FORT WORTH, Texas — The highly-anticipated list of the best barbecue in Texas is out - and it has definitely put North Texas on the map in the name of barbecue.
Every four years, Texas Monthly Magazine releases its list of the top 50 barbecue joints in the Lone Star State. There's been a lot of excitement building up as more barbecue joints in Dallas-Fort Worth have taken center stage since the last list was released.
Here are the spots from North Texas that made the 2021 list.
A group of friends opened Goldee's in early 2020, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants to shut down. But they've built a strong following -- and Texas Monthly put this Fort Wort spot as the best of the best.
They make everything from scratch: meats, sides, pickles and bread.
The customer service is equally exceptional. Customers can enjoy a free beer while they wait and anyone who has trouble deciding what to order is able to try samples.
It started when a group of friends got jobs and some went to college and were preparing for the future. Until they ate barbecue.
“And after that, we just ended up skipping class and just eating brisket and sausage every day,” said one of the friends, Lane Milne. They've worked at legendary barbecue places in Texas, like Franklin, La Barbecue and Micklethwait,
Texas Monthly said, "So, what shot this modest joint into our top spot? Simply put, food that’s close to perfection. During repeated visits, we searched for weaknesses and inconsistencies, only to find, again and again, the state’s best spareribs and spectacular sausage and brisket."
6. Cattleack Barbecue
Dallas-based Cattleack Barbecue made the list. Dishes include, "beef bologna, spicy beef boudin, and Wagyu pastrami ribs," Texas Monthly says.
"The many varieties of house-made sausages are impeccably crafted, as is the Wagyu brisket, which exhibits the perfect balance of smoke, seasoning, and beefy flavor," Texas Monthly says.
In 2017 it was voted the best barbecue in Dallas. WFAA's Kevin Reece visited this barbecue joint.
Staff preps collard greens, sausage, brisket, and ribs in top-of-the-line smokers, five days a week, but it's only open on Thursday and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and also the first Saturday of the month.
"Really because that's all my wife and I want to be open,” David said. Todd David retired after thirty years of running a disaster cleanup business. He and his wife started Cattleack as a hobby, but it takes all week to get this tasty barbecue ready.
10. Panther City BBQ
Texas Monthly loved this Fort Worth staple for their spareribs, smoked turkey, sausages, pork belly burnt ends and pork belly poppers.
Texas Monthly says, "But the showstopper is the brisket elote. Layers of creamed corn, chopped brisket, queso fresco, cilantro, and hot sauce are a full meal in a cup."
WFAA first met the guys behind the popular Fort Worth BBQ joint back in July 2019. They'd left their corporate jobs and were slingin' cue from a smoking-hot trailer outside the Republic Street Bar on Hattie Street.
"We didn't have any expectation, but we do know we put our heart and soul into our food," said Chris Magallanes, one of the owners of Panther City BBQ.
When Magallanes found out Panther City made the list Monday, he was excited.
“Didn't get much sleep last night because we knew the list was coming out,” Magallanes said. “I yelled for my wife to come into the room and we pulled up the article together. So yeah, it was a pretty cool experience.”
He said Panther City will be prepared if/when business picks up in the coming weeks.
“We're getting ready, trying to gauge it. In fact, we're here today just kind of prepping,” Magallanes said. “People actually tried to line up (today when we’re) closed, so we had to share the schedule with people. We're going to see how it goes. But it’s definitely exciting.”
The pitmasters at Hurtado Barbecue in Arlington take talents to new levels blending two beloved traditions: barbecue and Tex-Mex.
WFAA stopped by this spot earlier this year to see for ourselves. These pitmasters take that mouthwatering brisket to creative new levels for Mexicue.
“Mexicue to me is the distinct combination of Texas barbecue and Tex-Mex,” said Brandon Hurtado, owner of Hurtado Barbecue in Arlington.
“I come from a Hispanic background. I grew up eating refried beans and tortillas every day. And, my dad loved to barbecue," Hurtado said. "So when I got older those two things seemed to really mesh for me.”
This spot in Dallas made the list after Texas Monthly tried their sausage, turkey, pork ribs and brisket. Hungry yet?
Texas Monthly said, "As for the brisket, we ordered from the fatty side and were surprised by how well the crust hung onto the meat in spite of the layer of fat between the two."
And if there wasn't enough to love already about this place -- they serve the community. Love, butter and barbecue from Slow Bone make up 1,000 free meals for Thanksgiving.
