Best San Antonio BBQ restaurants

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.