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The Texas BBQ Posse’s Favorite 41

Customers stand in line at the world-famous Franklin Barbecue in Austin. (Photo ©Tom Fox) 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,…
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2M Smokehouse No. 1 Posse Favorite

Lunch spread at 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio, the Posse’s favorite BBQ joint in Texas. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse) If you’re a regular Posse reader, you know that we’ve been high on 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio since it opened a couple years ago. So, naturally, we’d take a close look at the place as we put together the Texas BBQ Posse’s Favorite 41, our list of our favorite joints in the state. After our first visit in the spring of 2017 we wondered if 2M was, in fact, turning out the best barbecue in Texas. After a return…
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Talking BBQ biz with Jerome Faulkner at J. Leonardi’s

Jerome Faulkner, pitmaster at J. Leonardi’s Barbeque in Austin. (Photo ©Tom Fox) Jerome Faulkner at J. Leonardi’s is an excellent pit master. We could tell that after our first visits to his original trailer location on Airport Boulevard in Austin more than a year ago. Faulkner and his partner, former UT and NFL star Cedric Griffin, opened a second location on the near East side late last year and, after operating both spots for a short while, have since closed the place on Airport. Their new place is on 11th Street, short walks from both Franklin Barbecue and Micklethwait Craft…
 - 06/26/2018
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A ‘quantum shift’ in the BBQ universe, all because of Texas

A couple who bailed on the long line at Franklin Barbecue checks out the menu at Micklethwait Craft Meats in Austin. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) It was 10:40 on a recent Sunday morning, 20 minutes before Micklethwait Craft Meats opened for business. There was no line, just five people sitting at tables in front of the little yellow trailer. Across the street, a couple walked toward us from the direction of Franklin Barbecue, a few blocks away near downtown Austin. “Did you just come from Franklin?” I asked when they arrived. “Yes,” they answered. “It didn’t look like that…
 - 04/10/2018
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An “a-ha” moment for the Austin Posse — Driving to Snow’s BBQ is faster than waiting at Franklin

Customers stand in line at 8am on a Saturday at Snow’s BBQ In Lexington. (Photo ©Gary Jacobson/Texas BBQ Posse) Eureka experiences are not uncommon in barbecue. Usually they have something to do with the food. My most recent BBQ “a-ha,” though, had nothing to do with great brisket or ribs and everything to do with time. Waiting time. Living in Austin, I just discovered, it’s actually faster to eat at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington than Franklin Barbecue in Austin, even though it involves a 100-mile roundtrip drive. My home is about three miles from Franklin and 50 miles from Snow’s,…
 - 02/07/2018
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After the fire, kids write letters of encouragement to Franklin Barbecue

Letters from Micah Barcalow’s fourth-grade class hang on the wall at Franklin Barbecue. (Photo ©Gary Jacobson/Texas BBQ Posse) Micah Barcalow teaches fourth-graders in Fort Wayne, Ind. He has never eaten at Franklin Barbecue, 1,200 miles away in Austin, Tex. But he did read Aaron Franklin’s book, Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto. Barcalow says the book and its lessons — for barbecue and life — changed him, making him more willing to try new things and learn from doing. An excellent lesson for fourth-graders, too. That’s why Barcalow has inspirational quotes from the book — “Words of Wisdom from Aaron Franklin,”…
 - 02/02/2018
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Long BBQ line good, says Posse newcomer

Franklin Barbecue owner Aaron Franklin gives Gary Jacobson a tour of his new smokehouse, which is still under renovation following their fire in August. (Photo ©Daniel Gonclaves/fotobia.com) In addition to great food, one of the best parts of a barbecue tour is the wisdom it can generate. “The line is a good thing,” Dan Maguire said, sounding like a Socrates of Smoked Meat rather than a Posse newcomer. “It lets the food settle before we eat again.” It was about 1:30 or so on a recent Saturday afternoon and we had just arrived at la Barbecue in Austin. The BBQ…
 - 01/24/2018
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Don’t discount Amazon BBQ factor for HQ2

