Barbecue is big part of life if you live in Austin, TX. If you search the web for top Austin BBQ spots, you’ll get plenty of lists from places like Eater or Do512. Everyone knows that places like Franklin, La Barbecue, Micklethwait, Mueller, Kerlin, Brown’s and Valentina’s are amazing. However, they can also be inaccessible because of (very) long lines and are often subject to selling out early. Finding parking at these places can also be impossible. Perhaps you can’t get up at 7am to wait 4-5 hours in line for lunch. I know I can’t, at least not very often.
That’s why this list is a little different. This is for folks on the go! People that live and work in and around Austin. A lot of us don’t have time or energy to wait in lines for hours. I’m all about finding a place that I can park, go in, get food, and eat without burning up in the sunshine, all in the span of my lunch hour. For me, a big part of the barbecue experience are the sides and the drinks too, so I’ve taken that into consideration. Many of the the places listed here will be great for your friends that are visiting that want barbecue, but might have kids or just want to take it easy, and get out of the heat!
The Black family has already made their mark on barbecue in Texas. At Terry Black’s, twin sons Mike and Mark look to honor their father. The sides and desserts are served cafeteria style. Beer and specialty soda are iced down in big open coolers. Meat is served at the cutting block and sold by weight. If you’re curious they’ll even give you a little tour of the big smoky pit outside. My favorites are the beef and pork ribs, but everything is delicious. Parking can get crowded and there can be a small, but quickly moving line at peak times. It’s open every day from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. or SOLD OUT.
Stiles is another prime spot with indoor seating that is focused on great smoked meats. They have a very decent selection of beers on tap as well. I’m definitely a beef rib fan and this place has some great ones. My favorite thing about this place is they have special days where they serve an usual cut of meat. They also are always experimenting with new sides and sauces, not just the same old thing every time. Pit master Lance Kirkpatrick trained under Bob Mueller in Taylor, Texas. Open every day, expect Monday, from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday they close at 10 p.m.
The conveniently located barbecue spot serves conference attendees and the crowds of Red River and Rainey Street. It’s one of the original barbecue pits in downtown Austin. It’s a little tight when you first get inside, but there are some nice open areas in the back. It seems like only part of the restaurant is air conditioned while the rest remains open to patio seating. This is definitely my go-to place when I’m at the Austin Convention Center for a conference or event. I always get beef ribs and sausage if they aren’t sold out. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Barbecue and a full bar await at the West Campus restaurant in a historic building. For Texas, this place would probably be considered fancy, but for me it’s somewhere in the middle. Still, going to a place with barbecue and table service is a fairly recent concept. Pit master Evan LeRoy overlooks the kitchen as well, where sides and even desserts are smoked, like beets and banana pudding. I would recommend trying the Holy Trinity plate. It is open for lunch and dinner every day except Monday. Sunday brunch even features a barbecue benedict.
This place is off the charts fancy, especially for a barbecue joint. They of course have barbecue, but also have a full menu of amazing food. Again, it’s fancy. Like $42 steak with $8 family-style sides, and an extensive wine-list, fancy. The location is a little inconvenient, but it’s meant to impress. The restaurant has multiple levels of seating and it’s in the west side of downtown in a ritzy area just down the road from ACL Live at the Moody Theater and the W Hotel. The restaurant is open for brunch, lunch, dinner, and late night, when the chopped brisket sandwich or even a barbecue plate can do just the trick.
I was initially disappointed to see a North Austin favorite of mine close down, until a new place I loved moved into the location. This is the brick & mortar location of a popular Austin barbecue sandwich food truck. It’s a great stop for lunch. Their focus is on really big meaty sandwiches, glazed rib racks and really yummy sides. They have the best bbq baked beans I’ve had in Austin. I almost always get the slider trio, but if you do, definitely come prepared to EAT! A selection of bottled beer and craft sodas are available along with some funky offerings from the soda fountain including the very old-school RC Soda. They also have a small bar with many great beers on tap. The decorations are funky and retro and they usually have great music playing. You can even change the music from your smart phone. Open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.
Located in the Hill Country Galleria area, this restaurant from the family behind Lockhart’s Smitty’s and Kreuz Market, serves as a symbol of looking forward into the future of barbecue. I would highly recommend the brisket here. It’s open every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. or until SOLD OUT.
This Texas chain has a wide variety of offerings that are always full of flavor. This restaurant is known for having beautiful locations and fun, kitschy interiors. They offer all-you-can-eat barbecue and a great selection of items from the grill as well. The fresh baked bread and homemade ice cream are just a few of the sides to go along with your meal. If you’re like me, you’ll have some of everything and leave this place absolutely stuffed. Hours and menus vary by location.
This place is definitely off the beaten path. It’s a very underrated place. The sweet and spicy pork ribs are great and so are their thick cut pork chops, which you won’t find at most Austin barbecue shops. They also have some more interesting sides and desserts to try and a nice large dining room. They open daily at 11 a.m. Monday through Wednesday and close at 4pm., Thursday through Saturday they close at 7 p.m., and Sunday they close at 5 p.m.
I saved one of the best for last. I almost don’t want to mention this place, because it’s my favorite hangout and I don’t want it to be sold out when I go! They yell out my name when I walk in. Yeah, it’s like that. Currently, beef ribs are only offered on the weekends and almost always sell out. I love to get the moist brisket (trimmed), the pulled pork, pork ribs, and if they’re available, beef ribs. The sides are also really tasty. The BigCat bowl has been a hit with everyone I’ve taken there. They are expanding soon and are upgrading to video screen menus to be able to keep up with new items they’re adding. They are now serving breakfast tacos from 6 a.m. to 9. a.m. daily and the restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. everyday or until SOLD OUT.
Written and tasted by the one and only Dave Debus!