Barbecue is the quintessential Texas cuisine, so of course, the state capital boasts more than its share of delicious smoked and grilled brisket, ribs, chicken, and sausage. From James Beard Award winners to sidewalk pitmasters, there’s always someplace you can get your fingers greasy and your belly full.
Without a doubt the most famous barbecue joint in Austin (and probably the most famous in America), this restaurant is the brainchild of pitmaster Aaron Franklin, the 2015 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Southwest. Almost as famous as the brisket is the line, which often starts forming three hours before Franklin’s opens. Bring a lawn chair and be prepared to make some friends.
900 E 11th St., Austin; franklinbbq.com
After years of location changes, barbecue queen LeAnn Mueller established a counter inside the Quickie Pickie store on East Cesar Chavez Street, where she slings black-crusted brisket, housemade sausages, and creative sandwiches. The line is long, but the brick-and-mortar location means there’s air conditioning and, most importantly, beer.
2027 E Cesar Chavez St., Austin; labarbecue.com
Micklethwait Craft Meats
Pitmaster Tom Micklethwait began serving barbecue out of a salvaged 1960 Comet trailer in 2012, and his East Austin spot is now an essential spot for carnivores. The smoked leg of lamb is a menu highlight.
1309 Rosewood Ave., Austin; craftmeatsaustin.com
Lamberts Downtown Barbecue
Those who don’t want to stand in line for hours or eat at a picnic table outside in the Texas heat can make a reservation and gorge themselves at this restaurant in a restored historic building on downtown Austin’s 2nd Street. Try the coffee-rubbed brisket, the wild boar ribs, or stop in for weekend brunch. There’s also a bar and live music venue upstairs.
401 W 2nd St., Austin; lambertsaustin.com
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
While Austin has two signature cuisines — barbecue and Tex-Mex — it’s rare for the two to mix. One of the exceptions comes courtesy of this South Austin trailer from pitmaster Miguel Vidal. Highlights include the mesquite-smoked brisket, the smoked carnitas tacos and the Real Deal Holyfield breakfast combo.
11500 Menchaca Rd., Austin; valentinastexmexbbq.com
Terry Black’s Barbecue
The descendants of a legendary Lockhart, Texas pitmaster opened this restaurant on Barton Springs Road, where they hew to Central Texas barbecue traditions such as smoking brisket over slow-burning post oak. And if you can’t make it to the Lone Star State, Terry Black’s ships nationally via goldbelly.com.
1003 Barton Springs Rd., Austin; terryblacksbbq.com
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew
The best spot for smoked meats in North Austin, this spot has a large indoor space with an appealingly kitschy country vibe. (Lovers of vintage neon signs, look no further.) The Flintstonesian beef ribs are a menu highlight, and so are daily specials such as smoked prime rib and Wagyu chicken-fried steak.
6610 N Lamar Blvd., Austin; stilesswitchbbq.com