Monday, January 8, 2018

Road Trip of Dreams

Finally, we're back to normal winter weather in the Hill Country.  Lows in the low 40's/high 30's and highs in the 50's and 60's.  Heck, I didn't want sub-zero weather, if I did I'd live in Montana or Wyoming or something.  But that cold snap over the New Year's break was a bit much. (Yes, I actually took off from work for a couple of weeks, let's just call it "practice for retirement".) 

The GFCI circuit for the horse trough water warmer blew and I didn't catch it until the trough froze.  3 days of walking out there every couple of hours and busting up a couple of inches of ice, so the horses can drink, sucked a bit.

But, that's behind us.  Circuit is replaced (no, one of my "guys" didn't do it. I did.  No, the wood shop hasn't burned down. Yet.)

Other than those brisk walks, I had a bit of time on my hands.  One of my "Honey do's" was to prep the house for our New Year's Eve dinner.  While doing that, I ran across the May issue of Texas Monthly.  It was conveniently stored for safe keeping under the sofa.

Probably by one of the Cats, they tend to nap on that coffee table.  Sometimes one of the dogs takes umbrage at that and sneaks up and barks at them.  0-60 in point 5 seconds gets the cat going one way and whatever they were sleeping on going the other.

Now, Texas Monthly is published in Austin, so you might be able to determine its editorial slant.  However, they do put out one issue a year that I purchase.  May.

What's so important about the May issue, juvat?

Well, mi viejo amigo, viejo sargento de la Fuerza Aérea, because that's the issue that contains their annual list of the top 50 Barbecue Joints in the state.  

My first thought as I took a much needed break from straightening up Casa Juvat (I'd been at it for almost 5 minutes) was maybe, after I retire, I could get a gig with them testing Barbecue Joints.

Now, that was a warm fuzzy feeling.  Getting paid to drive around the state and eat Brisket and Sausage and Ribs and.....

Just then my cardiologist called and said to drop that thought and get back to work.  (Ok, it may have been my wife.)

But then I got to thinking again, how many on the list had I visited already?

One.  Cooper's in Llano  (That's pronounced Lan' oh, not Yawn' oh, just in case  a former President is reading this).

Well, how many are nearby?  Depends on your definition of nearby.  If you define it as within the size of the state where one of my co-bloggers resides,  not many.  40 miles isn't very far. Cooper's.

How about within 100 miles?  Ahhh, now we're talking some barbecue,  easily half.  Including the one that's generally regarded as THE best.  Franklin's in Austin.  I say "generally regarded" because Barbecue is a personal taste.  I've had good Barbecue and Bad Barbecue almost everywhere I've lived.  I think and like Texas Style Barbecue best, although North Carolina is a close second.

Given that Barbecue is a personal taste, how can I make a generalization about THE best.  Well the line at Franklin's forms at about 0600 for lunch.  They open at 1100 and are open until sold out.  It is possible to get there at 0600 and still not get to eat.

Since this year's list ranked Franklin's as #2, I wondered about the rest.  So, I filled my mind with dreams of a road trip to visit all 50.  Wondering how long that would take, how many miles the trip would be, and most importantly would I still like Barbecue when I got done.

I mean, if you did 3 squares a day of Barbecue, that's 17 days.  (Yes, I know 16 & 2/3 days, but let's not be pedantic).

I pulled up Google Maps and started entering addresses, but got stopped at 10 addresses.  Google!  Always limiting my ability to search.  Shame!

But, I found this site, which allows you to enter up to 100 addresses.  It will even optimize the trip for you.  (Be patient during that part of the process, it took about 15 minutes)

Barbecue Nirvana, here I come!


I'll just drive up to #2 (Cooper's) to re-calibrate my Barbecue taste buds, hang a left out to Pecos and then do a clockwise flow through the rest of the target area ending up in Burnet (Pronounced Burn' it, in case you're still reading, Mr. former President).

Trip time said 2 days, 3 hours 23 minutes.  Wow!  I could do it!

Wait....That's driving time.  Mrs Juvat, when she heard the plan, suggested we could do take out.  Man! That woman is a keeper.

But...The distance is 3037.4 miles.  Besides, I'd explode if I had 25 Barbecue meals a day.

OK, back to the drawing board.  What if I had a way to use that planning tool for various subsets of the list?  Say San Antonio, or East Texas?

Yeah, that's the ticket.

