Sausage Makers and Pit Masters
The Soul of Good Texas Eats
While they are related, there's a lot of great pit masters
that don't make their own sausage, (wurst is the word
in German), though the pit is key to the smokey flavor.
But in in Texas, it's not just beef, chicken or brisket or
sausage, but the full house! Here are our top picks
of the season for sausage makers and pit houses.
When it comes to barbecue (or barbeque or BBQ) and homemade sausage, there will always be arguments about where the best of each can be found. The truth is, we have eaten a lot of "Q" in a lot of places, all across Texas, the Deep South, the Midwest and other areas across the USA, and even in Mexico and other parts of Central Mexico where some meats are smoked in homemade earthen 'horno' ovens.
But, and we admit our bias, it's hard to beat barbeQue cooked up Texas-style, and the various types of Texas-made sausage -- and there are literally thousands of branded types in the Lone Star State -- is better than good, from Old World German, Polish and Czech-style sausage making to more modern infused' varieties, sausage is a Texas delicacy, especially when cooked or smoked on a real pit by a pitmaster!
So where do we start? This might be the time and place is to remind you that Texas is very tall and wide. So naturally, there are a lot of varieties of good barbQue in Texas. Consider this: Famous sm0ked ribs in Memphis are vastly different than smoked ribs in Mobile, Alabama on the Gulf Coast. St. Louis-style Q is very different than what you get in Louisville, Kentucky. This you might expect. But Memphis and Mobile are about 398 miles apart, and St. Louis and Louisville are just over 400 miles apart.
But Texas is whole 'nother country. Orange to El Paso is better than 800 miles across the state, and a drive from Brownsville to Dalhart is right at 900 miles, so you can appreciate the great diversity between flavors and styles of the many types of Texas BBQ that you'll find all along the way.
If you think you have tried Texas BBQ before because you have eaten at two or three or more BBQ joints in Texas, then you are just a novice when it comes to judging which BBQ is the best BBQ in Texas - at least until you make the rounds. We've been doing it for nearly 50 years, and we still haven't covered all the bases - never will!
But we thought we would try to help you out a little at least. Below are some of the best sausage makers we have found in Texas, and many of them smoke and serve their own. Following that is a list of some of our favorite Q-joints where you take the grand slam of smoked meats. Give 'em a try and let us know what you think.
Sausage Makers in Texas
The art of making good sausage must have got its start hundreds if not thousands of years ago. And the thing is, there's no one right way to do it! In Texas you can find all kinds of great sausage, made by people who have learned the art and science of sausage making, many with recipes that were passed down through generations of family members who learned the secrets of good sausage making from fathers and grandfathers, who usually spent a lifetime grinding meat, growing and adding the right spices, and perfecting the way to cook or smoke the perfect batch of sausage.
In New Braunsfels, one of many German settlements in Texas, there are several great family sausage secrets, and more than one commercial sausage company that turns out great German sausages in various varieties, like pork sausage, venison sausage, bratwurst and knackwurst, blood sausage, Leberwurst and others.
Down the road a ways, just south of San Antonio, descendants of Polish immigrants around the communities of Poth, Falls City and Panna Maria make a really magnificent sausage. There was a small grocer in Poth that did a healthy business selling homemade Polish sausage, and might still be doing it, or was last time we passed that way.
Heading east from Poth, you'll find a number of communities that could easily qualify as sausage capital of Texas, where you will find great sausage makers and sausage companies that are still turning out great sausages for sale. One is Praseks that puts out several great Czech-sausage varieties. Other great sausage companies in Texas include Kiolbassa Sausage Company in San Antonio, Chappell Hill Sausage of Chappelll Hill, Texas Sausage in Austin, Taylor Meats in Taylor, Burton Sausage in Brenham, Grillmasters in Fort Worth, V&V Sausage, and the list goes on and on.
But good meat in Texas includes a lot more than sausage, and that takes us to our short list of some of the best BBQ joints in the state.
Our Fall/Winter selections for Best BBQ joints in Texas
Now this is a list we thought we would never tackle. Simply put, there are just too many great BBQ joints in Texas, large, small, in the heart of the cities and all along the highways and byways of the state. To make things harder to choose favorites, in recent years a large number of high quality food trucks are serving up some great Q in the inner cities and burbs across the state. That means we have been trying out a lot of barbecue over the last four months. Good thing we really like BBQ.
But, and drum roll please, by choosing our current Top Five Favorites for the season we have guaranteed that we will continue to eat good barbecue across the state and will continue to bring you a new list of our favorites from time to time. With that said, here we go, our picks for the season:
City Market - Luling
Picking a number one BBQ joint should have been a very difficult task, but City Market in Luling made it rather easy for us this time around. Well seasoned, smoked to perfect and so tender was the brisket that it deserves a blue ribbon hands down. The only thing that could top that brisket, maybe, was the tender, tasty pork ribs City Market serves up. We left no room for the sausage but took some with it and must admit it was top notch, so our best of the best award this season definitely goes to City Market. Top Shelf Q
Louie Mueller - Taylor
Yes, Muellers has made our list before, but each time we make our way through Taylor, it reaffirms why we rate the place as one of the very best in the state. The brisket was our favorite, followed by the tasty sausage. The sides were good as expected and the joint is well managed and a pleasant place to dine. Recommended
Black's Barbecue - Lockhart
It seems like the Hill Country is getting the nod a lot this fall/winter season, and we suspect it may be because the fall - when last we stopped in at Black's - is a great time to eat BBQ. Of course, every season is a good time to eat Texas Q. Word is the Blacks say they are the oldest BBQ joint in Texas operated by a single family. Whether they are not we have no idea, but the food certainly tastes like it has survived the test of time. Outstanding food! Recommended
A name you wouldn't expect for a barbecue joint in Texas, located in a food cart park, but proof that a name and physical building is not critical for getting good food. Anyway, this joint is located in Austin weird, so what do you expect in a name? If you answered top notch grillin', then you guessed right. John Lewis is the Pit Boss at this joint and he has a pedigree for great Q and a great location, on Sixth Street in the Aztec Food Park downtown. Recommended
Railhead BBQ - Ft. Worth
Cowtown lands a vote on our list this season with the Railhead, serving up some tasty barbecue Texas-style. Reasonably priced with all the usuals, the no-nonsense Railhead offers a good product at a fair price. Overall, we liked the food and the service and the smiles that came with it, so climb on the wagon and enjoy. Recommended