For barbecue enthusiasts, the only thing that comes close to eating barbecue is talking about eating barbecue. Comparing lists of places to visit, arguing about which restaurant serves the best version of this or that meat, listening to podcasts where other people talk about barbecue: these are the experiences around which obsessives share their fandom.
By that standard, Robert Moss, the contributing barbecue editor for Southern Living, might have the best food writing job in the country. He gets to travel the region to assemble his annual list of the South's top 50 barbecue joints.
“The overall dining experience is important: the physical setting, the aroma from the pits, the sauces and dishes served alongside,” Moss writes to explain his criteria. “Whether it’s a bare-bones take-out stand or a full-service restaurant with a wine list and clean restrooms, each place needs a spirit and flair that’s all its own.”
Texas restaurants take nine of the 50 spots on the list, including four of the top 10 — the most of any state.
Representing Austin are Franklin Barbecue (No. 7), Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ (No. 19), and Micklethwait Craft Meats (No. 39). Just an hour drive from the Capital City, Snow’s BBQ in Lexington (No. 2), Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor (No. 3), and Kreuz Market in Lockhart (No. 29), also appear on the list.
Other Texas joints include Tejas Chocolates & Barbecue in Tomball (No. 8), Cattleack Barbeque in Dallas (No. 11), Corkscrew BBQ in Spring (No. 32), and Two Bros BBQ Market in San Antonio (No. 48).
Moss has shuffled the Texas restaurants around a bit from last year by adding Two Bros., moving Tejas into the top 10, and ranking Snow’s over Louie Mueller.
Overall, Lewis Barbecue, a Texas-style restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, from former La Barbecue pitmaster John Lewis, moves from eighth to fifth. North Carolina’s Skylight Inn ranks fourth, and Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, South Carolina, repeats at the top.
Naming “snubs” on a list that covers such a broad geographic region probably isn’t fair. Let’s just say Moss might want to consider Truth Barbeque (Brenham and Houston) and 2M Smokehouse BBQ in San Antonio for next year’s edition.