Chuck Blount's Top 10 S.A.-area BBQ joints

These places treat the Texas trinity with reverence and offer outstanding sides and an ambiance that invites you to sit back and enjoy.

Barbecue restaurants go back to the meat markets of the late 1800s, where scraps of unsold meat were smoked and then sold as a hot meal.

Barbecue has since become part of Texas’ DNA, as much a part of its identity and culture as boots and breakfast tacos. But innovative pitmasters have elevated the status of barbecue, pushing it to evolve to a place where tamers of the smoke are now regarded as chefs glorified with James Beard Foundation awards, their food earning a dedicated following of pilgrims who line up in the wee hours for a chance to taste the Texas trinity of brisket, pork ribs and sausage.

In 2018, when Mike Sutter and I explored the San Antonio-area barbecue scene for our "52 Weeks of BBQ" series, there were more than 80 restaurants and trucks vying for our attention. In four years, that number has ballooned to more than 120 options.

We crowned the Top 10 BBQ joints at the end of the 2018 series. So much has changed, it deserves a new list. I’ve checked in with our old favorites and explored the new spots in Bexar and the surrounding counties looking to find the places that treat the trinity with reverence and that offer outstanding sides and an ambiance that invites you to sit back and revel in the tastes of Texas.

The new No. 1 didn’t exist four years ago, and it joins three others new to the list. I commend the six that made the previous list for their commitment to consistently great barbecue. These are the Top 10 BBQ joints in the San Antonio area now.

10. BBQ Life by Chris

902 S. W.W. White Road

Chris Ashford worked his father’s pits for eight years at Ed’s Smoke-N-Q. In 2016, Ed’s moved and Ashford opened his own barbecue restaurant in the orginal building on the East Side. It’s the only shop on the list that uses mesquite exclusively, but Ashford keeps that pungent smoke from overtaking all the flavor. The brisket is the trinity star, armored in a thick, peppery bark with meat that’s moist and tender. BBQ Life caters to big appetites with The Outlaw, a sandwich loaded with brisket and a full link of sausage, and its loaded baked potatoes — the biggest I’ve ever seen — with the meat of your choice and a thick coating of melted cheese. Business is so good, Ashford is turning the dining room into a larger kitchen, so you have to eat outside or take your food to-go. Read the review →


Instagram: @bbqlifebychris

Phone: 210-359-1511

9. Nano’s BBQ

Location varies, usually parked Friday-Sunday at StreetFare SA, 1916 Austin Highway

Chef and owner Jonah “Nano” Perez sells some of the most tender and smoky brisket in the area out of his food truck, smoking it for 16 hours over oak wood. The fat tastes like butter, and the slices bend like pasta over your finger with pull-apart tenderness. That brisket guest stars in a mean grilled cheese sandwich and as a topping on nachos. With unbelievably good potato salad and jalapeño creamed corn, it’s premium barbecue on wheels. Read the review →


Instagram: @nanosbbq

Phone: 210-504-5294

8. Two Bros. BBQ Market

12656 West Ave.

Nestled in the shade of a grove of oak trees, Two Bros. BBQ Market on West Avenue near Wurzbach Parkway has continuously put out good barbecue since it opened in 2009. Owned by chef Jason Dady and his brother Jake, it’s the perfect barbecue spot to bring out of town guests. The oak-smoked brisket is tear-apart tender, and the Cheesy Chop, a mix of chopped beef and mac and cheese, is a full meal. But don’t skip the cherry-glazed babyback ribs or the wonderful sides such as the smoky spinach and artichoke dip or the smoked jalapeño poppers. Read the review →


Instagram: @twobrosbbqmarket

Phone: 210-496-0222

7. Barbecue Station

1610 NE Loop 410

You’ve gotta be OK smelling like smoke all day to eat here. In this former gas station turned barbecue joint, the pit is right behind the counter, bathing customers in the pitmaster perfume of oak and mesquite with each order. Owners Bobby and Stewart Peacock keep it old-school with brisket that delivers an incredible peppery bark and tender smoked chicken. But the real star of this show is the beef short ribs, which deliver all the flavor of the more Instagram-friendly dino ribs at half the price. The unusual potato salad is whipped and creamy, and it’s among the best in the city. Read the review →


