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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, 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.

The Posse digs into a platter of meats & sides at Guess Family Barbecue in Waco. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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.

A couple who bailed on the line at Franklin Barbecue checks out the menu at Micklethwait Craft Meats in Austin. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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.

The U.S. flag flies in front of Snows BBQ in Lexington. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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.

Cattleack BBQ in north Dallas ranks among the Posse’s Top 10 joints in Texas. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Dallas/Fort Worth region     

BBQ on the Brazos, Cresson: After a short hiatus when they lost their lease, BBQ on the Brazos is back and as good as ever. Their new location is nearby in the Motorsport Ranch. BBQ on the Brazos, Performance Ct, Cresson, 817-396-4758. Open Tues-Sat 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.

Pitmaster & owner Michael Wyont greets customers at Flores Barbecue in Whitney. (Photo @David Woo/Texas BBQ Posse)

Flores Barbecue, Whitney: If you’re driving past Hillsboro on I-35, Flores is a must-stop detour a few miles to the west on SH 22. It might just be the best value for great BBQ in Texas. Flores Barbecue, 2222 SH 22, Whitney, 254-580-3576. Open Thurs–Fri 11am-4pm, Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-2pm. EDITOR’S NOTE: Flores BBQ has announced their last day in Whitney will be Feb 3rd, they are moving to Fort Worth. We will update their info when available.

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 serves some of the best smoked meats in DFW from their Frisco & McKinney locations. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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.

Customers order lunch on a Saturday morning at Smoke Sessions Barbecue in Royse City, east of Dallas. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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.

Jordan Jackson, owner & pitmaster, poses beside the historic sign for Bodacious Bar-B-Q, which originally opened in 1968 & was reopened by Jackson in 2015.  (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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.

Pitmaster & owner Grant Pinkerton works a homemade cinder block pit he set..

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A.J. Ramirez shows off his lunch at the grand opening for Hurtado Barbecue in Arlington. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

The barbecue scene in Arlington just got stronger last Saturday with the grand opening of Hurtado Barbecue.

Pitmaster Brandon Hurtado has set up shop outside of Division Brewing, located on Main Street just north of the UT-Arlington campus. They will be open on Saturdays from 11am until the meat is gone for now, though Brandon says they may expand to Sundays or Fridays in the near future.

The barbecue trailer operation is the culmination of a dream for Brandon, who owns and runs a digital marketing agency, ANKR Marketing, in his day job.

We asked Brandon how his background in marketing and advertising has helped him in the BBQ journey.

“The margins in marketing and BBQ are vastly different. Having owned my company for nearly five years, I have clients and employees to take care of, which is why I can’t go full time in BBQ right now. The marketing experience has absolutely helped in the BBQ journey and I consider it a competitive edge to get the word out about our food to people who otherwise may have never known about us. I just want to feed people great food.”

The Posse’s Michael Ainsworth first put Hurtado on our radar as he tried them several times earlier this year during popups at his favorite brewery. He called their brisket as good as he’s had in Dallas, obviously others agree as Brandon has gained a strong following in a relatively short length of time.

He learned to cook from his parents and grandparents, but no one in the family had worked in a restaurant. He says, “we’ve always just had a passion for food. Lots of trial and error has led to what Hurtado Barbecue is today.”

As Posse readers know, our favorite food group these days is Texican-style BBQ, hands down. We think it’s incredible to see the recent growth in DFW between Zavala’s in Grand Prairie, Flores BBQ re-opening in Fort Worth in April, and now Hurtado Barbecue.

The grand opening crowd lines up at Hurtado Barbecue, outside of Division Brewing in Arlington. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

Brandon says, “I absolutely consider our food Texican or Tex-Mex. I’m really big on being different from everyone else, hence the smoked quail and other items. We’ll have beef belly burnt ends on the menu soon as well. I love Flores and Zavala’s food, Michael (Wyont of Flores) and Joe (Zavala) are great guys who I look up to.”

Besides serving the Texas BBQ staples of brisket, sausage, beef and pork ribs on Saturday, Brandon served smoked quail and pork belly burnt ends. Sides were smoked elotes, hatch chile mac and cheese, serrano lime slaw and charro beans, along with fresh tortillas, of course.

Between 250 and 300 hungry BBQ fans lined up for the grand opening, Brandon was excited for what the future holds for the young BBQ joint.

“Saturday was great – we learned a lot. This entire journey is a learning process. I’m looking at ways to increase our capacity, speed up the line and serve more people, more quickly.”

He sums up his BBQ dream like this, “Barbecue has been a blessing in my life, and one that I didn’t expect to grow so quickly. I have such a passion for food and hope that shines through each time someone eats at Hurtado Barbecue. I named the company after our last name because my grandpa Robert who was the patriarch of our family, took such pride in our name and heritage. He passed in 2005 but his legacy lives on through this journey. I think he would be really proud and I know my parents are.”

