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Where to Find the Best Barbecue in Austin

Austin takes enormous pride in its reputation as one of the top barbecue cities in the country, and we’re lucky enough to have dozens of excellent smokehouses and BBQ food trucks within our city limits. The Central Texas style of meat smoking–which involves delicate post oak wood and a low-and-slow cooking technique–reigns supreme here, but because each Austin pit chef brings their own creative inspirations to their menus, you’ll get a unique plate at every venue.

These ten Austin BBQ joints know exactly what they’re doing where smoked meats and flavorful sides are concerned, and each spot deserves a position on any barbecue fan’s bucket list.

Slicing brisket at Franklin's Barbecue
(Photo by Wyatt McSpadden)

Franklin Barbecue

900 E 11th St

Aaron Franklin’s temple of all things barbecue is a true Austin icon, with BBQ fiends from all over the world flocking to this casual East Austin eatery and throwing daily tailgates in the parking lot as they wait for the doors to open at 11am. The cynical-minded among us may be tempted to roll their eyes at the Franklin hype and insist that “the brisket can’t be that good.” But the brisket is exactly that good, with a tender texture, a flavorful crust, and a deeply savory beefiness. Another must-order at Franklin is the smoked turkey; the delicate flavor of post oak doesn’t overwhelm the poultry, and while turkey is prone to drying out in the smoker, this version remains perfectly juicy.

Plate and sides served at Micklethwait Craft Meats
(Photo courtesy of Micklethwait Craft Meats)

Micklethwait Craft Meats

1309 Rosewood Ave

It may seem counterintuitive to open another barbecue spot just a few short blocks away from Franklin Barbecue, but Micklethwait Craft Meats isn’t concerned about the local competition. The impressive quality of their smoked proteins and their beloved side dishes gives Micklethwait the right to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the very best barbecue joints that Austin has to offer. Their brisket has become a cult favorite among Austinites, their housemade sausages are vibrant and perfectly-seasoned, and their vinegary potato salad cuts through the rich and savory meats like a champ. Don’t miss Saddle Up, their charming “ice house” serving local beers, natural wines, and impeccable baked goods.

Plate with sides served at Interstellar barbecue
(Photo by Holly Cowart)

Interstellar Barbecue

12233 Ranch Rd 620 N suite 105

When North Austinites crave top-notch brisket and creative spins on BBQ classics, they head to Interstellar. John Bates’ celebrated smoke joint features menu items that you can’t find elsewhere, like Interstellar’s famous smoked pork belly coated in a peach tea glaze. The luxurious pork belly coats the tongue, the smokiness provides a grounded backbone, and the fruity and herbaceous notes of the tea glaze bring an ideal level of balance. As far as side dishes go, it’s hard to go wrong with any of Interstellar’s whimsical offerings, but we’re especially partial to the silky, cheesy, and garlic-scented scalloped potatoes.

LeRoy & Lewis plate spread
(Photo by Jessica Attie)

LeRoy & Lewis

5621 Emerald Forest Dr

LeRoy & Lewis made a name for themselves in Austin’s crowded barbecue scene by focusing on “new school barbecue.” That means that the team honors and embraces traditional Central Texas barbecue traditions, but they’re also not afraid to play around with unusual ingredients and techniques and international influences. After several years as a food-truck-only operation, LeRoy & Lewis recently opened a large and attractive brick-and-mortar space in South Austin, so anyone intrigued by their take on BBQ can hang out in an air-conditioned dining area and enjoy treats like their famous smoked burger, their fully-loaded Frito pie, and their melt-in-your-mouth beef cheeks.

