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The best bbq in Austin is the traditional Central Texas style which is not only famous in the state but also worldwide.
This barbecue style made popular by icons like Franklin Barbecue, Black bbq, La barbecue, and others is the traditional Texas bbq style.
With the Austin barbecue scene growing and ever-evolving, you’ll also find barbecue fusions of Japanese-Texan bbq.
With a focus on the best traditional Austin bbq, we share our list of the 12 best barbecue in Austin.
Curated while in Austin and informed by locals, here are the best places to try Central Texas barbecue style in the city.
What Makes Texas Barbecue in Austin So Special?
With the Central Texas barbecue style in Austin, the emphasis is on the meat, the key ingredient.
The meat is prepared in a simple fashion with salt and pepper and then smoked for hours in a pit.
The sauce is secondary and takes a back seat. You get to appreciate the raw flavors of the smoked meats in all their glory.
But remember, simple doesn’t mean easy.
Mastering Central Texas Barbecue is an art. From the way, the meat is cut, to the delicate preparation, to smoking the meat to perfection and finally serving it.
Each and every step takes patience and hours and hours of cooking and testing.
This barbecue style dates back to the 19th century when German and Czech settlers brought European meat-smoking traditions to Texas.
Best BBQ in Austin Map
Find some of the best barbecue in Austin close to the neighborhood you are staying. For a day trip, consider going south of Austin to the birth place of Texas barbecue.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If you are short on time and are looking to explore Austin’s vibrant food scene, consider taking a food tour with a local guide. See our list of the 10 Best Food Tours in Austin To Eat Like A Texan
Best Barbecue In Austin
1. Franklin Barbecue – #1 Barbecue Spot in Texas (or the World)
Ranked as the world’s #1 barbecue joint, Franklin Barbecue is an Austin staple. Expect queues some as long as 6 hours for a taste of Franklin’s famous brisket, ribs, and sausages.
His legendary barbecue considered the best in Austin, has even seduced the likes of Anthony Bourdain and President Obama.
One tip we got from locals to beat the long lines was to go for a late lunch between 1 pm and 2 pm.
This tactic paid off, and we only waited about 40 minutes. However, a late lunch means you are at risk of some things running out.
Franklin’s reputation holds up. The fatty brisket melts in the mouth and is perfectly seasoned.
The smoked sausages are juicy, slightly cracking, and with the perfect balance of meat and fat.
Complement your Franklin barbecue with Texas-style sides of coleslaw, pinto beans, and potato salad. And, wash it all down with a local Austin draft beer.
BBQ enthusiasts can also check out Aaron Franklin’s “Franklin BBQ: a meat-smoking manifesto.” It’s a deep dive into this celebrated pit master’s process.
Where to Eat the Best BBQ In Austin
Address: 900 E. 11th, Austin, TX
Hours: Open Tue-Sun, 11:00 am until sold out. Closed Mon
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If you want to master the art of traditional Texas barbecue, consider learning from Aaron Franklin, the most famous pitmaster in the US. In this Masterclass, you will learn how to fire up delicious Central Texas barbecue and make his famous briskets and other mouthwatering meats.
2. La Barbecue – Badass Barbecue Sandwiches
With a bright and sleek decor, La Barbecue stands apart from other barbecue places. It is modern, and the counter where you order your barbecue is also a gourmet deli store.
A female-owned company, La Barbecue is owned by LeAnn Mueller, daughter of Bobby Mueller of the legendary Mueller Barbecue.
LeAnn continues the German tradition of handcrafted meat with a modern twist, with smoked meats sourced locally, all hormone-free.
Central Texas style barbecue sandwiches steal the show at La Barbecue. Try the beef brisket sandwiches or the celebrated pulled pork sandwiches.
For a mouthwatering combination of barbecue meats, try “El Sancho Loco.” This sandwich has beef, pork, and sausage topped with pickled red onions and served in a potato bun.
Add chipotle slaw and pinto beans along with craft beer, cocktails, or wine for a spectacular feast.
These were our favorite barbecue sandwiches in Austin.
