobson/Texas BBQ Posse For a while now, members of the Texas BBQ Posse have strongly suspected that Dallas finally has a joint that can hang with the elite barbecue restaurants in the state. Our recent Posse Favorites Tour confirmed that suspicion. We drove nearly 700 miles and ate at 10 top places over 48 hours. We scored brisket, pork ribs and sausage, the holy trinity of Texas barbecue, on a 10-point scale. In the end, we compiled a list of the six top-scoring spots.…
 - 03/12/2013
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Today in the Dallas Morning News: The BBQ Posse’s Best of Texas picks

Here’s a look at our three-page spread in today’s Dallas Morning News travel section. The Best of Texas BBQ project was published in print and online on dallasnews.com and the DMN iPad app. Dallas Morning News editor Bob Mong shared his thoughts on the Posse in his weekly note to the readers published in today’s paper: I can always stop by photo editor Chris Wilkins’ desk and catch up on the top visual journalism of the day. On many weekends, though, Chris joins the posse — the Texas BBQ Posse, that is. For years, Chris and a group of Dallas…
 - 03/10/2013
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The Fantastic Mr. Fox – Photographing the Best of Texas BBQ tour

Dallas Morning News staffer Tom Fox works the line at Franklin BBQ. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) We had several firsts for the Posse on our recent Best of Texas BBQ Tour. This was the first tour spanning three days and also our first trip taken to rank the top joints in the state. The results will be published in The Dallas Morning News and online on March 10. Another first was to have the Morning News assign a staff photographer to travel with us, documenting the 700-mile journey to the best BBQ joints in Texas. The Posse is made up…
 - 02/28/2013
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Here’s the best comment we’ve ever seen about wood and Texas BBQ

Over the past four years, we’ve gotten a lot of comments from readers about our observations on Texas barbecue. Good or bad, we post them all, with the exception of those with extreme profanity. Texas BBQ is an emotional issue. However, a comment on Gary Jacobson’s Monday post “Memo to Gov. Perry: Texas needs a truth in BBQ law” set a new bar for comments on our blog. A reader tagged as “Anonymous” left a pronouncement that summed it all up better than we could ever do. Here’s an open offer to Anonymous: you have permanent membership in the Posse and…
 - 02/26/2013
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Classic BBQ signs from the Best Of Texas tour

Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q, Tyler. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves) A Posse rule of thumb: The more homemade the sign, the more down home the barbecue. BBQ Signs of our Times is back again, this time with a mix of new and historic photos. This is our sixth blog post on classic BBQ signs. If you happen to see a cool sign while you’re out on the Texas BBQ Trail, please snap a photo and keep us in mind. If you’re a fan of our Texas BBQ Posse Facebook or Twitter page, you can upload a photo for us to include on…
 - 02/19/2013
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First trip to 3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House in Frisco

Diners leave 3 Stacks Smoke and Tap House in Frisco. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) It’s a pretty well-known fact among meat lovers that Collin County has historically been a barbecue wasteland. There are numerous places, but mostly gasser joints cooking unmemorable fare. Nothing remotely approaching the level of Pecan Lodge, MeShack’s or Lockhart Smokehouse, all located south in Dallas County. The folks who just opened 3 Stacks Smoke and Tap House in Frisco hope to change the BBQ landscape in the land of strip malls and restaurant chains. As a resident of Plano, I have high hopes after eating…
 - 02/18/2013
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For sale: A piece of Texas BBQ history

For sale: Snow’s BBQ original catering smoker and trailer. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Want to buy a serious piece of Texas barbecue history? Snow’s BBQ owner Kerry Bexley has a deal for you. One of the fringe benefits of having breakfast at Snow’s on a Saturday morning is talking barbecue with Kerry. From our first visit in Nov. 2009, he’s treated us like family as we’ve caught up on all the Central Texas BBQ gossip. During our trip a week ago he casually mentioned that his original catering rig was for sale, priced at $2750 or best offer. Several…
 - 02/17/2013
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Portraits of the great pitmasters, from Best of Texas BBQ tour

Herschel Tomanetz, Snow’s BBQ, Lexington. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves) Check out this amazing set of portraits by Dallas-based editorial and commercial photographer Daniel Goncalves, featuring the pitmasters behind the BBQ we ate last week on our Best of Texas BBQ tour. Daniel and his wife Magda recently moved to the area from Jacksonville, Florida. His love for both photography and barbecue led him to get in touch the Posse, which is mainly made of photographers, writers and editors from The Dallas Morning News. We invited Daniel to come along and help us document the trip, while eating the best BBQ that…
 - 02/15/2013
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Fargo’s BBQ – New digs, same great BBQ

Fargo’s BBQ co-owners Belender Wells & Alan Caldwell in front of their new sign on 720 N. Texas in Bryan. We dropped in on Fargo’s BBQ’s new location in Bryan as our third of 10 stops of the Top 5 BBQ Tour. They were in their old location five blocks north for 13 years, which didn’t have a dining room. Co-owner Alan Caldwell says the move went smoothly, including moving the original brick pit from the old location, which got broken but was put back together with a little masonry work. Their new location is a former Popeye’s Chicken and…
 - 02/09/2013
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Babb Bros. BBQ & Blues, the new joint in town

