Monk: Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn joins the Tales from the Pit guys for a wide-ranging conversation from his origin story with Texas barbecue to the early days of his blog to the construction of Top 50 lists and how they may or may not affect relationships with barbecue restaurant owners. A good, frank discussion between barbecue aficionados.
Description: Five years ago we launched Tales from the Pits to help tell the stories behind the people in barbecue. Daniel Vaughn’s writing and documenting of Texas barbecue has been one of our (and everyone else in the state’s) biggest resources in seeking out new places and visiting the classic joints.
We were excited to have Daniel join us on this episode to discuss all things barbecue past, present and future, lists, Texas Monthly, and more. A big thanks to Daniel for sitting down with us and to everyone who’s tuned in over all these years!
Not that we’re anywhere close to being qualified enough to evaluate books but more so as a public service announcement we will periodically discuss barbecue and barbecue-related books. And in this case, barbecue magazine issues.
Every four years, the most anticipated issue of Texas Monthly is awaited not only by Texas barbecue fans but also by just about all Texas barbecue restaurants as well. The Top 50 is the end product of “32 Texas Monthly editorial staffers and 3 freelancers [who] visited 411 barbecue joints over eight weeks during the spring and summer, driving many thousands of miles in the process.”
As for the issue itself, the Texas Monthly Top 50 and its related features takes up about 30 pages of the November issue of the magazine. That covers: the top 10 with extended write ups, shorter write-ups on the remaining 40 of the 50, a list of the 50 honorable mentioned joints, plus a couple of short articles. Beautiful photos are featured throughout.
I can’t help but be struck by the newness of the joints in the top 50 but also the youth of several of the top joints. The five pitmasters at #1 joint Goldee’s BBQ in Fort Worth are all under 27, the five listed pitmasters at #3 Truth Barbeque in Houston are all under 35, Evan LeRoy of #5 LeRoy and Lewis is 35, and four of the other joints in the top 10 have pitmasters under 40 (Franklin Barbeque, Evie Mae’s Pit Barbeque, Snow’s BBQ, and Panther City BBQ). And as noted in the lead-in, 29 of the top 50 are new to the list.
Goldee’s Barbecue in particular is one I hope to visit soon. Besides the youth of the pitmasters noted above, I love the multi-culturality. Black, white, Laotian; these are some of the new faces of always changing barbecue scene.
Also included in the issue is the updated Top 50 BBQ Joints Passport, a highly coveted item for all Texas BBQ hunters. As folks visit the various joints, they get a stamp in the hopes of completing the passport. Who knows if I’ll get the opportunity to get stamps of my own, but I urge folks to practice civility when visiting these joints in the coming weeks and months. I recall anecdotal evidence of impatience and ugliness after the last list drop in 2017.
The Texas Monthly Top 50 issue is available through the Texas Monthly Store online(now sold out) for those of us not in Texas but be warned that you will be paying about $15 for the single issue after shipping. It’s also available as part of “The Ultimate Texas BBQ Guide Bundle” which will run you $50 before shipping (also now sold out). Even with the increased price for those out of state, it’s worth having for any serious barbecue fan.
Recently, friend of the blog John Tanner (of John Tanner’s Barbecue Blog) ate his way across the piedmont of North Carolina while making stops on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail in honor of the late Jim Early. Early was the founder of the North Carolina Barbecue Society and driving force behind the NC Historic Barbecue Trail.
Notably, he makes a stop at our friends at Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton where he delights in the “hollerin’ orders” system and has a great meal. Follow John’s journey below.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s BBQ Bowl Week
Has Texas Brisket Peaked?
Speaking of brisket, Tales from the Pits unveils their top 5 barbecue spots in Texas
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