Hurtado Barbecue, 506 E Main St., Arlington, 682-401-7888. Open Sat. 11am-until the meat runs out. You can pre-order online for pick up Saturday.

Lunch tray with six meats at Hurtado Barbecue. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

Family and friends pose for a photo at Hurtado Barbecue’s grand opening. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

Smoked quail and pork belly burnt ends at Hurtado Barbecue. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

Hurtado Barbecue owner and pitmaster Brandon Hurtado. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

Pit builder A.J. Ramirez digs into his lunch at Hurtado Barbecue. A.J. is the owner of AJ’s Custom Cookers. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

Amy Copeland, left, serves a customer at Hurtado Barbecue’s grand opening. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

Beef rib and sausage at Hurtado Barbecue. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

Fellow pitmasters show their support at the Hurtado Barbecue grand opening. L-R: A.J. Ramirez, Marc Smith, Brandon Hurtado, Dayne Weaver and Darrell Byers. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

The post See the photos: Hurtado Barbecue grand opening in Arlington appeared first on Texas BBQ Posse.

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Friends & family enjoy a party at Zavala’s Barbecue’s new location on 421 W. Main St. in Grand Prairie. Zavala’s will reopen this Saturday Feb. 16th. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

Great news for DFW smoked meat lovers, Zavala’s Barbecue reopens in their new location this Saturday, February 16th. The Posse got a sneak peek last weekend as partners Joe Zavala Jr. and Drew Wright fired up the pit and invited friends and family for a soft opening party.

Zavala’s originally opened as a pop-up across from the Farmer’s Market on Main Street in downtown Grand Prairie last March. They quickly gained a loyal following, bringing great Texican barbecue to the DFW area. Our first visit on Cinco de Mayo, their eighth week in business, was one of the most impressive first impressions we had ever experienced at a BBQ joint.

Zavala’s closed their original pop-up in late September, after purchasing a historic building a couple of blocks down the street at 421 W. Main St. Built in 1946 to house a then-new restaurant chain, Weber’s Root Beer stand, the distinctive building required extensive renovation and updates, including a new smokehouse that will house two 1000-gallon offset smokers. The renovation ended up taking four months.

As in the past, they will be open only on Saturdays but are open to adding at least one Friday a month as business picks up.  “From there, we’ll see where it takes us,” said co-owner Joe Zavala Jr.

All the offerings on their past menu will remain the same, but they plan on adding several new items including more handmade sausage options and are going to experiment with a brisket boudin. They also plan to add some hot side dishes, but will phase these in as they get their workflow down.

They will continue to accept pre-orders, which will require a three-pound minimum order. You can pick up your pre-order from 10am-10:30am.

The doors open for diners at 11am, so get there early and prepare to experience some of the best barbecue you’ll eat in the DFW area.

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.

Cameron Tryggvason works the cutting board at the new Zavala’s Barbecue. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

Gabe Valdez, left, of 44 Farms greets Jose Zavala, 8 months old, as dad Joe Jr. & mom Christan look on. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

The team at Zavala’s Barbecue, clockwise from top left: C.J. Ramirez, Cameron Tryggvason, Drew Wright, Joe Zavala Jr., Jose Zavala & Christan Zavala.  (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

Our lunch spread at the soft opening party at the new Zavala’s Barbecue. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

BBQ enthusiast & legendary Texas Rangers announcer Eric Nadel stops by the soft opening at Zavala’s Barbecue. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

A party-goer drips BBQ sauce on their brisket & cole slaw taco creation at the new Zavala’s. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

Joe Zavala Jr., right, entertains guests with some pit talk in the smoker room at the new Zavala’s Barbecue. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

The new location of Zavala’s Barbecue, 412 W. Main St. in Grand Prairie, with the addition of a smokehouse and extensive renovations to the existing historic property. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

The Zavalas pose for photos with family & friends at the soft opening party. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

Brix the dog samples the goods at Zavala’s Barbecue, he’s the mascot for Brix Barbecue, an up-and-coming pop-up in Fort Worth. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

The post Sneak peek: Zavala’s Barbecue reopens this weekend in Grand Prairie appeared first on Texas BBQ Posse.

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Pitmaster & owner Michael Wyont greets customers at Flores Barbecue in Whitney. (Photo @David Woo/Texas BBQ Posse)

If the Texas BBQ Posse has a fault, it might be it’s bluntness. We talk bluntly — positively and otherwise — about our favorite food, barbecue.

So, on a recent Saturday while I was telling Michael Wyont, pitmaster and owner of Flores Barbecue in Whitney, how much the Posse liked everything he served, I added that at least one of us could have used a little vinegar sauce on the side with Wyont’s wonderful pulled pork.

“You can go to Carolina, get you some, and bring it back,” Wyont said.

Boom! Bluntness, it seems, is not the sole domain of the Posse, especially when, like Wyont,  you follow the Texas creed of no-sauce.

