Sure, Barbecue’s Gone Gourmet. But What About Those Chain Restaurants? ​

Texas Monthly’s Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn says you shouldn’t write off chain restaurants entirely.

By David BrownMarch 5, 2015 11:40 am| ,

Daniel Vaughn arguably has the best job in the country.

As Texas Monthly’s Barbecue Editor, he’s paid to flesh out the best–and worst–BBQ in Texas, and everything in-between. He writes about who has the tenderest, most succulent brisket, and whose comes up wanting.

One topic on the Standard’s mind? The fact Texas’ barbecue chains get a lot less love than the more “boutique” eateries out there. So we queried Vaughn about the good, bad – and ugly – of Texas’ barbecue chains.

“Chains certainly get the service aspect, and certainly they have getting you through the line down to a science,” Vaughn says. “I mean these chains, they understand that – for the most part – these people are here for a quick, inexpensive lunch and they’ve got a limited amount of time to eat it.”

Another place chains excel? Catering.

“You know, they are able to put out a lot of meat, and they have the staff to be able to deliver it to the different businesses and different functions as well.”

But just because one location’s good, it doesn’t mean they all are.

“There really is a wide variation in so many chain locations. I was actually just down in Houston and I went to a Baker’s Ribs there – Baker’s Ribs over on Voss, near The Galleria. And I’ve eaten at Baker’s Ribs here in Dallas, which is where it was founded and … it really reminded me that depending on the location you go to, you can certainly get much a better or a much worse experience than the average of that chain.”

Rudy’s is probably the best chain across the state – the quality’s going to vary a bit from location to location,” Vaughn says. “You don’t have one person cooking the barbecue for every one of those locations – so there is already a built-in variable there – but I think Rudy’s does a good job.”

“Sometimes very often it’s the best option in a lot of towns. If you go to Waco, I’ve tried to find a barbecue spot in Waco better than what Rudy’s puts out on a consistent basis, and it’s really not there.”