This 86-Year-Old Pitmaster Is Still Making the Best BBQ in Texas

Meet Tootsie Tomanetz, Texas legend.

If you love BBQ, then a trip to Lexington, TX needs to be on your BBQ bucket list. More specifically, a Saturday (early) morning trip. Snow's BBQ is only open Saturday mornings, 8 a.m. until sellout, and if you don't get in line early, you might have to try again the next week.

As crazy as it sounds to wake up at 4 a.m. for a drive from Austin to Lexington, Snow's makes sure it's worth the trip. At around 7 a.m., they start serving free coffee, free beer, and free booze, plus owner Kerry Bexley conducts a raffle for free merch or a jump to the start of the line. There's really no telling who you're going to come across in line or how long they've been there. Customers come from all around the globe for Tootsie Tomanetz's tried-and-true BBQ, and some arrive as early as the night before opening.

Once you finally get to the window, here's what to expect: Buttery brisket, succulent jalapeno sausage, and the smokiest ribs you can even imagine. Don't you dare miss out on the restaurant's specialty pork steak — it's unbelievable. I didn't even think to order the chicken, but all the regulars said it's a must as well. Don't worry, there's aluminum foil at the ready because they know you're going to have to bring some home.

In 2008, Snow's was voted the Best BBQ in Texas out of over 2000 BBQ joints, and in 2020, Netflix's Chef's Table: BBQ feature brought the Central Texas spot and pitmaster queen to a whole new level of fame.

So why only Saturdays when the BBQ demand is this high? Because Tootsie's working her other job in the maintenance department at the local high school the other five days of her work week. That means her Saturday mornings start unbelievably early — around 1 a.m. — in order to cook all the BBQ for the hungry crowds. After 50+ years in the BBQ business, she measures the pit temperatures with the palm of her hand and doneness by pure intuition. That's a degree of mastery that's rare to find anymore.

This style of BBQ is known as Hill Country BBQ — it has a heavier salt to pepper ratio in the rub and uses a traditional vinegar-based "mop sauce" to keep the meat moist. The coal-fired, steel pits need to be monitored from night until sun-up, sitting between 250 and 275 degrees F, to allow for the fat to slowly drip into the direct heat and infuse the meat with even more smokey flavor.

You won't be ordering any sandwiches at this no-frills BBQ joint. All the meat is served a la carte on butcher paper, but a side of white bread will help you soak up the sauce, that is, if you even use any. If you can't make it to Lexington, TX for an early Saturday morning experience (I reiterate again, it's so worth it), you can still give the legendary pitmaster's work a taste by ordering all of the delicious BBQ goods from Snow's website.

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