Instagram: @bbqstation_sa

Phone: 210-824-9191

6. Smoke Shack BBQ + Southern Kitchen

3714 Broadway

Owners Chris and Kate Conger started Smoke Shack in 2012 in a rickety trailer, growing it into a trio of related businesses on Broadway across from the Witte Museum. Smoke Shack serves a good brisket, but it excels with superb, smoky pulled pork with glistening ribbons of succulent meat and pork ribs so tender, you can pull the bones out with your fingers. For big eaters, there’s the famous Big Dog hoagie with a trio of meats and vinegar slaw. Read the review →


Instagram: @smokeshack

Phone: 210-957-1430


5. South BBQ & Kitchen

2011 Mission Road

Tour the missions, and then eat this barbecue. Andrew Samia established his smoking chops as the owner and pitmaster at Dignowity Meats, going on to open South BBQ in 2018. Tender prime Angus brisket is lightly armored with a peppery bark, and the pork spare ribs have a candy glaze. South offers fun extras like pit-roasted onions, pickled red onions and a loaded, cheesy tater tot casserole that’s better than mom’s. Read the review →


Instagram: @southbbq

Phone: 210-437-0070

4. B-Daddy’s BBQ

14436 Old Bandera Road, Helotes

B-Daddy’s started in 2012 as a food trailer and is now the best barbecue in Helotes, with some of the best oak-smoked barbecue in the area. With owner B.R. Anderson and pitmaster John Campbell at the helm, all the meats are moist — even the turkey. The brisket grilled cheese sandwich is a hit with two buttery slices of Texas toast wrapped around cheese and tender brisket. Double down on the dairy with a side of jalapeño creamed corn with just the right amount of heat and a not-too-runny, not-too-thick consistency that would make Goldilocks proud. Read the review →


Instagram: @bdaddysbbq

Phone: 210-275-9995

3. Black Board Bar B Q

1123 Sisterdale Road, Sisterdale

Located just outside Boerne in Sisterdale, the drive to Black Board through scenic Hill Country vistas is a treat on its own. Owner and pitmaster Jake Gandolfo brings a cheffy sensibility to Texas classics. Brisket gets an upgrade with well-marbled Wagyu that melts on the tongue. Quail gets deep fried in a flavorful batter for Luckenbach lollipops. And MaMa’s Mac and Cheese with a panko topping emphasizes the cheese to such a degree that it’s almost a cheese spread. Old-school dishes like burnt ends, wild board sausage, peppery pork ribs and Angus brisket shine here, too. Read the review →


Instagram: blackboardbarbq

Phone: 830-3124-6858

2. 2M Smokehouse

2731 S. W.W. White Road

Ever since Esaul Ramos and Joe Melig opened 2M on the East Side in 2016, it has consistently ranked among the best restaurants in the city for its barbecue with a Tex-Mex twist. Pitmaster Ramos was even a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Texas this year. When 2M opens, there’s already a line of people trying to beat the sell-out clock to get an order of tender, moist brisket with perfect bark or some of the house-made pork sausage stuffed with Oaxacan cheese and serrano peppers. 2M’s Chicharoni tops cheesy macaroni with fried pork rinds, and on the first Sunday of the month, deliciously fatty and unctuous barbacoa with the twang of smoke takes the spotlight. Read the review →


Instagram: @2msmokehouse

Phone: 210-885-9352


1. Burnt Bean Co.

108 S. Austin St., Seguin

Open less than two years, Burnt Bean is already a star. Co-owners and pitmasters Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland joined 2M’s Ramos this year as James Beard Award semifinalists for Best Chef: Texas, and their place ranked No. 4 in Texas Monthly’s 2021 list of the state’s 50 best barbecue spots. Beautifully black-barked brisket is so moist, even the lean cuts are juicy and the fatty slices taste like buttery bacon, and pork ribs come dry or glazed with a sauce that walks the line between tangy and candy sweet. But Burnt Bean also nods to the region’s emerging Tex-Mex-BBQ style with snappy sausage stuffed with brisket trimmings, cheese and jalapeño; mac and cheese topped with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos; a street corn pudding with the texture of stuffing and the flavors of Mexican crema and chile salt; and brisket huevos rancheros on Sundays for breakfast. The sweetest finish is the area’s best banana pudding, whipped and airy like mousse — your reward for surviving the hour-plus-long wait it can take to get inside. Read the review →


Instagram: @burntbeanco

Phone: No phone



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