Daniel Vaughn just scored what some might consider to be the world’s best job: barbecue editor for Texas Monthly. And while it’s not the first time that someone has held that title, he’s the only current one in existence.
Vaughn grew up in Ohio, went to Tulane University, and moved to Dallas, Texas, shortly thereafter. In 2006 he decided to take a three-day road trip with a buddy to hit 16 different barbecue joints, and his moment of enlightenment arrived in the form of brisket and beef ribs at Louie Mueller’s: "It was just overwhelming how much better that barbecue was than anything I had ever had before," he told The Daily Meal. "I thought, 'Now I get it!'"
Vaughn started a blog, called Full Custom Gospel BBQ, and spent his nights and weekends seeking out the best in the state. He built a relationship with Texas Monthly editors, including editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein, and when the magazine decided to move forward with its plans to hire a barbecue editor, Vaughn was at the top of their list.
"Nobody else is as well-suited to the gig," Silverstein told us. "His writing and reporting is beyond compare, and he doesn’t treat it like some funny thing. He has very high standards, and thinks nothing of eating at 10 barbecue joints in a weekend."
Besides the obvious perk of being able to eat barbecue and write about it for a living, Vaughn is also looking forward to a few added bonuses. "It’ll be my full-time position, so I’ll have more time than just nights and weekends to devote to barbecue," he said. "I’ll be reporting the beat, and I’ll be keeping up with news, openings, and closings, and I’ll be able to get more in-depth with the people who make it happen. Not just the pitmasters, but also the wood suppliers and pit makers. I won’t have the hindrance of distance and time, so the handcuffs will really come off. I’ll be able to really explore all the variations of barbecue throughout the state."
From an editorial standpoint, Silverstein has high expectations. "He’ll be in the field all the time, reviewing and re-reviewing, because it’s tough to stay consistent," he said. "He’ll be looking for diamonds in the rough, writing about history and culture, and covering events and festivals."
And while it might appear that so much has been written about barbecue in recent years that there’s not much else out there to say, Vaughn wholeheartedly disagrees.
"By the most recent count, there are about 1,600 barbecue joints in Texas," he said. "I’ve only been to 600, so I’ve still got a ways to go!"
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.
Born Again Through Barbecue
Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughan (Photo by Denny Culbert)
At Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas, on a Saturday morning — Aug. 19, 2006, to be exact — Daniel Vaughn’s brisket virginity was taken. It was life-changing.
“I liken it to the first hit of heroin,” Vaughn says. “You seek that high over and over, and you can never find it. … You’ll never have that experience again, but you still wonder, ‘When can I have that next surprisingly great bite of barbecue?’ ”
As Texas Monthly’s full-time barbecue editor, the first and only in the country, Vaughn has the perfect job to feed his addiction, sometimes frequenting five or six different barbecue spots in a single day.
Despite his travels, he admits he’s never eaten ’cue from Virginia (but ZZQ has put the commonwealth on his radar). And he also embarrassingly remembers how he labeled himself a “grill master” as he threw ribs drenched in a sweet sauce on a gas grill.
It was a move to Texas in 2001, followed by that life-changing bite of smoked brisket in 2006, that led to Vaughn hopping in his car and driving through central Texas to discover what the heart of Texas ’cue was all about. He began a blog called BBQ Snob, dedicated to his journey across the Lone Star state — and later the country — as a way to catalog his trips.
His passion for the pit eventually became his profession, and he left his job as an architect on the back burner after Texas Monthly scooped him up five years ago — again, he knows the exact date, April 15, 2013.
One thing Vaughn has learned is that the more barbecue he eats, the wider his definition of the oldest form of cooking around the world becomes. “If we pile everything together that people say isn’t barbecue, we wouldn’t have any barbecue left,” he says.
A typical day for Vaughn is undefinable, but it’s not uncommon for him to be on the road trying new places and investigating the way various barbecue styles have transformed, such as Baltimore pit beef, so he can be well-versed in his subject of choice.
“I never get sick of eating good barbecue,” Vaughn says. “It’s the truth. Trying a new place that’s good is always exciting.”
Vaughn’s new book about East Carolina barbecue will come out in 2019, and he’s hosting a new show, “Smokelandia,” on the Cooking Channel. The pilot episode is set to debut June 27.
