As a Kansas Citian, I like to consider myself somewhat of a BBQ connoisseur — a friend to all things charred, sauced and smoky. Someone who loves a thick cut of fatty brisket and slow-smoked rack of ribs. I can get down with BBQ whether it’s sauced, dry rubbed or somewhere in between.
Hence, the reason why I had to partake in National BBQ Month — not in Kansas City, but 800+ miles away to the south in the great state of Texas. For three days, I immersed myself in what the state had to offer and have composed a bit of a guide for anyone looking to follow in my footsteps.
However, be forewarned: reading further may cause uncontrollable drooling and an insatiable desire for BBQ.
Let the BBQ games begin!
After arriving in San Antonio, I recommend working up an appetite by strolling the River Walk, Paseo del Rio, a world-renowned 15-mile urban waterway tucked quietly below street level. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience and happens to be the largest urban ecosystem in the nation. Situated along the River Walk are local shops, bars and restaurants to keep you entertained as you peruse this Texan treasure.
Once your belly starts to rumble, head to 2M Smokehouse to get your first BBQ fix. This no-frills, casual eatery was completely remodeled by its owners — that passion and dedication can even be tasted in the food. I tried *every* single menu item and would be remiss if I did not dedicate a sentence to its pork ribs. These tender, succulent yet firm meatsicles are slow smoked to perfection and seasoned with a finger-lickin’-good finishing glaze.
Feeling sluggish yet? Revive yourself with a bit of culture, courtesy of the San Antonio Museum of Art. Be prepared for a trip around the world through 5,000 years of art as you immerse yourself in everything from ancient Greek to Egyptian art collections. If you happen to visit prior to June 20, check out the Movie Metal pop-up, an installation dedicated to fan-favorite metal characters from film and TV. Ever wanted to see Bumblebee or Optimus Prime from the Transformers movie franchise? How about Speed Racer’s Mach 5? Here’s your chance!
Fast forward to the next day, and it’s time to visit a new city. Off to Luling, Texas, where we visit the historical City Market — serving BBQ since 1958. Push your limit by ordering a bit of everything, and don’t forget a few hot sausage links. This is my kind of spot: BBQ served on butcher paper and passed over to you straight from the pitmaster.
It doesn’t get any more authentic than this.
For your final day in Texas, up the ante with not one but two BBQ spots. Let’s see how much you actually love BBQ.
Head to San Marcos, Texas, and wet your whistle at Middleton Brewing, a Texas Hill Country brewpub featuring 13 beers on tap — all brewed on-site. Once the hunger starts to set in, hop on over to Hays Co. Bar-B-Que for mesquite-fired, low-and-slow cooked meats. I once again ordered everything on the menu, but I will never forget the sheer size, flavor and texture of the beef short ribs. They were extraordinary. *chef’s kiss*
When you finally snap out of the blissful food coma, get back on the road and head to your second lunch or midday snack at Heavy’s Outdoor Bar-B-Que in Hondo, Texas. You may walk in light but you will definitely leave heavy, hint-hint. If you like your brisket heavy with smoke, heavy with black crust and thick, then this is it. For those who love to lather their meat, give Heavy’s homemade sauce a try.
No trip to Texas would be complete without a short history lesson. For your final destination, swing by Castroville, Texas, to visit the Landmark Inn, a property that tells the story of early commerce and migration on the banks of the Medina River. The city of Castroville is often referred to as “The Little Alsace of Texas,” an ode to its roots which can be seen throughout the entire town.
BBQ — check, entertainment — check, culture — check.
However, there’s probably one rock left unturned.
Did I end the great debate of who has better BBQ: Kansas City or Texas? Not quite, but I can say with confidence that both will satisfy even the most avid of BBQ enthusiasts. If you consider yourself as such, stop reading, pull out your calendar and plan your visit ASAP.
Oh, and be sure to pack loose, comfortable garments. You can thank me later.
This post was sponsored by Travel Texas. All opinions expressed here are my own.