It may not technically be "old west" history, but the origins of Texas barbecue reach back nearly a century. In the days before industrial agriculture and chain supermarkets, small local markets and butcher shops found ways to take cheap, tough cuts of meat and turn them into something not just edible but incredible. This they would serve up at lunch time on the cheap and people found it irresistible.
Today Texas barbecue can be distinguished from other styles in a few different ways, but two big ones are that it's primarily beef, and it's usually made in an offset smoker. Barbecue styles vary widely across the country, and since Texas is big enough to be a country it has plenty of variability of its own. For example, East Texas barbecue tends to take on a Southern flavor using pork more frequently and smoking with pecan and hickory wood. Way out in West Texas barbecue is done "cowboy style," which is something like slow grilling over mesquite coals. But my favorite barbecue, indeed the center of the entire barbecue universe, is slow-smoked Central Texas barbecue using good ol' post oak.
I made the map above from the list of top 50 barbecue joints in 2017 according to Texas Monthly, and as you can see there's awesome barbecue across the state but the best barbecue is definitely concentrated in Central Texas, especially Austin. I was so happy with how the map turned out I turned it into a t-shirt for myself, and also added to my store if you'd like one too. As a "thanks" for reading this article, if you'd like to buy the shirt just use coupon code TXBBQ at checkout and you'll get 15% off the shirt. Also, if you spend $50 or more you'll get the option of free shipping on everything in your cart. Let me know how you like the shirt and if you'd like to see more of this kind of thing in the future!
If you're interested in learning more about the history of Texas barbecue and how it's done, I recommend Franklin Barbecue: A Meat Smoking Manifesto. It was the surprise book of the year for me, being as entertaining and beautiful as it is useful.