interviews

Interview: Leon O’Neal of Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que

Owner/Pitmaster: Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que; Opened 1987 Age: 74 Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Post Oak Leon O’Neal didn’t get into the barbecue business until he was forty-five years old, but he’s managed to be successful in Galveston for nearly three decades in a converted house that once contained his bail bonding business. He decided pretty quickly that barbecue was a better path in life. O’Neal can usually be found in the small dining room of…

Interview: Johnny Fugitt of Barbecue Rankings

Writer: 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America Age: 29 Johnny Fugitt is nearing the end of a one year tour around the country looking for the best barbecue joints in the country – one hundred of them to be exact. He was sick of all the poorly researched national top ten lists out there, so he decided to set out on his own and eat as much barbecue as he could along the way. He…

Interview: Jimmy Harris of David’s Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: David’s Barbecue; Opened 1988 Age: 49 Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Hickory Jimmy Harris doesn’t have much time for barbecue reviewers. “The real judge is that cash register.” And it hasn’t let him down for over two decades since he and his dad opened the place in Pantego. If you’re unfamiliar with Pantego, it’s a tiny municipality surrounded by the city of Arlington. The town is known for two things according to Harris. “Speed traps and bad water.”…

Interview: Cliff Payne of Cousin’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Cousin’s BBQ; Opened 1983 Age: 59 Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Hickory & Pecan As the name suggests, Cousin’s BBQ is about family. Calvin “Bootsie” Payne III opened the place on McCart Avenue in Fort Worth in 1983 along with his wife and three of his children. His son Cliff Payne has been in charge of the barbecue since they opened the doors, and you can still find him working at the McCart location…

Interview: Nina Sells of Smitty’s Market

Owner: Smitty’s Market; Opened 1999 Age: 64 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak There’s plenty more to Smitty’s Market in Lockhart (formerly Kreuz Market) than the family split that occurred fifteen years ago. Nina Sells grew up in this barbecue joint, and remembers a great deal of the family history. The building itself is a timeline of property acquisition. The original building was built in 1924, but if you’ve eaten there, it was probably in the dining room…

Interview: Ronnie Killen of Killen’s Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: Killen’s Barbecue; Opened 2014 Age: 47 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit, Wood-Fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Oak, Pecan, Hickory, and Mesquite Last week, we reviewed Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland. It received one of the highest ratings on TMBBQ, which likely wasn’t enough for Ronnie Killen. His goal is to be “The Best Barbecue, Period!” according to the statement printed on the shirts at Killen’s Barbecue. Killen has been working in restaurants for decades. He’s spent most of those years…