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Hipster pitmasters? Young guns of BBQ? Resurgence of Texas tradition? There's a BBQ revolution happening and we don't know what to call it

Pecan Lodge pitmaster Justin Fourton and his infamous "Slim Pickins" sign. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves) As Posse member Jim Rossman and I ate at Pecan Lunch Thursday, we talked about how to characterize what's happening now in Texas barbecue. Something big is going on and it needs a name. We had just heard BBQ Snob and new Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn call it a "resurgence." He referred to young pitmasters, like Justin Fourton at Pecan Lodge, adopting the old school ways and using only wood to cook for a new generation of barbecue fans. (Note: To hold our place,…
 - 04/08/2013

Our first Posse wedding and our first taste of John Lewis' pitmaster magic at La Barbecue in Austin

Ali cuts Easter brisket at La Barbecue "Cuisine Texicana" in Austin. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Over a three-day period recently, Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins and I each ate at La Barbecue "Cuisine Texicana" the trailer start-up in Austin featuring pitmaster John Lewis -- and free beer. Comparing notes later, we agreed that La Barbecue would have fared well in our recent Best of Texas Tour. We didn't include it because the joint opened last November and has been operating only a few months. Longevity is a consideration. On this trip, we went to Austin for the wedding of Posse members…
 - 04/05/2013

BBQ Signs of Our Times is back

Country Kitchen, Lampasas. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) A Posse rule of thumb: The cooler the sign, the better the barbecue. Nine times out of ten this has proved true. BBQ Signs of our Times is back once again,with some memorable signs from our last trip to the Hill Country and points in between. This is our seventh blog post on classic BBQ signs. You can use the search box in the upper right of the Posse blog homepage if you'd like to see some other sign posts, just search "BBQ Signs of Our TImes". If you happen to see a…
 - 04/02/2013

The 10 top posts of all-time on the Texas BBQ Posse blog

Posse members toast at Loco Coyote Grill in Glen Rose during our Brazos & Beyond BBQ Tour. (Photo©R.J. Hinkle) We missed a couple of important Posse milestones recently. So, forgive us a few moments of backslapping as we catch up. The very first item on this blog was posted March 7, 2010, just over three years ago. It likely will never be a trivia question, like "what was the first video played on MTV?" (Answer: Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles.) But, still, it's kinda sentimental to us. The item was about our first trip to the Central…
 - 03/22/2013

Bikes, Blues and Barbecues: A father and son hit the Texas BBQ Trail on 2 wheels

Tim Landauer poses in front of the Texas Capitol, left. Son Robby rides between Taylor and Austin. Here at Posse headquarters, we've been feeling pretty good about ourselves and the nearly 700-mile Best of Texas Tour that we did -- by car -- over a long weekend. Then we got an email from Tim Landauer, a North Texas resident who, with his son, Robby, took a 6-day, 276-mile tour of the Central Texas barbecue heartland by bicycle last May. They ate at five of the same joints we did and arrived at the same conclusion: "Franklin's is the best we…
 - 03/18/2013

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

Memo to Gov. Perry: Texas needs a truth in BBQ law

Last week on the Posse's Facebook page, we had a good discussion with readers about the use of real wood or other means to smoke barbecue. One reader, Mark "The Hogfather" Gabrick, suggested that we lead an initiative to get Texas to pass a truth in barbecue law. Or, more simply, we should designate joints that use only wood as "Posse approved." Gotta admit, that last phrase does have a nice ring. The Hogfather noted that "Carolina" passed a similar law a while back, which sent us scrambling to the Internet archives to substantiate. Indeed, in 1986, Gov. Richard Riley…
 - 02/25/2013

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

Running into the BBQ Snob is a good sign

  Daniel Vaughn, aka: The BBQ Snob, at Snow's BBQ in Lexington. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Running into your “barbecue friends” out in the wild is really a pleasant surprise. Twice this year I’ve run into Daniel Vaughn, a barbecue blogger and author who’s tireless pursuit of great smoked meat has benefitted us all. I’m never surprised to run into Daniel at a restaurant, because if I see him, I know I’m in for some good barbecue. I always look over my shoulder for Daniel when I eat at a new place, like Fargo’s new location in Bryan. I…
 - 02/16/2013

