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Best Barbecue in Austin

Jane Mesa Last updated on Sep 25, 2022 by

Why is Austin known for its BBQ?

As someone who moved from Tennessee to Texas in her formative years, I experienced a culture shock when I discovered the magical dish known as beef brisket. Before then, I’d only ever been exposed to Memphis style pork based barbecue. It took me a long time to come to terms with this, but Texas BBQ is far superior to Tennessee BBQ.

Now that I’ve brought total shame to my family and can no longer claim Tennessee as my former home, let's talk about what makes Austin barbecue different from all the rest. One of the reasons beef is the preferred meat of Texas pitmasters has to do with this state’s long, storied history with the cattle trade. In other parts of the South where the cattle business was less common or lucrative, the pig became the chosen animal for this cuisine. Here in Central Texas, we can thank our stars for the flavor influences of German, Czech, and Mexican cultures. Incorporating mustard into the barbecue seasoning is distinctly German, while techniques used to craft locally made sausages mostly harken back to Czech traditions. Of all the flavors of Texas barbecue, I’m perhaps most thankful for the spices and flavors from Mexican culture that add so much depth to the cuisine. Now that the history lesson has worked up our appetites, let’s dive into some of the best places you can get barbecue in Austin!

la Barbeque
2401 E. Cesar Chavez
German style BBQ & sides with that ATX flair!

Since 2012, owners LeAnn & Ali Mueller have been serving up barbecue that folks travel from all over the state to enjoy. Focusing more on savory and salty rather than sweet, the meat and sides at la Barbecue will be a hit for those of us that have a penchant for German style flavors. Not only are the flavors outstanding, but the locally sourced, grass-fed brisket absolutely melts in your mouth. While the flavors of each dish speak for themselves, if you’re a sauce queen like I am, make sure to ask for some of their sweet sauce that pairs perfectly with everything else on the menu! Check out our review of la Barbecue and plan your trip there today!

Terry Black’s Barbeque
1003 Barton Springs Road

One bite and you'll see why everyone loves Terry Black's BBQ.

Terry Black’s Barbecue has been family owned and operated in Austin since 2014, but the Black family has been making mouth-watering, Texas style barbecue for generations. The meats are sold by the pound and the service is cafeteria style, which makes even longer lines move quickly. One dish everyone raves about is their Giant Beef Rib. The meat is tender, flavorful, and the portion size could easily feed up to four people. The mustard based sweet sauce there is absolutely divine with the perfectly peppered crust on the pork ribs. All of their sides are delicious, but I definitely recommend you include the macaroni and cheese.

Interstellar BBQ
12233 Ranch Road 620 N, Suite 105

Texas Barbecue that is out of this world!

Their name is accurate: Interstellar BBQ is out of this world with flavor and service! This spot offers an outstanding blend of old school and new school barbecue techniques giving their menu a distinct collection of meats and sides. Some of their signature dishes, which often sell out early, are the Peach Tea Glazed Pork Belly, Jalapeno Popper Sausage, and Prime Brisket. You’ll go for the meat, but you can’t skip the sides. The Gouda Mac & Cheese or the Smoked Potato Casserole make delicious pairings with whatever the star of your plate happens to be.  Speaking of selling out, I recommend you get to Interstellar BBQ early because the line queues up quickly here. No worries on that, because there’s free beer while you wait and the food is worth it.

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew
6610 N Lamar Boulevard
I'll take one of everything at Stiles Switch, please!

It doesn’t get more Texas Barbecue than Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew. Named after a historic 1800s railroad stop in Texas, the team here brings decades of experience in the preparing and cooking of their food. While they offer BBQ joint classics like brisket and ribs, they also have rotating specials which feature items like Smoked Teriyaki Wings. They have fun side dishes like Tomato & Cucumber Salad and Sweet Serrano Fried Brussel Sprouts to accompany whatever main dish you chose. The folks at Stiles Switch pride themselves on the array of Austin local & Texas craft beers they offer. Stop by and enjoy your meal either indoors or on the outdoor patio seating complete with fans and large TVs, perfect for watching a game while enjoying some of Austin’s favorite BBQ.

Franklin Barbeque
900 11th Street

It's worth the hype & the line!

If you’ve ever seen the line that wraps around the entire building (and then some) at Franklin Barbeque and wondered if it’s really worth all that hype, let me let you in on this: THEY ARE! What started out as a food truck in 2009, this spot has become one of Austin’s go-to spots for high quality barbecue. In 2020, not only did owner Aaron Franklin win a James Beard Award for Best Chef, but he was also inducted into the American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame. You can get this award winning barbecue Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 am until sold out. Don’t let the idea of waiting in an hours long line intimidate you; it’s like a big tailgate party where everyone is on Team BBQ. You might laugh at the idea, but as a delivery driver I dropped off many a six-pack of beer to folks waiting in line! The main thing folks are waiting for is Franklin’s brisket. It’s perfectly cooked, seasoned like a song, and melts as soon as it hits your mouth. People also have a cult-like love for the Pork Ribs. Of all the amazing meats and sides there, I must insist that you get a slice of Ruby’s Dang Pie to round out your experience at Franklin’s Barbeque.

