Ten Top Barbecue Joints In Texas (Slideshow)

10) Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, Llano

Honestly, it's hard to pick any one favorite item at Cooper's, but the brisket is nothing short of legendary. The sauce at Cooper's is a bit of a lightning-rod issue. It's not like most Texas sauce, which is usually tomato-based and peppery. Cooper's sauce is a thin, vinegary pan drippings kind of sauce. We like it a lot, but it's not everyone's thing and that's OK.

9) Rudy’s BBQ, Multiple Locations

Some might balk at my inclusion of Rudy's on this list because they are a corporate restaurant, but we're actually OK with it. They are after all a Texas-based chain and offer some of the most consistently good food you'll get. Our favorite is the extra moist brisket, end cut. You get lots of smoky goodness and meat that falls apart in your mouth. There's nothing wrong with that at all. And because they are corporate, there are plenty of locations around the state to enjoy them.

8) Kreuz Market, Lockhart

One of the oldest operating BBQ establishments in the state, Kreuz can trace its origins back to about 1900. So proud are they of their meat that there is no sauce. If you want sauce, it's strictly BYOS. With such a proud history, it's no surprise then to find out there's been some family drama, which ultimately resulted in a split and creation of another legend — Smitty's Market.

7) Smitty’s Market, Lockhart

Smitty's is the other half of a family split with Kreuz Market. It sits on the spot of the first Kreuz and uses the original pits. The result is the now legendary flavor that can only come from well-seasoned pits. These old-time pits turn out some of the most tender, succulent brisket with a smoke ring so large it should have its own zipcode, and sausages that snap perfectly as your teeth break the skin. 

6) Snow’s BBQ, Lexington

Snow's BBQ was always a small establishment, serving people on Saturdays only. Then along came 2008 and the Texas Monthly article voting them the best in Texas. Even with the increased attention that article gave them, they decided not to expand their hours. Change is not something Texans always feel the need to engage in. They still serve their legendary brisket and are still considered one of the best anywhere, but if you want to try them, get there early. They are open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to whenever the meat runs out, which is usually around noon.

5) Luling City Market, Houston

Luling City Market is truly old-school Central Texas BBQ at its finest. Operating for more than 30 years, City Market sticks to tradition by refusing to use gas in any step of the cooking process. The result is a fantastic smoke ring (aka, flavor country) creating a distinctive flavor profile. Pair that with their famous mustard-based sauce and you have the makings of a great party!

4) Gatlin’s BBQ, Houston

Gatlin's is another of the more famous BBQ establishments in Texas. They say that their secret ingredient is love, and it comes through in every bite. The brisket is moist and tender, but being from outside of Central Texas the real star of the show is the heavenly ribs. How good is this place? They have twice won the Houston Press Best Barbecue Award.

3) Franklin Barbecue, Austin

Franklin Barbecue is one of the most popular places in the state for barbecue. Not at all a traditional type of place, Franklin is no less respected than any of its counterparts. Starting out of a trailer — this is Austin after all — Aaron Franklin quickly outgrew his lot and had to move on to a permanent building. So anticipated was this move that people actually camped out overnight to get a spot. The meat sells out quickly so if you want some you will need to get in early.

2) Pecan Lodge, Dallas

The Pecan Lodge offers a real Southern experience. In addition to the meat, which tender with a near-buttery consistency, the sides alone are worth the trip. Collard greens, mac and cheese, and fried okra make for a real experience. And in case you were wondering about their pedigree, they've won their share of accolades including Best Newcomer from Texas Monthly.

1) The Salt Lick, Driftwood

No list would be complete without including The Salt Lick. They are arguably the most famous BBQ place in the country thanks to the heaps of praise it consistently earns. But in all honesty, the reputation is well-deserved. They serve family-style all-you-can-eat BBQ in one of the loveliest possible settings. It's a great way to spend the day with family and a must-see for visiting friends and relatives.