Flores Barbecue, located an hour or so south of the Dallas area, was the first of three stops on this meat-eating journey into central Texas. Other places visited were Guess Family Barbecue in Waco and Green’s Sausage House in Zabcikville, east of Temple.

The Posse contingent started 11 strong, including long-time members who are retirees from — like me — and former employees of The Dallas Morning News, and newbies like Jason Shane of HangryQ.com, who shot video.

Posse members Michael Meadows, left, and Gary Jacobson order at Flores Barbecue. (Photo @David Woo/Texas BBQ Posse)

But the weather — it rained on and off all day — and a related  equipment failure on my car cut our numbers. Only Morning News photographer Tom Fox and his brother, Tracy, made it to all three places. Tom drove 333 miles roundtrip from his home in Arlington. From my house in Austin, the trip to Flores is about 140 miles one way.

As usual, Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins, set the itinerary. He had wanted to get the group to Flores since he first visited the joint a couple months ago. He loved the food and the prices: $20 a pound for brisket and beef ribs, $8 a half-pound for pork ribs and pulled pork, $12 for a two-meat plate with two sides.

“That two-meat plate is a steal,” Wilkins said, noting that the plate includes a half-pound of meat.

We sampled brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, jalapeño sausage and a beef rib, served on Saturdays.

“That’s crazy good,” Posse member Jim Rossman said of the beef rib.

“It’s not often that you eat pulled pork and go, wow!,” Wilkins said. He was also fond of the jalapeño corn side dish, calling it one of the best sides he has ever had at a barbecue joint.

A plate of brisket, pork ribs & pulled pork with jalapeño corn & Spanish rice sides at Flores Barbecue. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

“Did anyone have anything that wasn’t outstanding?” Bruce Tomaso asked the group after we ate.

“No,” was the unanimous answer.

Even the homemade tortillas, served instead of the white bread that many places offer, drew praise.

“Those are the best tortillas I’ve had in my life,” said Brandon Lesley, creative director at Funimation, who was making his first trip with the Posse. “Nice and soft. Not dry.”

Flores, named in honor of Wyont’s mother’s maiden name, is a relatively new operation. Wyont and his wife, Hali, opened a trailer in San Marcos in 2016, moved it to Whitney at the end of that year and into the current building, a former bar, in mid-2017.

Texas Monthly included Flores in its Top 50 list of the best joints in the state that year. The Posse would put Flores in its Top 10. It’s that good. On barbecue tours, Posse members are usually pretty disciplined about how much they eat at any one place. At Flores, some of us broke that rule.

Wyont says that some days his place is very busy and sometimes not. On the day we visited, there were 12 people in line at 11:15 a.m., a few minutes after opening. Just before noon, there were about three dozen people eating in the dining room and at tables outside, and only seven people in line. Can’t imagine what that line would have been if Flores were located in Dallas or Austin.

Pitmaster Ryan Amthor shows off a lunch tray at Guess Family Barbecue in Waco. (Photo ©David Woo/Texas BBQ Posse)

Our next stop was Guess Family Barbecue in Waco, a trailer operation located about a block from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market. As you might surmise from the popularity the couple gained with their TV show, Fixer Upper, parking was tough. We found a spot on a side street a couple blocks away.

Walking into Guess, the first thing you notice is the lettering on the end of the serving trailer:

“Old School
Texas Barbecue
The Same Kind
Jesus Ate.”

You might dispute the slogan’s accuracy, but it’s certainly catchy.

Guess, open for about two years, is truly a family operation. When we arrived about 1:30 p.m., Sara Guess was there with her two children, Elliot, 7, and Emmi, 3. Reid Guess was in a nearby garage working on a pit he was building for a customer.

Elliott Guess, 7, takes orders at his family’s Guess Family Barbecue. With him are his friend, Ryan Hayes, right, also 7, and server Brandi Alejandro. (Photo ©David Woo/Texas BBQ Posse)

When we ordered a big sampler plate of brisket, ribs, pulled pork and jalapeño sausage, Elliot and a friend were helping behind the counter.

“He likes the business side of things,” Reid told us later about his son. “He’s all into marketing and advertising.”

“He’s been doing this since we started,” Sara said of her son.

Note to Aaron Franklin: Keep an eye on Elliot Guess.

Ryan Amthor is one of the pitmasters at Guess. From this location near Magnolia, he also helps cook for three other Guess trailers around town. The pit is literally fired around the clock, Amthor explained, with different items going on and coming off in regular rotation.

On the menu board, the chicken and turkey offerings were already crossed out. “Our chicken and turkey are really good,” Amthor said. “But our first three customers today bought me out of them.”

The Posse digs into a platter of meats & sides at Guess Family Barbecue in Waco. (Photo ©David Woo/Texas BBQ Posse)

On barbecue tours, the order of hitting joints can be important. Such was the case with Guess. The food was good, but most of the meats did not quite compare to those we had just eaten at Flores.

The exception was the sausage.