So.  For anybody who is interested, here's the list of restaurants and their addresses.  Select the Addresses and CTRL-C, CTRL-V into the planning tool and voila'.  Print out the directions (old school), import them directly from the site into your GPS (newer school), or save the web address it generates to display on your phone (how the cool kids do it today, or so I've been told, I prefer directions with a GPS backup).

When I was young and got my own car and started having money to afford Barbecue (it's not cheap, unless it's free), I asked someone how to find good Barbecue when on the road.  He said to look for a place that the owner's name is included in the name of the Place. Shows pride in one's craft. That's not a 100% guarantee (pronounced Gay-RON'-tee, Mister you know who), but is not a bad starting point either.  Asterisked restaurants fit that bill.

Without further ado, optimized starting from Pecos.

Pody's BBQ
Tyler's Barbeque *
Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue
Stillwater Barbeque
Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que
Payne's Bar-B-Q Shak *
Miller's Smokehouse *
Flores Barbecue
BBQ on the Brazos
Heim Barbecue *
Harris Bar-B-Que *
Top 5 BBQ
Lockhart Smokehouse
Pecan Lodge
Cattleack Barbeque
Hutchins BBQ *
4-T's Bar -BQ
Joseph's Riverport Barbecue *
Bodacious Bar-B-Q
Stanley's Famous Pit BBQ
Blue Moon BBQ *
Fargo's Pit BBQ
Tejas Chocolate Craftory
Corkscrew BBQ
Pinkerton's Barbecue *
Killen's Barbecue *
The Pit Room
Roegels Barbecue Co. *
Gatlin's BBQ *
Truth Barbeque
Snow's BBQ
Louie Mueller Barbecue *
Terry Black's Barbecue *
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew
Franklin Barbecue *
Micklethwait Craft Meats *
LA Barbecue
Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ
Hays Co. Bar-B-Que
Kreuz Market
City Market
Baker Boys BBQ *
Smolik's Smokehouse *
Vera's Backyard Bar-B-Que *
Rio Grande Grill BBQ & Tex Mex
The Smoking Oak
2M Smokehouse
The Granary 'Cue & Brew
Heavy's Bar-B-Que *
1330 S. Cedar St Pecos, TX
2014 Paramount, Amarillo TX
212 US 62 Wolfforth, TX
3365 S. 14th Abilene TX
604 W.Young St LLano, TX
615 Buchanan Dr Burnet Tx
300 E. Central Ave, Belton TX
400 S. Colorado St, Whitney TX
9001 E US 377 Cresson. TX
1109 W Magnolia Ave Fort Worth TX
220 S. US 77 Waxahachie TX
209 E. Pleasant Run Rd Desoto, Tx
400 W. Davis St Dallas TX
2702 Main St Dallas TX
13628 Gamma Rd Dallas, TX
1301 N Tennessee Mckinney TX
205 W. Broad St Forney, TX
201 N. Plok St Jefferson TX
2227 S Mobberly Ave, Longview TX
525 S. Beckham Ave Tyler, TX
18746 E OSR Hearne, TX
720 N. Texas Ave Bryan TX
200 N. Elm Tomball, TX
26608 Keith St Spring, TX
1504 Airline Dr Houston, TX
3613 E. Broadway St Pearland TX
1201 Richmond Ave, Houston TX
2223 S Voss Rd Houston, TX
3510 Ella Blvd Houston, TX
2990 Us 290 W Brenham, TX
516 Main St Lexington TX
206 W 2nd St Taylor Tx
1003 Barton Springs Rd Austin, TX
6610 N. Lamar Blvd Austin, TX
2402 San Gabriel St Austin, TX
900 E. 11 st Austin, TX
1309 Rosewood Ave Austin TX
1906 E. Cesar Chavez Austin TX
11500 Manchaca Rd Austin TX
1612 S I35 San Marcos, TX
619 N Colorado Lockhart TX
633 E. Davis Luling, TX
1404 Sarrah Dewitt Dr Gonzales TX
10541 N TX Hwy 359 Mathis TX
2404 Southmost Rd Brownsville TX
417 W. Van Buren Ave Harlingen, TX
546 Hidalgo St. Mercedes TX
2731 WW White Rd San Antonio, TX
602 Avenue A San Antonio TX
1309 19th St Hondo TX

Happy Eatin'


  1. Good to see Bodacious Barb-B-Q on there. When I went to college, I lived at 2223 Mobberly. Right across the fence from their parking lot, was a trailer park for married students at LeTourneau. My wife (100% Texas Tough), hung our washed clothes on the line out front. The smoke from the BBQ would flavor everything, especially the towels.... It was really interesting to smell BBQ on your towel after a shower...

