Payne’s Bar-B-Q Shak

616 Highway 29 W
Burnet, TX 78611

Phone: (512) 756-8227
Hours: Tues-Thur 11-2:30, F 11-7:30, Sat 11-2:30

Opened 2011
Pitmaster Robert Payne
Method Oak and mesquite; indirect-heat pit

TMBBQ Rating: 4


April 8, 2014

Robert Payne has worked as a butcher in the past, and more recently for the Butter Krust bread bakery. His wife, Penny, was also in food service at a local school cafeteria. Three years ago, they both decided to retire and open up a barbecue joint in Burnet. They chose a building on the west side of town that has seen number of barbecue joints come and go. One of those was Burnet County Barbeque which in 2003 was named one of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ joints.

Now, the Payne’s are looking to revive the barbecue glory once housed here, and they’re off to a good start. I stopped in not knowing what to expect, so I ordered sparingly. Brisket and ribs were my only request. Robert was slicing and asked immediately “lean or moist” as he pulled a jet-black brisket from a steam table tray. He had just scraped the last few scraps from the previous brisket off the cutting board, so I got the first few slices from a fresh one. The knife glided throughout the meat, and each slice was more promising. The ribs looked nearly as good. Sides were self-service, so I took only a small serving of potato salad and slaw.

Paynes BBQ Shack 02

Ribs and Brisket

Out on the trunk of my car I took the first superb bite of brisket. It was smoky, peppery, and a little bit sweet. The outside slice had a pleasant crunch to the crust, while the meat beneath was moist and tender. This was brisket worth seeking out. The ribs were nearly as good. The meat came easily off the bone, the bark held plenty of smokiness, but they could have eased up a bit on the salt.

The first taste was impressive enough that I had to go right back in and try more of the menu. Robert laughed at how quickly I had come back for seconds, and told me that he learned to make sausage while he worked at the butcher shop. I ordered up a couple links. He also added some smoked pork steak, and I was ready for the second course.

Paynes BBQ Shack 01

Sausage and Pork Steak

I like my sausage links juicy, so I thought this relatively dry sausage could have used a bit more fat in the mix. It was nice to see the coarse grind and the smoke flavor and seasoning were both bold. The pork steaks could have really used some of that extra oomph. Smoked pork steak is a cut I generally like, but this one had an unwelcome chewy texture. Despite that thick smoke ring and blanket of rub, there wasn’t much flavor either.

A few years back I took a long trip down Highway 281 from Hico to Blanco, and there wasn’t any great barbecue to crow about along the route, Burnet included. Today, between Payne’s Bar-B-Q Shak and Post Mountain BBQ (review forthcoming), Burnet is a new barbecue destination. Whether you arrive via Highway 281 or Highway 29, it’s now worth making a barbecue stop in Burnet.



    Jim Drummond says:

    Absolutely the best barbecue I have had in Texas anywhere. The chopped beef, slice brisket and ribs are awesome, as is the sausage. The owners and staff are wonderful. Do not miss it!

    William Burgess says:

    The best BBQ hands down in Texas. If you pass this place up, shame on you. You will not regret stopping in and having the best BBQ and wonderful friendly atmosphere.

    Gary M says:

    No question, as good as bbq can be. Fresh spicy sausage is must have and the slow cooked, perfectly seasoned brisket could not be better. Choc pecan cake or cobbler are irresistible also. New hours, no problem, just keep it up and Thanks!

    Berdie Sloan says:

    Great BBQ and the friendly folks are so helpful!! One of our favorite places to eat in the hill country!

    Matt Briscoe says:

    My name is Matt Briscoe and I picked up your name from Will and Bridget McCoy over at the Texas Pecan Cake Shop and I was wondering if you might have some time to speak with me regarding some gift bags that I am putting together for some Hill Country Tribune events that we are hosting? These bags are for VIP guests such as political leaders from Austin and Wahington and national decision makers as well. These events are being held over the course of the next several months and I would like to see about creating some locally sourced gift bags for our VIP guests. If you would not mind dropping me a call at 512-586-4939 or email me regarding this request, I would appreciate it. Also, please feel free to take a look at our facebook page by searching Hillcountrytrib and thank you for your help.

    Merna Kerss says:

    I stopped there a couple weeks ago, my first time in Texas and really my first Texas barbecue, it was like heaven, oh so good, tender, juicy, all sides were wonderful, I wanted to take up residence in Texas for easy access to this incredible tasty delite. I’m a Foody and this was the most fabulous I’ve tasted. I tried to duplicate the experience with a couple other stops, no contest

    Joe H says:

    I tell you what, you don’t have to go far for some good TEXAS Bar-b-que. I live right up the highway and make it a point to dine in at least once a month, Robert, that’s some gooooddd eat’n. Glad you retired from your old job, keep making that good ole Texas Bar-b-que sir!! See ya next month!

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