Pecan LodgePhoto: Robert Strickland
The best barbecue joints in Texas have a great backstory in addition to fantastic food. And Pecan Lodge is no exception. Named after a grandfather's ranch, the storied restaurant started small in a stall at the Dallas Farmer's Market. Now located in the town of Deep Ellum, the restaurant has won its share of accolades. Brisket is the main draw, but with a menu rooted in family recipes and a commitment to maximizing made-from-scratch, you really can't go wrong with any menu item.
Franklin Barbecue in Austin is an award winner if there ever was one. It nabbed the coveted title of #1 barbecue place in the world by Texas Monthly. The menu is simple: meat is sold by the pound or in sandwich form, and the offerings are rounded out by a few essential sides and 4-inch pies for dessert (a just-right size after a filling BBQ meal).
Hwy 29 BBQ
Relatively new to the barbecue scene, Hwy 29 BBQ in Bertram might look like just a bump in the road, but it's one you'll want to turn back for if you miss it. The Texas-style pit BBQ is another no-frills, simple-is-best establishment. And that's why it's counted among the best.
Another newbie to put on your list: Kerlin BBQ in Austin. It's been called a "transcendent brisket experience" by the Austin Chronicle. But plan ahead for your nirvana: They're only open Friday-Sunday from 11-2 or until sold out. Or circumvent the line and preorder meat.
Louie Mueller BarbecuePhoto: Louie Mueller Barbecue, Photographer: Jessica Attie, Stylist: Tina Stamos
You're looking at Louie Mueller Barbecue's award-winning beef ribs. (Drooling? We are too!) This family establishment in Taylor has been around since 1949 and isn't slowing down. And the icing on the cake...err...rub on the meat? A James Beard award in the "American Classics" division.
This Lexington restaurant knows that rarity drives demand. They open Saturdays (and Saturdays only) at 8am and keep on going until they sell out. Can't make it during that window? Their meats and sauces are available for purchase online.
Most barbecues are hailed for their brisket or ribs, but sausage is the pride of family-owned Longoria's. Come to the Everman (near Fort Worth) favorite and experience their brisket-based sausage--seasoned, spiced, and smoked to perfection.
Evie Mae'sPhoto: Robert Jacob Lerma
This popular barbecue place in Wolfforth started as a food truck and is expanding to a brick-and-mortar. Evie Mae's all wood-smoked meat and homemade sauces are tops. Be sure to save room for both their Green Chile Cheese Grits and Chocolate Pecan Pie.
The Salt Lick BBQ
Not only does The Salt Lick BBQ boast fantastic barbecue fare (read all about their techniques), their dynasty includes the Salt Lick Cellars winery. And what a dynasty they are. The family owners trace their Texas roots back to the 1800s in a straight-out-of-a-Western story.
Killen's BarbecuePhoto: Kimberly Park
Pecan-, oak-, and mesquite-smoked beef and pork ribs plus brisket, sausage, pulled pork, link sausage, and more get top billing at Killen's Barbecue, a Houston-area legend. The Houston Chronicle saw it fit to give the restaurant its highest rating: a four-star review.