Plate and sides served at KG BBQ
(Photo courtesy of KG BBQ)


3108 Manor Rd

Barbecue chefs in Central Texas are true believers in their time-tested smoking methods, and if a pitmaster wants to come into the heart of Austin and start serving BBQ that diverges from that style, then they better be ready to deliver in a major way. Luckily, chef and founder Kareem El-Ghayesh’s confidence in the Egyptian-influenced barbecue that he serves at his East Austin food truck shines through with every bite. KG BBQ uses bold and engaging Middle Eastern ingredients and flavors on their platters and in their hearty rice bowls, and while their brisket and pork ribs are well worth ordering, the star of the show comes in the form of lamb. Lamb meatballs, lamb bacon ribs, smoked lamb chops– all excellent and all a great pairing for KG BBQ’s bright side dishes like tomato-and-cucumber salad and Mediterranean rice with pomegranate seeds.

Plate and many sides being served at Distant Relatives
(Photo courtesy of Distant Relatives)

Distant Relatives

3901 Promontory Point Dr

Like KG BBQ, Distant Relatives departs from the BBQ style most expected from Austin pit teams and instead weaves their own backgrounds and influences into the conversation. This truck’s residency at Meanwhile Brewing gives chef Damien Brockway and his crew the chance to play around with heirloom recipes and create a version of barbecue that reflects the flavors and experiences of the African diaspora in America. Distant Relatives offers solid meat platters, but we always visit for their beautifully-crafted sandwiches and side dishes. The brisket sandwich with fried green tomatoes provides a melodious flow of flavor notes, and the black-eyed peas with burnt ends are a flawless accompaniment.

The exterior of Terry Black's Barbecue
(Photo courtesy of Terry Black’s)

Terry Black’s

1003 Barton Springs Rd

You’ve heard of it. You’ve driven past it. There’s a good chance that you’ve been there already. Terry Black’s has become almost synonymous with “Austin barbecue” since they opened their doors ten years ago, and we’re pleased to report that their brisket still holds up against the many other BBQ venues that have opened in the meantime. What we like best about Terry Black’s is that this spot gives BBQ fans with full-time jobs the chance to still get excellent grub after work hours, as they (unlike most other Austin smoke joints) continue serving into the evening. While the brisket is certainly a worthwhile order, we encourage you to invest in the beef rib, an enormous and perfectly-seasoned piece of beef that more than justifies Terry Black’s’ impressive reputation.

Plates, sides, and drinks being served  at B. Cooper Barbecue
(Photo courtesy of B. Cooper Barbecue)

B. Cooper Barbecue

2717 Manor Rd

An under-the-radar barbecue spot is a rare sight in Austin these days, where top spots like Franklin and Terry Black’s have lines running down the block on a daily basis. But B. Cooper Barbecue manages to keep a low in-the-know profile even as they’re serving fantastic smoked meats on Manor Road. Their tender and unfailingly-moist brisket benefits from the housemade pickles served alongside; the pickles’ zingy acidity emphasizes the deeply savory meat and highlights its quality.

Plate and sides served at la Barbecue
(Photo courtesy of la Barbecue)

la Barbecue

2401 E Cesar Chavez St

A passion project founded by the late and great LeAnn Mueller (who hailed from one of the most notable barbecue families in Central Texas), la Barbecue maintains Mueller’s standard of excellence with highly-regarded versions of all of the classics (brisket, ribs, turkey, pulled pork), side dishes to match (we particularly like the mac & cheese with mini shells that perfeclty cradle the creamy cheese sauce), and jaw-unhinging sandwiches like the Frito Loco with pulled pork, chopped brisket, chipotle slaw, cheese, jalapenos, an a hearty handful of Fritos.

Brisket being prepared at Moreno Barbecue
(Photo courtesy of Moreno Barbecue)

Moreno Barbecue

5608 Menchaca Rd

An easy-to-miss building on Menchaca just below Stassney, Moreno Barbecue is a favorite among South Austin locals for beautifully-prepared brisket, ribs, and sausage. This restaurant also draws influences from Austin’s Mexican culture; you’ll find a full section of BBQ tacos and nachos, and Moreno’s Sunday-only barbacoa could compete with versions made in the Rio Grande Valley. If you’re a burger enthusiast, be sure to order one of Moreno’s smoked brisket burgers. It’s huge, it’s messy, and it’s unforgettably great.