Posse members Jim Rossman and Gary Jacobson paid a visit to the newest BBQ joint in town, Babb Bros. BBQ & Blues, located just west of downtown. Jim shares his thoughts on the two-day old restaurant, as follows: We timed it just right at 11:45 am for beating the line at Babb Bros. BBQ & Blues, which was about 20 people deep by noon. The serving line was well staffed. I counted at least a dozen employees on the floor. I got the three-meat plate (brisket, ribs, spicy (cheese) sausage) with two sides for $11. Iced Tea added $2 and…
 - 12/01/2012
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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
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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
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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
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The Barbecue Chronicles: Houston, we have a barbecue problem

The eight stops on the Texas BBQ Posse’s Gulf Coast BBQ Tour.  (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Houston is a wasteland for good barbecue, but Galveston and Bryan aren’t. The main mission on the BBQ Posse’s recent 35-hour, 700-mile barbecue tour to the Texas Gulf Coast and back was to find good smoked meat in Houston. We didn’t. But an hour south, on Galveston Island, we met Leon O’Neal and learned again about the true power of barbecue. O’Neal, who runs Leon’s World Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que House at Broadway and 55th, told us about the cleanup after Hurricane…
 - 06/24/2012
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Just in time for Father’s Day – Here’s an updated list of our favorites

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Dallas Morning News food and travel editor Cathy Barber, who I work with as a photo editor at the paper. The dallasnews.com web team was looking for Father’s Day content and wanted to rerun our list of favorite joints that ran in the DMN travel section and online last fall. “Do you think this story is still pretty solid, or have you guys changed your mind about some of them?,” Cathy asked. Our original list of 12 joints had stirred up a little dust in the BBQ blogosphere. We had intended…
 - 06/14/2012
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The Houston BBQ Tour – A quick look at our itinerary

Here’s a quick look at the itinerary for our first Houston BBQ Tour. Last Friday, we headed south down I-45 for a 700-mile journey, searching for the best smoked meats in the Houston area. Over the next two days, we stopped at eight joints stretching from Huntsville to Galveston. This was our tenth organized BBQ tour since November 2009, when an early-morning visit to Snow’s BBQ in Lexington started an obsession to search for the best BBQ in Texas. Barbecue would never taste the same again after that day. We’ll be writing about the tour in an upcoming travel story…
 - 06/07/2012
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Follow the Texas BBQ Posse on Facebook and Twitter

The Texas BBQ Posse began in November 2009 when six friends took their first BBQ road trip to Central Texas. As we sat beside the smokers at Snow’s BBQ, our lives changed with the first bite of brisket during breakfast at the legendary Lexington joint. Stops at Louie Mueller, Smitty’s and Kreuz Market followed that day. We started the Posse blog shortly thereafter. Since then, we’ve driven 4,000-plus miles of Texas highways and backroads. Whether on organized tours or meandering road trips, we’re always searching for the best BBQ in the state. We’ve reported on our adventures on the blog, on…
 - 05/24/2012
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Katy Trail Ice House: The new kid on the BBQ block

We had the pleasure of checking out the latest serious BBQ player in Dallas on Friday. The Katy Trail Ice House, located on the trail near Reverchon Park, has been cooking BBQ on a huge custom-built smoker for the past two months. The results are quite impressive, especially given the short time they’ve been smoking meats. Alerted by a recent blog post on written by Stephen Doyle on cravedfw, we rounded up a group and headed there for lunch. BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn also rounded up a posse of five from nearby Good Fulton & Farrell, the architecture firm where…
 - 05/05/2012
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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
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UPDATE: Fatboy’s BBQ in Ladonia – Live to ride, ride to eat

UPDATE: Fatboy’s BBQ has moved to a new location in nearby Cooper and opened last April. The new location at 850 W. Dallas Ave. in Cooper gets much higher traffic, but Shannon and Heather will be serving up the same great BBQ. They are open Mon-Fri 10:30am-6 pm. Their new phone number is 903-300-3287. Original post About 80 miles northeast of Dallas, you’ll find some of the best barbecue in North Texas. Fatboy’s BBQ is located on a narrow side street in Ladonia, population 691. It’s well worth the drive or ride from DFW. Shannon Bankston and girlfriend Heather Hoff…
 - 04/10/2012
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Miller’s Smokehouse in Belton might be the best BBQ north of Austin

Brisket sits on the pit at Miller’s Smokehouse Every now and then you hit the motherlode on the Texas BBQ trail. For every 20 mediocre BBQ joints, there’s one good one. For every 50 good ones, there’s one great one. You can add Miller’s Smokehouse in Belton to the list of great ones. We first caught wind of Miller’s last week during BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn’s trip to south Texas. Miller’s has been overshadowed in Belton by the better known Schoepf’s BBQ, which I have always heard is average fare. Daniel, who is knee deep in his book project on the…
 - 03/28/2012

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