I like to eat at restaurants that take reservations. I’m not pretentious; I just like to make the best use of my time. There is one type of restaurant, though, where I make an exception: Texas barbecue. Texas is home to the original cowboys, the gunslingers and trailblazers. They pushed 20 million head of cattle through Dustbowl territory during the era of historic cattle drives. Beef is in their blood. Texans pride themselves on one of the most difficult cuts of all — beef brisket. They smoke it slow and low until that cow falls apart when poked with a spoon. There’s nothing like it on Earth, and to get the good stuff you’ve got to stand in line.
And while Texans may not have invented barbecue, they perfected it: a quick survey of regional imitators show the fine folks of Kansas City parading hopeless pieces of flesh dripping in ketchup and calling it ‘cue; the never-ending Memphis debate over sugary sauce or dry rub is meaningless if they keep cooking over charcoal; and in the Carolinas they’ll tell you they invented the stuff, as they choke down mouthfuls of vinegar and pork. Yeah, the best ‘cue is here in Texas, and if you find yourself in the Lone Star state, get in line for a plate of meat at these six legendary joints.