Where to Eat The Best BBQ Sandwiches
Address: 2401 E Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX
Hours: Open Wed-Sun, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
3. Micklethwait Craft Meats – The Best Food Truck BBQ In Austin
Go early and beat the rush for a taste of Micklethwait Craft Meats, an acclaimed food truck in Austin.
Since 2017, Micklethwait has been on every Texas awarded list for the best barbecue plate in Austin.
The barbecue trailer with a pit next to it sits amongst picnic tables and trees which provide shade.
You’ll find a short menu with beef brisket, pork ribs, and sausages being among the standouts.
Owner Tom Micklethwait is a baker-turned-pit master, and the bread offered is slightly puffed like a brioche crafted with the expertise of a master baker.
For a taste of Texas-style barbecue heritage, we had a three-meat plate of smoked brisket, pork ribs, and a Tex-Czech sausage.
This was paired with a refreshing lemon poppy-seed slaw and perfectly cooked beans.
The Tex-Czech sausages were the best we had on our quest. The meat and fat beautifully balanced while moist and flavorful.
If you don’t want to wait in the long lines at the nearby Franklin Barbecue, enjoy some of the best barbecue in Austin under a canopy of trees at Micklethwait.
Where to Eat At The Best BBQ Food Truck in Austin
Address: 1309 Rosewood Ave, Austin, TX
Hours: Open Thu-Sun, 11:00 am until sold out.
4. Mum Foods – The Best Pastrami In Texas
Visiting local farmers markets is one of the best ways to learn about the local food culture.
And, they are a goldmine for local food discoveries.
While exploring the Texas Farmers Market at Mueller, we unexpectedly discovered what became our favorite Austin barbecue.
As we made our way to the far end of the market, we noticed this one stall with a consistent queue.
Taking our line in place under the simple Mum Foods sign, we waited patiently to sample their meats.
Their smoked wagyu brisket, which we immediately fell in love with are a meat lovers dream.
No cutlery required as the tender and flavorful meat just melts in the mouth.
A bite into their award-winning pastrami is a trip to barbecue heaven. The perfect level of seasoning in every delicious bite.
The line at the Mueller Market is long, and they often run out before the market closes.
It is worth a visit to the local farmers markets for a taste of exceptional Mum Foods barbecue in Austin.
5. Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ – The Best Tex-Mex BBQ In Austin
Head on to the south of downtown Austin, and you’ll find a unique blend of flavors at Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ.
Established in 2013, this family-owned mobile food joint has garnered acclaim for its exceptional fusion of Texas and Mexican barbecue styles.
Each year earns them even more praise and recognition for their Tex-Mex barbecue flavors.
The menu at Valentina’s is part Texas barbecue and part tacos. We recommend getting a plate with a combination of both.
During our visit, our plate consisted of pork ribs, smoked tender brisket tacos, smoked carnitas tacos, and a jalapeno cheddar sausage served with rice and beans.
While we joyfully savored each bite, the tacos and especially the smoked brisket taco was exceptional.
The perfectly seasoned brisket served with homemade salsa, guacamole, and flour tortilla, were to die for.
For Tex-Mex barbecue, it’s worth the hike 15 miles south of downtown Austin to Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ trailer.
Where to Eat The Best Tex-Mex BBQ in Austin
Address: 308 S Main St, Buda, TX
Hours: Wed-Sun, 8:00 am – 10:00 pm.
Watch Our Video About Best Austin BBQ
6. Leroy and Lewis Barbecue – Best Relaxed Dining BBQ In Austin
With the slogan, “New School BBQ, Old School Service”, you can expect a keen focus on traditional cuts like tender brisket delivered with a smile.
Evan LeRoy, pitmaster and co-ower is known to push the boundaries while consistently delivering quality.
In addition to beef cheeks, one of their most celebrated items, you can cauliflower burnt ends, cheddar cheesecake, and more.
You’ll find the Leroy and Lewis Barbecue trailer inside the fenced area of Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden. Pair your freshly prepared Texas barbecue with artisanal beer for a great time.
While the Leroy and Lewis food truck has been a hit since 2017, new changes are coming in 2023.
A new brick-and-mortar location is scheduled to be open later this year in South Austin. Stay tuned.
The original food truck will remain parked at Cosmic Coffee allowing you to still enjoy some of the best barbecue in Austin.