Listen: Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn's smoked-meat life
Texas' barbecue landscape is vast. You don't have to tell that to Daniel Vaughn, though. The barbecue editor at Texas Monthly, who has logged thousands of miles and hundreds of hours crisscrossing the Lone Star State, is well familiar with the intricacies of documenting our smoked-meat riches. If there's a superlative brisket or ethereal beef rib to be had, Vaughn will find it.
On this week's episode of BBQ State of Mind, Vaughn pays a visit to the Houston Chronicle to talk about the state of Texas barbecue: Waco waking up to craft barbecue the problem with plant-based "barbecue" and Houston's growing emergence as a barbecue force to be reckoned with. He also queries Chronicle restaurant critic Alison Cook about her inclusion of nine Houston-area barbecue joints on her annual Top 100 list of the best restaurants in the city.
Vaughn's own list, Texas Monthly's exhaustive canvassing of the Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas remains the smoky baedeker for barbecue aficionados who want to experience all that Texas has to offer. About 30 joints on that list will be in attendance at the Texas Monthly Barbecue Festival Nov. 4 in Austin.
Have a listen by using the player on this page, or even better search for "BBQ State of Mind" on Apple Podcasts and click subscribe. You can find us on iTunes and Stitcher, too.
1 of 7 Texas Monthly Barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn joins Alison Cook, Greg Morago and J.C. Reid for an episode of BBQ State of Mind in the Houston Chronicle studio. Scott Kingsley Show More Show Less
2 of 7 Daniel Vaughn is the author of "The Prophets of Smoked Meat" (Ecco). Nicholas McWhirter Show More Show Less
3 of 7 Texas Monthly Barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn joins Alison Cook, Greg Morago and J.C. Reid for an episode of BBQ State of Mind in the Houston Chronicle studio On the table is the (uneaten) plant-based barbecue from Rice University that was discussed on the episode. Scott Kingsley Show More Show Less
4 of 7 Daniel Vaughn, the barbecue editor at Texas Monthly, is the author of "The Prophets of Smoked Meat." Nicholas McWhirter Show More Show Less
5 of 7 Daniel Vaughn, right, places an order at Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas.
REX C. CURRY/NYT Show More Show Less
The Texas Monthly BBQ Festival will be held in Austin Nov. 3-4, 2018.
Texas Monthly BBQ Festival Show More Show Less
7 of 7 The 2018 Texas Monthly Barbecue Festival will be held in Austin Nov. 3-4. Texas Monthly BBQ Festival Show More Show Less
Meat Drunk: A BBQ Expert on Too Much of a Good Thing
Besides feeling full, you might feel a rush of blood to the head or even suffer from the meat sweats. Here's why.
In 1905 Thomas Edison declared the country “food drunk.” He said “Men eat and sleep themselves stupid.” Something tells me Edison wouldn’t be fond of our current obsessive food culture, but it’s hard to care when you’re in a meat-induced stupor. That’s what can happen after a big steak dinner, an ill-advised 10吆 at In-N-Out Burger, or that second turkey leg at a holiday meal. Your body begins to react in ways not associated with normal levels of food consumption. Besides feeling full, you might feel a rush of blood to the head or even suffer from the meat sweats. While the meat sweats haven’t received much attention from the medical community, my bald brow can attest to their existence.
My first memorable bout with this phenomenon was several years ago in Central Texas. A friend and I were in the second day of a three-day/sixteen-joint barbecue tour. We were rookies prone to over-ordering at every stop, but smart enough to avoid sides, bread and desserts. Only 16 miles separated our fourth meal from our first. Sitting at a picnic table inside the now closed Crosstown BBQ in Elgin, Texas, we split a half-slab of spare ribs and a plate of sliced brisket. Our comments on the meat had migrated from sensible evaluations at the first stop to giggling like school girls as we equated the flavor of crispy brisket fat to that of a sugar cookie. I think Dr. Pepper came out of one of our noses and we finished every last bite of the cookie-like brisket.
Being meat drunk is not equivalent to drunk eating. It is an altered state brought on by meat alone, once protein has ceased its purpose of satiety, and moved into the realm of heroin for the stomach.
Let’s be clear about what does not constitute meat drunkenness. The beer-guzzling Kobe beef cattle in Japan or wine-drinking herds of France aren’t our focus. Nor is the act of overeating when already drunk on alcohol. Being meat drunk is not equivalent to drunk eating. It is an altered state brought on by meat alone, once protein has ceased its purpose of satiety, and moved into the realm of heroin for the stomach.