“That sausage is the bomb,” Posse member Michael Meadows said.

“The last place, the meat and the cheese were separate,” Tom Fox said. “This place, it was like they were all together.”

If you’re not a sausage fan, it may be a little hard to understand exactly what Tom was getting at. But if you are a fan, you’ll know.

“Flores probably had Guess on the other meats, but this is good stuff,” Wilkins said. “This is the best barbecue anywhere around here (Waco), no question.”

When Reid Guess finishes with the pit for his customer, he plans to build three 1,000-gallon pits for a bricks-and-mortar location that the family hopes to open in Waco at the end of this year or early next year.

The Posse is already planning a return trip.

Guess Family Barbecue owner Reid Guess takes a break from welding a new smoker for a customer. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

As we left Guess and started out of town, it began raining heavily. I turned on my windshield wipers and a wiper blade flew off onto the road behind us. After I pulled over, Meadows, who was riding with me, and I both ran back. Michael found the blade, thankfully. And it snapped right back into place. But we both got soaked.

Dripping wet, we decided to call it a day. Wilkins, driving another car, circled back to pick up Meadows and return to Dallas. I headed to Austin.

That left the Fox brothers as the only ones continuing on to Green’s.

Both Tom and Tracy were born in Minnesota. They called Zabcikville a throwback and compared it to a small Minnesota town where a bar and/or a store would be the center of activity.

The fare at Green’s is different, not typical Texas BBQ. The brothers ordered deep fried boudin balls made with pork meat, rice and pepper jack cheese. And, they tried the sausage burger, which is served like a hamburger in a basket, with a large sausage patty spilling slightly out of the bun, garnished with mustard, pickles and chopped onions. 

“The mustard makes it taste like you’re eating a hamburger,” Tom said.

Tracy said biting into the boudin ball was like biting into a Cadbury egg. Crispy on the outside and gooey in the center.

Slogan on the side of Guess Family Barbecue’s trailer in downtown Waco. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Later, I called owner Marvin Green and told him I was sorry to have missed his place. He said Green’s makes 12,000 to 15,000 pounds or so of sausage a month, and supplies a few barbecue joints in the area, including Cyclone Corral BBQ.

The Fox brothers said there was plenty of room to sit down and eat at Green’s, but there was a steady line of customers getting food to go. Both the Texas A&M and University of Texas football teams were playing at home that night. In our conversation, Green said his place gets business from tailgaters at both schools.

On the way back to Arlington, Tom and Tracy stopped at Health Camp in Waco, a local institution serving malts, shakes and burgers.

“We both got large vanilla malts,” Tom said later when he gave me his report on Green’s. “After a day of eating meat, we had to get something to put out the fire.”

And so it goes on the Texas BBQ Trail.

Heart of Texas BBQ Tour    9/8/18

9am: Leave DFW

10:45am:  Flores Barbecue, 2222 SH 22, Whitney, 254-580-3576. Open Thurs–Fri 11am-4pm, Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-2pm.

1:30pm: Guess Family Barbecue, 324 S. 6th Street, Waco, 254-313-3436. Open Wed-Sat 11am-4pm.   

3:30pm: Green’s Sausage House, 16483 State Highway 53, Zabcikville, 254-985-2331. Open Mon-Fri 6:30am-6:30pm, Sat 7am-5pm.

4:30pm: Head back to DFW

Pit Stop #1 with Michael Wyont of Flores Barbecue - YouTube

Pit Stop #2 with Reid Guess of Guess Family Barbecue - YouTube

Pitmaster Michael Wyont slices brisket at Flores Barbecue. (Photo @David Woo/Texas BBQ Posse)

A family orders at Guess Family Barbecue in Waco. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Pitmaster Michael Wyont checks beef ribs on the smoker at Flores Barbecue. (Photo @David Woo/Texas BBQ Posse)

Both smokers at Guess Family Barbecue were fabricated by owner Reid Guess. (Photo ©David Woo/Texas BBQ Posse)

Briskets cook at a steady 240-degrees on Flores Barbecue’s new Moberg smoker. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Brisket is sliced at Guess Family Barbecue. (Photo ©David Woo/Texas BBQ Posse)

Flores Barbecue is located on SH 22 near Whitney, just west of Hillsboro. (Photo @David Woo/Texas BBQ Posse)

Guess Family Barbecue is located a block from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market in downtown Waco.. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

The post The BBQ Posse journeys into the heart of Texas appeared first on Texas BBQ Posse.

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Here’s a holiday classic from our friends at HangryQ.com, barrel-smoked turkey and sweet potato casserole. (Photos ©Jason Shane/HangryQ.com)

Just in time for Thanksgiving, here’s a great set of holiday recipes and a video from the the cook team at HangryQ.com. HangryQ posts a new recipe and video every week, with some fun ideas for your backyard smoker or grill. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Enjoy!