Where to Eat The Best Casual Dinning BBQ in Austin
Address: 121 Pickle Rd, Austin, TX
Hours: Open Wed-Sun, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm. Closed Mon and Tue.
7. Terry Black BBQ – Austin’s Classic Barbecue Joint
No burgers or brisket tacos Terry Black’s bbq offers straight-up exceptional Texas bbq. Started in Lockhart, Texas, the next generation has brought Terry Black to Austin and to Dallas.
In Austin, Terry Black isn’t just good, it’s an Austin legend. You’ll not miss their large and bold signs and downtown Austin, and the smell will lure you in.
The long lines typically at lunchtime move fast, and you order your meats, sides, and desserts cafeteria style.
The sliced or chopped brisket is smoked to perfection. The peppered pork ribs and juicy smoked sausages are additional favorites you’ll not want to miss.
The award winning barbecue sauce which comes in sweet, spicy or original are rich in flavor and add to your delicious barbecue experience.
While you can order your barbecue to go, you don’t want to miss eating at Terry Black’s BBQ.
8. Stiles Switch BBQ – A Taste of Texas Tradition
One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Stiles Switch bbq brew is that they are never sold out.
Unlike other Austin barbecue joints that are only opened through lunch or until they sell out, Stiles Switch bbq stays open for dinner too.
You’ll find traditional Texas bbq like beef ribs, smoked chicken, pork ribs, and one of a kind smoked sausages.
The sides are innovative, and you’ll find flavors like sweet serrano fried brussel sprouts, lemon-vinaigrette coleslaw, and more.
The corn casserole, mac n cheese, and potato salad are other local favorites.
During the holiday season, Stiles Switch bbq brew goes creative with holiday menu items. You’ll be surprised to find beef tamales, gumbo, and more on the menu.
For the best bbq in Austin that you can savor at any time of the day, head to Stiles Switch bbq.
Where to Eat The Best BBQ Meal in Austin
Address: 6610 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX
Hours: Open daily, 11:00 am – 8:00 pm; Closed Mon.
9. Interstellar BBQ – Expert Chef Owned BBQ Destination
Only opened in 2019, Interstellar BBQ has quickly become a favorite in the Austin barbecue scene.
It has been ranked by Texas Monthly Magazine as one of the top barbecue joints in the city.
The kind of wood used and the way it is sourced is one of the secrets that makes their bbq so exceptional.
The tender brisket, cooked simply with salt, pepper, and garlic is a delicious labor of love.
Smoked turkey breast brined in citrus, beef rib, and juicy pulled lamb shoulder are some of the menu items not to be missed.
Add the complimentary bbq beans along with scallop potatoes and the zucchini tomato salad for a complete experience.
Leave room for dessert and go early to grab an outdoor table.
Where to Eat The Best Chef-Owned BBQ in Austin
Address: 12233 Ranch Rd 620 N Suite 105, Austin, TX
Hours: Open Wed-Sun, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
10. Slab BBQ & Beer – Unique And Delicious Barbecue
What started as a food truck on the UT-Austin campus has now become one of Austin’s favorite barbecue joints with food trucks and physical locations.
SLAB, which stands for Slow, Low and Bangin’ focuses on barbecue sandwiches bringing something new to the Austin barbecue scene.
The mouthwatering sandwiches include barbecue styles from other parts of the country like the Carolinas, Memphis, and Saint Louis.
Their slogan “real dope bbq and beer” speaks to the passion that goes into making Slab one of the best bbq in Austin, Texas.
Pulled pork sandwiches like the Notorious PIG, Saint Louis-style pork ribs, and beef brisket sandwiches are unmissable. Their signature banana pudding dessert is worth leaving room for.
In partnership with NomadicBeerworks, you can also enjoy American-style craft beers and cocktails made with Texas spirits.
The atmosphere is laid back with large open picnic tables, under a canopy of trees. And, the friendly staff will make sure you feel right at home.
Slab BBQ & Beer is a BBQ destination worth exploring while in Austin.
Where to Eat The Best BBQ in UT-Austin Campus
Address: 9012 Research Blvd C4, Austin, TX
Hours: Open Mon-Sat, 11:00 am – 8:00 pm; Sun, until 6:00 pm.