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

Still no joint of his own, but Clyde Biggins wins more BBQ fans

The first time we sampled the cooking of Clyde Biggins, the former Dallas BBQ king who is trying to make a comeback after nearly 17 years in prison, we arrived with about 10 Posse members and friends. The food was great. So was the company. That was a month ago. Since then, Clyde's fame has grown, even though he still doesn't have a joint of his own, just a portable smoker. When we arrived Friday for another lunch sampler, we were more than 30 strong, all anxious to taste Clyde's brisket, ribs and sausage. "It was better than the first…
 - 07/27/2012

Posse members react to Clyde Biggins' BBQ

There is no shortage of opinions on the Texas BBQ Posse. Often we differ among ourselves. That wasn't the case when we ate lunch last week at Clyde Biggins' house. We all agreed that the former Dallas BBQ King, trying to make a comeback after nearly 17 years in prison, can still cook. Here are comments from Posse members there: Michael Ainsworth: Took me back to a different time, when it was just a bunch of friends getting together for food and fun. It's not re-creatable. It just is. Chris Wilkins: What a great setting for a Friday afternoon BBQ…
 - 06/26/2012

Clyde is back, cooking some of the best BBQ in Dallas, but you can't buy it

Sometimes, the only place to start is at the beginning. In early January 2010, a large manilla envelope came to me in the mail from the federal prison in Fort Worth. A reader commented on a story I had written for The Dallas Morning News about the Posse's very first barbecue tour, to the Central Texas BBQ heartland. "It's all good," the reader wrote. "'But' have you really tasted the best barbecue in Texas?" The reader said his name was Clyde Biggins and that he once owned "Clyde's Old Fashion Hickory Smoked Barbecue" on Westmoreland Road in Dallas. "'Note,'" Biggins…
 - 06/25/2012

About the iguana who thought he was a cat and the python who only eats rats

On a barbecue tour, there is no such thing as down time. Even the long drives bring surprises. Last year, returning to Dallas from East Texas, we decided that someone should call out Texas Monthly for including joints that use gas-fired pits in its Top 50 BBQ rankings. We did just that, eventually engaging TM food editor Pat Sharpe in a constructive discussion about the magazine's selection criteria. Sometimes, we just learn interesting things about our fellow Posse members. On the first leg of our recent 35-hour, 700-mile dash to the Gulf Coast and back, Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins talked…
 - 06/22/2012

Professor Rossman explains the BBQ star system

So we're sitting in our bring-your-own chairs on the narrow sidewalk outside of Fargo's Pit BBQ in Bryan during our recent tour, loudly licking our fingers after eating some fine brisket, ribs, chicken and sausage. "I like everything," I said. "That's rare," Posse member Jim Rossman said. "A five-star place is good at everything. A six-star place is good at everything all the time. Consistency." Rossman, a technology expert at The Dallas Morning News when he isn't visiting pawn shops and eating barbecue, did an authoritative job explaining the star-rating system that the Posse borrows from Daniel Vaughn, the BBQ…
 - 06/18/2012

The Posse takes a beach break in Galveston

For me, a little beach goes a long way. So, during the Posse's 45-minute beach break in Galveston last weekend, midway through a 700-mile, 35-hour barbecue tour, I mainly watched the pelicans dive-bombing for fish. At times, I'd swear those big birds were flying in attack formation. Phil Lamb, an attorney and also the wheelman on the tour in his Chevy Tahoe, fished from a rocky breakwater nearby. He caught one small mullet and 15 pounds of seaweed. Chris Wilkins, a photo editor at The Dallas Morning News, shucked his shoes and walked into the surf for a while. Then…
 - 06/09/2012

Avoiding the dreaded barbecue belch

On a barbecue tour, sometimes wisdom sneaks up on you. And so it was in Galveston on Saturday when Leon O'Neal told us his secret to preventing his customers from burping after they ate his smoked meat. Use dry wood, the owner of Leon's World's Finest In and Out B-B-Q said, standing in front of a tall wall of cut oak. "That's where the after belch comes from." In other words, sappy wood is burping bad. Some might put this wisdom in the same category as always buy brisket from the left side of the cow, which we wrote about a…
 - 06/05/2012