    Being poor as church mice, I would buy one chopped sandwich and split it with her once a week or so. I never could afford anything pricier than the cheapest meal they had, but it was REALLY GOOD! Good memories, thanks for the list neighbor!

    1. According to the TM writeup, it was taken over and reopened in 2015 by a couple of Culinary School graduates. The original owner's daughter married the new owner and her dad apparently checks in regularly, so I'd guess it's got a lot of the same taste as it did when you were there. Might be worth a road trip to check out.

  2. I realize that you OAF folks have a significant void in your knowledge base concerning flight operations at sea but what you have describer in paragraph 5 above is the classic definition of a "cat shot." And just in case you need a navigator for epic journey I would point out that I can make myself available.

    1. I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but I can see that. It's a little bit more spectacular when they continue their climb out over your leg, chest and head. DAMHIK.

    2. Oh yes. And that one time at 0330 a (rather weighty) feline leaped from the windowsill to my sleeping form, missed the landing, and tried to arrest her progress by using her "tail hooks" on my nostril.

      I'm not sure if it counts as a hook-skip, but she sure did bolter with all my flailing and yelling.

    3. Ahem. I do know a thing or two about naval aviation, having a son-in-law who flies Rhinos and a daughter who used to ride the back seat in same.

      That being said, Dave - good call on the "cat shot" and a bear, definitely a hook skip and a bolter.

      No doubt your flight deck was fouled at that point.

  3. Mourner #1 stands next to the coffin, glances down and whispers, "What are those reddish stains around his mouth?"
    Mourner #2 answers, "The undertaker said that the barbecue sauce stains were too much to cover up, and they couldn't do anything with the huge smile either."

    Good post.

    1. I hadn't heard that one, but I can see that. Since we're on the subject, do you suppose that Heaven has all the good Barbecue Joints and the other place has all the bad ones? We, here at the Chant, sometimes get on a Theological tack. Wonder if we should discuss that.

    2. I wonder if Heaven will have barbecue schisms?
      Beef/pork/chicken? Wet/Dry? Tomato/Vinegar?
      And maybe Heaven will also answer the question about beans and chili or will that be a religious war.

    3. Oh, no! You had to raise the beans and chili question? Religious wars are child's play compared to that! (Although most folks around here say that question has been answered with "No".)

    4. Why is it that so many folks don’t understand about NO BEANS IN CHILE?

    5. Well, maybe we need to send the nation of Chile some beans.

      As to the eternal bean question in Chili (the food,) I have known actual Mexican Mexicans to fix it either way, with beans in the pot or beans on the side, and then the ones who fix beans on the side to be about evenly distributed between mixing beans into the bowl of Chili at the table and eating the beans as a side item.

      So, unless someone can dig up a record by St. Austin himself saying yea or nay, I'll just continue to fix chili the way my wife wants it. Which is kinda a Mexican version of a real gumbo, just about everything tossed in, tomatoes, meat, seasonings, some cornmeal for thickening if needed, and, yes, beans (pinto, black and kidney.)

      Y'all don't like it? You can tell her she's wrong. (31 years of marriage, only two confirmed instances of that occurring, both after hospital visits, so her score is basically the complete opposite of the Cleveland Browns this last year.)

    6. I'm with Andrew on this. I know that Chileans use beans in their cuisine.

      As for Chili. I'm ambivalent on the issue. The Texan in me usually makes it without. Sometimes, I throw it in, usually to thicken it or because I didn't have enough leftover beef to make a meal with it. OldNFO says to call it "stew" at that point. I will defer to his grip of ancient folklore on that subject.

    7. I can do Cali Mexican food day and night for a week or more without ill effect. One shot of Flint's Ribs in Oakland and I was under the table for 3 days. I wrongly supposed I could chow down on ribs with her hot sauce. Not a mistake I'll live to repeat twice. It goes without saying, I'd last no more than the first three and then ask for a lift to the nearest clinic for the insane. :)

    8. I do like a bit of spiciness in my food, but I'm not the kind of guy that starts chomping down ghost peppers just to see how many I can eat before dying. If and when I do this trip, it will be in short legs with time in between. Pacing, you see, appreciating good barbecue is a marathon, not a sprint.

