What are the criteria you use when evaluating joints for the top fifty list?
At each joint, our trained eaters sample at least three meats, a couple of sides, and a dessert. Immediately after each visit, they fill out a detailed score sheet, ranking each joint in a variety of categories. The final score considers intangibles like setting, service, and history, but mainly it is based on the meat. The brisket score counts the most. Visits are not announced in advance, and the eaters pay for all their food. If they suspect that an owner or pitmaster might recognize them, they send a spy in to get the meat and they eat it in the car.
In 2013 the team consisted of fifteen staff members and one carefully vetted freelancer. The group was led by longtime food editor Patricia Sharpe and barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn. Their eating took place over eight months in 2012 and 2013. In all, they logged more than 33,000 miles and visited 658 places, the most ever in the history of our top fifty list.
I noticed that within the top fifty you have a top four. In the past I recall your having a top five. What happened?
We don’t have a predetermined number of top-tier joints we look for. If five had elevated themselves, it would have been the top five. If there had been seven, we would’ve had a top seven. The top-tier joints have to be a cut above in every regard. This time around, we found four that qualified.
Is there a cut-off for the top fifty list, in terms of when a joint opened?
To be eligible for the top fifty list, a joint has to have been open by March 1, 2013. For the joints in the top four, we have stricter standards. Those joints must have been open for at least one year.
Why wasn’t Smitty’s on your list? That’s an outrage!!!
Answers to this and other outrages are located here.
Can I be his intern?
We don’t currently have a barbecue internship, but who knows what might happen? You can email all inquiries to email@example.com.
This site is pretty slick, but aren’t you going to run out of things to write about barbecue?
Why do you take barbecue so seriously?
We think barbecue is one of the great traditional foods around. We love how it tastes of course, and we love the whole experience of going out to eat it. But we also love what it stands for: an old-fashioned, time-honored way of doing things, a sense of cultural heritage passed down from generation to generation, a rustic method of cooking that modern technology can’t improve on. And in Texas, as in other barbecue regions, food is completely intertwined with culture. So this TMBBQ isn’t just about what we eat, it’s about who we are.
When will tickets go on sale for the TMBBQ Fest?
You can sign up for email notifications on our Events page. In years past, tickets have sold out within 48 hours.
How do I find out about other TMBBQ events, like the Road Trips?
Sign up for email notifications, keep checking this site, and follow us on Twitter @tmbbq.
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