Q&A: Chef Tim Love Loves BBQ, from Austin to Alabama

by  Hilary Sheinbaum | Dec 30, 2014

If there’s one state Tim Love knows best, it’s Texas. The Top Chef alumni isn’t just a TV star, he’s the real deal – with his restaurants Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Queenie’s Steakhouse and Love Shack – filling the bellies of southern foodies. He’s rightfully received praise from The New York Times and Bon Appétit, and consistently showcased his chops at several food and wine festivals. Since urban western cuisine is his ‘thing,’ we had to know – where are the best barbecue spots?

Before chowing down on any old rack of ribs, read on for our exclusive interview with the Hellmann’s Mayonnaise spokesperson about food, fun, and his future vacation.

What are five of the best Texas barbecue restaurants in Texas and what are their specialties?

Brisket at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, sausage at Salt Lick Sausage in Driftwood, lamb brisket at Woodshed (a Tim Love restaurant) in Fort Worth. “It’s paired with a crispy potato and a smoked garlic aioli sauce made with Hellmann’s mayonnaise,” says Tim. “It’s one of my favorite comfort meals of all time.” Beef ribs at John Mueller Meat Co. in Austin, and the brisket and pork ribs at Pecan Lodge in Dallas.

What are some of the best Texas barbecue restaurants outside of Texas and what are their specialties?

Beef ribs at Hometown BBQ in Brooklyn, NY, the pulled pork sandwich at Big Bob Gibson in Decatur, AL, the pork ribs at 17th Street BBQ in Murphysboro, IL, and whole hogs at Dukes Smokehouse BBQ in Satellite Beach, FL.

Where are the best places to vacation in Texas, and why?

Austin, because there is great food, music, and cocktails – which are three of my favorites. The weather is always favorable; there are plenty of lakes to visit, and lots of people looking for a good time. Big Bend, because there is great hiking and rivers here, with wide open skies and awesome wildlife. On the outskirts of Big Bend is a very cool and artistic town called Marfa. Gulf Coast – from Corpus Christi to Galveston to South Padre Island , you can find great fishing, fun beaches, and some of the best crabbing in the country. I have to also mention my hometown, Fort Worth/Dallas. It’s home to four of the best professional sports teams in the world. The world-class restaurants, museums, hotels, and theater provide an enormous amount of things to do. Great cowboy culture in Fort Worth and big city features in Dallas. What else could you possibly want?

Where is your favorite place to vacation outside of Texas? What do you do there, and who do you go with?

I love so many places outside of Texas. Hiking, camping, and skiing in the mountains; beaching, surfing, and sailing in the Caribbean; and eating, drinking and enjoying time with friends, everywhere from Europe to South America. I will travel for any promising food, drink, great sports bet, or good time in general that may exist. To me, a vacation is really time with family and great friends, wherever that may be.

What is your favorite non-barbecue restaurant to travel to abroad? Why do you love it?

Le Comptoir in Paris. I love their menu of foie gras, in particular. Really, it's all amazing, and the desserts are incredible, as well.

What are your carry-on essentials while traveling, and why?

My key travel items would definitely include: my headphones, a portable charger, my computer, Advil, moisturizer, a toothbrush, a pen, graph paper, my cell phone, and $500 cash. Most of this is self-explanatory, but I like to have a pen and graph paper for designing purposes, as I design most of the furniture you see in my restaurants. That process generally occurs on an airplane. I always have a minimum of $500 on me as "walking around" money. You never know what might happen, but with $500 you can get almost anywhere you need to get, have a cocktail on the way there, and not stress about the simple things!

Where is your next vacation, and what will you do there?

My next vacation is going to be my annual trip to the Bahamas with my family where I will take myself off the grid for four whole days. It's a reboot and exclusive time with my family.

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