The Top 50 Barbecue Places In The World (Ok, Texas, But That’s The Same Thing)

The new Texas Monthly Top 50 Barbecue Places is out. It’s often referred to as ‘the bible’ of Texas barbecue, although I find its picks especially controversial this year.

Here’s what you should know to start. The most correct – and best – barbecue is Central Texas barbecue. The focus is on meat, especially beef. You may get onions, peppers or pickle slices, and white bread as an accompaniment. Put your meat on the bread between bites. It’s all served on butcher paper.

Usually you take a tray and get meat from one staff member at a barbecue restaurant. A different server handles sides. Meat is sold by the pound. If there’s sauce, it’s for dipping only. Eat with your hands.

Kreuz Market, Lockhart

This year’s list does some interesting things,

  • It drops previous #1 spot Snow’s Barbecue out in Lexington (worth the drive, Saturday morning) down to #9. Last year the place was featured in the Netflix Chef ’s Table: BBQ.

  • It drops Franklin down from last year’s #2 to #7. There’s some great new barbecue but this seems a stretch as well. The place is largely perfect, and is still doing pre-order carry out. That’s been great for me during the pandemic, no more four hour lines. The meat is high quality and perfectly done. Texas Monthly in its rankings even acknqwledges “no one does the traditional barbecue lineup better.” They’re just looking for something else.

    Here Chase Sapphire promotes Chef Nobu Matsuhisa visiting the hallowed Austin ‘cue joint.

  • There are 29 first-timers out of 50 on the list. Again, great new places, but this seems like a conscious editorial effort that seems overdone.

  • Goldee’s in Fort Worth takes the number 1 spot. I won’t express an opinion, I have not been there. It’s a collaboration of barbecue greats from Austin – owners and pitmasters boast resume lines from La Barbecue, Micklethwait, Freedmen’s, Franklin, and Valentina’s.

  • The number two and five spots are both new and both from Austin, Interstellar Barbecue and LeRoy & Lewis. The latter is a food truck that opened in 2017.

Below the top 10 they don’t rank-order the rest of the list, which includes La Barbecue, Micklethwait, and Valentina’s Tex Mex in Austin.

Terry Black’s in Dallas makes the list, and I haven’t eaten there, only at the original in Austin – which is generally overrated and not on the list. It’s worth noting that Terry Black’s, while a Black family member, isn’t the ‘original’ Black’s in Lockhart, and also that none of the Lockhart – former ‘Barbecue Capital of Texas’ – remain on the list (and fairly, in my opinion). While Kreuz is famous especially for its sausages, it doesn’t compare, and Smitty’s is too inconsistent.

Smitty’s in Lockhart

We can argue about who should be ranked where, who was left off the list unfairly, but for anyone that doesn’t live in Texas a visit to one of these places will be better than the barbecue you’ve had on your travels elsewhere or have access to at home.

Not on the list, and rightfully so, visitors to Austin need to know about Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue because it is the best barbecue in a proper sit-down restaurant with full bar. That makes it especially useful for visits with out of towners looking for a meal out without missing out on trying archetypal Central Texas barbecue.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Gary, none of the lockhart places on top 50?
    Is that really correct??
    Why do you agree with that?

  2. I’m 54 years old and have lived in Texas all my life. Texans without a doubt take pride in our BBQ. Thanks Gary for sharing. I agree that this year, Texas Monthly has somewhat “jumped the shark” for whatever reason. The downward slide off the list of Pecan Lodge in Dallas is very suspect – in my opinion.

  3. @Gary: This list is not to be taken seriously. Just good for click-bait at a failing Austin house rag.

  4. Not from Texas, but now I’m intrigued by Goldee’s as Franklin, La Barbecue, and Valentina’s are the three I tell all my friends to go to when they visit Austin. (With Micklethwait not far behind.)

  5. I’ve been posting YouTube videos recently of well done cooked steak. It’s amazing how many people commented on them YouTube video that they would prefer their stake to be medium rare. Eating steak well done is the only way everyone should eat meat. Who agrees with this? And why or why not?

  6. Is that why Memphis holds the World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest every year?

    Texas BBQ is fine, but Memphis clearly has the best BBQ.

  7. Any top BBQ lists w/o The Original Black’s in Lockhart isn’t to be believed. I prefer Black’s in Lockhart and I have been to Franklins, La Barbecue, Micklethwait, Stiles Switch, Kreuz’s, Smitty’s, City Market (Luling), Terry Black’s (Dallas), and Matt’s BBQ (Portland). I have also tried Rudy’s (Austin), and Edley’s (Nashville). Who has the best BBQ is subjective, but I highly doubt there are 50 places better than the Original Black’s in Lockhart. I wont be reading anything else from the Texas Monthly.

  8. Texas “BBQ” isn’t BBQ as most Americans understand it. It’s essentially Central European smoked meats originating with immigrants from Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland. All the extra stuff-sauce, white bread, pickles, etc.- have been added by Americans. Anything outside this pedigree is not Texas “BBQ.”

