Don’t expect Texas to have a single style of barbecue. That would be like French winemakers hawking a single grape varietal. Central Texas brisket might be our Champagne, but we’ve got plenty more to offer.
Barbecue changes pretty significantly across the state. It is 857 miles from Orange to El Paso, after all. There are, however, some common threads. You’re much more likely to find the larger, meatier pork spare ribs instead of dainty baby backs. Beef ribs can be found throughout the state, but the giant beef short ribs are somewhat of a new phenomenon. Texas has one of the few American barbecue styles where sausage-making is an integral part of the tradition. Whether it’s the hot guts of Central Texas, the grease balls of Beaumont/Port Arthur, or the East Texas links from Pittsburg, meat in casings is as revered as anything else on the menu.
We're technically the South, but here, white bread trumps cornbread. The pickles are dill, the onions are raw, and sauce comes on the side. Don't expect your beans to be sweet... but the potato salad might be, and it’ll probably have some mustard in it. Add some slaw, and you have the traditional trio of Texas-style barbecue sides. For your Lone Star barbecue tour, bring along cash, just in case. There are still plenty of rural joints that don’t take kindly to plastic, and only a Yankee would pull out a credit card for a $2.50 sausage wrap, anyway. It’s still best to call ahead if you‘re coming in on Sunday. That's still a day of rest for many Texas barbecue joints, but Mondays are creeping in as the most popular day to take off. Plan accordingly.