The Ideal Texas Barbecue, According to Chef Tim Love

The Fort Worth native and prodigious restaurateur names his six essential dishes

The Ideal Texas Barbecue, According to Chef Tim Love

Growing up in Texas, Chef Tim Love developed a deep love for barbecue. Not just as a method of cooking, but also the social aspects of gathering around an open flame as dinner is prepared.

“I remember the excitement around the food, and this tremendous sense of community and camaraderie that you felt,” says Love. Now the chef celebrates the art of the barbecue at his collection of restaurants all over Texas, at music festivals like Austin City Limits, and of course in his own hometown of Fort Worth.

Given his credentials, Love seemed like the perfect person for InsideHook to ask about the idyllic Texas barbecue, and all the dishes that should be present.

“For some people, simplicity is the hardest thing to overcome,” says Love. “I love cooking on big open fires, and you’d be surprised how much you can change with just the positioning, and using the winds with the smoke. As far as the food, it’s when you try to complicate things that you get into trouble.”

chef tim love
Chef Tim Love
Woodshed Smokehouse

As for what Love’s idea of simplicity translates to in more explicit terms? Try the six dishes — well, five dishes and one tipple — below.

Beef Rib

“I need to have a beef rib on any classic plate of barbecue. I love them. Recently we just started doing 28-day dry aged ribs, which nobody is doing. The danger with dry-aged meat is over cooking it, because there is so little moisture left in the meat. But it absorbs that smoke flavor so well on the grill, and it gets this beautiful crispiness from the fat. It is rich, and intense. I am very light on the sauce, because I want to taste the meat.

Getting the best meat is crucial, so that means tracking down the best farm or ranch in your area, or the best butcher. I have been working on my own brand of beef now for awhile. I raised cattle as a kid, and put about ten years in it. I have always been interested in what makes one beef better than the other. There is no doubt finding the right spot makes all the difference.”

Potato Salad

“I am a big mustard potato salad guy, especially when it comes to being on a plate with some barbecue. I like the tartness. I believe if you are going to have any kind of smoked meat, you need to have something that contrasts with it and brings a flavor that is going to cut through. And that means mustard in the potato salad.”

Drunken Beans

“I like my beans with a lot of beer in them. I use pinto beans and it is all about cooking them very slow. It doesn’t get much more classic than barbecue and beans. I will also put some guanciale pork in there, which is my pork of choice, that pig cheek bacon. I started making these beans with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale a long time ago, back when I was living in Colorado and I have stuck with it.”

Pickled Vegetables

“I personally would pickle virtually any kind of vegetable and eat it with barbecue. I mean we are talking okra, onion, asparagus, beets, radishes or anything else. In a perfect world you have some spicy and some sweet. You need to get that acidity. I have raised beds where I grow vegetables at my home. We are getting amazing asparagus, fennel, spring onions and tomatoes, and artichokes right now. The artichokes are just coming in because of that late freeze that we got here in Texas.”

White Bread

“I always want to have white bread on there. That is maybe just because of the tradition for me. If you are having some good fatty barbecue, it is hard to beat a simple piece of white bread to soak that shit up with.”


“Sitting down at the dinner table with my family and friends, I want a nice glass of tequila on the rocks, topped off with some Topo Chico. There is a great tequila company out of Austin called Lalo that I have been enjoying. I think it’s one of the best blancos out there.”

Get more info on Chef Love’s restaurants and recipes here.


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