Salt Lick, Driftwood
Believe it or not, the most famous barbecue joint in Texas, the Salt Lick, is easy to miss—if your windows are rolled up. Roll them down, and the smoky scent from the divine mesquite-fired pit will draw you right into the parking lot of this ever-expanding low-slung temple of meat. Opened in 1969 and originally a humble limestone room with a patio, the Salt Lick these days is so renowned it's almost bursting out of two big buildings; plentiful outdoor seating under pecan trees is ready for the overflow. Watch the servers deliver black-crusted pink beef, glistening ribs, and crispy sausages to your table. Don't forgo the sides of lightly-spiced pinto beans, creamy potato salad, and vinegary coleslaw with sesame seeds. And just try to sweeten your giant iced tea with fewer than the eight packets of sugar it comes with. Waddling back to the car is not only permitted but expected. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner; be sure to bring cash, because credit cards aren't accepted here.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.