Barbecue History

Mapping Texas Barbecue History

When it comes to Texas barbecue’s roots, Central Texas meat markets get all the glory. The German and Czech immigrants who built the fires at Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Southside Market in Elgin, and Prause Meat Market in La Grange were indeed barbecue pioneers, but their stories are often elevated because those joints are lucky enough to still be in business. Their current existence reinforces the bias of a simple barbecue genesis story, but the birth of commercial Texas…

Interview: Earnest Griffith Sr. of Back Country Bar-B-Q

Pitmaster: Back Country Bar-B-Que; Opened 1975 Age: 62 Smoker: Wood-Fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Hickory Earnest Griffith Sr. has been cooking barbecue in Dallas for 42 years. He started in downtown Dallas in 1970, when the area was teeming with workers in need of lunch. This was before the days of the downtown tunnels, which began construction in the mid-1970’s, and barbecue was a popular option. Griffith’s employer, Joe Moseley, had four locations there, two of which were just a block apart. Griffith gained…

The Transformation of Southside Market

Southside Market in Elgin opened its doors in 1886, making it Texas’s oldest barbecue joint. Predictably, it has transformed considerably in its 130-year history. The original ownership, location, menu—even the famous sausage recipe—have all changed over that time. But this is not a story about eroding traditions. Southside Market stands as a living example of Central Texas barbecue’s evolution. Its timeline is a microcosm through which we can understand how we arrived at the style of barbecue…

The Legend of Southside Market

Origin stories are often hard to trace. And those of century-old restaurants—especially ones where ownership has changed hands a few times—are particularly difficult to pinpoint. People’s institutional memory literally dies off, and unless someone is fervidly passionate about keeping records (which, when a place is struggling to stay afloat in the notoriously fickle restaurant industry, who is), details from the early days can easily be lost forever. Unfortunately, this confluence of circumstances befell Texas’s oldest barbecue joint, Southside Market in Elgin,…

Spareribs for Texas

Memphis has the baby back rib. Chicago has rib tips. St. Louis even has a style of ribs named after its fair city. But spareribs are what you’ll get in Texas when “ribs” alone are listed on the menu. For the most part, we find baby backs too dainty, Chicago-style too wanting, and St. Louis-style too willing to waste a perfectly delicious tip (the meaty nub attached to the end of a sparerib). How did spareribs capture our…

John Lewis Jr.’s BBQ Roots

Rummaging through your family genealogy can be dicey. The history could be upsetting (just ask Ben Affleck), but you also might be able to confirm some royal bloodlines. And for Austin’s John Lewis Jr., what he and his father discovered was even more rewarding than any monarch. The man who built Austin’s La Barbecue into a nationally respected joint might be a self-taught pitmaster, but he has barbecue in his blood. Lewis Jr. is still part of the La Barbecue clan,…