My F&W
quick save (...)

Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


Invite These Tender, Smoky Beef Ribs to Your Super Bowl Gathering

Short ribs are among the most flavorful cuts of beef, and can be remarkably tender, juicy, and flavorful when cooked properly.

read more
Video Spotlight

Ad Hoc’s Smoked Ribs: A GoPro How-To

Already known for its masterful fried chicken, Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, California, is now focusing on America’s other favorite comfort food: barbecue.

read more
Make This Now

10 Recipes for a Best-Ever Father's Day Cookout

From short ribs to juicy burgers, here are 10 delicious barbecue and grilling recipes to make this weekend.

read more
Expert Guide

5 Steps to Creating Your Own Barbecue Sauce

Want to make a signature sauce? Learn the basics and then go crazy. You’re only limited by what’s in your pantry.

read more
F&W Book Club

Why You Should Add Espresso to Your Barbecue Sauce

Why You Should Add Espresso to Your Barbecue Sauce

When Cheryl and Bill Jamison published Smoke & Spice in 1994, they created a definitive grilling guide. Now they've updated their opus with global flavors they couldn't have imagined two decades ago.

read more
Summer Handbook

16 Top Barbecue Pitmasters Descend on New York in June

The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party will transform Manhattan’s Madison Square Park into a meat-and-smoke-filled urban barbecue pit tended by 16 of the best grill masters from across the nation.

read more
America's Most Wanted

A Brilliant Barbecue Sandwich for Vegans

At Charleston’s Butcher & Bee, chef Michael Shemtov has brought barbecue to vegans with his pulled-squash sandwich.

read more

Texas Barbecue Primer


Texas Monthly BBQ Festival

© Charlie Llewellin
Texas Monthly BBQ Festival

In Texas, quality barbecue is practically its own religion, somewhere between high school football and actual religion. At the annual Texas Monthly BBQ Festival in Austin last month, a veritable pantheon of pit masters—22 in all—gathered to feed meat to more than 3,000 enthusiasts. Thanks to careful pacing and a strict limit on potato salad, we managed to try most of the offerings. Here, we present a guide to five of the state’s best ’cue artists.


The Salt Lick, Driftwood, TX
This famous Hill Country spot still cooks meat over a pit, instead of in an industrial smoker. Salt Lick also sears brisket on an open flame before it’s smoked. “I don’t know of anybody else who does it,” says owner Scott Roberts. “Searing caramelizes the flavor, adheres the dry rub better, and holds in more moisture.” As for the signature tangy sauce, Roberts says a legend that the secret flavor was influenced by his mother’s Japanese heritage is “a myth.” “Our sauce came from South Carolina on the wagon train,” he adds. “The only thing that’s happened over time is it’s been Texified.”

Louie Mueller, Taylor, TX
This venerable institution, founded in 1949, took home two awards at the festival—one for beef ribs and one for sausage—but the sausage is the show-stealer: a juicy, jalapeño-infused recipe devised by late BBQ legend Bobby Mueller, whose sonWayne is the current pit master. “It’s a strict ratio of what we call bull meat”—the tough, lean pieces near the shoulder—“and beef tallow,” Wayne says. As for the spices? Nice try. “We’re pretty guarded about that,” Wayne says with a smile.

Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ, Tyler, TX
In beef-mad Texas, barbecued pork is about as sought after a commodity as secondhand snowshoes. (Governor Rick Perry got into trouble in North Carolina recently when he unfavorably compared pulled pork to roadkill.) But the award-winning pork ribs from Stanley’s BBQ in Tyler—a town in East Texas that’s closer to Memphis than to Midland—makes a case for switching sides. Smoked over pecan wood instead of the more traditional post oak, the ribs get coated in an 11-spice rub that balances Tex-Mex-ish spices like paprika and chili powder with the sweetness of a Deep South blend. It’s a combination that, as owner Nick Pencis puts it, “comes right up and punches you in the face.”

Franklin BBQ, Austin, TX
If it’s true, as purists hold, that you can judge a pit master by his brisket, 33-year-old Aaron Franklin deserves his reputation as the best new barbecue whiz in town. Franklin smokes antibiotic- and hormone-free Meyer Ranch beef for up to 18 hours, resulting in a rich, buttery flavor that draws fans who line up for hours outside the restaurant. “We just cook it as long as it needs to be cooked. It’s done when it’s done,” reasons Aaron's wife and co-owner Stacy Franklin, in the Zen language common to many great barbecuers.

Snow’s BBQ, Lexington, TX
At the opposite end of the big Tex experience is tiny Snow’s, whose pit master, Miss Tootsie Tomanetz, is a septuagenarian middle-school custodian who’s been smoking meat for more than 45 years. According to partner Kerry Bexley, there’s no great secret to Tootsie's impossibly tender brisket: “All you need is a good cut of meat—we get ours from Sam Kane in Corpus Christi—and a little bit of salt and pepper. The real key to great barbecuing is attention and tenderness. If you mess it up, more than likely it’s human error.”

Related: Texas-Style Barbecue Recipes
Barbecued Ribs Recipes
Andrew Zimmern's Favorite Food Festivals

You might also like
The Dish
Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.

Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.

Join celebrity chefs, renowned winemakers and epicurean insiders at the culinary world's most spectacular weekend, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 19-21.