Reviews

Luling Bar-B-Q

Locals were in cheerful abundance: law enforcement, men in blue jumpsuits, kids lingering by the cooler of sweet tea. One taste of the juicy mesquite-and-post-oak-smoked brisket and ribs and we understood why. The potato salad and coleslaw each set the gold standard, and the red sauce was so rich and smoky that one diner committed his entire ration of white bread to it.

Scholl Bros. Bar-B-Que

When we asked a resident Parisian to impress us, he whisked us away to Scholl Bros. The ribs are prepared in the region’s signature style, using a sweet mustard rub, in a pecan-fed gas smoker. The thirteen-hour brisket wasn’t as good, but the sauce, a concoction flavored with brown sugar, gave the beef a much-needed boost.

Baby J’s Bar-B-Que & Fish

Pecan-smoked meats with dark, flavorful crusts are owner Jeremiah “Baby J” McKenzie’s game. It’s all good, so forget the sauce. Southern-style pulled pork provides a juicy wake-up call to jaded taste buds. Replace the usual sides with fried okra, turnip greens, and cornbread for a soul-food feast.

Van’s Bar BQ

The combination of the frequently awesome mesquite-smoked meats and a terrific vibe have attracted barbecue hounds from far and wide for more than a quarter century. Inside, you’ll find old-timey claw-foot tables and a relaxed attitude about housekeeping, which is to say the place hasn’t seen a mop in ages.

Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Que

No, this is not some newfangled, Aussie-inspired, Marlin-born culinary calamity. Have no fear, smoked kangaroo is not a featured menu item. “Boomerang,” in this instance, is meant to indicate that you’ll be so satisfied you’ll come back. Turns out there’s truth in advertising. Whup’s is tidy and small, but there is no indoor seating, so enjoy the mesquite-and-post-oak-smoked offerings at one of the three tables under the awning out front, or get it to go.

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Llano)

The horror! Our first pass through the Hill Country’s most renowned barbecue joint was utterly disappointing. The pork ribs were tough, the sausage was bland, and the fatty brisket was downright chewy. Even the sides were lackluster. Still, no one seemed to mind; the place was packed on a weekday afternoon, as locals, tourists, and bikers waited in line by the outdoor pit to pick out their own meats. Luckily we ordered some lean brisket…

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