There are no pit tours at Snow’s BBQ.
At the best Texas-style barbecue pit in the world according to The New Yorker, and the defending best in the state according to its monthly magazine, they’re busy manning the t-shirt stand, and not showing looky-loos around the ancient pits around back. I waited three hours for Snow’s back in June, settling for sausage and a half-slice of brisket left uneaten by a group a few notches in front of me in the quarter-mile line.
I don’t typically eat leftover meat scraps off someone else’s plate, but, on this muggy ninety-degree day in Lexington, the offer was graciously accepted. It was good brisket—tender, nice flavor. The type of brisket you can get all over Texas and around the country now.
I only point this out because of the impromptu pit tour I got the next day, at what is almost certainly the best barbecue spot in Texas right now. That place is called Goldee’s, and it sits in a barn-red building on the rural fringe of Fort Worth.
I visited Goldee’s the day after experiencing Snow’s, after hitting a few other standout pits in Fort Worth. I found it to be perfect, building on the great traditions of central Texas barbecue, but with twists that pushed things forward.
The brisket and ribs were excellent, of course—just the right amount of smoke; tender without losing their form. But it’s the subtle tweaks that sold me. Take the house-baked white bread served alongside the brisket—it’s sliced thick and fluffy, winning on freshness instead of by trying to do too much. Or the Lao sausage. In Texas, where sides are an afterthought, they make very nice potato salad and superb cheesy grits.
None of it is revolutionary, but all of it feels fresh and has a little extra juice—like Willie Nelson covering Bob Wills.
I would never be so poncy as to parachute into Texas and claim to have expertise on the state’s dynamic barbecue scene, but I visited Snow’s and a few others said to be among the state’s best, and it’s hard to imagine anyplace is better than Goldee’s.
As the folks at D Magazine, who along with Fort Worth magazine have championed the place, tell it, Goldee’s has five young pitmaster-owners who all apprenticed at big-name BBQ spots before teaming up to open their own.
“If a ‘mecca of meat’ exists, Goldee’s deserves consideration for that title,” writes D. “Goldee’s offers something any barbecue devotee should be excited about: They’re traditionalists, not trend followers. They’re producing food that deserves attention, not for being flashy, but for being meticulously crafted and painstakingly perfect.”
No lies detected.
Goldee’s also has something sadly in short supply among Texas’ top pits: winning hospitality.
On my visit, I crashed an impromptu pit tour being offered by Lane Milne, one of the co-owners. He radiated enthusiasm and graciously offered insight into his own operation and recommendations on other favorites.
I should note that the folks who run Snow’s are nice enough. During my long wait next to a laid-off Broadway pyrotechnician riding his motorcycle across the country and a young couple of recent Texas transplants sporting Buc-ee’s t-shirts, we did get a visit from Kerry Bexley, owner of Snow’s. He was likable and a straight shooter, seemingly enjoying his booming popularity about as much as the people waiting in his line.
“Where would you wait in a line like this for barbecue?” I asked him.
“Close your ears,” he told the people around me. “I wouldn’t.”
At Goldee’s, I didn’t. But, like Harp here in KC, I gladly would have.
And if it happens that Goldee’s ends up being a place that folks wait in lines like that, here’s hoping they’ll at least let folks kill time with a pit tour.