One lucky barbecue restaurant in North Texas has earned a spot on a new list by the state's top BBQ expert. Texas Monthly has released a list of Best New Barbecue Restaurants and Smoke City Barbecue is on it.
This popular food truck, which opened in Royse City in 2017 at 307 W. Texas Hwy 66, comes in at No. 21. The list has 25 entries total, most spread across central Texas.
Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn says it's a "midterm report," which he's providing to keep up with what he calls a "staggering" number of openings.
His No. 1 pick is LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue, a foodie-ish place where they put kimchi on their sandwiches that opened in Austin in 2017.
At Smoke Sessions, he touts their garlic Parmesan rib special, brisket, and sides made from scratch.
"Chad and Jessica Sessions moved their food truck one town over from Fate to Royse City last year and at press time were moving again, to a spot on Highway 66, where they plan to open a brick-and-mortar," he says. "But thanks to flawless smoked brisket, stunning house-made sausages, and an array of satisfying sides made from scratch, it’s worth the trip for Dallasites who are willing to drive an hour or so."
Vaughn also praises their unusual offering of tacos, which they feature one day a week.
"Tuesday is taco day," Vaughn says. "I like the smoked barbacoa and brisket, both of which are served with pickled onions, cilantro, and crema. But things get wild with the pulled-pork taco. I never thought I’d enjoy a taco with chopped dill pickles and fried onions from a can until I tried it here."
One other DFW-area barbecue restaurant makes the list: Panther City BBQ, a trailer located in Fort Worth currently in the process of upgrading to real restaurant. Vaughn calls Panther City a good imitation of Fort Worth's Heim Barbecue:
"Fort Worth's Heim Barbecue is the originator of the pork belly burnt end, but when Panther City BBQ took over the lot where the Heim trailer once parked, they did their best imitation," he says. "It's good, but more impressive is how they pair it with a jalapeño, which they cut in half, stuff with cheese, top with the pork belly, and wrap in bacon. There are plenty more smoked meats to love too. A brick-and-mortar on the site should be completed later this year."
Panther City also earned a spot on CultureMap's 10 Best Restaurants in Fort Worth, as part of our annual Tastemaker Awards.
Vaughn acknowledges that many of the restaurants on the list are trailers and pop-ups. "Our rules require that a place have a permanent address and regular hours," he says.
This is the second time Texas Monthly has done a midterm barbecue report focused exclusively on new barbecue joints; the first time was in 2015.
"The level of activity in the Texas barbecue scene had gotten so intense that it seemed wrong to make readers wait to hear about the worthy rookies until we released our next Top 50 list, which comes out every four years," Vaughn says. The next top 50 list comes out in 2021.
"And things have only gotten more intense lately," he says. "When I compiled my last midterm report, I easily narrowed my picks down to 25. This year, though, it was harder because there was a lot more great new barbecue to evaluate."