I asked competitive eater Hungry Todd Rungy if a massive intake of hotdogs or beef tongue makes him feel a bit meat drunk. “Yeah! But it’s like an energy drunk! When I eat a delicious brisket it makes me want to run around and karate kick a cherry tree in half!”
Rungy’s spirited side affects are not typical, but a thick 16-ounce ribeye can create a sense of pleasure beyond just the taste of a juicy steak. It can spur the brain’s release of dopamine. If it feels like you’re under the influence, it’s not just coincidence. Connecticut College neuroscientist Joseph Schroeder concluded in a recent study on overeating that “high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do.” The prevalence of sausage jokes, and people who will laugh at them, toward the end of an extended barbecue trek is all the evidence I need. Those immature chortles are the result of the high before the inevitable crash onto the couch, where the glutton will lay in a state of postprandial somnolence.
That hazy feeling in your head after massive meat consumption might just be artificially induced low blood sugar. Dr. Sasha Stiles from Tufts University told NPR that overeating “sets your body chemistry sort of into red alert.” She further explained that “the kinds of hormone and metabolic processes that normally will try to metabolize food will go into overdrive to make sure they get rid of this huge food load.” Basically, after a few pounds of brisket your body freaks out and starts over-producing insulin to process the extra food load. Before your digestion system realizes it, too much sugar has been eliminated, and your blood sugar is actually lowered. That’s why dessert can still taste so good after an indulgent meal.
Like actual drunkenness, the only cure for meat drunkenness is time. The hair of the steer should be enlisted only by professionals and masochists. Building up a tolerance isn’t recommended unless you’re also interested in enhancing your BMI. Remember, everything in moderation, unless you’re trying to get meat drunk.
Texas Monthly Creates a Tempting Job: Taco Editor
Keeping with its mission to chronicle all things Texan, the Austin-based magazine has hired a taco expert, José R. Ralat.
Texas Monthly, which bills itself as “the national magazine of Texas,” is so focused on covering all things Lone Star that its masthead lists a barbecue editor. It also has correspondents who cover the rural-life blues, and a columnist who explains “western chic” and the dos and don’ts of boots.
Now, the publication is dipping a big Texan toe into another statewide obsession. José R. Ralat will begin work on Sept. 18 as the nation’s first taco editor.
“It’s a dream job,” Mr. Ralat said in a phone interview on Monday. “I had wanted to do something like this for a long time.”
Mr. Ralat, 43, is no stranger to the beat: For the magazine’s 2015 special issue about tacos, he and two friends visited 10 Texas cities and tried 390 distinctive tacos to name “The 120 Tacos You Must Eat Before You Die.” From that idea, the notion of hiring him as a taco editor was born.
“He can write fun and he can write serious about tacos,” said Dan Goodgame, the editor in chief. “José just made it a slam dunk for us.”
At a time when many magazines and newspapers are running on fumes, Texas Monthly, founded in 1973, has hired 11 new full-time editorial staff members in the past six months. The publication, based in Austin, covers subjects from food to politics to immigration, and specializes in long-form narratives.
“We’re growing and we’re profitable,” Mr. Goodgame said, citing a growing audience and an owner willing to see Texas Monthly through uncertain financial times and encourage an online, multimedia-focused expansion on its recently paywalled platform. The magazine has a paid print circulation of around 300,000 and is read by more than 2 million people each month: One out of ten Texas adults.
In 2013, the magazine hired a barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn, whom Mr. Goodgame called “a barbecue machine.” Mr. Vaughn has written articles about top restaurants, Tex-Mex food and Etta Randall, a young black woman whose barbecue took root in the Texas Panhandle in 1926.
“We want to be unassailable in these areas,” Mr. Goodgame said.
Mr. Ralat, who was born in Puerto Rico, developed his passion for tacos through his wife, who is Mexican-American.
“It’s not my culture, per se,” he said. “I’ve just been adopted into it, in a manner of speaking, and I hope I can honor them.”
Five Weeknight Dishes
Emily Weinstein has menu suggestions for the week. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.
- This coconut fish and tomato bake from Yewande Komolafe yields a gorgeous, silky ginger-coconut sauce.
- This tasty recipe for sheet-pan chicken and potatoes by Lidey Heuck is really nice without being fussy.
