If you want to visit the barbecue capital of the world, read our BBQ guide. You’ll discover where the best ribs come from, including West Texas’ “fall-off-the-bone” brisket. And if you love Texas barbecue, you’ll learn how to enjoy the flavors of Central Texas’ big tent barbecue. You can even visit your old favorites! But don’t let the barbecue guide be a media-created list: it’s meant to be a comprehensive guide for the average barbecue lover. It provides an alternative to crowd-sourced review websites and social media responses.
East Texas barbecue is known for its “falling off the bone” quality
When it comes to meat, East Texas barbecue is famous for its slow cooking and “falling off the bone” quality. Traditionally, the meat is slow-cooked, then glazed with a sweet sauce. This type of barbecue is credited to African-Americans. As such, it is often slow-cooked over hickory wood, using a sweet sauce.
The term “seasoning” is a common term used in barbecue discussions. In some cases, barbecue enthusiasts attribute the quality of a particular barbecue joint to the seasoning of their pit. In other cases, this term may simply refer to the age of the place and how well they’ve broken in their smokers. In either case, it is a vague term that has several meanings. Pitmasters at some of Texas’ top barbecue joints explain what it means to be “seasoned”.
West Texas barbecue is cooked over an open flame
While the most famous barbecue is cooked over an open flame, all of Texas has its own signature style. Central Texas is known for its unique barbecue, which is cooked without sauces. Czech and German immigrants helped develop the unique style. Other regions have adapted their own famous barbecue techniques. West Texas is known for its “Cowboy style,” which involves direct heat and sometimes other animals as well. South Texas dishes include tacos made from the cow head.
While most Texas barbecue is slow-cooked, west Texas style is more reminiscent of backyard grilling. This style is usually cooked over an open flame, which adds a smoky flavor. The method is not suitable for larger cuts of meat. It is best for chicken, sausage, and ribs. On occasion, brisket can be found on menus, but it will most likely be tougher than traditional barbecue.
Central Texas barbecue is a big tent
While the smell of slow-cooked meats is a powerful form of advertising, most Central Texas barbecue operations are made up of one big tent and a trailer. The lack of a formal alcohol license forces many of these operations to serve free beers to line waiters. But if you are not in the mood for free beer, many of these barbecue operations allow customers to bring their own beer. Often, they also provide a condiment station, usually consisting of white onions, pickles and white bread. Occasionally, you’ll be asked to purchase fancy pickles and premium condiments.
While some barbecue joints are primarily found in the south, a number of restaurants in the west and east have started cooking over indirect heat. As a result, a bbq joint in the south or East is not typically considered “Texas barbecue” and the cuisine of those areas may be different from that of Central Texas. The term “Texas barbecue” usually refers to brisket cooked in the Central Texas style, which involves low-and-slow cooking over indirect heat.