  9. Memphis BBQ more about pork. Texas is about beef, and mostly brisket….Very tasty brisket.

    I’m not from Texas, but when Lockhart is omitted, and places like Angelo’s in Ft. Worth are excluded…I’m sorry – it looks like it was written by tourists.

  10. @JetAway…Isn’t meat just meat, regardless if it’s Texas BBQ or not? As long as the meat is cooked well done and seasoned right to a person’s likening, that’s all that should metter, right? 🙂

  11. Don’t get me wrong, I love Texas BBQ. Having said that, any list of the best world’s barbeque starts in Kansas City.

  12. To DNN, I like extra well done steak. One of the best things about BBQ is it is automatically well done so I don;t have to ask for something special. I combine my preference for extra well done with the Missouri BBQ tradition of Burnt Ends. Convenient since I live in MO now.

    For Texas, Brisket is close enough.

  13. Finally, posters can argue about something far more important than politics. I have loved BBQ in Texas, Kansas City, Memphis, North Carolina, and even South Carolina with its mustard based sauce. I live in Florida now, which has no BBQ, despite many restaurants claiming to sell it! Now I am hungry for a BBQ fix.

  14. #u600213..Eating well done cookes Steak is abiding in Scriptural law. You are doing the RIGHT thing by eating well done cooked meat. Eating well done Steak is respecting spiritual LAW. 🙂

  15. @Doug – I think I explain why that makes sense, arguably Original Blacks in Lockhart should make the top 50, I don’t think Smittys or Kreuz do, the former too inconsistent and the latter just hasn’t been truly great in years.

  16. I went to Black’s in Lockhart twice this summer and was disappointed both times. Honestly, I’d be just as content eating at Cooper’s Downtown. Lockhart has really capitalized on the BBQ Capital of Texas schtick. It’s certainly fun for a day trip from Austin, but it seems the town’s target market is now bougie visitors who want to see some sort of “authentic Texas.”

  17. So pork BBQ doesn’t crack the top 50? For someone so fat, you sure don’t know shit about food.

  18. Lived in Texas twice. Once in Dallas from 1844-1990 & again in Fort Worth 2016-2018. I have never been to one location twice because they were awful, sorry. Even went to several BBQ cook-offs. Nothing to write home about. Best BBQ I’ve ever had was in Blue Ridge Tennessee.

  19. @mcgee
    Were you always a piece of shit or did you become that way when your wife sucked the fedex guy’s dick?

  20. Love the list and agree it mostly beef BBQ top 50 list and that’s cool.

    A pork BBQ list would have different names with establishments in KC, NC and Memphis

  21. Gary, next time you’re in the Houston area, check out Blood Brothers BBQ in Bellaire. It’s fantastic.
    Thanks for sharing the list. I, for one, still have a long way to go to say I’ve visited most of these joints, but I accept the challenge! 🙂

  22. I’ve been on a Memphis in May team. Runner up one year and winner once. Different style from TX, except for deep east texas. Doesn’t mean one is better than another. Just style differences and both are good. MIM cooks haven’t a clue about brisket. It is all about pork ribs and shoulders. As for pork bbq I prefer the Memphis style. As for brisket and sausage, central TX style is the kingpin. And Texas Monthly lost its bearings long ago when NY transplants populated its staff. Been in the ditch ever since. Hardly a reliable authority on BBQ.

  23. Yet again, Gary has clearly someone confused the word “best” with the phrase “my favorite.” Texas BBQ is wonderful. It is by no means the “best”. This is like calling the Truck of the Year contenders “the best transportation on the planet”. No, it’s just a list of the best trucks. There are other types of transportation, and many prefer those to trucks. You live in Texas, so obviously you prefer trucks. That’s fine, but use the right words.

  24. Ugg…

    Gary has clearly *somehow confused the word “best” with the phrase “my favorite”.

  25. Ratings almost always confuse “best” and “my favorite,” I hate that.
    I would never eat steak any way but medium rare, well done is basically leather.
    I do not like brisket.
    I prefer pork BBQ to beef BBQ.
    I am from Houston, Dallas, and Austin.

  26. When I first started traveling to Dallas to work I asked my coworkers where to get some good BBQ. Their answer? Dickie’s. Wrong answer. And our office was literally 2 blocks from Cattleack…

    Cattleack is very good but very crowded. Easiest thing to do was to please the family, on my way to DFW I’d hit Hard 8 and take it home on the plane. At first they were confused when I asked for no foil, just plastic wrap. Must have caught on since at the end of my 4 years they asked if my togo order was going on a plane.

    My wife is a sucker for the place she grew up on, The Swingin’ Door in Richmond TX (I affectionately call it the Slidin’ Door). All pecan wood so now when I travel through Texas I take an extra suitcase and bring 50lbs of pecan home with me.

Comments are closed.