We have long talked about the renaissance of Texas barbecue, but for the most part that renaissance has been focused mostly in the central part of Texas. Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor says now things are changing.
Central Texas-style has been popular for a while now. The boom sprang out of the Austin area, Vaughn says, and spread to the “Texas triangle,” between Dallas, San Antonio and Houston.
“What I’m finding here in my recent travels is that we’re seeing really great barbecue joints pop up on the edges, all over Texas,” Vaughn says.
He mentions Bodacious Bar-B-Que in East Texas and The Smoking Oak in South Texas as stand-outs.
“Down in Mercedes, they do have a bit of a wood problem,” Vaughn says. “The owner’s dad actually drives up to the Hill Country and picks up oak on about a monthly basis.”
Vaughn says barbecue in El Paso is starting to take off, with a barbecue food truck that opened there recently.
“Right now, they’re just really getting started,” he says, serving two days a week with a small menu. “But they have that really important thing in Texas barbecue – that’s sliced brisket – and it’s fantastic.”
Many of the people opening restaurants in other parts of the state recognize they have an opportunity in a place that is “under-served” with barbecue restaurants, Vaughn says. In some ways, it may be easier to do that rather than try to break in the scene in cities like Austin. He says the old apprenticeship model of learning how to make great barbecue is changing, too.
“You don’t have to necessarily witness it day-to-day from another person while you’re standing in the pit room together,” Vaughn says. “So much of this information is online…. We’re seeing the fruits for some of these far-flung barbecue joints.”