Customers stand in line at the world-famous Franklin Barbecue in Austin. (Photo ©Tom Fox( Yes, public transportation and a solid workforce are important, but don’t overlook the Amazon BBQ factor as the online shopping giant decides where to put its much heralded, and much sought after, second headquarters, HQ2. After reviewing the list of 20 finalists that Amazon recently released, the Posse thinks world class barbecue might just give an edge to Austin. A total of nearly 240 communities made bids to Amazon, based in Seattle. There is obviously great barbecue in the city of Austin, including Franklin Barbecue. But…
 - 01/19/2018
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Check out the top Posse Stories in 2017

Our trip to Texas Monthly Top 50 newcomer Truth Barbeque in Brenham was one of the best meals the Posse had in 2017. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) As Texas BBQ Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins observes, when Texas Monthly comes out with its Top 50 list of joints every four years, “it’s the Super Bowl of BBQ.” So, it’s no surprise that five of the 10 top Posse stories in 2017 were related to TM’s list. For this post, we’re defining top as most read. And, right at the very top, we batted .500 in our fearless barbecue predictions. Franklin…
 - 12/28/2017
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Franklin Barbecue targets first week of November for re-opening

Smokers sit in the burned out smokehouse of Austin’s Franklin Barbecue in early October. (Photo ©Gary Jacobson/Texas BBQ Posse) Call it serendipity. I stopped by Franklin Barbecue near downtown Austin this morning just to check on rebuilding progress since an August fire closed the place. And there was Aaron Franklin, red socks and all, talking barbecue to a couple in a big SUV. “They’re from Wisconsin,” Franklin told me, smiling, after he had finished. Yes, the most famous pit master in the world, even in the midst of major reconstruction, still makes time for his fans. The news from this…
 - 10/19/2017
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The best BBQ books of all time

New barbecue books appear regularly, a testament to the enduring popularity of a distinctly American food and the people who created and continue the traditions. Earlier this year, for example, I received a review copy of Texas BBQ, written by a Swede. The book was making its way to the U.S. after being published a few years ago in Sweden and the United Kingdom. Lone Star barbecue has fans everywhere. While Jonas Cramby’s book is a serviceable take on the Texas barbecue phenomenon, it’s not what we’re looking for in this post. With the help of other Posse members, we…
 - 09/28/2017
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Franklin Barbecue hopes to re-open in ‘next two weeks’

Repairs at Franklin Barbecue appear to be progressing on schedule and the world famous Austin joint hopes to reopen for business in a couple weeks, Stacy Franklin says. We were in the neighborhood of Franklin on Wednesday and drove by to see how the rebuilding was going. There were workers on the roof, and it was evident that repairs were well underway. The place has been closed since a fire the morning of Aug. 26. Afterward, Aaron Franklin said the place would be closed for at least a month. “We are hoping to open in the next two weeks,” Stacy wrote…
 - 09/07/2017
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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
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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
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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
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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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Why we wait in long barbecue lines

Diners stand in line as they wait to order on a recent Saturday at Cattleack BBQ in Dallas. The idea about barbecue lines started simply enough during our recent visit to Micklethwait Craft Meats in Austin. “Why would you wait in line at Franklin when you can get this so close?” Sherry Jacobson wondered as she ate some of Micklethwait’s brisket, every bit as fine as what you could get a few blocks away at world famous Franklin Barbecue. And there was almost no line at Micklethwait. So we assembled an email roundtable of the Posse, all line-standing veterans, to…
 - 05/17/2017
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New look for Micklethwait Craft Meats, same great brisket

Three-meat plate with fatty brisket, a big pork rib, and knockwurst sausage & sides at Micklethwait Craft Meats. Micklethwait Craft Meats, the excellent barbecue joint near downtown Austin, had a new look when we stopped there for lunch this week. “Gussied up” was the term that immediately came to mind, though it might be a tad high brow for a trailer operation. But it sure looked nice. The space leading to and under the service windows is now covered with pea gravel and several large concrete pavers, and a new planter near the main seating was ready for some greenery. Before,…
 - 05/11/2017
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Fargo’s brisket might be best BBQ value in Texas

