A way of life in Austin, Texas, barbecue is taken seriously in this part of the country. With an array of top-notch restaurants serving mouthwatering cuisine, here foodies will find nationally-recognized smoked meats and expert pitmasters. Where both local and visitors alike wait in long lines to sit in outdoor and indoor picnic seating just to sample meaty selections of briskets, ribs, and sausages from some of the finest barbecues in the city. One of the tastiest lists we’ve put together, read on to discover some of the best spots to indulge in delicious BBQ in Austin, Texas.
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You simply cannot go wrong ordering anything at La Barbecue. Undisputed as one of the top barbecue joints in Austin, visitors will be hard-pressed to find a fan that doesn’t enjoy a slice of the dry-rubbed brisket that is smoked from 12 to 15 hours at a low temperature. After a hearty slice of this delicious meat, you can even catch a glimpse of the distinct red smoke ring that indicates it was smoked for a long time. The best of the best, make sure to order a side of the Frito pie alongside fall-apart tender brisket. Just make sure to save enough time, as you’re likely to find lengthy lines as this place has a wide range of fans.
When tourists come to Austin, they typically only have a visit to Franklin Barbecue at the top of their list of places to go. They have infamous long lines, but many believe the wait is worth the hype, even President Obama paid them a visit. Arguably the best place to find authentic barbecue in the state of Texas, the James Beard winner Aaron Franklin is dedicated to his craft. Serving meat that is hormone and antibiotic-free, the brisket here is top-notch and worth a try. With fatty cuts that melt in your mouth, even the blackened “burnt ends” rank high on the list of things you must try. Other favorites here are the beef ribs, pulled pork and mouth-watering Tipsy Texan sandwich.
Micklethwait Craft Meats
A perfect blend of old-school Texas barbecue and innovative creations, Micklethwait Craft Meats stands out with their exceptional quality of cuisine. Separating themselves from the competition by focusing on their sausage offerings and artisanal selection, the offerings here change daily and include anything from duck and cherry lamb to citrus and Aleppo pepper. In addition to the standard barbecue fare, those who want to try something truly unique will certainly find it here, as you can try pulled goat, barbacoa, and award-winning beef rib. Make sure not to skip out on the delicious selection of sides, as the cheese grits vie and moon pies are worth adding to your plate.
Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew
A favorite for locals, Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew is a family-style restaurant that consistently serves up delicious, high-quality meats. A great place to go for excellent barbecue without the hassle, locals devour the restaurant’s range of beef ribs, pork ribs, and turkey. Service is both efficient and friendly, and patrons can choose from a variety of sausages that range from Original to jalapeno cheddar, while the blackened beef ribs go down well with a peppery crust and pink-red interior. The sides are equally as good, as the corn casserole, selection of beers and peach cobbler dessert pair well with the main event.
Like walking into a saloon, Freedman’s boasts scruffy hardwood floors and an exposed wood-beam ceiling that is reminiscent of the Old West. Housed in a historic building near the University of Texas, it was built as a store in 1869. Now boasting a modern cuisine, patrons can choose from a diverse menu filled with traditional meats and sides of smoked beets with chevre and balsamic, house-made pickles, smoked veggies and a banana pudding dessert. Recommended orders include the Holy Trinity plate of brisket pork spare ribs and sausage, or if you have to pick a single order, the pulled pork or brisket is a must. Pairing whiskey and barbecue, visitors will even find a range of smoked bourbon cocktails, such as the Ol’ Schmokey with Evan Williams bourbon and smoked oranges, to wash down some of the most delicious barbecue in town.
Run by a husband and wife team, Kerlin BBQ is one of the top choices for barbecue in the city. Taking a unique approach to smoking brisket, here they smoke their meat on high heat for a shorter amount of time, resulting in a crisp, dark all around and tender slice of meat that retains its moisture. Pairing kolache and smoked brisket, this now-classic dish is just a part of the barbecue experience to be had here. High quality without the wait, barbecue experts recommend sampling the brisket, barbecue kolaches, pork ribs and barbecue-filled pastries.
Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Q
Amidst all the new faces in the barbecue scene, Cooper’s BBQ stands proudly as a consistently top-ranked place to dine on traditional dishes. Overwhelming to take in the array of meats in the serving pit, from brisket and sirloin steak to pork chops, beef and pork ribs, cabrito, and sausage. Choosing what you want is your first challenge, as the spectacle of delicious meats is a piece of food art. Experts recommend trying the pork chop and smoky brisket in addition to the fatty beef ribs. The pork loins are known to be super lean, while the chicken is moist and peppery. Select a side of jalapeno mac and cheese, or for those with a sweet tooth, you have to try one of the many homemade desserts that range in flavors of apple, blackberry, and peach.
A red tin restaurant, Iron Works originally opened in 1935 as Weigl Iron Works for the decorative architectural met works in Texas. Smoking meats since 1978, this historical ironsmith shop is conveniently located next to the Convention Center. A spicy dry rub is used on all the meats in addition to the chili and pinto beans, while the meat is covered in the spicy and regular sauce before serving. Smoking is done over a pit of local oak coals, while an old soda-pop cooler offers patrons a variety of nostalgic refreshments. Perfect for hungry patrons, the massive beef and pork ribs are a must, while the brisket is consistently moist and tender. Made in-house, the sausages complement well with a combination platter and bowl of Texas red chili con carne.
An original favorite for barbecue enthusiasts, Black’s BBQ is a longtime top-ranked destination for those craving a selection of smoked meats. A family-run operation, the Black family has been keeping the tradition alive for over three generations. Located in the University area, here visitors will find seven different types of meat that includes brisket that has been smoked for 14 hours. Slow smoked over post oak wood, the juicy chicken is to die for with its crispy skin and smoky flavors of Texas BBQ. Pair your meat with Barrett Black’s original waffle, which offers a slightly sweet and crispy flaky exterior and soft interior that goes nicely with the cooked-to-perfection chicken.
Lamberts Downtown Austin
Away from the crowds and long lines, Lamberts Downtown Austin offers a casual approach to the most popular cuisine in Austin. Instead of ordering by the pound or eating off an old cafeteria tray, here you’ll find smoked beef that isn’t sold out at 2pm. Try the coffee-rubbed brisket for something unique, or try one of their otherworldly crispy wild boar ribs, perfect for a mid-day appetizer. The restaurant’s sides are also quite impressive, as the baked mac and cheese and coconut cream pies are decadent treats to indulge in. Those looking for a night of live music will also find a range of performers throughout the week here to enjoy.
Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ
A unique approach in a city of traditions, Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ offers a fusion of the city’s two favorite foods. Where smoked brisket and pulled pork is found in delicious tacos and sandwiches, patrons simply cannot go wrong trying one of these new approaches to the barbecue scene. Foodies rave about the homemade tortillas and smoked corn alone and encourage die-hard barbecue fans to try the smoked carnitas taco and brisket taco with guacamole and tomato-serrano salsa. The Real Deal Holyfield breakfast taco is a real hit, in addition to the Cerveza Beef Fajita and Pulled Pollo.