Smoked Turkey & Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe - Episode 74 - YouTube

Additional photos for reference

Preparation photos of smoked turkey and sweet potato casserole.(Photos ©Jason Shane/HangryQ.com)

The post Recipe: Smoked Turkey & Sweet Potato Casserole from HangryQ.com appeared first on Texas BBQ Posse.

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Three meat plate of brisket, ribs and jalapeno sausage with pinto beans and potato salad at Uptown Bar-B-Q in Dallas. (Photo ©Jim Rossman, Texas BBQ Posse)

I ate lunch at a new barbecue joint this week called Uptown Bar-B-Q, which is aptly named, as it shares space with venerable uptown Dallas restaurant The Old Warsaw.

Uptown Bar-B-Q shares space with the legendary Old Warsaw restaurant. (Photo ©Jim Rossman, Texas BBQ Posse)

Robert Austin, who had the Baker’s Ribs franchise in Grapevine until late summer has a well-seasoned Bewley pit fired up on The Old Warsaw’s patio.  He and his son, R.J., are serving up lunch and dinner seven days a week. They’ve been open now for two weeks.

Meats on the menu include brisket, ribs, regular or jalapeno sausage, turkey, pulled pork and chicken. I had a three-meat plate with brisket, ribs and jalapeno sausage along with a half-pound of pulled pork. The pork was the star of the meal, followed by the ribs. The brisket and sausage were good, but I’ll reserve judgment for a warmer day when I can try the rest of the meats.

The serving line is outdoors, and my co-workers and I visited on a day when the temperature was in the mid-30s. Seating is set up on the patio, but luckily for us, the Old Warsaw’s bar was open for inside dining.

Robert says the late crowd has been pretty good, with a lot of business after 10 p.m., which is almost unheard of for a BBQ joint.

So if you see smoke over on Maple Avenue, don’t hesitate to stop. Uptown Bar-B-Q is worth a visit.

Uptown Bar-B-Q, 2512 Maple Avenue, Dallas, 972-838-5122. Open Sun-Wed 11am-10pm, Thurs. 11am-midnight, Fri.-Sat. 11am-2am.

Pitmaster and owner Robert Austin, right, and son, R.J, work the counter at Uptown Bar-B-Q. (Photo ©Jim Rossman, Texas BBQ Posse)

Uptown Bar-B-Q’s pulled pork had plenty of bark and a great rub. It was the star of Jim Rossman’s lunch. (Photo ©Jim Rossman, Texas BBQ Posse)

Uptown Bar-B-Q’s Bewley pit came from Brotherton’s Black Iron BBQ in Pflugerville. (Photo ©Jim Rossman, Texas BBQ Posse)

The post First Look: Uptown Bar-B-Q in Dallas appeared first on Texas BBQ Posse.

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The Posse works a Moberg smoker full of briskets before eating at Flores Barbecue in Whitney, our No. 7 favorite spot in the state. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

We always knew barbecue commentary was a full-contact sport.

So many good joints. So many different opinions.

That message came through loud and clear after we published our list of the Texas BBQ Posse’s Favorite 41 joints last week. So far there have been a total of nearly 100 comments on Facebook postings by the Posse and others sharing our posts. And even a few here on our site.

Some comments have been brutal. Leaving off Evie Mae’s BBQ in Wolfforth in West Texas “is a crime against Texas barbecue,” one reader wrote. Jimmy Ho, a barbecue blogger who helped Texas Monthly with its latest Top 50 list, agreed. He called the omission a “mistake” and a “travesty.”

One reader called us a bunch of Austin “hipsters” who couldn’t get our Prius out of town. Another, commenting on the prevalence on our list of so many joints along the I-35 corridor, said it “sounds like the posse are a bunch of city boys.”

Maybe.

“I guess we need to head west on an apology tour sometime next year!,” Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins said in response. Yes!

Likewise, many commenters, have been supportive, in particular about our choice of 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio as the best joint in the state.

“I really enjoyed your list and am in complete agreement regarding 2M Smokehouse,” one wrote.

So it goes. If you can’t stand the heat in barbecue commentary, get out of the smokehouse.

We do like the heat, though, and all the discussion. So we want to encourage you to continue to give us your opinions — pro, con and otherwise — about our favorite joints.

Go for it in the comments section below.

The post Is the BBQ Posse just ‘a bunch of city boys’? appeared first on Texas BBQ Posse.

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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 visit this past spring, we said 2M hadn’t lost a step.

And now, after our most recent visit, we have no doubt. We’re declaring 2M Smokehouse No. 1.

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.

“It’s a flavor explosion,” Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins said as we sampled brisket, sausage, pork ribs, turkey, pulled pork and a giant beef rib.

“I’m as convinced as ever this is the right call to make. 2M is number one. . .Everything these guys do is their own thing. It’s creative.”