11. Distant Relatives – Best Heritage BBQ In South Austin
Distant Relatives BBQ, a hidden gem in South Austin, bills itself as “Austin’s modern African-American food truck.”
The name “Distant Relatives” pay homage to the contribution of the African American diaspora to barbecue. And it’s done with a Central Texas touch.
Opened only in 2020, it is already making waves and garnering awards in the Austin barbecue scene.
The food truck is located in south Austin at Meanwhile Brewing, where you can enjoy a local brew on the outdoor picnic tables.
For the flavors and textures of the African American heritage try pulled pork with tamarind molasses bbq sauce, Carolina gold rice grits, or black-eyed peas and collards sides.
The menu changes seasonally, and all the produce is local. It also gets most of its produce from African American farmers in the Austin area.
While Distant Relatives brings a whole new world of delicious flavors to the Austin barbecue scene.
There is so much more. You will savor the past and present while paying tribute to the African American diaspora within the US.
Where to Eat The Best BBQ in South Austin
Address: 3901 Promontory Point Dr, Austin, TX
Hours: Open Wed-Sun, 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
12. Brown’s BBQ – The Best Trailer Serving All Flavor Barbecue
The bright red trailer located in front of Corner Bar in South Austin is a local favorite.
Family-owned by long-time Austinites, Brown’s BBQ is known to serve some of the best bbq in Austin with everything made from scratch.
Starting with the firewood that comes from their Austin property, they only use local beef and pork in their cooking.
Their tasty brisket which cooks for 21 hours is one of their most famous dishes. Along with award-winning fall-off-the-bone ribs.
The turkey, pork spare ribs, pulled pork, sausages are some of the other meats you will not regret ordering.
Pair that with traditional sides like potato salad, slaw, and mac n cheese and you have a feast worth devouring.
It’s worth the trip to south Austin for old-school barbecue at affordable prices.
Where to Eat The Best Trailer BBQ in Austin
Address: 1901 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX
Hours: Open Tue-Sat, 11:00 am – 7:00 pm; Sun-Mon, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Other BBQ in Austin Area For A Day Trip
13. Black’s BBQ – The Oldest Family Owned BBQ in Texas
A larger-than-life sign at the entrance of Black’s BBQ in Lockhart, TX with the words “Giant Beef Ribs” greets you as you walk in.
This is the oldest family-owned barbecue restaurant in the state of Texas, since 1932.
It has a nostalgic atmosphere with wood-paneled walls, horns of various sizes adorning the walls, and plastic red & white checked tablecloths.
You’ll find a cafeteria-style counter at the entrance, where sides and desserts are up first. Then, it’s onto the butcher block, where brisket, beef ribs, and sausages await.
Black’s signature beef rib is a carnivore’s dream. It can weigh between 1 to 2 lbs and it is a slab of pink meat, with blackened edges on a nine-inch bone.
The sausage links at Blacks, another local favorite have a peppery finish, with a tasty filling that could use a bit more meat.
Sides are traditional: beans and coleslaw. Not a standout, but fitting for this legendary Texas BBQ spot.
If you are in Austin, a trip to Black’s in Lockhart TX, is an experience. An irrefutable rite of passage for barbecue lovers.
Where to Eat The Best Traditional BBQ in Lockart Texas
Address: 215 N Main St, Lockhart, TX
Hours: Open Sun-Thu, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm; Fri-Sat, 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Leave Austin for a half-day wine and BBQ tour to the Texas Hill Country. With transportation provided, enjoy incredible Texas BBQ and wine tasting at two different wineries. Find out more about this Texas Hill Country & BBQ Tour.
14. Smitty’s Market BBQ – Steeped in History and Tradition
In the heart of downtown Lockhart, you’ll run into Smitty’s Market BBQ, a Lockhart barbecue heavyweight on Commerce Street.
The entrance is a long hallway with darkened walls leading to a pit with light from a menacing open fire.
The woody aroma guides you to the butcher block, where a wide range of meats await your order.
The menu consists of brisket, pork ribs and chops, shoulder clod, prime rib, and pit-cooked sausages.
