Gary Jacobson

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With GreenFlame, I broke Weber’s ‘charcoal vow’

  On the Posse, we’re dedicated chimney users when it comes to starting charcoal. Simple and effective, even if from time to time I have to use a second sheet of newsprint to get the coals going. Posse member Bryan Gooding likes to use a propane torch to start the paper rather than matches or a lighter. Marshall Cooper uses a treated cube or wadded butcher paper with cooking oil. He says newspaper and cooking oil work well too. Still, there are times when I’m in a hurry and just want to get a flame going as quickly as possible,…
 - 09/06/2017

After the fire, could another trailer help reopen Franklin Barbecue?

For a barbecue lover, it might be the saddest sight imaginable: “CLOSED” the sign said. “We had a fire. We will reopen as soon as we can. – The Franklin Family” The sign, hand printed on butcher paper, was taped to the front door of Franklin Barbecue in Austin. Normally, at about noon on a nice summer Thursday, there could be dozens of people in line, ready to taste the best of Texas smoked meats. The original Franklin Barbecue trailer in 2010. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) But no one was in line during my visit. The joint has been…
 - 09/01/2017

The Texas BBQ community responds to Hurricane Harvey

Grant Pinkerton, owner and pitmaster at Pinkerton’s Barbecue in Houston, during a visit in June. (Photo @Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse) There’s a note with a phone number on the door of Pinkerton’s Barbecue in Houston. It’s addressed to all Hurricane Harvey and flood rescue workers who might show up in the middle of the night. “We live right above the restaurant,” owner Grant Pinkerton explains. “The note says, call this number and we’ll come down and cook for you.” The Texas barbecue community has certainly stepped up to the challenge of helping the state’s residents recover from the unprecedented storm.…
 - 08/31/2017

Jones Bar-B-Que — Touting Texas taste in Victoria, B.C.

Combo platter of ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sausage & sides at Jones Bar-B-Que in Victoria, British Columbia. (Photo ©Bryan Gooding) We walked into Jones Bar-B-Que, not far from downtown Victoria, at 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. There was no line. The joint touts its “learned in the pits of Texas” style. “Brisket to blow you away. Pork that’ll put you down for the count. Smoked slow,” Jones’ Web site says. Liam Harlow, the manager who greeted us at the order counter, continued with the hard Texas pitch. Before Harlow got too carried away, though, Posse member Bryan Gooding asked him…
 - 08/25/2017

The Posse’s Top 6 BBQ Bars in Texas

The Smoked Meat Bloody Mary at Lockhart Smokehouse, a true Texas BBQ bar classic. (Photo ©Lockhart Smokehouse) There are times when you need more than Big Red or Lone Star with barbecue. We were reminded of that fact of smoked meat life on our recent tour of Houston joints. One stop was Pinkerton’s Barbecue, which has a full bar off its main dining area. Our favorite barbecue bar remains Lamberts in downtown Austin. But, with Pinkerton’s, there’s now a new challenger. Bars in barbecue places are somewhat rare in Texas. A lot of joints just offer soft drinks and beer.…
 - 08/16/2017

Adamson Barbecue: Great Texas taste in Canada

Customers in the main dining area at Adamson Barbecue in Toronto. (Photo ©Sherry Jacobson/Texas BBQ Posse) Other than too many people wearing Blue Jays baseball caps, there’s a lot about Adamson Barbecue in Toronto — O Canada! — that will remind a Texan of home. — There’s the line of customers that forms well before the joint opens, even in the rain. — The big Texas flag in the main dining room. — The gallery of excellent Robert J. Lerma barbecue photos on the wall, including a portrait of Tootsie Tomanetz, the grand matron of smoked meat at Snow’s BBQ…
 - 08/09/2017

Texas BBQ revolution keeps spreading

  Call me clueless, but I hadn’t realized how far, and fast, the Texas BBQ revolution has spread. Some background: We’re heading soon on a cross-Canada train trip, so I was checking to see if there might be decent barbecue joints on the front end (Toronto) and back end (Victoria, B.C.) of the trip. Sure enough, Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins recommended Adamson Barbecue in Toronto, which has gotten some buzz from aficionados. Notice the lede photo on Adamson’s Facebook page, shown above. Can’t get much more Texas than that. And through a Google search I found Jones Bar-B-Que in Victoria.…
 - 08/01/2017

7 ways to spot great BBQ joints

Arthur Gee works in the smoker room at Pat Gee’s Barbecue, a classic joint in the piney woods east of Tyler. (Photo ©Guy Reynolds) A recent Thrillist story about seven ways to spot fake bbq joints generated lots of comments on our Facebook page, so we thought we’d take a cue and advise you how to spot great bbq joints. Being positive, the Posse thinks, is always better than being negative. That’s not to say the Thrillist item, written by Colleen Rush, is bad. It has excellent advice , i.e., be wary if there’s no wood pile in sight. And…
 - 07/27/2017
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Have the young guns of Texas BBQ won the revolution?

