austin barbecue

It’s a flavor bonanza at La Barbecue. (Photo: La Barbecue)

Eat + Drink

If Barbecue Is Religion in Austin, Here’s Where to Worship

Don’t mess with Texas … barbecue. The Lone Star State churns out the best, juiciest, most palate-pleasing smoked meat in the country, and that’s a highly provable fact, we’ll have you know.

While there are hundreds of craveworthy barbecue joints scattered around the state, luckily for Austin-bound travelers, the Texan capital is the true epicenter of buttery-tender beef ribs, succulent sausages and melt-in-your-mouth brisket. From the legendary establishments to the hidden hole-in-the-wall gems, these are the best places to devour barbecue in and around Austin.

Franklin Barbecue

We’ll go ahead and get this one out of the way first. Franklin Barbecue is a rite of passage for barbecueheads — yes, the lines are epically long, but in this case, the hype is well warranted.

Head chef (and beloved local celebrity) Aaron Franklin won a James Beard Award for best chef in the region, a first for a pitmaster. One bite of what Anthony Bourdain called the “finest brisket I’ve ever had,” and you’ll be a Franklin convert for life.

La Barbecue

best austin bbq
Definitely order the beef brisket … or the ribs … or, well, anything really! (Photo: La Barbecue)

Like Franklin Barbecue, La Barbecue has a sterling culinary reputation in Austin. This barbecue hot spot specializes in Central Texas–style meats sourced from a local ranch, and the salty-buttery flavor of the beef brisket alone will leave you salivating for more.

Do as the pros do: If you want to skip the Franklin-esque line here, you can preorder your meal three or more days in advance. Or simply enjoy an ice-cold Lone Star Beer at the Quickie Pickie (a grocery store/café/bar where La Barbecue is located) while you wait.

Miller’s Smokehouse

Miller’s got its humble start selling sausage wraps out of a meat processing and taxidermy business (yep!), and today it’s a mainstay on the Central Texas barbecue scene.

Yes, it’s technically in Belton, but Miller’s is well worth the hour’s drive from Austin. The tantalizing house-made beef-and-pork sausages, smoked turkey and chicken, and piles of plump, juicy pulled pork are calling your name.

Micklethwait Craft Meats

best austin bbq
This tiny trailer packs big barbecue flavors. (Photo: Micklethwait Craft Meats)

Nestled on a tree-shaded lot in East Austin, this unassuming little trailer offers the perfect combo of old-school Texas barbecue and innovative flair. Everything on the menu, from the pickles to the bread, is made from scratch.

While the meats are superb, the sides and desserts — jalapeño-cheese grits, lemon-poppy-seed slaw and the best damn buttermilk pie in town — are standouts here.

Stiles Switch BBQ

For the most flavorful slow-cooked meat imaginable, served in a roomy, communal space that feels like coming home, a visit to Stiles Switch is in order.

Everything here, from the warm, welcoming counter folks to the big screens to the excellent selection of local brews, will make you want to linger. And linger you should: Pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick turns out incredibly yummy, moist brisket, sausages and more.

Terry Black’s Barbecue

best austin bbq
This spot is a true Austin legend. (Photo: Terry Black’s Barbecue)

This fabled barbecue institution is run by the Black family, fourth-generation pitmasters who are household names in Texan barbecue.

Brothers Mike and Mark Black are at the helm, and the mural reading “brisket is king” should tell you everything you need to know. The chopped-beef sandwich, piled high with luscious slabs of meat and plenty of pickles, is a must-try.

Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ

Valentina’s is barbecue with a Tex-Mex twist — this family-run trailer blends the best of time-honored Mexican cooking with smoky meats.

Their homemade flour tortillas are straight from heaven, and pitmaster Miguel Vidal’s 15-hour mesquite-smoked brisket is a revelation. Mouthwatering doesn’t even begin to cover it.


best austin bbq
You’ll find a medley of flavors at Loro, like the char siew pork shoulder. (Photo: Loro)

Aaron Franklin and fellow James Beard Award winner Tyson Cole teamed up to open this buzzworthy Asian smokehouse, which pairs the smoky flavors of Texan barbecue with the singular, distinctive tastes and street food rituals of Southeast Asia.

The result? A brilliant mashup of slow-cooked meats and salty/sweet/sour condiments (think smoked beef brisket with chili gastrique and Thai herbs) that makes all the sense in the world — and feels ever-so-Austin.