For aficionados of Texas barbecue, few events inspire as much excitement, argument and sheer, mouth-watering hunger as the publication, every five years or so, of Texas Monthly’s list of the best BBQ joints in the state. The newest list is out, and two Fort Worth locations made the cut. Which was all the excuse I needed to hop in the car and order myself a plate of sausage and brisket.(Full disclosure: I’m a writer-at-large at Texas Monthly, though I had no involvement with the selection of the barbecue list.)
The first of the two Fort Worth spots on the list is Cousins Bar-B-Q, which has a handful of locations around Fort Worth, and where I'm especially a fan of the meaty, but incredibly tender ribs. But the other Fort Worth spot Texas Monthly singled out was Longoria's BBQ, where I'd never been. Located just south of I-20, it actually made the unranked Texas Monthly list previously in 2008, and was also ranked as the third best barbecue spot in the area by D. Magazine in 2010.
I'm now ashamed to ask this question: But, seriously, what took me so long to get to Longoria's? Located in a funky old diner setting, featuring old pictures of James Dean on the walls, Longoria's house specialty is brisket sausage -- a savory, none-too-greasy link where you can really taste the smoke from the pecan wood. It's served sliced into thick pieces, with an accompanying barbecue sauce that contains a little bit of spice (Tabasco, our server told us), and a gentle blast of sweetness (brown sugar and honey, we guessed, though the server seemed intent on keeping the house recipe secret).
We also tried the sliced brisket, though David Longoria -- who runs the place and gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of the smoker -- also offers brisket beef jerky, chopped brisket, chorizo, chicken, turkey and St. Louis style ribs on his menu. For $8.50, you get a meat and pick two sides (for us: potato salad and -- just to keep things slightly healthy -- green beans) , and the requisite slices of white bread -- it's a Texas classic done beautifully.
Of course, Fort Worth has many iconic barbecue spots that didn't earn mention in Texas Monthly -- and, indeed, part of the fun of these sorts of lists is the arguments they inevitably inspire. (Five other places in the DFW area did make the cut.) Should Fort Worth's legendary Angelo's have claimed a spot? What about the much-loved Railhead Smokehouse,, whose sprawling patio is the Happy Hour choice of many on Friday afternoons? The Fort Worth outpost of legendary Hill Country BBQ spot Cooper's?
Are there any best-kept secrets that fell completely beneath the magazine's radar, and that you're willing to share in the comments section below?
My guess is that the never-ending debate over who serves up Texas' best barbecue certainly won't be settled anytime soon -- but at least we'll all get to enjoy some great brisket while we're fighting about it.