This week, Texas Monthly unveiled a new website and an application for the iPhone that claims to help you "discover, discuss and debate the best BBQ joints in Texas -- and worldwide."
Whoa, worldwide? Let's just take this one step at at time, Texas Monthly, and let's see how the app shakes out for Houston and Central Texas barbecue joints.
Unfortunately, you have to sign up for a Texas Monthly account to get full use out of the app, and I wasn't too psyched about going through that process. But at this point in my life, I have roughly 1,390,502 logins and accounts scattered across the wilds of the Internet, so I guess I stopped caring enough at some point. In this case, however, every time I tried to sign up for an account, the app crashed.
Perhaps in the future, then. Undaunted, I checked out the recommendations for our area.
You can do this one of three ways: selecting the "Find BBQ," "Texas Monthly's List" or "Buzz" sections from the main menu. "Find BBQ" gives you a full list of nearly every 'cue joint in the state. You can search by the restaurant's name or by typing a city name into the search bar. If you don't search right away, you'll see a list below organized by the restaurant's distance to you. Texas Monthly's recommended 'cue joints have a little red "TM" next to them.
It's this aspect of the app that's most useful, although it's certainly handy to have the Texas Monthly list of the Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas itself on you at all times. If nothing else, it's a great starting point for a road trip.
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The "Buzz" part of the app has the greatest potential to be truly useful, however, if you can just sign up for a Texas Monthly account. Here, 'cue enthusiasts compete to post reviews of their favorite restaurants, leave the most helpful reviews and clue fellow app users in to their newest discoveries. As with Yelp or Urbanspoon, a brand new barbecue discovery has the potential to show up here long before it makes it into a newspaper or magazine.
As app users post more reviews and check in to more places, their standings on the Buzz Leaderboard will increase. While this doesn't appeal to me in the least, users of apps like Foursquare and Gowalla will undoubtedly love this aspect of Texas Monthly's app. As for me, I won't be checking in at any of these joints, but I'll certainly be eating in them.