  4. And after testing at Truth Barbeque you'll have to finish it off with some Blue Bell ice cream, because the cows do think that Brenham is Heaven.


    1. My cardiologist just called again. "Barbecue AND Ice Cream?" Heckuva way to go and it would be impossible to wipe the smile off my face.

  5. While I am no BBQ aficionado, I do appreciate a good meal. However, there is no meal on this planet worth lining up at 0600 to maybe, maybe mind you, get fed at 1100. Hell, I'm not sure if there is anything on the planet worth standing in line for that long, perhaps to be turned away anyway!

    All that being said, while driving from San Antonio to Fort Collins (in northern Colorado), I had the opportunity to stop for a meal in what I recall as being Junction City, TX (got off I-10 to head north on 83, to 87 etc., etc. It was a BBQ place, it was so good that I was quite prepared to stay there, live in my car if need be, just to eat the food at that place.

    Would I have waited in line for that food, no, but it was awfully good.

    1. The Barbecue place in Junction is Cooper's second site, well worth the stop on the interstate.

      As for Franklin's, 1) The populace of Austin is well versed in "Keeping Austin Weird". This is just one more manifestation. 2) Supposedly, the line is a social event. After spending 5 hours in line with someone, you're either best friends or mortal enemies. (probably based on whether the eat/not eat point happens between you.

      However, I haven't eaten there because of that line.

  6. Thank you for this list!! Hubby loves BBQ, and keeps talking about going on a road trip to Texas, especially this winter. (I pointed out it was pretty cold there as well as here in MI)
    But now, thank you Mr. Juvat, I have a list of BBQ places. Researched BBQ places!
    So we will save this to use at some future date.

    1. Wonder if there is something similar for North Carolina? We go there annually...

    2. As they say....Come ON Down! I'll probably recognize you. I'll be wearing a parka, you'll be the one in Shorts. Seriously, the last two weeks were an oddity in Central Texas. I think we're back to normal now. never know with that global warmening thang!

    3. Re: North Carolina...As a matter of fact, they do

    4. Thank you for the link!
      And yes, shorts...the hot flashes are definitely kicking in these days.
      but the weather has been warming up all day. Supposed to be 50 by Wednesday here. So I may put the long johns away for a week or two. :)

    5. My pleasure! Mrs J (being from Wisconsin) always kids me on definitions of cold. A year at Kunsan, where the runway was 100 yards from the Yellow Sea and the other side of the Yellow Sea is an area called "Siberia" gave me a pretty good experience with Cold. BTDTGTTS, Don't need to do it again. Glad you are warming up (for the time being).

  7. Hmm, wonder if they do Door Dash or Grub Hub from Texas to San Diego. haha. That's a handy service for the lazy and rich. We went out on Friday and told the kids to make their own dinner. We arrived home to find two separate food bags in the trash. My kids couldn't even coordinate their orders and got them from different places, and different delivery services. I obviously pay them too much to do so little around the house. Harumph.

    1. Yes, they do, but Barbecue is expensive enough without a delivery charge. Besides, I don't think it would survive the trip. I have a hard enough time bringing it in from the grill outside without checking if for taste, smoke, doneness, moisture, pairing with my beer. After all that testing, very little is left for the plate. Mrs J knows to go with me when I go out to get it.

    2. That is too funny. We learned (late) to never leave food alone near our Beagle. I guess Mrs. J learned to never leave BBQ alone with you!

  8. Brisket, sausages, ribs, mmmmmm!
    The one thing you don’t get in TX is Santa Maria Barbecue.
    It’ Quite a change-up from what’s been discussed here, but worth the journey.
    Anywhere else are just pretenders.

    1. I hadn't heard Tri-Tip called Santa Maria. However, I got a great recipe for Barbecued Tri-Tip from an article about Franklin's Barbecue Joint. So...Maybe a visit here for comparison? After a 6 hour wait in line, of course.

    2. The legend is that's where it originated.
      Open pit, red oak burned down to coals.
      Don't let the coals flare while grilling the meat as close to the heat as possible.
      It's labor intensive.
      Usually there's a side dish of beans served with it.

