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It’s National Barbecue Month so I had to update my list of the best bbq in Austin, TX! While travel is limited right now, let’s experience the best that Texas barbecue has to offer by supporting some of the local barbecue restaurants in and around the part of the state I call home, Austin. You can also order Texas barbecue and get it shipped straight to your door!
SEE ALSO: 16 Best Tacos In Austin, Updated 2023
Austin is known for our barbecue but in a city that’s filled with so many spots, what’s the best? Where you go for the best brisket, ribs, sausage, and most importantly, sides. I don’t consider myself a barbecue expert by any means so I reached to my friend and local Austin barbecue expert, Taylor Welden, to also share his picks on the best bbq in Austin!
Most restaurants in Austin haven’t reopened their dining rooms but all of these barbecue spots are open for curbside takeout including Franklin Barbecue – that means no standing in line!
Table of Contents
Brisket, beef ribs, sausage, and all the sides – if you’re not in a meat coma by the end of your meal, you didn’t do it right. La Barbecue is my number one barbecue joint in Austin for their fall-off-the-bone dinosaur-sized beef ribs.
La Barbecue was one of the OG food trucks in Austin and I’ve loved watching them grow into a brick and mortar at Quickie Pickie. Opened by Leann Mueller and Alison Clem.
WHAT TO ORDER: Beef ribs, chopped brisket sandwich, la frito loco, sausage, and shells & cheese.
CURBSIDE PICK-UP: Order online for same-day pick-up.
KOKO TIP: Grab a beer from Quickie Pickle before you get in line. If the wait is too long, Micklethewait Craft Meats or Kerlin BBQ (currently closed) are solid barbecue spots in East Austin, too.
2027 E Cesar Chavez St, labarbecue.com
J. Leonardi’s Barbeque
J. Leonardi’s is a food trailer on the Eastside that serves Texas barbecue by the pound, barbecue sandwiches and sides. They’re the only bbq spot in Austin that serves baby back spare ribs and they’re so good!
You’ll want to wash down all that barbecue with a cool cup of Kool-Aid.
J. Leonardi’s does have several picnic tables in front of the trailer if you want to eat outside or you can get your order to-go.
WHAT TO ORDER: Spare ribs, housemade sausage, brisket Frito pie, and Jalapeno Corn.
CURBSIDE PICK-UP: Call catering number to pre-order (512) 774-0639.
1124 E 11th St, jleonardibbq.com
How can a list of the best BBQ joints in Austin… not include Franklin? Well, it can’t. I’ve been eating James Beard Award-winning Aaron Franklin’s smoked meats since he was slinging from the window of a tiny food trailer off of the 35 frontage road. When they moved into their brick and mortar and started getting international press… I’ll admit, I was kind of a skeptic.
The first time I waited in that famously long line, I was almost assuming it would miss my high expectations. I am happy to report that with my very first bite, I concluded that I was wrong. Franklin might just be the single best expression of traditional Texas BBQ in Austin. Classic style with all the staples.
WHAT TO ORDER: Franklin’s world-famous fatty mouthwatering brisket is the star of the show here, but don’t miss out on their perfect pork ribs and the expertly executed pulled pork (the latter is somewhat of a rare find in central Texas). Oh… and I dream about their signature espresso BBQ sauce. Wash it all down with an ice-cold Lone Star Beer or Rambler sparkling water before your nap.
CURBSIDE PICK-UP: Order online for same-day pick up in their parking lot. Or order up to 3 days in advance, depending on availability, and the staff will bring it out to you, while you wait in your car. Minimum order of 3 pounds, up to 25 pounds of meat.
– by Taylor Welden
900 e 11th St, franklinbbq.com
** pitmaster Aaron Franklin even won a James Beard Award
Leroy & Lewis
While this joint may be a new name here in the local BBQ scene, they’re no rookies to Q. This is old-school BBQ is on the Texas Monthly list. In fact, Evan LeRoy and Sawyer Lewis have several decades of food shared between the two of them. If some of y’all remember Freedmen’s up on campus, Mr. LeRoy was the brains and skill behind their pits. All of their previous experience comes together in a classic Texas BBQ style with some tasteful boundary-pushing… all in the name of flavor, not just for show or to be different. Frankly, I think this is the spot to watch and I would bet on them getting their well-deserved recognition (and possibly fame) in the coming months.