2M Smokehouse owners Esaul Ramos, left, and Joe Melig pose in their dining room. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

Wilkins, who along with Posse member Jim Rossman have eaten more barbecue than any other people I know — and that’s a compliment — calls this new style of barbecue Texican. That’s a combination of Texas technique with some new flavors from south of the border, as exemplified by Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ in Austin, Flores Barbecue in Whitney and Zavala’s Barbecue in Grand Prairie.

From his perspective, Ramos extends the line of smoked meat evolution to Tom Micklethwait, who began serving from his Micklethwait Craft Meats trailer in Austin in late 2012.

“I feel that Tom started the barbecue that we have now,” Ramos said.

Along with salt and pepper, catering to Texas-style purists, Ramos uses some ground comino — cumin — in his brisket rub. The pork sausage is made with serrano pepper, Oaxaca cheese and cilantro.

And check out Tom Fox’s luscious photo here of the glaze that 2M Smokehouse uses on its pork ribs. Some hot spices mixed with molasses, honey and maple syrup, and squeezed from a plastic bottle on each rib. Certainly not Texas old school. But, certainly, very tasty.

Personally, I rate the rib I ate at 2M on my last visit there with the rib I had at Smokey D’s in Des Moines last summer as the best pork ribs I’ve ever eaten. That encompasses more than half a century of serious barbecue eating. Smokey D’s is run by Darren Warth, a competition champion who knows how to build flavor for that perfect bite.

Glaze is applied to pork ribs on the smoker at 2M Smokehouse. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

On the Texas BBQ Posse’s Favorite 41 list, there are some old friends, as you can see, and some new. And, truth be told, even in our close Posse group we aren’t all in agreement. Chris and I asked other Posse members to rank their top five joints in the state and we’ve included those lists in this package. There are differences, you’ll notice.

Even though 2M has been open less than two years, the joint’s story has been pretty well told, beginning with the chalkboard sign about Ramos and Melig on display in the place:

“In time these 2 best friends became brothers, partners and finally with God’s blessing became 2M Smokehouse and Catering.”

That’s quite a partnership and speaks directly to the dedication of the 2M operation.

“If you don’t really love it,” Ramos said of barbecue, “if you’re not passionate about it, then just keep it like that and keep cooking on weekends in your backyard.”

Ramos, 33, who drove a city bus in San Antonio for several years and worked construction for a time, has a good barbecue pedigree. He cooked with John Lewis at la Barbecue in Austin. Lewis helped launch Franklin Barbecue back in its trailer days and became a competition champ. He now runs one of the best joints on the country — Lewis Barbecue — in South Carolina.

Dusty Dworak handles the cutting duties and takes lunch orders at 2M Smokehouse. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

Ramos also has a trait highly valued by old newspaper dinosaurs like us. Curiosity.

In August of 2013, long before launching 2M, he emailed the Posse, saying he was heading to
Dallas from San Antonio in a couple weeks and he wanted to sample the best barbecue in 
Big D in one day. Could we point him in the right direction?

Yes, we could.

Wilkins told him to hit three joints, in this order: Pecan Lodge, Slow Bone and Lockhart Smokehouse.

“Pecan Lodge often has long lines so you might want to start there,” Wilkins advised. “Have a great trip.”

If that was a fact-finding mission, Ramos did his duty well. Pecan Lodge, which was then operating in the Dallas Farmers Market, really made an impression, including what Ramos called a “different flavor” in the barbecue, probably — at least in part — from the mesquite wood the joint used then. And that’s when, Ramos said, he started thinking he’d someday like to own a place like Pecan Lodge.

Last year, 2M made Texas Monthly’s list of the Top 50 joints in the state. Impressive for a place that, at the time, had been open only a few months. This past summer, Ramos and Leonard Botello IV from Truth BBQ in Brenham both competed on the Food Network’s “Chopped Grill Masters” show. Botello made it to the finals before being eliminated.

Lunch customers wait in line to order at 2M Smokehouse. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

2M is a family operation. Over the course of a week, Ramos’ mom (Maria), sister (Giselle), and wife (Grecia) all work there. Melig’s wife, Selah, handles the chalkboard menus and messages.

The barbecue business is challenging, especially with more and more competition emerging regularly. Ramos and Melig remodeled their joint themselves and in the first few months of operation they kept a mattress in the pit room where they slept as they cooked all night and served customers by day, Thursdays through Sundays.

The days of operation are still the same, but the mattress is gone. On our most recent visit, Ramos said 2M was cooking 22 briskets for Thursdays and Fridays, and two dozen for Saturdays and Sundays. A lot, but a fraction of the 100-plus a day turned out by Franklin Barbecue in Austin.

The partners have regained a little more free time — Ramos said he even took a vacation this past summer to Montana — but their ambition remains. After leasing for a while, the partners purchased their location and are thinking about some expansion: another pit, a larger patio area, and dinner service on Friday and Saturday nights.

Plus, Ramos said, he has a lot of ideas for new sausage flavors.

“All these things take time,” he said. “We don’t want to get in over our heads. . .I like progressing at our own speed on our own time.”