You pretty much line up, place your order by the pound, and pay by cash or check (no debit or credit).
The smoked meat is on butcher paper and there are no plates, no forks, you eat with your hands. Just good old fingerlickin’ good bbq.
The location opened around 1900 as Kreuz Market, a German butcher shop that sold fresh meat during the week and smoked the leftovers on the weekends.
In 1999, a feud between a sister and her brothers, caused the brothers to move Kreuz Market to a new building on the northern outskirts of town.
Fortunately, the sister, Nina Schmidt Sells and her son, John Fullilove re-opened the space, under the Smitty name in honor of her father, Edgar “Smitty” Schmidt.
So, when you find yourself in Lockhart, make sure Smitty’s is on your itinerary. This classic spot, steeped in character and tradition, is a must-visit.
Where to Eat The Best BBQ in Lockart Texas
Address: 208 S Commerce St, Lockhart, TX
Hours: Open Mon-Fri, 7:00 am – 6:00 pm; Sat, until 6:30 pm; Sun, 9:00 am – 6:30 pm.
15. Salt Lick BBQ – The Most Beautiful BBQ Setting in Driftwood, TX
Driftwood, Texas, a 45-minute drive from Lockhart, is where you’ll find Salt Lick BBQ, known for its gorgeous Texas Hill Country setting.
The place is sprawling with even a winery on site. Upon entering The Salt Lick, your eyes will be immediately drawn to the massive “Texas-sized grill” piled high with all kinds of meats and sausages.
Not only will your eyes be captivated, your nose will be enraptured in delicious barbecue smells.
Established in 1967, Salt Lick started as a modest roadside pit and grew into a large-scale operation with multiple locations.
Order family-style or individual plates of smoked brisket, pork ribs, beef ribs or more.
During our visit, we opted for the “Thurman’s Choice” combo, which came with brisket, pork ribs and sausage. Along with that, we ordered a serving of pulled pork.
Two sides are highly recommended and concur. The vinegar slaw sprinkled with black sesame seeds and the mayo-free potato salad with celery seeds.
Save room for dessert, especially the pecan pie and the half & half blackberry and peach cobbler pie.
An Austin visit isn’t complete without a trip to Salt Lick. The scenic drive, BYOB policy, and stunning setting make the journey worthwhile.
And if you want to learn more about their family tradition, The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love is a must-read.
Where to Eat The Best BBQ in Driftwood Texas
Address: 18300 Farm to Market Rd 1826, Driftwood, TX
Hours: Open Sun-Thu, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm; Fri-Sat, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
FAQs – Best BBQ in Austin Texas
What Is That Famous Barbecue Place in Austin?
Terry’s Black is the most famous barbecue in Austin. It has gained huge popularity nation-wide and their fans often wait in long queues to enjoy their tender and juicy BBQs.
What Is the #1 BBQ Place In America?
Franklin Barbecue of Austin,and Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que in Kansas City is often cited as the #1 BBQ place in America. However, choosing the best BBQ place can be subjective as it varies depending on individual taste preferences.
What Is The Famous Texas BBQ Town?
Lockhart, Texas, holds the esteemed title of being known as the “BBQ Capital of Texas.” This charming town boasts a vibrant culinary scene and is home to some of the state’s most renowned BBQ establishments.
What is Austin’s Oldest BBQ?
Austin’s oldest BBQ joint is House Park Bar-B-Que. Since 1943, this iconic establishment has been delighting countless Texans with its mouthwatering traditional barbecue.
The best BBQ in Austin provides an immersive experience with subtleties in the taste, flavors, and craft needed to achieve bbq perfection.
While in Austin, we found some bbq joints to be excellent in one item and not necessary on all three – brisket, ribs, and sausage or “barbecue trifecta.”
We learned to trust our tastes and more importantly, developed a new appreciation for Central Texas barbecue.
The transformation that occurs when meat is cooked with simple ingredients and long hours at the pit.
In a land where everything is bigger, so are the portions. Take a hearty appetite as you seek out your best bbq in Austin.
And be prepared, as we found in our case, to loosen a notch or two on your belts.
What is your best bbq in Austin, Texas? Please let us know in the comments below.
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Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
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