    3. May have to add a short dash west on my Road trip. Sounds pretty good, Tri-Tip does have a good flavor when grilled.

  9. So, seeing as you are some super-duper fighter pilot, which means you have greater OCD than a neurosurgeon, can you please explain what the asterisks are in the list of BBQ joints?

    Now that I pointed it out, I bet it's getting under your skin, like those damned bees that OldAFS talked about ordering...

    And it is nice having a President who doesn't think the Marine Corps is a dead water animal.

    1. Andrew, not to question your outstanding wit, considerable intellect and powers of observation, but....
      "When I was young and got my own car and started having money to afford Barbecue (it's not cheap, unless it's free), I asked someone how to find good Barbecue when on the road. He said to look for a place that the owner's name is included in the name of the Place. Shows pride in one's craft. That's not a 100% guarantee (pronounced Gay-RON'-tee, Mister you know who), but is not a bad starting point either. Asterisked restaurants fit that bill."

    2. Oh.


      Epic Fail.

      Soooo sorry. Send... the BEEES.

      (sometimes my reading comprehension is set to "NO", part of my charm. Worse is hearing comprehension, which is apparently filtered through two ancient extinct Tibetan languages before being retranslated into 'Andrew Englishish.'

      Shamefaced, am I. And, yes, family or person named restaurants usually smoke (get it?) any others. Down here in Florida we have a chain, called 'Sonny's', named after the founder, which for a chain is rather quite good, and not too expensive (though their ribs are disappointing.)

    3. No worries, Mate! If that's the worst fail you have today, you'll have had an F'in great day.

  10. Yep, that would be an epic road trip! And yes Cooper's IS that good! I'm sorry, but I'm not spending six hours standing in line to eat anywhere... And Tyler's up in Amarillo is excellent too! Personally, I like County Line down west of Austin too!

  11. I may have to give that County Line another try. I had eaten there once when we stopped at Bergstrom for a cross country. Visited again when we moved back to the state after retirement, on an nostalgia visit. It was franchise horrible.

    But, given enough beer, almost any barbecue is better than Mickey D's.

  12. Cats. Say something on FB that the world can't be flat or cats would have pushed everything off the edges by now.

    1. Yeah, that guy that's trying to build and fly a rocket to prove that it is flat, can't be a cat owner.

  13. Be happy to help evaluate the DFW area joints for ya. Just sayin'...

    This discussion reminds me of a discussion between myself and a pair of my huntin' buddies on the way back from a hunt down by Fredricksberg. Joe was explaining the directions to a new pawn shop he had discovered with some interesting rifles by saying "You turn right just past Soulmans BBQ". To which Tom (who was not a big BBQ fan) exclaimed "I knew it! You guys navigate by BBQ places!"

    1. Not a big BBQ fan? What would he know about anything? ;-)

      Well, when we get up in that area we'll give you a shout.

  14. Ok, this whole thing, post and comments, is for sure in the top ten list, possibly in the top five list. Thank you for a really good post. Also, I wasn't hungry before reading this, but now I'm starving. Must go eat.

    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Well, thanks Paul. I appreciate it. Funny, I'm taking Little Juvat to a PDG Barbecue Joint in our town for lunch tomorrow. Coincidence? I think not!

  15. Happy New Year, Juvat - Sorry for the delayed post - just catching up on my reading - but you and I feel the same way about TM - definitely an Austin-centric rag most of the time, at least in editorial viewpoint. I do like Texas Highways, gives me my monthly fix of Texas landscape. I also agree with your taste in BBQ - namely, Texas brisket and sausage is the best! (I will admit to having developed an appreciation for NC pig, though - different than Texas, but really nice when you stop wanting it to be like brisket!) One thing you didn't mention was the ambiance of most of the independent BBQ joints tends to be that of "country smoke and grease", but I mean that in a good way. For example, one of my favorites in Dallas is near Love Field on Inwood Road - the original Sonny Bryan's. It's in a little building, the only seating inside is a couple of rows of "school pews" - benches with one arm big enough to act as a writing support. Outside seating consists of a few stumps and a couple of picnic tables. But the brisket has always been great - you have to get there somewhat early cause they only make a certain amount, and when it's gone, you're out of luck. But I swear, if they ever steam-cleaned the walls, the place would fall down!

    Anyway, I'm visiting the young doc son at the end of the month in San Antonio, looking forward to getting a fix of proper BBQ ... may also try to make it up to the Nimitz museum if I can talk him and his girlfriend into a road trip ...


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