Brisket, chicken, pork ribs & sausage at Fargo’s BBQ in Bryan, a favorite stop for the Posse. Frugal isn’t a word I’d use to describe the Posse. When we see something at a joint that looks good, we order it, whatever the price. But as we’ve journeyed the Texas BBQ trail the past couple weeks, I’ve been struck by brisket prices: $22 a pound at Franklin Barbecue, $24 at LeRoy and Lewis, the excellent new trailer joint in south Austin, $20 or so at several other places. Fargo’s BBQ co-owner Belender Wells shows their new barbecue sauce.(Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ…
 - 04/21/2017
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Killen’s will be #1 on Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ list, the Posse predicts

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…
 - 04/19/2017
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Prediction: Franklin Barbecue won’t be No. 1 on Texas Monthly’s new Top 50 list

The BBQ world is anxiously awaiting the release of the 2017 Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ list next month. If Blackie Sherrod were writing this column, he would call it Scattershooting while wondering if Geddy Lee still loves Texas barbecue. . . Sherrod, of course, was a legendary newspaper columnist. After he died last year, his obituary in The Dallas Morning News began: “Blackie Sherrod, the greatest Texas sportswriter of his generation or any other, now and forevermore, died Thursday afternoon at age 96.” Kevin Sherrington, a good wordsmith himself, wrote that. Sherrington tells me Blackie’s food tastes tended toward…
 - 04/12/2017
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Inflation watch: Franklin’s barbecue and Austin home prices on same track

All sold out at the original Franklin Barbecue trailer in Nov. 2010. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins sent me a photo the other day from a trip we made to the original Franklin Barbecue in November of 2010. It shows the front of Aaron Franklin’s little trailer in Austin and his barbecue prices at the time. “Sweet memories,” Wilkins said in his email subject line. Indeed. Franklin then sold his terrific brisket for $13 a pound. Now it’s $20 a pound, a nearly 54 percent increase. Ribs were $11 a pound then; now $17, also a…
 - 11/11/2016
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The Posse returns to Central Texas and not a bad bite of barbecue was had

The Texas BBQ Posse returns to Snow’s BBQ in Lexington. (L-R) Mark Vamos, Jim Rossman, Bruce Tomaso, Chris Wilkins, Michael Ainsworth, Gary Jacobson, Daniel Goncalves & Tom Fox. (Photo ©Tom Fox) We weren’t on the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston. And it wasn’t snowing. Still, James Taylor would have liked the scene. In the early morning sun, a white frosting covered the fields along the highway from Austin to Lexington, Texas. Ice crystals glistened, almost as if they made their own light. It was a nice way to begin a barbecue tour, especially since we were headed to Snow’s BBQ,…
 - 02/04/2016
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More photos from the Return to Austin BBQ Tour

Tending the late-night pits at Freedmen’s Bar, Austin. (Photo ©Tom Fox) One of the great rewards after a Texas BBQ tour is looking back on our trip through the eyes of Posse member Tom Fox.  We’ve written about Tom’s amazing work before, he’s a staff photographer at The Dallas Morning News and a 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner for his work on the Morning News photo team coverage of Hurricane Katrina. We consider Tom to be one of the top visual storytellers documenting the Texas BBQ trail. Along with our friend Wyatt McSpadden, the godfather of Texas BBQ photography, Tom brings the unique beauty…
 - 02/02/2016
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More evidence that Lockhart has lost its barbecue magic

Smitty’s Market oak wood pile & the Caldwell County courthouse. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) On our way back to Dallas from our recent Houston-area barbecue tour, all 6 Posse members on the trip listed their top 5 joints in the state, in no particular order. Specific criteria probably varied from person to person, but these would be places we’d drive across the state to eat at or recommend to good friends that they do the same. Since then, we’ve been asked to run each person’s top 5. Those lists are below. Three joints mentioned by each of us: Killen’s…
 - 02/01/2015

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