2M Smokehouse, 2731 S WW White Rd,, San Antonio, (210) 885-9352. Open Thurs-Sun 11am-4pm or when the meat runs out. Website: www.2msmokehouse.com

2M Smokehouse is located at 2731 S WW White Road in south San Antonio. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

The Posse’s Gary Jacobson rates the pork ribs at 2M Smokehouse with the best he’s ever eaten. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

Customers fill the patio for lunch at 2M Smokehouse. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

The beef rib is one of the standout meats at 2M Smokehouse. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

Customers wait in line at 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

Victor “Bob” Flores of Cedar Park tries the beef rib as his family looks on at 2M Smokehouse. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

A chalkboard sign in the dining room tells the story of how 2M Smokehouse smokehouse was born. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

2M Smokehouse partners Esaul Ramos, right, and Joe Melig. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

Esaul Ramos had the unique logo of 2M Smokehouse tattooed on his left hand. (Photo ©Tom Fox/Texas BBQ Posse)

The post 2M Smokehouse No. 1 Posse Favorite appeared first on Texas BBQ Posse.

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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, 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.

The Posse digs into a platter of meats & sides at Guess Family Barbecue in Waco. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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, 4329 S Congress Ave, Austin, 512-649-2727. Open Tues-Thurs 11am-4pm or until the meat runs out, Fri-Sat 11am-7pm or until the meat runs out.

A couple who bailed on the line at Franklin Barbecue checks out the menu at Micklethwait Craft Meats in Austin. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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.

The U.S. flag flies in front of Snows BBQ in Lexington. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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.

Cattleack BBQ in north Dallas ranks among the Posse’s Top 10 joints in Texas. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Dallas/Fort Worth region     

Bet The House BBQ, Denton: Co-owners Cody Smithers and Shawn Eagle are pursuing their barbecue dream, making this the go-to BBQ joint in Denton . Bet The House BBQ, 508 S Elm St., Denton, 940-808-0332. Open Tues-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-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.

Pitmaster & owner Michael Wyont greets customers at Flores Barbecue in Whitney. (Photo @David Woo/Texas BBQ Posse)

Flores Barbecue, Whitney: If you’re driving past Hillsboro on I-35, Flores is a must-stop detour a few miles to the west on SH 22. It might just be the best value for great BBQ in Texas. Flores Barbecue, 2222 SH 22, Whitney, 254-580-3576. Open Thurs–Fri 11am-4pm, Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-2pm.

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 serves some of the best smoked meats in DFW from their Frisco & McKinney locations. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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.

Customers order lunch on a Saturday morning at Smoke Sessions Barbecue in Royse City, east of Dallas. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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: You’ll need to wait a month or two for this former trailer operation to reopen in a new brick & mortar location. But trust us, it will be worth the wait. These guys are putting out some of the best Texican BBQ you’ll ever taste. Zavala’s Barbecue, will be opening in Jan. 2019 at 412 W. Main St., Grand Prairie, 214-564-2799. Hours at new location are TBA.

Jordan Jackson, owner & pitmaster, poses beside the historic sign for Bodacious Bar-B-Q, which originally opened in 1968 & was reopened by Jackson in 2015.  (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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. Owners Heather Hoff & Shannon Bankston will treat you like family when you stop by for a bite. 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.

Pitmaster & owner Grant Pinkerton works a homemade cinder block pit he set up for fun behind Pinkerton’s Barbecue in Houston. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Houston region    

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..

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Pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz works the smokers early on a Saturday morning at Snow’s BBQ, the favorite stop of Bruce Tomaso. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Full and frank discussions about our favorite food. That’s what the Texas BBQ Posse has been all about in the decade or so we’ve been on the barbecue trail. Sometimes we all agree. Often we don’t. So it is with the Posse’s Favorite 41. After getting opinions from everyone, co-founders Chris Wilkins and Gary Jacobson made the final selections. Here’s how other Posse members rate their Top 5.

Bruce Tomaso
  1. Snow’s BBQ, Lexington: The brisket is always superb — but, honestly, I’ve never had a bad bite of anything there. This consistent high quality is a testament to Tootsie’s skills and experience as a pit master. If you paid a Hollywood production company to design a movie set of a Central Texas BBQ joint, they couldn’t do better than Snow’s.
  2. Franklin Barbecue, Austin: Still the standard by which all Texas BBQ is measured. ‘It’s as good as Franklin’ is high, high praise for any joint — maybe the highest.
  3. Louie Mueller Barbecue, Taylor: Great owner, black pepper.
  4. Bodacious Bar-B-Q on Mobberly, Longview: One of the best-kept secrets in Texas.
  5. (tie) Miller’s Smokehouse, Belton: On the way to Austin, excellent, you don’t have to stand in line for two hours. Hutchins BBQ, McKinney & Frisco: Never had a bad meal there.

