We Texans know the most amazing restaurants can be found in our smallest towns, and that especially rings true with barbecue. These 11 eateries might be nothing more than blips on the map, but they dish out some of the biggest flavors imaginable. Keep reading to see the juiciest, most tender meat in the Lone Star State.
1. Miller's Smokehouse (Belton)
Evolving from a taxidermy shop to renowned barbecue restaurant in less than five years, Miller's has remained a humble family business despite the seemingly overnight fame. The menu is simple: brisket, ribs, sausage, pulled pork, turkey, and chicken are all sold by the pound. Several signature sandwiches feature these fall-off-the-bone tender meats in addition to perfectly-paired toppings like corn chips, slaw, pickles, and onions. Address: 300 East Central Avenue, Belton, TX 76513.
2. Truth BBQ (Brenham)
Truth BBQ has a second location in Houston, but its roots stem from the tiny town of Brenham. It offers brisket, turkey, pork ribs (plus beef on Sundays), pulled pork, and sausage; all slow-smoked to juicy, flavorful perfection. Don't pass up the mouthwatering sides like corn pudding and tater tot casserole, or a thick slice of cake to round out the meal. Address: 2990 US-290, Brenham, TX 77833.
3. Payne's Bar-B-Q Shak (Burnet)
This unassuming little trailer is one of the Hill Country's most hidden gems. Friendly staff, minimal lines, and the moistest brisket on planet earth - what more could you ask for? Address: 616 Buchanan Drive, Burnet, TX 78611.
4. 4-T's Bar-B-Q & Catering (Forney)
Many people don't even know where the city of Forney is, let alone that it's home to amazing barbecue. This husband & wife endeavor has been serving hickory-smoked brisket, pulled pork, turkey, mild + jalapeno sausage, and hot links since 2003. Get yours on a sandwich or loaded baked potato to really spice things up - oh, and don't forget an order of pork belly burnt ends and slice of homemade pecan pie. Address: 205 West Broad Street, Forney, TX 75126.
5. Baker Boys BBQ (Gonzales)
Owner Wayne Baker grew up in Luling, where weekends were spent chowing down on BBQ at City Market. Decades later, he and his father decided to try their hand at the craft, opening up a restaurant four years ago. A charcoal smoker churns out generous portions of brisket, turkey breast, and several other offerings. Don't skip out on the sauce - it actually compliments the meat here. Address: 1404 Sarah DeWitt Drive, Gonzales, TX 78629.
6. Blue Moon BBQ (Hearne)
A post oak fire roars to life at 4 a.m. here in the tiny town of Hearne, smoking choice cuts of meat for seven hours before customers start pouring in. Whether chopped beef, pork loin, or sausage is your jam, rest-assured it's on the menu. In the mood for something different? Try the nachos or a thick slice of cowboy cornbread - yum! Address: 18746 East OSR, Hearne, TX 77859.
7. Heavy's Barbecue (Hondo)
Aptly named, Heavy's serves up incredibly generous portions of beef, sausage, turkey, chicken, and pork ribs. The pit is just outside, surrounded by picnic tables where families gather and watch their meal being cooked. Family Packs are also available if you have lots of mouths to feed! Address: 1301 19th Street, Hondo, TX 78861.
8. Joseph's Riverport Bar-B-Cue (Jefferson)
Hiding way up in the East Texas Piney Woods, this charming downtown dig serves up barbecue second-to-none. Ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, and everything else is equally mouthwatering. Oh, and that delicious mess in the top left corner? "Swamp Fries:" smothered in cheese, onions, jalapenos, and either pulled pork or brisket. Definitely a must-try. Address: 201 N Polk Street, Jefferson, TX 75657.
9. Smolik's Smokehouse (Mathis)
The Smolik family has smoking barbecue for nearly a century, and their expertise is evident after just one bite. Czech sausage, brisket, pork & beef ribs, chicken, burgers, and steak are slow-smoked and seasoned to perfection. There's also a meat market and full bakery! Address: 10541 North TX-359, Mathis, TX 78368.
10. The Smoking Oak (Mercedes)
This hidden gem is notoriously hard to find, but worth the search a million times over. Everything is cooked perfectly, BBQ sauce is just the right balance of sweet and spicy, and desserts serve as a perfect final act. Address: 2626, 546 Hidalgo Street, Mercedes, TX 78570.
11. Harris Bar-B-Que (Waxahachie)
You'll never have a bad meal at this little red barn. While everything is of the highest quality, the brisket has been named Waxahachie's best time and time again. Plus, owner Mr. Harris is always an absolute pleasure to meet. Address: 220 US-77, Waxahachie, TX 75165.