- This vegetarian baked Alfredo pasta with broccoli rabe is inspired by pasta Alfredo, but with green vegetables added.
- Kay Chun adds asparagus and snap peas to this spring vegetable japchae in this vegan take on the classic dish.
- You could substitute chicken or another type of fish in this summery grilled salmon salad from Melissa Clark.
Since starting a weekly taco column at The Dallas Observer in 2010, Mr. Ralat has worked as the food and drink editor at the magazine Cowboys & Indians created his own website, Taco Trail written about Mexican cuisine for national publications and for the last four years, curated the Taco Libre festival in Dallas. Even his dogs are part of his taco-mania: He nicknamed them Beans and Cheese.
He is now writing a survey of regional tacos in the United States, “American Tacos: A History and Guide,” which the University of Texas Press will publish next year. He has been traveling across the country and taking regular trips to Mexico, doing archival research and tasting numerous varieties.
The state, once a part of Mexico, has a long taco history: Texan soldiers carried them in their pockets during the 1835 Texas Revolution, he said.
“I want to tell the stories of these foods, but, more importantly, the stories of the people who make the foods.” he said. “Context makes things tastier.”
In the current political climate, the ancestral taco might offer an opportunity for unity. Mexicans in the United States have been targeted by violence, as they were recently in the shootings that killed 20 people in El Paso.
“Tacos are a force for good,” Mr. Ralat said. His wife’s family, who are from El Paso, have been more concerned than usual since the shooting.
Still, he added, “lots of people don’t like Mexicans, but they love Mexican food.”
Aggies participate in Texas Monthly ‘Cue Course
Davey Griffin, Brogan Horton, and Jeff Savell joined Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor, Daniel Vaughn, at the Texas Monthly ‘Cue Course, held on November 2, 2019. This is the third ‘Cue Course offered by Texas Monthly. The event was hosted by Stiles Switch BBQ, Austin, Texas, which served a wonderful meal to the participants and allowed a behind-the-scenes look at the the pits and pitmasters at work.
General topics of this year’s ‘Cue Course included brisket grades and anatomy, a discussion of beef short ribs and back ribs, and quick tips about how to prepare the best barbecue possible. Participants asked many questions about all things barbecue before the lunch and tour.
Here are some photos from the ‘Cue Course.
Daniel Vaughn and Davey Griffin discussing pork cuts
Daniel Vaughn talking about beef short ribs
Daniel Vaughn and Davey Griffin
Participants at the Texas Monthly ‘Cue Course at Stiles Switch BBQ
Shane Stiles and Lance Kirkpatrick of Stiles Switch BBQ
Brogan Horton and Catherine Stiles
Thanks to Shane and Catherine Stiles of Stiles Switch BBQ along with their wonderful staff who provided such a great setting for this year’s course.
Catching Up With Daniel Vaughn
The BBQ Snob talks about eating, writing, and how to keep pitmasters from dying from smoke.
Barbecue continues to be a hot topic of conversation. It also sells books and magazines. Daniel Vaughn was once a regular guy with a day job as an architect and a family. Eating barbecue was his hobby. He started a blog, Full Custom Gospel Barbecue, to chart his experiences. Little did he know then he would be tapped by Texas Monthly as the first barbecue editor in the city and regional magazine business.
Last week I checked in with Vaughn to see what he’s been up to. Here’s what I learned.
NN: I remember the old days when you had a real job and wrote a barbecue blog called Full Custom Gospel Barbecue. What made you start a barbecue blog?
DV: I still have a real job, I just don’t write about barbecue for free anymore. I started Full Custom Gospel Barbecue in 2008. It was a personal endeavor to keep track of my own barbecue travels. I wanted to keep a log of everywhere I’d tried so I wouldn’t have to repeat any mistakes. It took a year or so before I realized other people were using my opinions to guide their own travels.
NN: How did you get people to read your blog about barbecue? Was there anybody else doing anything like it?
DV: There was a dormant blog out there by Tex Smith (a Texas musician) that I used as inspiration, and Scott at dallasfood.org had done a few tours through Central Texas. I didn’t know of anyone else who was doing current barbecue joint reviews when I started. As for readership, there was a huge jump when a story about American barbecue spent a weekend on CNN.com in 2009. The first photo was of me eating sausage, they quoted me for the first line, and added a link to the blog in the first paragraph. From there, I used Twitter and Facebook to sustain readership.
