These are a few of my favorite things

These are a few of my favorite things

 What’s the best barbecue? I get asked this question almost daily. Being that tastes vary from region to region and person to person, I thought the best thing for me to do was to put together a list of my favorite barbecue.

I know what suits my tastes, and I see numerous lists that confirm what I believe to be correct, but in the end, it is the consumer who makes the choice as to what is best. Plus it is a fluid situation. Have I eaten everywhere? No. Have I tried every side? No. The funny thing is I am always happy to be proved wrong. If someone knows something that is better than what I think is the best, I am open to try it. An example is that for years and years, I thought Kreuz Market in Lockhart was the end all, be all when it came to Texas barbecue. Now, they are not even in my personal Top 5 (and maybe not in my Top 10).

Kreuz will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my first true love in Texas barbecue, but times have changed. Pitmasters today are using time honored and proven methods, but also mixing them with the science of barbecue. New and better product and joints are popping up all over the place. It truly is the Golden Age of barbecue in the great state of Texas. Now on with a few of my favorite things …

Favorite overall barbecue joint

Killen’s in Pearland. It is a relative newcomer, but Ronnie Killen and his crew do everything well. Every meat is cooked properly and consistently, and every side is well thought out and delicious. He has the right drinks, the right deserts and just seems to have a knack for embracing the history of Texas barbecue and mixing that with his superb culinary skills. Ronnie has put together in a short time the most complete barbecue experience with spectacular product that I have come across in Texas.

Honorable Mention: Pecan Lodge in Dallas

Favorite brisket

Franklin’s in Austin. Aaron Franklin is a true wizard of beef. I have had Kobe beef, been to some of the finest steakhouses and restaurants in the U.S., and I can truly stay I have never tasted beef that is in the neighborhood of Franklin’s. The brisket always has the perfect bark, tenderness and the right balance of seasoning and smoke. It is arguably the most famous barbecue restaurant in the world, and the reputation is well deserved. The legendary line is worth the wait if you want to have a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

Honorable Mention: Snow’s in Lexington

Favorite beef rib

Louie Mueller in Taylor. Famous for using a spice blend of 9-to-1 coarse pepper to salt, these monstrous beef ribs are truly a thing of barbecue beauty. I have had them on multiple occasions and have always come away from the experience happy and very full. Long before beef ribs were in vogue, this joint has been producing the best in the business, and still is today. The pitmaster Wayne Mueller is an incredibly nice guy, and his staff is always friendly and helpful. If you are lucky, you will get one that weighs north of 2 pounds. Bring your toothpicks because you will be picking out pepper for days.

Honorable Mention: Killen’s in Pearland

Favorite pork rib

Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ in Tyler. Perfect mix of salty, smoky and sweet, these ribs are pork perfection. They have a nice glaze on them that provides depth of flavor and does not overpower the pork. Always cooked expertly, they provide a perfect bite.

Honorable mention: Franklin’s in Austin

Favorite sausage

Kreuz in Lockhart. This all-beef sausage ring with its coarse grind and black pepper is phenomenal. Showcasing its German heritage, it is right at home in this central Texas landmark. The snap of the casing and the juices just add to the greatness.

Honorable Mentions: Zimmerhanzel’s in Smithville

Favorite pork chop

Cooper’s in Llano. This thing is a monster. Smoky and sweet at the same time, it is always tender and delicious. Not many places serve pork chops, and if this is what they will compare themselves to, you can see why.

Honorable Mention: Kreuz in Lockhart

Favorite sides

As I have stated previously, I am not really a “side guy.” But in my travels I have found a few standouts that I wanted to mention in no particular order:

• Jalapeño cheese grits from Micklethwait Craft Meats in Austin

• Creamed corn from Killen’s in Pearland

• Bacon and Jalapeño mac and cheese from Pecan Lodge

• Dirty rice from Gatlin’s in Houston

These are a few of my favorite things. I would love to hear of some I may have overlooked or not yet tried from readers.


Patrick Bell can be reached at patbell [at] bar-b-curious [dot] com.