Cattleack BBQ’s Todd David points out the daily specials to the Posse’s Jim Rossman, who names the north Dallas stop as his favorite. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Jim Rossman
  1. Cattleack BBQ, Dallas: I think Todd David is always looking to make things better and try something new.
  2. Snow’s BBQ, Lexington: Best pure BBQ experience in the state.
  3. Killen’s Barbecue, Pearland: Ronnie Killen has never let us down and he’s a real renaissance man when it comes to running restaurants.
  4. The Slow Bone, Dallas: My day-to-day choice when I need a great BBQ lunch.
  5. Louie Mueller Barbecue, Taylor: The coolest interior of any BBQ joint in TX and their meat is top notch. Plus Wayne Mueller is always ready to come out and talk BBQ with us. He’s very generous with his time and BBQ knowledge.

    2M Smokehouse in south San Antonio, the favorite barbecue stop of  Tom Fox & Darrell Byers. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Tom Fox
  1. 2M Smokehouse, San Antonio: Best full menu spread, period.

  2. Snow’s BBQ, Lexington: For every reason they’ve been named number one.
  3. Killen’s Barbecue, Pearland: Never disappoints.

  4. Zavala’s Barbecue, Grand Prairie: Lovin’ BBQ with a Mexican flare (secret: mix the sauces and drizzle over the homemade brisket taco)
.
  5. (tie) Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ & Micklethwait Craft Meats, Austin: Because I’m weird like Austin!
Darrell Byers
  1. 2M Smokehouse, San Antonio: Brisket like butter on warm toast, answers some previously unknown primal desire and works its way down into your DNA. Authentic with a twist.
  2. Snow’s BBQ, Lexington: Heaven with picnic tables and the indomitable Tootsie!
  3. Flores Barbecue, Whitney: Feed me till I’m full then put a little more on my plate. Best tortillas in Texas. Seriously.
  4. Brotherton’s Black Iron BBQ, Pflugerville: Innovative, delicious and the best socks in BBQ.
  5. Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, Austin: Their three-meat plate is the best $20 you’ll ever spend on BBQ.

    Scenes from the pit room at Stiles Switch BBQ in Austin, Darren Carroll’s go-to barbecue joint. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Darren Carroll
  1. Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, Austin: There’s nothing not to like about my go-to spot in north Austin. Brisket to die for. Ditto on the sausage. Wednesday prime rib and other rotating daily specials including a surprise sandwich creation every Friday. A roof over your head. A parking lot. Air conditioning. Dinner service. Beer on tap. Great, friendly people. A manageable line. And I’ve never seen them sold out of anything, except, occasionally, the beef ribs. Oh, did I mention the beef ribs?
  2. Leroy and Lewis Barbecue, Austin: The beef cheek is probably the single most delicious morsel of BBQ I’ve ever tasted. For the more health-conscious among you, try the Barbacado. And it’s 5 minutes from my house, even with Austin traffic.
  3. John Mueller Black Box Barbecue, Georgetown: A nice, shady outdoor picnic table, some Robert Earl Keen on the loudspeakers, peppery, perfectly-done brisket, and a can of Lone Star plus a smidgeon of attitude served up by none other than the man himself. Yes, please.
  4. The Switch, Dripping Springs: I know, it’s probably not fair to include two Shane Stiles restaurants in a top-5. And the place has only been open for a couple of months. But not only are the basics on-point, the restaurants, and the menus, are so different, and that Sunday brunch is just so good (Brisket Benedict? Seriously?) that I can’t in good conscience leave it off my list.
  5. Smitty’s Market, Lockhart: They haven’t lost a step–they’ve just unfortunately been passed by, by too many really, really good BBQ joints that have raised the bar on food. But no one, and no building, will ever be able to duplicate the atmosphere or, for those photographers among us, the light, of this special place.
Marshall Cooper
  1. Jambo’s BBQ Shack, Rendon: New owners Waldo and Barbie Strien are some of the best old school BBQ pitmasters around , taking many first-place trophies all over Texas and the U.S. The Strien’s recipes closely follow those of Jambo’s original founder Jamie Geer, who has won multiple World Grand Champion cookoffs.  
  2. Snow’s BBQ, Lexington: Smelling the sweet burning oak, sitting outdoors under the old original tin metal shed right next to the wood burning pits, all while watching a couple of true pitmasters cooking the BBQ. It is the the best ambiance to eat BBQ in Texas.
  3. Cattleack BBQ, Dallas
: Brisket cooked like Franklin’s, some of the best you’ll find in DFW.
  4. MeShack’s Bar-Be-Que Shack, Garland:
 Great old-fashioned barbecue.
  5. Hutchins BBQ, McKinney & Frisco:
 If you’re hungry & want some damned good barbecue at a great value, go to Hutchins.

The legendary Jambo Texan sandwich from Jambo’s BBQ Shack in Rendon, Marshall Cooper’s favorite barbecue spot. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

The post Posse members share their Favorite 5 BBQ lists appeared first on Texas BBQ Posse.

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