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Helberg, Guess Family started out as food trucks; now among top 50 BBQ joints in Texas

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 5:26 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - For barbecue restaurants, Texas Monthly’s list of the top 50 best joints in the state is like the Olympics or being nominated for an Academy Award, Emmy or Grammy.

The list is released every four years and includes barbecues places from all over the state. Four Central Texas craft barbecue restaurants were listed among the top 50 in the state.

Helberg BBQ and Guess Family Barbecue are both in the Waco area. Both also started off as food trucks and later opened brick-and-mortar establishments.

“Manning the pits, prepping, cooking, serving, there’s always someone here starting Tuesday morning,” said Helberg BBQ’s Yvette Helberg.

Yvette and her husband Phillip have been at their spot off Highway 6 since 2019.

“Everything has been, literally, trial by fire and just kind of learning as we go,” said Phillip Helberg, who started in 2018 with a food truck.

Guess Family Barbecue also started as a food truck in 2017. It opened its location two years later.

“The process is going constantly,” said Kyle Arwine, the pitmaster and manager with Guess. “We’re constantly trimming new meat. We’re constantly trimming the next day’s meat - a couple days ahead.”

Like Helberg, Guess landed on Texas Monthly’s list for the first time. It was also the first time both were eligible for the list, which is released every four years.

“Every four years it makes it a really big deal, like the Olympics, the World Cup,” Arwine said. “This is the Olympics of barbecue.”

Being mentioned has been the goal for many staffers. Especially for those with Guess, which landed a 2019 spot from Texas Monthly for the best new place.

Now, with a new accolade, it may be safe to say the line to get into both restaurants is going to be a bit longer.

“Barbecue is so special in that – restaurants in general, yes,” said Yvette Helberg, “But with barbecue, people come to gather. It’s a fellowship you have sharing that meal at a picnic table.”

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