Breakfast tacos, Tex-Mex, and barbecue. The three points of the foodie Texas Trinity. Arguably the tip of this triangle of tasty treats, barbecue fandom goes beyond intense. Tell somebody you prefer Rudy’s over Franklin’s and prepare for battle.
But barbecue doesn’t stop with Central Texas. The Lone Star State is flush with some of the finest pitmasters in the world, 31 of whom will be attending the 10th Annual Texas Monthly BBQ Festival on Nov. 3, 2019, at the Long Center.
Six local masters of meat will be representing Austin (more than any other major city). In true hyperlocal fashion, here’s our guide to each and every one of them. Though they won’t be offering their full menus at the event, you can build up your appetite with this review of their smoking hot strengths.
Note: This list is in alphabetical order.
1/ Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que
When Cooper’s first moved into its current 3rd and Congress location, my heart jumped for joy. Legit Hill County barbecue inches from work? I’m in!
While bang-on brisket will be a theme with every joint on this list, Cooper’s also sports an insanely flavorful jalapeño and cheese sausage. Just the right amount of heat with a beautiful, smokey aroma makes it a winner. Pair the sausage with Cooper’s delicious mac and cheese, and you’re in smoked meat heaven.
2/ la Barbecue
With love and appreciation for every pit on this list, la Barbecue makes my favorite brisket in Austin (other than that famous MasterClass guy I see on Facebook all the time). The trimming is downright perfect, giving the meat a tenderness that’s above and beyond incredible.
While lines at this Austin institution can range up to an hour (and get there early, as la Barbecue will run out), Texas Monthly BBQ Festival will be a great chance to sample the wares without the wait.
And don’t sleep on the sensational pork ribs. A slice of ATX heaven.
3/ Micklethwait Craft Meats
Another member of my barbecue A-Team, Micklethwait Craft Meats serves scrumptious. pepper-laden brisket by the pound full. But like everyone on this list, you don’t make the Texas Monthly Top 50 through barbecue’s holy grail alone.
Other menu standouts include a beautiful barbacoa, mustard heavy potato salad, and peach cobbler worth standing in line for. Luckily, the queue at Micklethwait rarely runs more than 20 minutes, so meat lovers won’t have to take a half day from work to enjoy world class ‘cue.
4/ Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew
A relative newbie to the Austin barbecue scene, Stiles Switch made a name for itself with delicious smoked meat and a fun neighborhood vibe. While the brisket is top-notch, especially the fatty variant, all should give praise to the beef rib. This rib meat separates from the bone cleanly, but doesn’t fall or crumble, leaving a rib with a tender chew that’s close to unmatched.
And Stiles Switch does sides to the nines. While the options are limited, each menu item rocks. The mac & cheese is gooey and creamy, and the pinto beans carry their smoke with pride. And don’t get me started on the corn casserole and insanely good (and aptly named) Buford T’s Diablo Sandwich. A place for friends and fantastic food.
5/ Terry Black’s Barbecue
A perennial favorite of The Austinot team, Terry Black’s rarely gets the love hipper joints receive. While not flashy, this Barton Springs mainstay bangs out mouth-watering beef ribs and lean yet flavorful brisket on a daily basis.
Other menu standouts include smokey pinto beans, decadent mac-n-cheese, and a mini pecan pie that’s to die for. Add to the mix a great location close to Zilker, Palmer, and the Long Center, and you have a spot worth rediscovering.
6/ Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
Last but not least, Valentina’s Tex Mex made the simple yet cunning decision to take two points of the Texas Trinity and put them together: tacos and barbecue. Lovingly folding a slice of succulent brisket into a homemade tortilla and drenching it with tomato serrano salsa is a treat for the senses.
Ditto for the smoked carnitas and pulled chicken. Of course, you can get your ‘cue the standard way at Valentina’s, but taking a taco adds unmatched texture and flavor combinations. Pair your meal with a cup of mouth-watering charro beans and you’re good to go.
As of this writing, tickets are still available for Texas Monthly BBQ Festival, but we expect them to sell out soon. Purchase your tickets online. For more information about the festival, visit the official website.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Whose ‘cue are you psyched to try at Texas Monthly BBQ Festival?