Sauce or No Sauce?
The choice to eat barbecue with sauce is a completely personal decision. There is no shame in asking for sauce with your barbecue, whether it is ETX or CTX style. Indeed, the vast majority of everyday barbecue consumers like and want sauce with (but not necessarily on) their barbecue.
Though in the past there were a few holdout barbecue joints that refused to serve sauce, there is no barbecue joint in Texas we now know of that doesn’t offer at least one sauce option.
Indeed, in the traditionally sauce-less CTX tradition, many high-profile joint have become well-known for their sauces and even sell them in grocery stores.
In the past, ETX-style joints ladled a big splash of sauce over your whole plate. Some still do. As a general rule, you always want to ask for “sauce on the side” especially when ordering at an ETX joint.
Some menu items come with barbecue sauce by default. Typically, a chopped-beef sandwich will come with (usually a tomato-based) sauce already mixed in or ladled on top. It’s the same with pulled-pork (vinegar-based sauce). However, some joints allow you to ask for sauce on the side in these cases. In general, though, it’s good idea to defer to the joint’s recommendations for these dishes.
How the HOUBBQ Guide helps: Be sure to refer to the Pro-Tip and Known-For sections of each barbecue joint’s profile for details on sauce selection and usage.