You never know where a holiday can take you. After one meal of black-pepper-coated brisket at famed Texas pit Louie Mueller Barbecue, Daniel Vaughn was hooked. Slowly, but surely hooked. We’re talking turning his blog (fullcustomgospelbbq.com) into a book deal, The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbeque (bbqsnob.tumblr.com), hooked; logging 16,000 kilometres on the road to sample the best barbecue hooked; quitting a job in architecture to become the Barbecue Editor for Texas Monthly hooked.
But that doesn’t mean the journey was always easy. “Great barbecue is hard to come by,” says Vaughn, whose Twitter handle is appropriately @BBQsnob. Here he picks five joints in his adopted home town of Dallas, cautioning they are just some of his favourites. Ready to begin your own road trip?
“They’re basically a counter inside the Dallas Farmer’s Market, but they have a line that can stretch for over an hour. The beef brisket is impeccable. A giant smoky beef rib is enough to feed a family, and the pulled pork, not too common in Texas, is outstanding. Owner and pitmaster Justin Fourton hand-stuffs two kinds of homemade sausage for the menu. His wife, Diane, makes some incredible fried chicken if you’re not in the mood for smoked meat.” Dallas Farmer’s Market, Shed 2, 1010 S. Pearl Expressway; pecanlodge.com
“There isn’t a better place in Dallas to get true meat-market style barbecue like the kind you’d get in Central Texas. Meats are cut and weighed on a giant cutting block right behind the cash register. Smoked meats like brisket, shoulder clod and pork chops are sold by the pound and served on butcher paper. Lockhart Smokehouse is also the only joint in North Texas that carries Kreuz Market sausage from Lockhart, Tex.” 400 West Davis St.; lockhartsmokehouse.com
Meshack’s Bar-Be-Que Shack
“This joint doesn’t have a lot going for it. The parking lot is terrible, there’s no seating, the line moves slowly and for a while they only took cash. No matter, since the customers keep coming to get some of the best ribs in the area and a huge sandwich called Da Jasper that epitomizes East Texas-style barbecue. Two buns are covered in a mound of smoked and chopped brisket, sliced hot links and lots of sweet barbecue sauce.” 240 E. Avenue B, Garland
Peggy Sue BBQ
“This was one of the first places I ever consumed Texas barbecue. The dining room is decorated with a bunch of memorabilia from the 1950s and there’s a full wait staff. The brisket can be a little dry, but the saucy baby backs are always good, as are the sides of squash casserole and potato salad. Hoppin’ John is another favourite on the menu with rice and black-eyed peas topped with pulled pork and smoked onions.” 6600 Snider Plaza; peggysuebbq.com
“Only open for lunch on Monday to Friday, this tiny joint is run by Billy McDonald. He smokes with hickory wood and does a mean rack of pork ribs. There isn’t much on the menu that I haven’t tried, but my favourite is the chopped beef and hot link sandwich with a side of ranch beans and some of the best fries in Dallas. His simple homemade barbecue sauce is also one of my favourites.” 3933 Main St.
This interview has been edited and condensed.