Left to right: Esaul Ramos & Joe Melig of 2M Smokehouse, Leonard Botello of Truth Barbeque and Grant Pinkerton of Pinkerton’s BBQ. (Photos ©Michael Ainsworth & Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Your response to the above question probably depends upon personal taste. Evolving personal taste. At first glance, the answer appears to be a loud YES! The young guns of Texas BBQ have, indeed, taken over from the traditional joints. Look no further than the makeup of Texas Monthly’s recent Top 10 places in the state. Seven of them have either started or reopened operations since 2011, five since 2013. Only…
 - 07/25/2017

Meet the Holy Trinity of Texas BBQ Joints

A customer orders at City Market in Luling, which opened in 1958. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) In Texas, we’re familiar with the Holy Trinity of barbecue meats: brisket, ribs and sausage. How about the Holy Trinity of Texas BBQ joints? For consistent quality and longevity, there’s little argument, at least according to the Bible of Smoked Meat in the Lone Star State. Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Kreuz Market in Lockhart and City Market in Luling are the only places to be on every one of Texas Monthly’s top-joint lists since they debuted in 1973. We owe a huge…
 - 07/18/2017

The bad boy of Texas BBQ is back and cooking up a storm

Customers line up for lunch at John Mueller Black Box Barbecue in Georgetown. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) You can say a lot of things about John Mueller, who some might call the bad boy of Texas barbecue. And, over the years, most of it probably has been said. But the dude can cook! We were reminded of that during a recent visit to a new trailer operation — John Mueller Black Box Barbecue — in Georgetown. “Damn, he’s good,” I blurted, after taking a bite of Mueller’s smoked turkey. I followed with a crusted bite of fatty brisket. Delicious.…
 - 07/12/2017

Why do we have nicknames for BBQ pits?

Owner & pitmaster Grant Pinkerton poses with his matching Klose pits “Waylon” & “Willie” at Pinkerton’s BBQ. We met “Waylon” and “Willie” recently at Pinkerton’s Barbecue in Houston. “You know how to tell the difference?” Grant Pinkerton asked, setting up a punchline about his two big Klose pits. “Willie is always smoking,” Pinkerton said. Why do we have nicknames for BBQ pits and other machines we love? A few years ago, The Atlantic magazine tackled that question and basically determined that we apply human characteristics — names — to machines because it makes us think the machines work for us. Maybe.…
 - 07/05/2017

Recipe: Mr. BBQ’s dried fruit stuffed pork roast recipe

Dried fruit stuffed pork roast on Bruce Bjorkman’s smoker. We’ve known Bruce Bjorkman — Mr. BBQ — for years. He lives in Oregon, but considers Central Texas the barbecue heartland. Can’t argue with those sentiments. Bruce Bjorkman And Bruce knows how to cook. We’ve watched, hungrily from afar, as he regularly posts on Facebook about his smoked meat culinary adventures. Finally, after a recent post, the light went on here at Posse headquarters: We need to get Bruce to give us his recipe. Here it is, for dried fruit stuffed pork roast. Bruce uses a MAK grill, but you can…
 - 06/29/2017

Let the Texas BBQ Posse eat cake, mom says, and we do

Customers line up on a Saturday morning at Truth Barbeque in Brenham, the Posse’s first stop of the trip. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse) At the first stop of the day on a barbecue tour, we almost never order dessert. Plenty of opportunity later for sweets, if we’re still hungry. And so it was at Truth Barbeque in Brenham on a recent Saturday morning. After tasting the joint’s beef rib, brisket, pork ribs, turkey and sausage, we confirmed that Truth deserved every bit of its recent Texas Monthly ranking among the Top 10 places in the state. “I can’t think we’re…
 - 06/26/2017

Texas Monthly’s BBQ rankings, fair or not?

Are Texas Monthly’s barbecue rankings fair? Can you compare a joint open just one day a week to places open six and seven? And a related, but more complicated fairness question: With so much of Texas Monthly’s overall business plan — events, tours, dinners, merchandise — now tied to barbecue, can the magazine look beyond its self interest when it comes to smoked meat? After gurgling below the surface since the release of the latest Top 50 list last month, these issues erupted into full view this week when Ronnie Killen went public to the Houston media. He later elaborated…
 - 06/23/2017

Food, music at Opie’s BBQ make the Posse happy

Our lunch of brisket, ribs, sausage, pork loin & turkey at Opie’s BBQ in Spicewood, with tater tot casserole and butterbeans. The last time Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins visited Opie’s BBQ, on an Easter Sunday four years ago, he was too late for the brisket. In the world of Texas barbecue, that’s called disappointment. So Wilkins was very happy on a recent return visit to the Spicewood joint when we ordered a full platter of brisket, ribs, sausage, pork loin and turkey. The meats are terrific at Opie’s BBQ, but don’t miss the homemade banana pudding either. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas…
 - 06/20/2017