NN: What made you fall in love with barbecue?
NN: When Texas Monthly came to you and offered you a position as barbecue editor, how long did it take you to make the decision?
DV: The pay sucked and still does (that’s the case for most journalists), but they offered to cover my travel and food, which was huge considering I’d done it for free for so long. I called my wife and assuaged her fears and she gave me permission to take the job. It was a long couple of months at my architecture firm before I could hand in my resignation. My wife joked when she bought a car last year that she could have been searching through the Lexus and BMW websites if I’d kept my old job. Actually, she wasn’t joking, but we all love our Nissan.
NN: The timing of your new job was perfect and a smart move by Texas Monthly. Looking back, it seems like the barbecue scene in Dallas blossomed about the same time you started your job.
DV: Jake Silverstein was the editor at Texas Monthly who hired me, and he had some brilliant timing. I’d like to think that the attention and importance brought to barbecue by that bold move helped sustain the barbecue boom. I figured then that we’d have peaked by now, but there’s more new and great barbecue across Texas and the whole country now than ever before.
NN: Obviously, the meat offerings at newer barbecue joints have increased. I admire places like Cattleack BBQ for smoking almost every type of meat available. Can you give us some insight into the trends that have taken place over the last five years?
DV: Cattleack is special because they do so much, and do it all so well. Some of their specials also epitomize the trends that we’ve seen in barbecue. They do pastrami and pastrami beef ribs occasionally. All their sausage is house made, and their smoked turkey breast is a great cut that has become nearly ubiquitous across Texas barbecue joints. One trend that I predicted would catch on that just hasn’t is smoked lamb. There’s a long history in Texas of raising lamb and mutton, but it’s hard to find at barbecue joints.
NN: I follow you on social media. You eat a lot of barbecue. You’ve traveled all over the US and hopped the pond as well. What kind of reception do you find in far away places?
DV: It all depends. In the historically great barbecue joints outside of Texas, they rarely know or care who I am. Then again, I’ve been invited to Sweden to help teach a barbecue class. I’ve been invited to Madrid to taste barbecue from a new barbecue joint, and I helped connect several overseas pitmasters with Texas talent for mentorship. I think for those who want to improve, my opinions are honest and well-received whether in or outside of Texas.
NN: I have some concerns about the popularity of barbecue and the people who dedicate their days and nights to smoking and selling it. I fear all these dedicated people are going to develop lung cancer from the smoke, high cholesterol, and other health issues. Do people in the business talk about this?
DV: Lots of pitmasters eat barbecue only occasionally, so their excess cholesterol probably comes from elsewhere. The smoke and exhaustion are real factors. Theoretically, I would wear a mask of some sort if I worked in it all day. As for exhaustion, pitmasters need to be able to train folks to help. It’s probably the most difficult part about being a barbecue joint owner. Convincing any employee to care about the product as much as the owner is nearly impossible.
NN: You’ve got a steady job, you’ve written a great book, you have a lovely family, and you eat a lot of free barbecue. What’s next for Daniel Vaughn?
DV: Well, I (technically Texas Monthly) pay for my barbecue. As for what’s next, I struggle with writing, and I’m always looking to improve. Research is just so much more fun. We’re also looking to diversify my position at Texas Monthly to include more barbecue videos, and we’re exploring what we’d like a barbecue podcast to sound like. Maybe I’ll land a TV show. Who knows?
Barbecue lists are wildly popular - and hard to get right
Clockwise from left: Houston's Goode Co. Barbeque, founded by the late Jim Goode, has made Texas Monthly's best-barbecue list multiple times Thelma's Bar-B-Que, which serves beef brisket, made the magazine's list in 2003 Steve Burns prepares the MLB Special, slabs of ribs and beef, at Burns Bar-B-Q, also recognized by Texas Monthly.