WHAT TO ORDER: Their smoked beef cheeks sourced from 44 Farms are inexplicably mind-bending. If someone in line doesn’t order them, I will literally let them try a sampling of mine… just so they can get back in line and order more for themselves (and for me). The pulled whole hog is sweet and juicy while the skin is salty and crunchy, just like it should be. Lastly, you can’t sleep on their cauliflower burnt ends of their cheddar cheesecake. Yes, you read that last part correctly; Ritz cracker crust, Tillamook extra sharp cheddar, green apple, with a cheddar crisp.
CURBSIDE PICK-UP: Open from Wed-Fri from 11AM – 8PM. Online orders must be placed by 8PM the day before pick-up. Online pre-orders available for pick-up Thurs-Sun. To schedule a pick-up for Wed or for same-day pick-up orders, please call (512) 945-9882. You can also swing by the truck anytime and order from the drive-thru!
– Taylor Welden
** Cosmic Coffee does sometimes have live music during the week.
121 Pickle Rd, leroyandlewis.com
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
BBQ is family at Valentina’s in South Austin. Miguel Vidal (pitmaster) and his family have their own take on BBQ and it’s highlighted right there in their name, with the beautiful combination of the two words; “Tex Mex”. Infusing Tex Mex and Mexican ingredients, techniques, and flavors into their menu isn’t some marketing stunt, it’s simply the way they do things.
All of their barbecue are skillfully smoked to the same level as any other top tier joint, but then, things get interesting. Pick your destiny from their “Tex” half of the menu or their “Mex” side. For me, I lean hard towards the “Mex”; handmade warm flour tortillas, fresh salsas, spicy habanero sauce, and more.
WHAT TO ORDER: I recommend ordering some “safe” items if you’re wanting your typical BBQ fix, such as their impeccable mesquite-smoked brisket. But then you should have some fun exploring the rest of their offerings; beef fajita, pulled pollo, moist carnitas, tacos, breakfast tacos, smoked corn, their sausage (one of my favorites)… and chips and queso. Yes, this BBQ spot serves chips and queso. Checkmate.
CURBSIDE PICK-UP: Online orders only – no scheduled orders and no cash payments.
– Taylor Welden
11500 Menchaca Rd, valentinastexmexbbq.com
The Salt Lick BBQ
When first-comers to Austin ask me where they should get bbq – I like recommending Salt Lick for the ultimate meat experience. Look at that pit! You can choose from family style for $31.95 per person with all-you-can-eat beef brisket, sausage, pork ribs, potato salad, cole slaw and beans. Bread, pickles and onions on request, or plates, sandwiches, and meats by the pound. The Sunday special is bone-rib prime rib with potatoes au gratin, beans, and green bean casserole for $59.95 and it’s so good.
Salt Lick is BYOB – with both inside and outdoor patio seating. Live music too!
18300 Farm to Market Rd 1826, Driftwood, TX, saltlickbbq.com
Micklethwait Craft Meats
I’ve been singing Micklethwait’s praises for years now, yet somehow they seem to be unknown by many. Maybe folks are nervous to try to pronounce owner Tom Micklethwait’s last name? Let’s try it together real quick. Mick + uhl + wait (the “th” is silent).
Joined by the legend that is Ren Garcia (formerly Dai Due and a handful of other accolade winning restaurants), this two-man team is producing some of the finest meats in Central Texas. While they do have some interesting almost experimental fun items, I find they absolutely nail the classic style Texas BBQ, adding some nods via German and Czech ingredients (which is a big part of Texas BBQ’s history).
WHAT TO ORDER: Always, always, always order their sausage. Quite possibly my favorite BBQ style sausage in Texas. And if you can secure yourself one of their dinosaur-sized beef ribs, you absolutely should. In theory, you’ll have leftovers for a few days, unless you eat it all in one sitting. The fatty brisket can compete with the best of the best of them. And finally, missing out on the jalapeno cheese grits and lemon poppy coleslaw should be a criminal offense.
CURBSIDE PICK-UP: Open Friday to Saturday from 11am to 7pm, and Sunday from 11am-4pm. Pick up only and no cash, card only.
– Taylor Welden
1309 Rosewood Ave, craftmeatsaustin.com
Wait… isn’t this a Japanese izakaya? Well, yes it is. And it’s my wildcard. But I didn’t add Kemuri just for the sake of adding a black sheep to my list. This is truly some of the best barbecue in Texas… with a Japanese/Texan twist.
