The Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ List Is Out. How Did DFW Do?

Alison McLean
Brisket, sausage links, ribs, macaroni and cheese, beans and fried okra: Smoky Joe's nails the compulsory part of the program.
We know it's not technically possible, but forgive us for claiming to feel the tension radiating from our social media feed over the last few days. In the barbecue world, the Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ list is a special event, coming around every four years. We saw a definite uptick in the number of owners and pitmasters on TV and in print over the last few days as the big day crept closer. Social media posts revealed that many of them were nervous, anxious, excited or some combination of all three.

Hell, we were even guilty of stoking the flames ourselves a few weeks ago, when we made our own round of predictions for how Dallas-Fort Worth would stack up in the latest list. And now that the big day is here and the list is online, how did we do?  Let's take a look:

DFW is Smokin'...

We hypothesized that the North Texas would be well-represented when the list dropped. We weren't wrong, as three area joints are in the top 10. Panther City BBQ clocks in at No. 10 and Cattleack Barbecue is ranked at No. 6.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is Goldee's Bar-B-Q sliding in as the best barbecue in the state. Goldee's only starting slinging 'cue back in 2020 and nearly shut down when then pandemic made running any restaurant a challenge. Your author's own attempt at a Goldee's visit was foiled by showing up too late and being met with a sold-out sign. Being crowned the best in the state will only add to their popularity.
click to enlarge Brisket and fried chicken (plus killer sides) from Slow Bone in Dallas. - CHRIS WOLFGANG
Brisket and fried chicken (plus killer sides) from Slow Bone in Dallas.
Chris Wolfgang

What We Got Right...

We made a handful of predictions a few weeks ago, and feel relieved that we didn't embarrass ourselves by going off the reservation with our picks. Cattleack is still a Top 10 destination and Smokey Joe's rightfully found a place among the Top 50.

Both Zavala's Barbecue (Grand Prairie) and Hurtado Barbecue (Arlington) also made their way onto the list, serving as examples (along with Panther City) that barbecue can and will succeed with Hispanic influences. We also thought that the number of Top 50 spots in the area would increase from the 10 that made the list in 2017, and we snuck in with 11 picks.

Here are the rest of D-FW's Top 50 entries:

Slow Bone
2234 Irving Blvd., 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday - Sunday
Every day for lunch, those in the know head to Slow Bone for quality barbecue, some of the best sides in the business and perhaps the city's most amazing fried chicken.

Terry Black's Barbecue
3025 Main St. (Deep Ellum),11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday - Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday - Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Austin's import into Dallas may have gotten off on the wrong foot by bumping Dallas Comedy House from their space, but the superb barbecue makes up for the gaff.

Dayne's Craft BBQ
2735 W. 5th St., (Fort Worth), Closed Monday - Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday - Sunday
It fills us with immense pride that we talked about Dayne and Ashley Weaver's barbecue when they served up from a pop-up in their driveway, and today they are a Top 50 destination. We're also smitten with their smash burger, recently adding it to our Best of Dallas issue.

Smoke-A-Holic's BBQ
1417 Evans Ave., (Fort Worth), Closed Sunday and Monday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday - Saturday
It's takeout only for now, but soul food and barbecue collide in this Fort Worth spot.

Hutchin's BBQ
1301 N. Tennessee St., (McKinney), 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday - Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday - Saturday and 9225 Preston Road, (Frisco), 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday - Sunday
A fire temporarily closed the McKinney location, but Hutchins came back stronger than ever and now boasts barbecue legend John Mueller on the staff to contribute his barbecue skills and knowledge.

Also, two of our six destinations in our summer of barbecue road trips garnered Top 50 recognition. Stanley's Famous Bar-B-Q in Tyler keeps their spot among the state's best, while Helberg Barbecue in Woodway gets a nod for barbecue with a personal touch.
click to enlarge Wait, this is no longer some of the state's best barbecue? Brisket, ribs and sausage from Pecan Lodge. - CATHERINE DOWNES
Wait, this is no longer some of the state's best barbecue? Brisket, ribs and sausage from Pecan Lodge.
Catherine Downes

This is Our Shocked Face...

Without a doubt, the pandemic has changed the face of the restaurant industry, and barbecue is no exception. But there's an evolution going on in barbecue, where it's not enough to render the perfect brisket or unwrap a stellar rack of ribs. Stretching the boundaries of traditional barbecue is the name of the game, and creativity and the addition of new cultural influences is being rewarded. Fully 29 of the Top 50 are new to the list this year, which means that shakeups and surprises abound.

In 2017, Snow's Barbecue in Lexington and Franklin's Barbecue in Austin were the only spots ahead of Cattleack in Top 10. This year, Snow's clocks in at No. 9, and Franklin's in seventh place. The slip doesn't seem to be a knock against their abilities, but more of a sign of changing times in the barbecue world.

Locally, some of our 2017 entries have fallen off the list. BBQ on The Brazos in Fort Worth, Heim BBQ (now with three locations), 4T Barbecue in Forney, Lockhart's in Dallas and Harris Barbecue of Cedar Hill have dropped from the Top 50. And perhaps most surprisingly, Pecan Lodge, which lead the barbecue boom in Dallas, is no longer a Top 50 joint — just don't tell the legions of people who still line up in Deep Ellum for their smokey fare. 

With 50 as the hard and fast number, there's bound to be some disappointment. Texas Monthly feels as we do, and listed their Honorable Mentions: spots that didn't quite make the Top 50, but are still worthy of your hard-earned dining dollars.

BBQ On The Brazos, Heim, Harris, Lockhart's and Pecan Lodge all make the honorable mentions list, as well as some other area standouts: 407 BBQ in Argyle, 225 Barbecue in Arlington, Derek Allan's in Fort Worth, OAK'D Barbecue in Dallas, Meshack's in Garland, Smoke Sessions Barbecue in Royse City and Slaughter's BBQ Oasis in Sulphur Springs.

It shouldn't take the Top 50 list to remind us, but it's still worth saying: It's a great time to be a barbecue restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth. Grab your favorite tray and celebrate accordingly.