Texas Monthly Staff

Coleman’s BBQ

Northeast Texas may be populated with more pine trees than people, but at three in the afternoon, this small shack, located about a quarter mile off Main Street, was brimming with locals ordering the hickory-smoked brisket, served in a broth of beef juices and savory barbecue sauce. The crackly crust on the wet-rubbed pork ribs was a perfect complement to the tender, pink meat below the surface. Skip the mushy potato salad.

Schoepf’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que

The moment we entered the smoke-filled patio and beheld the meats-a-plenty (brisket, chicken, pork ribs, pork chops, sausage, sirloin, turkey breast, and venison sausage), we knew we were in business. The pitman was patient as we made our exacting selections, then—plop, joy: the tenderest of briskets, the thickest of pork chops, the happiest of bellies.

Mann’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que

Owner Jim Mann and his jovial staff served us fatty brisket, pork ribs, and pulled pork that offered a surplus of smokiness and juice. (The salty sauce worked well with the loin.) Jim’s wife, Sallie, makes sides from Southern family recipes. Her black-eyed peas, lima beans, and cornbread perfectly accompanied the meat. Come on Fridays for free homemade ice cream (especially during peach season).

Taylor Cafe

Octogenarian Vencil Mares has been perfecting his skills on the brick pit since 1948. We’d heard about his chicken, but the day we visited, the pork ribs were the highlight, with brisket not far behind. Mares’s trick is wrapping the meat in butcher paper and smoking it over post oak for eight or nine hours. “Don’t ever turn it over,” he says. After the meat is cooked, he rewraps it and stores it in an…