When Food Network celebrity chef Guy Fieri roams the country in search of down-home eats on his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, he follows his gut. Rarely, though, does he stumble upon a “culinary compound.” But such was the case when he and his film crew visited Texas Pride Barbecue, where “It’s all about Texas,” as owner Tony Talanco told the San Antonio Express-News.
The haven of Texas-style barbecue juts out from the tall grasses, mesquite trees, and barbecue-sauce waterfalls that fill the surrounding fields. As an old filling station, Tony’s restaurant not only greets guests with the smoky scents of slow-cooked brisket, ribs, and sausage, but also with waves of nostalgia surging from antique gas pumps, jukeboxes, farm equipment, and artifacts from the 1920s through ‘60s that Tony has salvaged. In the kitchen, Tony and his cooks lavish time on their two most popular items: the brisket and the homemade barbecue sauces. After dry rubbing the brisket with seasoning, they cook it for 12 hours in a pit fueled by mesquite wood. This smoky flavor comes to life when dipped in hot or regular sauce, both of which begin with onions caramelizing in bacon fat.
Texas Pride Barbecue continues celebrating its state heritage with live music and special events that include a Bike Night and a fish fry. Such activities may have been part of the reason the San Antonio Express-News declared Texas Pride Barbecue its “Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests”—one of many awards the eatery has racked up.
Just a touch crooked, the timbers that hold up New Braunfels Smokehouse's awning impart both a rustic and timeless look, which hearkens back to the smokehouse's 1940s beginnings. The Dunbar family bought five local ice plants including one in New Braunfels that formerly housed a brewery. With limited storage options, farmers brought their meats to the ice plant for refrigeration. Then employee Benno Schuennemann had an idea: he'd help the farmers preserve their meats even longer by curing and smoking them using old German recipes. As word grew of the smoked meats coming from the icehouse, the Dunbars found a whole new business on their hands. They added a restaurant in 1952, and by the 1960s, they fielded smoked-meat orders from across the United States.
Today, the Dunbars continue running New Braunfels Smokehouse from a new location, producing hickory-smoked beef, chicken, pork, and turkey using Benno's methods at their USDA-inspected facility. They also bake their own bread each day, plus insist that their chefs craft every side from scratch and smith every utensil by hand. The restaurant surrounds visitors in rustic style with decor that incorporates old-barn siding and knotty-wood paneling—many of the materials salvaged from the original smokehouse. After savoring meals ordered from the counter, visitors can peruse the country store for sausages and other packaged meats fresh from the smokehouse.
When the New York Times highlighted the ribs, brisket, pork, and sausage at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, it called the feast a "life-changing experience." That's just one press mention from a veritable briefcase full of articles that vouch for the barbecue destination's food. The menu isn't complicated: it catalogs 15 core barbecue meats as well as apple, blackberry, peach, and pecan cobbler. On the side, servers bring beans, corn on the cob, whole baked potatoes, or salad tossed into a bowl by a major league pitcher.
Hailed by the San Antonio Express-News for “giving customers what they want,” Sausage Hauze’s owner Joaquinn Arch and his team of culinary wizards whip up savory dishes brimming with Texas barbecue. The restaurant specializes in sizzling up sausages from across the state, while the Come Here Baby sauce renders meals as tender and rich-tasting as a kiss from the Monopoly man. According to the San Antonio Express-News, the restaurant, once home to the historic Grandview Food Center, features an in-house meat smoker that envelops guests in aromatic clouds of wood smoke, much like a beaver's humidor.
If the Aue family didn’t put Texas on the map, they at least made it tastier. Max Aue founded the town of Leon Springs, Texas in the 1800s. Years later, his son Rudolph founded Rudy’s, a country store and barbecue joint that eventually spawned more than 30 outposts throughout Texas and the American Southwest. Each one of them possesses a 100% oak-fired BBQ pit that slow cooks tender slabs of meat, adding a smoky flavor and tender texture to every bite. St. Louis pork ribs, lean and moist brisket, and jalapeño sausages are a few examples of the succulent morsels that emerge from the wood-fired pits straight to the plate. Classic sides such as potato salad and corn on the cop prove delicious accomplices, while banana pudding and peach cobbler grant every meal with a sweet and satisfying coda.
Resting on Barton Springs just off South Lamar, Green Mesquite BBQ and More has been “smoking the good stuff” since 1988. And it’s not just a clever, colorful name: the stools at the bar to the left of the entrance, plus all the seats and booths – not to mention the awning outside – feature some amount of forest green coloring. The restaurant is also straightforward in its specializes of all things barbecue. Diners can dig into brisket, pulled pork, sausage and other traditional meats – but it’s the signs intriguing “more” that often keeps customers coming back. Sometimes, it’s a Green Mesquite cheese steak taco basket, made up of two ribeye tacos with Swiss cheese, grilled onions and pico de gallo. Other times, customers call for a po’ boy, bowl of jambalaya or chef’s salad. There’s a little bit of everything found inside Green Mesquite.