The Switch barbecue in Austin

The Ultimate Guide to Barbecue in Austin, Texas

The U.S. state of Texas is known for a lot of things – live music, warm weather, and The Alamo – but none more popular than barbecue. In Texas, they take their grilled goodness seriously, as evident in the array of ‘cue joints and institutions found all over the state. As the capital city of Texas, Austin is in the center of it all and is arguably the top destination in the state for amazing barbecue.

Barbecue is more than just local food in Austin; it is an art form and a lifestyle for most. After all, the Texan capital has bred some of the most reputable pitmasters and is home to a number of prominent BBQ joints that are known all over the world. Eating barbecue in Austin is a must and to help you make the tough decision of where to go, we’ve put together this complete list of must-try BBQ restaurants in Austin

This list includes everything from traditional barbecue joints to Tex-Mex favorites and more. (Pro tip: For a hassle-free barbecue dining experience, look for a luggage locker in Austin and drop off your excess baggage there.)

Franklin Barbecue


Franklin Barbecue in Austin

When you ask the majority of locals where to get the best barbecue in Austin, it’s very likely that they will point you in the direction of Franklin Barbecue. Often referred to as Austin’s best BBQ joint (dare we say in the whole United States), Franklin has been a favorite ever since it first opened its doors in 2009. Owner and pitmaster Aaron Franklin has even won the prestigious James Beard award for best chef in the Southwest and has published a bestselling cookbook. 

While these accolades are more than enough to draw crowds, Franklin Barbecue was made even more popular after being featured in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations travel show. Queues can get long quickly at Franklin so it’s best to get there really early in the morning. After having a taste of their famous brisket, you’ll immediately realize why both locals and tourists flock to the BBQ joint. 

La Barbecue

La Barbecue - Austin - Roaming Hunger

If there’s one BBQ joint in Austin that can rival the popularity of Franklin, it would have to be La Barbecue, located in East Cesar Chavez. The “La” in the restaurant’s moniker stands for LeAnn Mueller, who is a pitmaster hailing from the legendary Mueller family of Texas barbecue greatness. 

The restaurant is known for Central Texas-style barbecue, which means the meats are slathered with savory and salty rubs. Although beef and pork ribs and sausages are extremely popular at La Barbecue, the star of the menu is definitely the brisket grilled to perfection.

Black’s BBQ

First Look: Black's Barbecue: Famous family opens Austin storefront - Food  - The Austin Chronicle
Credit: Photo by John Anderson

Originating from the city of Lockhart, which is dubbed the “barbecue capital of Texas”, Black’s BBQ is a barbecue institution and a must-try when in Austin. The Black family has achieved legendary status in the Texas dining scene and has been making barbecue masterpieces since 1932 using family recipes that have been passed on for three generations. The BBQ joint offers seven different kinds of meat, including their signature 14-hour smoked brisket, as well as other meat options such as pork spare ribs and turkey breast.

Brown’s Bar-B-Que

Brown's Bar-B-Que – Texas Monthly

You might be pleasantly surprised to find that this small and unassuming food trailer, owned and operated by pitmaster Daniel Brown, serves up some of the best barbecue you will ever try in Austin. Located next to local favorite Corner Bar, Brown’s Bar-B-Que is known for its old-school barbecue and is one of the must-try BBQ joints in the city. 

Despite the extremely competitive BBQ scene in the Texas capital, Brown’s has retained its cult status by offering delicious and perfectly grilled meat – from its signature brisket and pork ribs to sausage and chicken – at affordable prices. Diners have the option to get their BBQ by the pound or as a wrap or sandwich; you can also pair your meal with a beer or two.

Kerlin BBQ

Kerlin BBQ – Texas Monthly

It’s pretty hard to believe that Arizona native Bill Kerlin, who owns and operates Kerlin BBQ, had very little background in barbecue before moving to Austin and opening up his now renowned BBQ joint. Today, his no-frills food truck has become a hit with both locals and tourists for its smoked meats, particularly his signature mashup creation featuring prime Angus brisket and kolache. Other items on Kerlin BBQ’s menu that are worth trying include pork ribs, pork shoulder, beef hot links, and pork belly burnt ends.

Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ

Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ - Austin - Roaming Hunger

When you are set on having Tex-Mex food, you generally don’t expect to have amazing barbecue options. At Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ, however, you can enjoy traditional Texas barbecue with Mexican influences, combining two culinary traditions in one. 

The smoked meat at Valentina’s, which is run by pitmaster Miguel Vidal, can go up against the BBQ giants in Austin but the best part is you can have it in odd but delightful variations, such as in taco form or as a breakfast meal. One of their signature dishes is the brisket taco, which comes with a side of tomato serrano salsa and guacamole. Other bestsellers include the pulled pork barbecue sandwich and smoked carnitas.

Micklethwait Craft Meats

Micklethwait Craft Meats — Restaurant Review | Condé Nast Traveler

Widely regarded as the best barbecue food truck in Austin, Micklethwait Craft Meats (MCM) on East 11th is one of the most visited and favored BBQ joints in the Texas capital. Because of its proximity to Franklin Barbecue, there was a time when MCM had a hard time attracting customers. 

However, when word got out about their delicious smoked meat, particularly their massive beef rib and flavorful sausages, the spot quickly became a local favorite. More than just their barbecued meats, MCM also prides itself in its delicious and unique sides, such as the lemon poppy slaw and jalapeno cheese grits. 

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew

Stiles Switch BBQ's The Switch Restaurant Opens This Week in Dripping  Springs - Eater Austin
Credit: Wyatt McSpadden

Located in the Violet Crown Shopping Center, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew combines two things all Texans love – smoked meat and beer – and does it exceptionally well. The family-style BBQ joint draws locals and travelers alike with its fine selection of barbecued meats and incredible Texas craft beers. 

The kitchen is headed by pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick, who has over 15 years of experience in the Texas barbecue scene and learned his tricks from Louie Mueller. Some of the highlights of Stiles’ menu include beef rib, brisket, pork ribs, homemade sausages, corn casserole, and the peach cobbler.



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