If you are into food, then you are already well aware of the epic food empire (Ramen Tatsu-ya, DipDipDip Tatsu-ya, and Domo Alley Gato Tatsu-ya) run by Tatsu Aikawa, Takuya “Tako” Matsumoto, and Shion Aikawa. With roots in Japan and Texas, these gentlemen saw the perfect opportunity to open their visionary concept in the same location upon the shuttering of Live Oak Barbecue on East 2nd Street. And somehow, they pulled this off. Their execution is both genius and seemingly effortless. Texas ingredients, Japanese technique. Japanese ingredients, classic Texas BBQ technique. With every bite, you begin to imagine Japan being on the other side of Texas’s Red River, instead of thousands of miles away. It just works.
WHAT TO ORDER: Let me be very clear about this one. If they happen to have their brisket uni on their special menu… you order it. You order every last one they have. For me, this is the finest example of their food that encompasses their entire concept, a harmony of Texas BBQ and Japanese izakaya. It’s last meal level. Absolutely my #1 single best bite in Austin. The brisket provenance could be mistaken for any of the top BBQ joints in Texas and the uni is some of the finest in the world. Umami explosion. Other can’t-be-missed items are; tender spicy pork ribs, the naturally sweet BBQ eel, Tokyo street corn, the BBQ boat (delivered on a sushi-style wooden boat), and their Texas ramen featuring two hunks of their brisket.
CURBSIDE PICK-UP: Open every day from 12pm – 9pm. You can place an order online here.
– Taylor Welden
2713 E 2nd St, kemuri-tatsuya.com
Rudy’s BBQ Country Store
Yes – I did put Rudy’s on my list of best bbq in Austin because it’s always consistent. The moist brisket is always tender and moist, the creamed corn is always creamy, and the banana pudding is always so good.
WHAT TO ORDER: Extra moist brisket, creamed corn, and banana pudding.
CURBSIDE PICK-UP: Order online for curbside pick-up.
Multiple locations, rudysbbq.com
Originally from Lockhart, the Black family opened Black’s BBQ in Austin with those iconic giant beef ribs but I love their fatty beef brisket, sausages, and sides. You can also order smoked turkey breast and chicken at Black’s BBQ. Make sure to save room for dessert – peached cobbler with a scoop of ice cream and the banana pudding.
WHAT TO ORDER: Fatty beef brisket, sausage links, pork spare ribs, chunky potato salad, extra cheddar mac & cheese, green beans, and peach cobbler with a scoop of ice cream.
CURBSIDE PICK-UP: Order online for pick-up. Call (512) 524-0801 if you’d like to order a giant beef rib.
3110 Guadalupe St, blacksbbq.com
Photo credit: Stiles Switch BBQ
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew
St. Louis-style pork ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, and sausage by Pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick. Don’t miss the Bloody Marys made with the barbecue sauce by Barbecue Wife.
WHAT TO ORDER: Pork ribs, pulled pork, sausage, and Bloody Mary.
CURBSIDE PICK-UP: Tuesday to Sunday from 11am – 8pm, closed Monday. Order online or dining room/patio will reopen for limited seating capacity starting Thursday, May 28th at 11am.
6610 N Lamar Blvd, stilesswitchbbq.com
SEE ALSO: 10 Spots For The Best Pizza In Austin
Other spots for BBQ in Austin
Kerlin BBQ The barbecue trailer currently closed but I love their bbq kolaches and jalapeno sausage
Terry Black’s Barbecue
I love the giant beef ribs, tender brisket, jalapeño cheddar sausage, and sides here.
1003 barton springs rd
Known for their Notorious P.I.G. made with pulled pork and mustard slaw.
Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que
Home of the world-famous “Big Chop” (a mesquite-grilled, two-inch-thick pork chop)
Known for their smoked brisket taco and peach tea-glazed pork belly
Parked at Meanwhile Brewing
My name is Taylor (@TaylorWelden). I’m the Senior Editor over at Carryology.com, a Product Designer for various global outdoor/adventure brands, VP of Austin Facial Hair Club, VP of Beard Team USA, winner of the 2017 QUESOFF (1st place spicy category), and a frequent traveler aiming for all 7 continents by 2021 (window seats, always). I reluctantly call myself “a photographer”. And I love to eat.