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

Is reality TV stardom in Aaron Franklin's future? BBQ Pitmasters season 3 update

BBQ Pitmasters season 3 will begin filming tomorrow at the Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel competition in Tupelo, Mississippi. The big news for Texas BBQ followers is that Austin BBQ pitmaster/owner Aaron Franklin will be joining the upcoming season of BBQ Pitmasters as a judge. BBQ entrepreneur and author Myron Mixon, of Jack's Old South BBQ, has already anounced he will be back as a judge on the show. Championship pitmaster Tuffy Stone will also be joining the judging team. He was a major player on season one of BBQ Pitmasters and has great respect in competition circles. He also…
 - 03/15/2012

John Mueller challenges Aaron Franklin to one-on-one cookoff

UPDATE: I phoned Aaron Franklin earlier today and he quickly agreed to do the showdown with the only hesitation being his busy upcoming agenda. We planned to talk again soon about the details and coordinate a date that works for everyone. We talked how the showdown will be a very positive spirited thing, something that would be really be cool and fun to do, with proceeds donated to charity. Afterwards John Mueller replied via text, "it sounds cool and think it would be best to wait til summer because thru June there is something every week". We are planning on…
 - 03/07/2012

Details are leaking out on BBQ Pitmasters season 3

We've been watching closely as little tidbits have been floating to the surface on season three of BBQ Pitmasters on TLC. Posse pitmaster Marshall Cooper and I were over visiting Jambo BBQ pit builder Jamie Geer in Burelson last month when we first caught wind of the new season. Jamie casually mentioned that a producer from Pitmasters had just called him that morning and TLC was proceeding with another season. Besides building world-class BBQ pits, Jamie has been cooking at BBQ competitions for years. He was a winner on season one of the show. I'm not sure if he'll be on the…
 - 02/28/2012

More BBQ Signs of Our Times

Odom’s Bar-B-Que, 1971 Singleton Boulevard, Dallas. 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 fifth 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 page, you can upload a photo for us to include on a future BBQ signs…
 - 02/25/2012

Once last shot: FSA photographer Russell Lee and the 1940 Pie City Fair

I wanted to share one last batch of Farm Security Administration (FSA) photos shot by Russell Lee. These were shot during a free community BBQ at the Pie Town (NM) Fair in 1940. As a photojournalism student at the University of Missouri in the early 1980s, I was exposed to his work along with fellow FSA staffers including Dorthea Lange, Gordon Parks, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans and Walker Evans. Outside of Life magazine in its heyday, this has to be the most talented photo staff ever assembled. Their documentation of the Great Depression gives us an irreplaceable visual record of the struggles and…
 - 02/09/2012

Casting call for the Aaron Franklin-John Mueller BBQ movie

Just finished the February Texas Monthly cover story about Aaron Franklin and John Mueller and it is a very nice read. Posse member Mike Gagne even thinks the tale of the novice pitmaster (Franklin) and the troubled master (Mueller) would make a great movie. Tobey Maguire as Franklin? Sean Penn as Mueller? One pivotal scene in any movie would certainly have to be when Franklin had his barbecue epiphany at Louie Mueller Barbecue in 2002. "I think I might have cried a little bit," Franklin told Texas Monthly of his reaction after his first taste of Mueller's brisket. When the…
 - 02/01/2012

More historic BBQ photos from the files of the Farm Security Administration

Here's another set of barbecue photos from the collection of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) photo archive. These were shot in 1940 by photojournalist Russell Lee at a free community barbecue picnic on Labor Day in Ridgway, Colorado. After my blog post last week on FSA images of Texas BBQ, I spent some more time going through their photo archive searching "barbecue." I found an amazing set of color photos from a community BBQ in New Mexico, also shot in 1940 by Russell Lee, a rarity as almost all FSA images were shot on black & white film. I'll put…
 - 12/30/2011

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