Smokey Joe's BBQ
Smokey Joe's in Dallas has been around since the '80s and is a local favorite. Texas Monthly loved the brisket, pork ribs, Maxi sandwich and sweet potato pie.
Kris Manning owns Smokey Joe’s, but he admits for the longest time he didn’t want to. His dad, who helped open the place in 1985, asked Manning three times if he wanted to take over the business. Manning wanted to be in corporate America - but the good thing for barbecue lovers - he came to the barbecue side.
Manning has renovated the building and the menu. Customers have taken notice and it has a growing fan base lining up for Manning’s new brisket. He also added stunning sides like chicken tetrazzini, macaroni and cheese and homemade pickles. He serves incredible desserts like carrot cake, too.
Terry Black's Barbecue
Of Terry Black's in Dallas, Texas Monthly says, "Even the turkey, the pitfall of many a pitmaster, was a win: the exterior was crispy, but the meat’s moistness wasn’t compromised at all."
WFAA visited in February 2020 when the Deep Ellum location just opened. Five 1,000-gallon smokers sit near the entrance to the restaurant, where free tours are offered.
“That’s kind of the whole point,” Black said. “We put them right here so everybody can come and see what we’re doing. Kind of experience it all. And we can show them what we’re cooking.”
The Dallas location is roughly twice the size of Terry Black’s Barbecue in Austin. The only other difference between the two restaurants is the full bar in Dallas.
And there’s a special drink you can get at Terry Black’s Barbecue in the Big D: A frozen black margarita. And due to demand, it will now be served at the Austin location.
This spot in Grand Prairie has taken off -- there was even a huge line on the day they opened. In February 2020, WFAA stopped by.
Some customers drive hours just to try it out. It started when four years ago, Joe Zavala smoked a brisket that his best friend said "tasted like garbage." At one point, he even caught his smoker on fire.
But now, Zavala has some of the best brisket in the state.
Texas Monthly said, "The 44 Farms–sourced meat, however, demands the spotlight, and the beef rib is the star, with a beautifully peppered crust and perfectly rendered fat."
Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen arrived at Zavala’s Barbecue to congratulate Joe Zavala during WFAA’s interview Monday.
“We were anticipating, prayerful, hopeful (to make the list) but until you get it, you don’t know (what it’s like)!” said Jensen.
“To make this list, it’s the best of the best. I believe a couple articles ago, they said it's Top 50 in Texas, but (it’s) the world, right? Because everybody wants Texas barbecue,” Zavala said.
Zavala is located on Brisket Lane (Joe got the city to change the street name). Now that's dedication.
“We're really fortunate to be on this list with great people,” Zavala said. “I feel bad for Daniel Vaughn for having to put this list together because there's amazing people that didn't make the list.”
“It’s great to see Goldee's, Dayne’s, Panther City, Smoke-A-Holics, Smokey Joe’s, Cattleack, Hurtado, just putting DFW on the map,” Zavala said. “It's awesome.”
Dayne's Craft Barbecue
This spot in Fort Worth made the list with a special note on the specialty burgers like the jalapeno Havarti. Owners Dayne and Ashley Weaver started their business in their own backyard.
Texas Monthly said, "Weaver’s sausage program is one of the more creative ones in the state, as evidenced by his blueberry-and-Gouda version."
The staff at Dayne's is celebrating by playing laser tag tonight.
“But we're gonna [sic] get back after it tomorrow,” Dayne Weaver said. “We're like, hey, let's take a day to be proud and come together as a team and then get back after the grind 'cause it's not over yet at all by any means.”
His wife, Ashley, told WFAA that at the beginning of her husband’s barbecue journey, he slept with a copy of the 2017 Texas Monthly Top 50 list on his nightstand.
“Of course we're gonna [sic] get the magazine in the mail and we're gonna put it on his night stand. But now he's in it,” Weaver said. “That’s just like blowing my mind.”
Smoke-A-Holics in Fort Worth opened in 2019. Texas Monthly says to be sure to try the spicy collard greens, banana pudding or Coca-Cola cake.
"The usual suspects are on the self-described 'Tex-Soul' menu, among them moist brisket with a peppery bark and tender pork ribs," Texas Monthly says. "But skipping the juicy turkey and chicken would be a mistake, and the fatty, crispy rib tips are a must."
Hutchins BBQ in Frisco started out in 1978 as "Roy's Smokehouse" in Princeton. They've grown so much that they now ship nationwide.
Texas Monthly says, "But the folks in the sometimes very long line are there for the Hutchins brothers’ smoked meat, which includes some of the best chicken and sausage in the state; fatty, flavorful burnt ends; and beef ribs."