By Kali Dunson
Barbecue and Texas go hand-in-hand in the great Lone Star State. It's hard to think of one without the other. From fall-off-the-bone ribs to brisket that melts in your mouth to sides as big as the main dish, it does not matter what time of year - you'll always find a friend in Texas when there's barbecue on the table.
There are many places in Texas to enjoy this mouth-watering fusion of cultures and methods that gave rise to our favorite savory flavors. You may think to yourself, "there are so many barbecue joints, how do I know which ones to try?" Fear not, fellow traveler, if you're looking to embark on a journey for your tastebuds, you must check out some of these delicious barbecue joints that are sure to live up to all the hype around this flavorful scene.
Burnt Bean Co.
City: Seguin, TX
Photo by Black Bean Co.
Don't let the name fool you. This isn't your local coffee joint. Are you ready to see something special in Seguin? Co-owners, Ernest and Dave, culinary comrades who once battled it out in fierce cook-offs, have come together to create a harmonious masterpiece of flavors and process. With only one other person allowed behind the pit, what is their key to success? Consistency.
Meat options range from prime brisket, pork ribs, turkey, and sausage. On the weekends, they serve a beef “dino” rib known to be almost one pound and a bone-in pork chop. The sides are no mere afterthought either at Burnt Bean; Cowboy Beans, Mississippi Styled Green Beans, Jalapeno Street Corn Pudding, and you can't forget about their famously known Hot Cheeto Queso Mac - a medley of textures and tastes that dance on the plate. Your plate begs for more space as the homemade tortillas make their grand entrance. A culinary art unfolds in every bite, especially when paired with the Brisket Huevos Rancheros. The line may be out the door and two blocks long, but the anticipation only deepens the reward of sinking your teeth into the juice-dripping meats.
Salt Lick BBQ
City: Driftwood, TX
Photo by Salt Lick BBQ
Unable to make the drive? No need to fret. The Salt Lick BBQ delivers right to your doorstep. With a generational tale that traces back to 1867 in Desoto, Mississippi. Thurman, the visionary owner, aspired to create a legacy where his familial origins took hold. With his two sons, they built a barbecue pit and promised customers a taste of his cooking until the meat ran out. Time's grasp may have shortened those hours, but the allure only grew as they began to feed thousands a week. Amidst the tales of lineage lies a feast that transcends history. From hearty family-style offerings to towering sandwiches that not only satisfy your appetite, and meat measured not just in weight but in juiciness, The Salt Lick BBQ stands as a treasure trove of flavors. When visiting, you can walk into their incredible pit and be tethered by the glorious scents and tastes that Salt Lick has to offer.
Terry Black's BBQ
City: Austin, TX
Photo by Terry Black's BBQ
With three Texas locations and a nationwide shipping option, Terry Black's BBQ emerges as a perfect representation of family legacy. This franchise is both nurtured and stewarded by the family's very own hands. Terry Black's sibling trio: Mike, Mark, and Christina Black opened the first restaurant for the franchise in Austin, TX, a restaurant that carried within it the legacy of a father's knowledge. A second chapter emerged in Dallas, TX, which established the second Terry Black's BBQ. What sets this family-owned operation apart from the rest? The owners value customers being able to try a variety of meats. Therefore, Terry Black's BBQ meat is sold by the pound. You are free to get a little bit of everything at Terry Black's. Each piece of meat isn't casually thrown into the pit and left to its fate for eight hours. It is nurtured and tended to with devotion - a reflection of the owner's care for the customers. You can taste the intentionality in every bite. And for those seeking a flavorful adventure that matches the size of Texas, try out the Beef Ribs which weigh one to two pounds each. If you still are not ready to quit after all of that, be sure to try out their Banana Pudding, a delicacy you won't regret.
City: Arlington, TX
Photo by Hurtado Barbecue
Not ready to give up your beloved Tex-Mex, but still in the mood for some barbecue? Hurtado Barbecue has exactly what you are looking for. Emerging from humble pop-up origins and advancing to a food truck, then defying the odds to establish a thriving permanent presence amid the challenges of COVID-19, the journey of Brandon and Hannah Hurtado is one of boundless achievements. In the span of just two years, they've rewritten the rules. Because of Brandon's marketing background, the restaurant was able to utilize online orders and deliveries - a testament to their unwavering drive. By September 2022, the family's enterprise was ready to expand yet again. With two establishments open in Arlington and Fort Worth, their influence expands. Their menu ranges from BBQ Platters to meats available by half a pound. Their culinary creativity extends from their dessert selections, where handcrafted pies encased in an almond crust beckon, to the bold appearance of the iconic Texas Twinkies - bacon-wrapped jumbo jalapenos brimming with brisket, cream cheese, and pimento cheese. As the smoke swirls, Hurtado Barbecue invites you to join one of their locations and savor each bite with the knowledge that behind every dish lies a story of passion and perseverance.
City: Houston, TX
Photo by Truth BBQ
Breaking free from conformity, TRUTH BBQ thrives by pushing boundaries. In the summer of 2015, Leonard Botello IV embarked on a journey in a small shack located between Austin and Houston, in Brenham, TX, with little to no prior knowledge in the BBQ industry. This marked the birthplace of TRUTH BBQ. To say Botello was a quick learner would be an understatement. As the narrative shifted in 2017, a pivotal year when TRUTH BBQ defied expectations, securing the coveted #10 spot on Texas Monthly's prestigious Top 50 Texas BBQ Joints list. This triumph was merely a prelude to the accolades that followed, propelling TRUTH BBQ to a remarkable position within the top 3 of the revered 2021 Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ List. In 2019, TRUTH BBQ Houston emerged on the scene. The dedication of this owner is clear, as he's been known to sleep next to his smokers and in his commitment to crafting everything from scratch, daily. Rooted in the traditions of Texas BBQ, Leonard's zeal extends beyond himself. His mission is twofold: to honor the legacy of his Texas BBQ predecessors while kindling a new generation of culinary torchbearers. His is a story of innovation while staying true to the essence of tradition, a journey fueled by an unquenchable fire and unlimited curiosity.
In Texas' colorful food scene, these BBQ spots show the state's tasty variety and strong character. From the mouthwatering smells of the pits to the wonderful flavors on each plate, these food adventures honor tradition, family, and great cooking. Whether you visit these places or savor their tastes from afar, may your taste buds always remember the lively and diverse flavors of Texas.
About the Author: Kali Dunson, the Marketing Communications Specialist at Tour Texas, is a devoted Texan who believes that everything, from the irresistible chips and salsa to spontaneous adventures, is simply better in the Lone Star State. When she's not celebrating Texas, she cherishes quality time with her family of five and enjoys losing herself in the pages of a good book.