Looking for the best bbq in Austin? We have you covered!
BBQ holds a sacred place in the pantheon of Austin food-stuffs. As the crowning point in the Texas Trinity (Tex-Mex, breakfast tacos, BBQ), smoked meat goes beyond foodie culture. It’s integral to the fabric of what makes Austin “Austin.”
So where to go! As a semi-experienced member of the BBQ-loving community, I’ve tried my fair share of local favorites and selected ten of my favorite spots for smoked deliciousness.
10 Best BBQ in Austin
NOTE: This list is in NO PARTICULAR ORDER. I’m literally numbering them as they pop into my brain.
1/ Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que
When Coopers moved into its current location on 3rd and South Congress, steps away from my office, I jumped for joy.
Top-notch brisket is going to be a recurring theme on this list but Cooper’s jalapeno and cheese sausage sings with flavor. Mix it up with some creamy, decadent mac and cheese and you have a lunch worth having.
2/ La Barbecue
Oh, ye heavenly La Barbecue. Your brisket is worth the praises of many. Beautifully trimmed, the meat is beyond tender with just the right amount of pull-apart. And if you’re feeling “handsy”, get it on a sandwich! The El Sancho is sensational. While lines run long here (easily up to an hour), the food is certainly worth your time in the queue.
3/ Micklethwait Craft Meats
Another A grade barbeque spot, Micklethwait Craft Meats serves up slapping, peppery brisket but don’t sleep on the balance of the menu. Their barbacoa rocks as does their jalapeno cheese grits and mustardy country potato salad. Another spot with long lines but huge flavor.
4/ Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew
Now in Cedar Park! When I found out this standout BBQ spot was moving into my neighborhood, I shouted a loud “hooray!”. Their moist brisket melts in your mouth and their ribs are among the best in Austin. The meat pulls off the bone cleanly providing just the right chew. And their sides are spot on. From a luscious mac and cheese to hearty pinto beans, it’s not just about the meat.
5/ Terry Black’s Barbecue
While it may not get the bougie, upscale love many of the other spots on this list gets, Terry Blacks serves up rocking barbecue. Lean brisket is the name of the game at Terry Black’s. Where moist brisket melts in your mouth with fatty decadence, lean should pull apart cleanly and provide a satisfying chew. Terry Black’s ticks those boxes beautifully. And save room for the mini pecan pie. Pure decadence!
6/ Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
Why didn’t I think of this? Take top-notch barbecue, stick it in a tortilla, and cover it with a healthy serving of tomato serrano salsa. While I’m sure it requires more thought than that, there’s no denying the brilliance of Valentina’s. Both the smoked carnitas and pulled chicken reign supreme, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
7/ Interstellar BBQ
A relative newbie on the Austin smoking scene, Interstellar has some trick up their sleeve nobody else has. While they offer awesome mainstays, their Tipsy Turkey Breast is a triumph and the kielbasa makes the Polish boy in me dance and sing. Plus they live on a stretch of roadway known more for traffic than high-quality eateries (seriously, I used to live there). Well worth visiting for those who live along the 620 highway.
8/ Franklin Barbecue
Austin’s world-famous barbecue joint is renowned for a reason. I’ve been lucky enough to try a nice selection of Franklin’s offerings and I can tell you, it’s baffling how he does it. The brisket is literally the best I’ve ever had. The balance of chew, pull, moisture, and fatty decadence goes beyond description. When the lines return, it’ll be worth sitting in at least once to try this amazing BBQ.
9/ SLAB BBQ & Beer
Covering two essential food groups, barbeque and beer, SLAB is primarily renowned for their pulled pork sandwiches. Piled high to the sky with pork and topped with a spicy mustard slaw and red sauce, the Notorious P.I.G. is a stone-cold winner. Close runner-ups go to the Texas O.G. brisket sammie and the Tony Montana Cuban.
10/ Kemuri Tatsu-ya
And how about we close with a big left turn! In this assuming Japanese neighborhood pub, you’ll find some of the finest smoked meat in Austin. While they still serve up classic brisket and sausage, you’ll find smoked bone marrow and fish on the menu as well. And while my shellfish allergy prevents a firsthand try, friends say the Hotate grilled scallop skewer is worth the trip alone. An amazing take on the classics with a Japanese flair.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
We all have a favorite BBQ joint in Austin. Which is yours?
Who doesn’t like to follow up a great bbq meal with some yummy ice cream. Check out our recently published list of 10 Best Ice Cream Shops in Austin.