Micklethwait Craft Meats
1309 Rosewood Avenue

"Craft Meat" is a perfection description for all that flavor!

After perfecting his recipe at backyard barbecue parties, pitmaster Tom Micklethwait started selling his outstanding barbecue in 2012 amidst the ever evolving food scene of Austin’s East Side. Since then, Micklethwait Craft Meats has been feeding folks some of the best barbecue one could find around the Hill Country. Everything they serve is made from scratch, even their rotating selection of baked goods & desserts! One bite of their meat and you’ll see why they’re known as one of the top barbecue joints in Texas. Their brisket, pork ribs, and turkey are so tender and moist that they fall apart in your mouth. While the meat is the star of the show, one could say that having sides like Jalapeño Cheese Grits and Lemon Poppy Slaw could give the meat a run for its money!

Distant Relatives
3508 E. 7th Street

Don't sleep on those Spicy Smoked Peanuts when you order.

While Austin is definitely known for it’s BBQ scene, when you’re ready for something with some REAL FLAVOR, head over to Distant Relatives. Here they elevate the BBQ joint classics by offering items like Pulled Pork with Tamarind Molasses BBQ Sauce and Beef Brisket with Smoked Mustard Butter Sauce. Their sides are just as amazing. I highly recommend you pair your meat with either an order of Burnt End’s & Black-Eyed Peas as well as an order of Spicy Smoked Peanuts.

Leroy & Lewis
121 Pickle Road

BBQ truck next to a brewery? YES PLEASE!

Does it get any better than a barbecue truck parked next to a brewery? Located in the food truck lot of Cosmic Coffee, Leroy & Lewis has been feeding Austinites some of the best barbecue in town since 2017. They’re open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 am until 9:00 pm. Folks love the sliced beef cheek. Think of it as the perfect combination of burnt ends and brisket. The brisket sells out fast and is only available on weekends, so get there early! The meat options are mouth-watering, but the side dishes are inspired. Options like Kale Cesar Slaw, Pork Hash & Rice, Braised Cabbage with Sausage, and even House Made Kimchi totally elevate Leroy & Lewis from being just another food truck in the ATX. Unlike most places on this list, Leroy & Lewis have an option for the vegans among us with their Cauliflower Burnt Ends. While I’m absolutely a carnivore, I have to try this next time I’m there.

Valentina’s TexMex BBQ
11500 Manchaca Road

This TexMex BBQ will blow your mind!

When a restaurant uses the hashtag “#hencoconamor” (“Made with Love”), you know you’re in for some great food! After 17 years in the service industry and with a lifelong love of cooking with his family, owner Miguel Vidal knows what it means to cook with love. This passion for making food comes through in the dishes served at Valentina’s TexMex BBQ. Favorites like Brisket Tacos, Carnitas, and beef fajitas pair wonderfully with sides like Smoked Mexican Street Corn and Tampiquena (peppers & onions). They also have smoked sausages that come in Original and Spicy Oaxaca. If you’re like me and you could eat BBQ for every meal, make sure to get there for breakfast and order the Real Deal Holyfield. This giant breakfast taco combines fried eggs, potatoes, refried beans, bacon and your choice of smoked brisket, pulled pork, or cerveza beef fajita. And did I mention they hand make their tortillas fresh daily? The breakfast tacos are big enough that you’ll only need one. There’s usually a bit of a line, especially on the weekends, but you’ll be happy you queued for this meal!

Rollin Smoke BBQ
1108 E. 12th Street
A small food truck with BIG flavors!

Located in the Arbor Food Park in the East Side since 2011 and owned by a sixth-generation Texan, Rollin Smoke BBQ is one food truck that might be small, but the flavors they create are huge! They have all the crowd pleasers like smoked sausage, beef brisket, and pork ribs, but their daily specials have people checking their social media daily for menu updates. Their Playboy sandwich is a big sandwich with so much going on! It comes with ¼ pound of brisket, ¼ pound of pulled pork, and topped with a half link of jalapeno cheddar sausage. I recommend you top any of their sandwiches with their house made Spicy Slaw, which packs a ton of flavor without adding too much heat. I’m a huge fan of their Smoked Mac & Cheese with Brisket added. You can even bring your vegetarian friends here to enjoy a sandwich or taco with barbecued portobello mushroom.

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