Going forward, a delicate balance for Austin’s Hot Luck Festival

Prime rib galore roasting on spits at the Hot Luck Festival in Austin. Austin’s inaugural Hot Luck Festival of food and music in May attracted 6,500 “patrons,” according to a recent release from the organizers. “Patrons” is an interesting term. In broad form, it includes paying customers as well as those who don’t pay admission, such as guests, clients, sponsors and friends. At Hot Luck’s food events, based on my observations, there were a lot of non-paying attendees. In a follow up email, I asked Courtney Knittel, handling Hot Luck’s public relations, for a breakdown of attendance between the music…
 - 06/18/2017

Ronnie Killen says he’s selling brisket for no profit

Snake River Gold brisket at Killen’s Barbecue in Houston, which goes for $30 a pound. Seeking to improve quality, barbecue maestro Ronnie Killen recently changed brisket suppliers and is now paying so much for raw brisket that he doesn’t make any money on the final, smoked product. “If it means selling brisket for no profit, then that’s what it means,” Killen said on the Houston Chronicle’s BBQ State of Mind podcast Wednesday. “I don’t care.” Killen operates the popular Killen’s Barbecue in suburban Houston. He said on the podcast that he now pays $9.35 a pound for brisket supplied by…
 - 06/15/2017

Tug or no tug on pork ribs? A Posse dialogue

The pork ribs at Truth BBQ in Brenham were excellent, taking no tug to get off the bone. One of the great things about weekend-long barbecue tours is the drive time between stops when Posse members can discuss some of the big philosophical issues regarding smoked meat. We had one of those experiences Saturday on the road to Houston after visiting Truth BBQ in Brenham. We’ll post the full tour story later, but first, the big issue: tug or no tug on pork ribs? There was almost no tug on Truth’s ribs and they were excellent. In texture, they reminded…
 - 06/13/2017

The making of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ list

Without a doubt, it’s the most anticipated and influential list of its kind in Texas and beyond: Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ joints. It boosts business for those places that make it, and generates endless discussion among barbecue fans everywhere. If you have any doubt about the appeal of the list, just Google Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ, or check your Facebook and Twitter feeds over the past couple weeks. Or, view all the coverage the Posse has devoted to the list over the same span. Or, look at the longer lines at many of the top-ranked joints. A new…
 - 06/04/2017
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Top 10 brisket joints for Texas Monthly

Briskets on the smoker at 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio. With all the hullabaloo over the online release of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 barbecue joints early this week, the print edition of the magazine still contained a nice surprise when it arrived Thursday: a list of the top 10 brisket joints in Texas. While seven of them are also among TM’s overall Top 10, three are not, including 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio. Regular readers will remember that Chris Wilkins and I raved about 2M after our first visit there earlier this year. I even argued that it might be the…
 - 05/28/2017
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Big expansion for Hays County Bar-B-Que

The pits burn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at Hays County Bar-B-Que in San Marcos. Jessie Miranda, the general manager at Hays County Bar-B-Que & Catering in San Marcos, is old school. The joint doesn’t use temperature gauges to judge the doneness of its briskets. It’s all about how the meat looks and feels to the touch. “The only thing we probe is poultry, sausage and sometimes a pork chop,” he said. Miranda is also old school in his approach to competition: Bring it on. “We got room to go,” he said. “There’s plenty business for everybody.…
 - 05/25/2017
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Snow’s BBQ, well deserved No. 1 for Texas Monthly

Early Saturday morning light hits the smoker area as pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz works at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington. So we missed — widely — when we predicted last month that Killen’s Barbecue in suburban Houston would be No. 1 on Texas Monthly’s list of the Top 50 joints in Texas. But we applaud — loudly — the magazine’s decision this week to put Snow’s BBQ on top. In all the years the Posse has been touring, breakfast at the Lexington place on a Saturday morning remains our favorite trip. “It’s the ultimate Texas BBQ experience: great food, great people and the…
 - 05/22/2017

2M Smokehouse video: Living the BBQ dream

2M Smokehouse video: Owners Esaul Ramos, left, and Joe Melig at the counter of their San Antonio restaurant. Esaul Ramos, co-owner and pit master at 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio, has some advice for anyone who thinks they might want to smoke meat for a living. “Don’t get into barbecue unless you really, really love it,” Ramos told the Posse recently during a visit to his joint when we also taped a short video in his smokehouse. With a mattress propped against a nearby wall, Ramos explained how he and partner, Joe Melig, literally camp out there during their long…
 - 05/21/2017
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Opening night of Hot Luck Austin at Franklin’s

BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn served a nice steak taco at Hot Luck Austin. Hot Luck Austin, the new food festival, officially opened Thursday night at Franklin Barbecue, near downtown. With the State Capitol building visible, the joint’s “back yard” is a great spot for a party. As normal, though, when Posse member Mike Gagne and I arrived a few minutes before the 6 p.m. start, there was a line. We were 40 or so back. But it moved quickly and there was never much backup at the seven chef stations over the next three hours. The event was open only…
 - 05/19/2017

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