The first annual Texas Monthly BBQ Festival was on Sunday, a celebration of the best smoked meats the state has to offer. Drawing from the Texas Monthly's list of the top 50 barbecue joints in Texas, 19 pitmasters gathered on the terrace of the Long Center with the skyline peaking up behind them, storm clouds be damned.
The smell of burning mesquite permeated not just the surrounding Auditorium Shores, but eventually seeped into most of downtown. To say it was intoxicating is something of an understatement; the smell of even mediocre briskets slowly smoking can bring hardened criminals to tears. And these were the best of the best.
The queen of this prom was Snow's BBQ of Lexington, who caused an upset in the 2008 when they took number one on the Texas Monthly list. The line stretched longer than any other vendor, but some were not satisfied with the legendary brisket: a Chowhounder called it "akin to pot roast; stringy and flavorless." Nevertheless, they won best brisket in the People's Choice Awards announced at the end of the day.
Not only were the brisket, sausage and ribs samples endless, they also had barbecue available for sale by the pound from most of the vendors. The rain, for the most part, held off, but no matter: when rain did occasionally fall, folks carried on as though there were nothing but blue skies. As one festival goer was overheard saying, "That's just how we do it in Texas."
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