2 of 11 The late Jim Goode, shown here in 1986, was the owner of Goode Company Barbeque on Kirby. Goode Company made Texas Monthly's first best-barbecue list in 1973. Manuel M. Chavez/HP staff Show More Show Less
3 of 11 The late Otto's Barbeque on Memorial made Texas Monthly's top barbecue joints list in 1973. Nick de la Torre/Staff Show More Show Less
4 of 11 8/19/03--Beef brisket is a featured dish at Thelma's Barbecue at 1020 Live Oak at Lamar. Staff photo by Steve Campbell. HOUCHRON CAPTION (08/22/2003): Beef brisket can be hit or miss at Thelma's Bar-B-Que in the warehouse district. Steve Campbell/Staff Show More Show Less
5 of 11 Hattie and Willie B. Williams show off a tray of their specialties in 1998. Williams Smokehouse made Texas Monthly's list in 2003. john everett Show More Show Less
6 of 11 Steve Burns prepares the MLB Special consisting of Slabs of Ribs and an Order of Beef at Burns Original BBQ, Wednesday, April 25, 2012, in Houston. ( Michael Paulsen / Houston Chronicle ) Michael Paulsen/Staff Show More Show Less
7 of 11 Burn's BBQ owner/pitmaster Roy Burns in 2007. His restaurant made Texas Monthly's list in 2008. Bill Olive/Freelance Show More Show Less
8 of 11 Burns Original BBQ made Texas Monthly's best-barbecue-joints list in 2008. J.C. Reid Show More Show Less
9 of 11 Interior view of Burn's BBQ in 2007. The Acres Homes restaurant made Texas Monthly's list in 2008. Bill Olive/Freelance Show More Show Less
10 of 11 Interior view of the Burn's BBQ smokehouse in 2007. The Acres Homes restaurant made Texas Monthly's list in 2008. Bill Olive/Freelance Show More Show Less
11 of 11 Chris J.C. Reid, barbecue columnist. Melissa Phillip/Staff Show More Show Less
Arguing about who makes the best barbecue in the state is a fundamental right of any Texan.
I'd suggest from the very earliest days of statehood, perhaps at a community barbecue at the original Austin's Colony in the mid-1800s, a pioneer took a bite of smoked pork or beef, leaned in toward his neighbor seated nearby and proclaimed, "This is pretty good, but let me tell you about the barbecue I had at this fella's place down the road."
Today, with the rise of social media and shortened attention spans, "Best of" barbecue lists proliferate faster than Hill Country bluebonnets in the spring. Undoubtedly, many of these lists are generated by anonymous writers who have not and will never set foot in most of the barbecue joints they pass judgment upon. When it comes to finding authoritative best-barbecue lists, it's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, or the brisket from the hamburger, if you will.
The gold standard for Texas barbecue lists is the "Top 50 BBQ Joints" from Texas Monthly magazine. It debuted with a list of 20 in 1973 and returned with 50 in 1997, 2003, 2008 and 2013. A new list will be published in the magazine's June issue, appearing on tmbbq.com starting next week.
Throughout its history, the Texas Monthly Top 50 list has mirrored changes in barbecue both in Texas as a whole and Houston, in particular.
The 1973 list was spearheaded by staff writers Griffin Smith Jr. and Paul Burka, two friends and barbecue fans who met while attending Rice University. Smith's article that accompanied that list has become something of a founding document of contemporary Texas barbecue.
Smith delineated the traditional Central-versus-East Texas barbecue styles, noting the sauceless, beef-centric smoked meats associated with Austin versus the sauced and chopped pork traditions of joints around Houston.
Indeed, the Houston entries on the list featured the Central Texas-style Otto's on Memorial, the quintessential East Texas-style joint Matt Garner's on West Gray and a somewhat mysterious place known as the Western Kitchen with two locations on Richmond and Kempwood. All have since closed.
The list went dormant throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, arguably because of a downward swing in quality from the introduction of automated pits and the proliferation of chain barbecue restaurants.
The magazine resurrected its list in 1997, paralleling an increased interest in food media with the rise of the internet and The Food Network.
"There was just a sudden realization that Texas has comfort foods like barbecue and chicken-fried steak that people want to read more about," says Texas Monthly food editor Patricia Sharpe, who was one of five members of the '97 research team. For that list, Goode Co. Barbeque and Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue were the Houston entries suggested by staff writer John Morthland.
Goode Co. remained in 2003, with East Texas-style institutions Thelma's Bar-B-Que and Williams Smokehouse also getting nods. Five years later, Burns Bar-B-Q and Virgie's Bar-B-Que joined the club.
