Holy smokes!

Stellar Austin spot unseats Franklin on Texas Monthly’s new list of top 50 BBQ joints

Stellar Austin spot unseats Franklin on TxMo’s list of top BBQ joints

Interstellar BBQ
Interstellar brings the heat as the top Austin barbecue spot on the list. Interstellar BBQ/Facebook

Beloved state-savvy publication Texas Monthly has shaken up the barbecue world. The magazine’s newly released list of the state’s top 50 barbecue joints makes major changes to the conventional wisdom surrounding where to find the best ’cue in Texas.

Presented as a ranked top 10, with 40 additional restaurants listed alphabetically by city, and 50 honorable mentions, the list was devised by the magazine’s team of 32 staff writers and three freelancers, who compiled the rankings by visiting 411 establishments during the spring and summer. With 29 new entrants — including four of the top five — the list leans heavily toward restaurants that have opened since Texas Monthly last ranked barbecue joints in 2017.

Despite all the changes, barbecue fans shouldn’t panic. Texas Monthly’s message to readers isn’t that the old places have gotten worse in the last four years. Rather, they’ve been outshined by restaurants that cook a wider selection of meats than the classic Texas trinity of brisket, ribs, and sausage; prepare a more diverse selection of sides than potato salad, beans, and coleslaw; and show a willingness to incorporate international flavors into their preparations.

“In short, if you were hoping for an argument that innovation is getting out of hand and it’s time to retrench and return to the simpler days of barbecue, you won’t find it here,” the magazine writes. “But have no fear: If you’re an old-school stalwart who blanches at the thought of smoked cauliflower, plenty of places on our list will make you very happy.”

Here’s the top 10 in order:

  1. Goldee’s Barbecue (Fort Worth)
  2. Interstellar BBQ (Austin)
  3. Truth Barbeque (Houston)
  4. Burnt Bean Co. (Seguin)
  5. LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue (Austin)
  6. Cattleack Barbeque (Dallas)
  7. Franklin Barbecue (Austin)
  8. Evie Mae’s Pit Barbeque (Wolfforth)
  9. Snow’s BBQ (Lexington)
  10. Panther City BBQ (Fort Worth)

Compared to 2017’s top 10, Franklin Barbecue, which ranked No. 1 statewide in 2013 and No. 2 in 2017, now ranks third in Austin. Snow’s, which took the top spot in both 2008 and 2017 and became an international sensation after Netflix’s Chef’s Table documentary series featured pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz, drops to ninth. Truth rises from 10th to third, while Evie Mae’s moves up one spot. Louie Mueller Barbecue, CorkScrew BBQ, and Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue move out of the top 10, while Bodacious Bar-B-Q in Longview is off the list entirely.

Interstellar took second place thanks to the fine-dining experience pitmaster John Bates acquired at restaurants like Wink and Asti. Described as “ambitious” (in a good way), Bates serves precisely prepared meats and creative sides such as tomato-and-zucchini salad and Parmesan-crusted scalloped potatoes.

Overall, the Austin area leads the way with eight restaurants in the top 50, plus six honorable mentions. In addition to InterStellar, LeRoy & Lewis, and Franklin, the top 50 includes Austin restaurants Distant Relatives, La Barbecue, Micklethwait Craft Meats, and Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ, along with Brotherton’s Black Iron Barbecue in Pflugerville.  

J Leonardi’s Barbeque, Moreno Barbecue, Stiles Switch BBQ, Whitfield’s, Kreuz Market (Lockhart), and Creekside Cookers BBQ & Bar (Wimberley) all make the honorable-mentions list. While the Terry Black’s Austin location isn’t listed, its Dallas outpost makes the top 50.

As for the rest of the state, Dallas restaurants earn seven spots among the 50 and five honorable mentions, with Fort Worth taking four spots in the top 50 and three honorable mentions. Greater Houston has seven restaurants in the top 50 and five honorable mentions. San Antonio has three top 50 restaurants plus three honorable mentions.

In addition to the lists, the magazine’s coverage includes features on the merits of barbecue sauce, favorite barbecue dishes, standout sides, and the best desserts. See the Texas Monthly website for all the delicious details.