The Best Barbecue In Texas And Beyond

Is There Something Unique About Barbecue?

Daniel Vaughn’s got the best meat-loving gig ever: He’s Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor, the only full-time barbecue-focused journalist in the United States.

Growing up in Ohio, Vaughn didn’t truly fall for barbecue until he moved to Dallas 15 years ago. It didn’t take long for him to become obsessed, and he started chronicling his weekend journeys across the state on his blog, Full Custom Gospel BBQ, while working as an architect.

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By 2012, Vaughn had earned a spot on the tasting team for the next Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ list, which is published every five years. Then came a book deal with Anthony Bourdain’s publishing imprint for “The Prophets of Smoked Meat,” and by 2013 he had been hired as the full-time barbecue editor at Texas Monthly.
“My book was published on May 14, 2013, and the new Texas Monthly Top 50 came out the next day,” Vaughn said. “It was just the start of a very big year.”
CNN asked him about his love of this most delicious food tradition and where he finds it cooked just right.
Is there something unique about barbecue? Every culture has its cooked meats.
The slow smoking of Southern barbecue makes it unique from the rest of the world. Plenty of cuisines cook meat over fire, but most focus on either quick, direct-heat grilling like Japanese yakitori or the cured and cold smoked items like ham or whole fish.
How do you choose where you’ll eat next?
If there’s “BBQ” on the sign, I’ll probably be stopping, but I have to plan my trips around a few good leads. I keep a Google map up to date with markers of the places I’ve visited and all the others on my to-do list. If someone sends me a lead, I’ll add it to the map. Then I’ll consult the big barbecue map before I set out on a barbecue road trip.
What is special about Texas barbecue?
The variety of Texas barbecue is what I love about it.
Of course there’s brisket, the undisputed king of Texas barbecue, but the pork ribs, sausages, smoked turkey and even pulled pork are coming on these days. The giant beef short ribs that have become popular across the country originated here. They’re like the poster-child for our love of beef barbecue. There’s something very Texan about skipping a rack of puny pork ribs and instead ordering a pound of beef on a bone the size of your forearm.
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