Let’s get one thing straight. Sweat is a real thing. So, if you’re getting a dazzling brisket, sausage, and rib selection at the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest on Sunday November 5th, we recommend drinking plenty of water, slowing down your bun, and taking your time to sample the best Pitmasters of the state to enjoy.
The annual Fleisch-a-Palooza takes place on the lawn of the Long Center and is an extension of the monthly magazine “Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas,” a comprehensive list that features the state’s best smokers (and we’d argue the nation). In addition to the promised food coma, the event offers lawn games; Live music from the Peterson Brothers Band; and appearances by Texas songwriters Willis Alan Ramsey, Bruce Robison and Carrie Rodriguez.
To celebrate the eighth year of the festival, the event planners are increasing the stakes. “Not only is this the biggest festival we’ve ever had, with 30 of the best grills in the country, but it’s also full of new energy,” said Daniel Vaughn, editor of the Texas Monthly Barbecue. “Fifteen of the Pitmasters will be smoking meat for the first time at the festival. What hasn’t changed is that the event is still the cheapest nationwide barbecue road trip and comes with the entire brisket and no ride comfort. “
Among the smoking wizards in attendance this year are list ends like Austin’s Franklin Barbecue and Lexington’s Snow’s BBQ. In addition to Franklin, Austin will also be represented by Coopers Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, la Barbecue, Micklethwait Craft Meat, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, Terry Blacks Barbecue and Valentinas Tex Mex BBQ. San Antonio is stepping up its presence with 2M Smokehouse and The Granary ‘Cue & Brew. Other locations in central Texas, including Hays Co. Bar-B-Que in San Marcos and Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, will also be there to help you get those winter pounds off.
Some of our favorites from the list gave us a preview of what to expect. Joe Melig, owner of the 2M smokehouse, says they will be offering premium smoked brisket alongside house serrano and Oaxaca cheese sausage and pickled nopales for general ticket holders and smoked barbacoa for the lucky VIPs. Granary chef and owner Tim Rattray serves brisket, pulled pork, brisket pastrami, and pork belly. And Miguel Vidal, owner of Valentina, will pay tribute to his family gatherings with mesquite smoked barbacoa with fresh salsa and homemade tortillas. Stiles Switch Pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick was a bit more shy, but promises some “funny twists and turns”.
For those new to the festival, Texas Monthly restaurant reviewer and food editor Patricia Sharpe offers this wisdom: “Come on hungry! The barbecues can be very generous, and I’ve seen people stumble away with enough food in their stomachs for two days. The temperature should be around 85 – so wear short sleeves, sunscreen, and maybe a hat. “
But you won’t be able to show off your finest haberdashery unless you act soon. Tickets are in high demand across the state and always sell out.
The complete TMBBQ fixed list is as follows:
2M Smokehouse (San Antonio)
BBQ on the Brazos (Cresson)
Bodacious Bar-BQ (Longview)
Cattleack Barbeque (Dallas)
Coopers Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Austin)
CorkScrew BBQ (Spring)
Evie Maes Pit Barbecue (Wolfforth)
Franklin Barbecue (Austin)
The Granary ‘Cue & Brew (San Antonio)
Hays Co. Bar-B-Que (San Marcos)
Home Barbecue (Fort Worth)
Hutchins BBQ (McKinney)
the grill (Austin)
Lockhart Smokehouse (Dallas)
Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor)
Micklethwait Craft Meats (Austin)
Miller’s Smokehouse (Belton)
Pinkertons Barbecue (Houston)
Pody’s BBQ (Pecos)
Roegels Barbecue Co. (Houston)
Smolik’s smokehouse (Mathis)
Snow BBQ (Lexington)
Stanley’s famous Pit BBQ (Tyler)
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew (Austin)
Stillwater Barbeque (Abilene)
Tejas Chocolate Craftory (Tomball)
Terry Black’s Barbecue (Austin)
Truth Barbeque (Brenham)
Tyler’s Barbeque (Amarillo)
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ (Austin)