5 Mouthwatering BBQ Joints In Austin, Texas

Know where to find the best barbecue restaurants from brisket to ribs and everything in between.

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Austin, Texas Barbecue Joints

Texas barbecue is a time-honored tradition in the Lone Star State and people travel from all over the world to get a taste of it. Steeped in history and served with a side of pickles, white bread, and onions, the sweetheart of the rodeo has always been brisket cooked slow and low over a wood-burning fire. Moist or lean, folks will line up at the crack of dawn to get a taste of some famous Texas Style meats. While you can still get some of the best brisket in the world right off the main highway in the Capital City, these five BBQ joints are perfecting classics and putting their own spin on what you would expect from a standard barbecue restaurant.

Salt Lick

While technically not in Austin, making the drive out to the Salt Lick is worth the extra effort. Located a mere 30 minutes from downtown this barbecue joint is world famous and has been featured on such shows as Man Vs. Food. The first thing you’ll see when you walk through the doors is their legendary open BBQ pit. Gaze in awe as the pitmasters flip, rotate and slather the giant racks of ribs, moist brisket, and sausage links hanging above the wood-burning fire. The Salt Lick also has a beautiful winery right on site, but if you want any other adult beverages be sure to stop before getting there as it is a BYOB establishment. It is also the largest of all the barbecue places on this list making it the perfect place to bring a big group, order a little bit (or a lot) of everything, crack a Lone Star, and sit back and enjoy the rolling Texas hills. If you don’t get your fill while at the actual restaurant don’t fear as the Salt Lick also has a location in the Austin Airport where you can grab something from an abbreviated menu or pick up a whole brisket, wrapped and ready to fly home with you.

Terry Black's BBQ

Most of the great barbecue places in Austin are small food carts, their small scale allows them to focus on what really matters; the meat. But what if you’re visiting in the dead of summer, temperatures are soaring above 100 degrees, and a root canal is more preferable to standing in the hot Texas sun? Luckily there’s Terry Black’s BBQ located on Barton Spring Road. This is the perfect place to visit after a dip in the famous Barton Springs Pool when all you want to do is sit back, eat some delicious barbecue and escape the heat. Terry Black’s started in Lockhart the barbecue capital of the state and this outpost is run by his two sons who have been raised on proper Texas BBQ and all of the cooking techniques that go along with it. Recently named one of the 50 best BBQ joints in Texas, this no-frills restaurant knows how to do things correctly, right down to their simple sides of potato salad and mac & cheese.

La Barbecue

The Mueller name is synonymous with barbecue greatness in Texas, the family has been a fixture on the scene for as long as anyone can remember. The "La" in La Barbecue is short for LeAnn Mueller, so before you even take a bite of their delectable brisket or towering chopped beef sandwiches you know you’re getting quality BBQ. As a pitmaster, LeAnn does things a little different than most others. Forgoing any sweet sauces or added sugars in her side dishes, everything you’ll eat here has a completely unique salty and savory taste. As an added bonus all of the meat served comes from a local rancher who uses no growth hormones and lets his cows graze the land as they were meant to do. If you’re short on time, or just hate waiting in line, you can place your order over the phone and then just walk right up to the window and pick it up.

J. Leonardi's

Run by native Austinites, J. Leonardi’s is an unassuming little barbecue truck located off the beaten path on the east side of town. Lines are almost nonexistent here, not because the food isn’t amazing, but simply due to the fact that it is removed from the bulk of the Austin tourists traps. While you can get all you’re standard BBQ fare such as brisket, sausage, ribs, and turkey, the star of the show here is The Texan Sandwich. This massive menu item is comprised of a half pound of seasoned chopped beef, lean sliced brisket, pickles, onions, and topped with potato chips to give an added crunch.

Micklethwait Craft Meats

In only five years of business, Micklethwait Craft Meats has quickly become one of the most popular barbecue trucks in Austin. Located in the central east part of town it is extremely accessible, and although there is usually a line it moves quickly and is not nearly as long as some of the other frequented spots. If you’re up to the task, order the comically large beef rib. Weighing in at over 1.5 pounds it looks like something a caveman would have eaten. Micklethwait's also takes a lot of pride in their side dishes. While most places will offer the standards such as beans and coleslaw (which don’t get me wrong; are a great match to any sort of smoked meat), Micklethwait’s takes it to a whole other level with jalapeño cheese grits and lemon poppy slaw.

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