By 2013, the Texas barbecue landscape, and how it was covered in the media, had changed dramatically. Texas Monthly hired a full-time barbecue editor in Daniel Vaughn, and Franklin Barbecue in Austin turned Texas barbecue into an international sensation. Joints were opening at a breakneck pace, and the research team was larger than ever. I had the privilege of being asked by Vaughn and Sharpe to help with research for the growing barbecue scene in Houston.
Over months in 2013, Sharpe and I crisscrossed Greater Houston, visiting dozens of barbecue joints in East Texas.
"It was the first time I gained an appreciation of how varied the barbecue is in Houston," Sharpe says.
Houston had its best showing ever that year, with Brooks' Place BBQ, CorkScrew BBQ, Gatlin's BBQ and Virgie's all making the cut.
In the four years since, Texas barbecue has grown and changed even further with the rise of "craft barbecue" associated with Central Texas traditions and centered in urban areas. (I also contributed to the 2017 list.)
No "best-of" barbecue is perfect, and certainly not everyone will agree with the conclusions. But the best lists reflect the longest and strongest traditions of our communal obsession with smoked meats while acknowledging the inevitable changes that happen over time.
Texas Monthly names H-E-B True Texas BBQ the best BBQ chain in Texas
Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn named H-E-B’s True Texas BBQ the best barbecue chain in Texas.
After striking out at a few barbecue spots in West Texas, the esteemed barbecue writer and author found himself in a True Texas BBQ in Midland. To his surprise the spot delivered “artfully arranged” meats and sides that included “impressive brisket” that was “stunningly good.” It was the impressive consistency at the other locations he visited that set True Texas BBQ apart from other well-know chains, allowing Vaughn to award the H-E-B restaurant the state’s barbecue chain championship belt.
Here’s a bit of what he had to say in his piece:
“Over the next few months I made stops at other True Texas BBQ locations. I enjoyed a sliced brisket sandwich in Huntsville and the Frito pie in Magnolia. Rather than being hidden under a bunch of toppings, the morsels of roughly chopped brisket were the star on the stuffed potato in Killeen. The consistency was so impressive that I decided to check in on a few other well-known barbecue chains to test my growing sentiment that True Texas BBQ had seized the state’s barbecue chain championship belt.”
New Podcast: Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn Talks Leafy Greens
Just kidding. The national magazine of Texas meets with the national magazine of Dallas to talk through its list of the state's 50 best barbecue joints.
I can’t imagine there’s a journalist in Texas with a deeper expense account than Daniel Vaughn. Texas Monthly dropped its once-every-four-years best barbecue list last week, filled with 50 joints that Vaughn personally verified. That’s a lot of mileage! This was the first time he oversaw the feature himself, which means when staffers reported back about finding a solid hole-in-the-wall in Laredo, the magazine’s barbecue editor booked a rental car. There’s some low-and-slow takes all over the piece—no Pecan Lodge in the top 10! No Slow Bone at all! Better luck next time, Killen’s!—that Vaughn stands behind.
On Thursday, he scooted into the Old Monk to talk these things and more with Tim Rogers and noted vegetarian Zac Crain. Order’s up:
2. Here’s The Dallas Morning News’ take on the uptick in drive-by shootings, which the department is pinning on social media. On its face, this might seem a bit silly. But let’s look to Chicago, where this is absolutely an issue. You’ll see why the police department is taking it so seriously.
3. Here’s the Tanya Eiserer story that Eric cites about Dallas’ dissolving gang unit. And the Wilonsky one about gun shopping and bad puns.
4. Background on goat yoga. I still don’t get it.
5. Texas Monthly first named the best barbecue in the world in 1973. It’s interesting reading the piece, seeing familiar names like Louie Mueller, Black’s, and Kreuz get special mentions. It took almost three decades for the magazine to do a larger list, but it settled into its current format in 1997. Here’s that piece. To note how far we’ve come, Sonny Bryan’s made the cut. Here’s their take in 2003, in 2008, and in 2013.
6. If you want more history about meat, here’s a link to Vaughn’s book, The Prophets of Smoked Meat.
7. Yes, WOF—Warmed Over Flavor—is real. That’s why your chicken and your pork tastes funky after days in the fridge. It’s interesting! Here’s a breakdown on why.
8. Pat Sharpe is Texas Monthly’s longtime food editor.
10. Here is Tim voicing his displeasure with the cover of Texas Monthly.
Watch the video: Ελλάδα. Υποχρεωτικές οι ηλεκτρονικές πληρωμές για όλους (October 2021).