Looking for places to eat while you’re visiting Austin? Live in Austin but have no idea how to choose from the many BBQ restaurants in town?
Well, this list of some of the best BBQ joints in Austin in 2023 will help narrow the options and get you closer to great BBQ at the same time.
There are a few James Beard Award finalists on this list, but this first restaurant boasts a winner for its pitmaster and owner. Aaron Franklin and his wife own and run the restaurant, which is good enough to have attracted celebrity visitors, including at least one visit from famous chef Anthony Bourdain.
Some people will even contend that Franklin Barbecue offers the best brisket in the state.
Of course, all that reputation, plus the hard work going into the food, comes at a price. You can expect to pay a little more than a typical BBQ joint here, but the food will be worth the cost.
However, the meat is king here, and we will say that if you're looking for creative sides, other restaurants in Austin do a better job of freshening the classic BBQ options.
Speaking of Brisket, here’s a recipe for making some pretty fantastic BBQ brisket at home, the easy way!
Interstellar is a newer place, opening in 2019, but it’s already made its mark on the Austin BBQ scene. Like a lot of the newer BBQ restaurants, Interstellar is experimenting with a combination of new and classic ways to add flavor and create their own signature BBQ. Peach tea glazed pork belly might sound like it belongs in a fusion restaurant but trust us, it's great, classic-tasting, BBQ.
Not to mention that innovations like their mac and Gouda side keep the umami coming. They've got some solid dessert options too.
Black is a well-known name in Austin BBQ, and Terry Black's BBQ lives up to the high expectations set by the name. But there are a few things that help this place stand out.
For one thing, the cafeteria-style service, a classic of BBQ restaurants that's too rare these days, makes it easy to load up on all of your favorites. And skip anything you don't want on your plate. They also offer a larger menu of sides and desserts than a lot of BBQ places these days. If you love BBQ flavor but don't want the meat sweats, this is a good option.
Even among high-quality BBQ places, Terry Black's brisket stands out. Their beef ribs are just as good too!
Plus, this restaurant is within walking distance of downtown.
La Barbecue has a familiar flavor for lovers of Franklin Barbecue, in part because John Lewis, the pitmaster, worked at Franklin too! Brisket and pork ribs are some local favorites and have been since back in La Barbecue's food truck days.
If you're looking for a salty savory and spicy BBQ, this is the restaurant for you. LeAnn Mueller, the owner, is upfront with her dislike of sweet BBQ, so umami, salt, and savory spice blends are the name of the game at La Barbecue.
Oh, and try the spicy sausage. It packs a punch, but it's made in-house and always delicious.
Distant Relatives, a restaurant headed by pitmaster and James Beard Award Finalist Damien Brockway, is another new restaurant on this list. Opened in 2020, this food truck-style restaurant brings BBQ style courtesy of some African cooking roots with delicious new flavors like tamarind molasses.
Sides like smoked peanuts and pickled beets might be a little different from classic BBQ fare, but they do a great job of keeping the meal lively and light. BBQ that doesn’t feel heavy? Sign us up.
Don’t skip the collard greens, either. They’re really something special.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew is a great option assuming you don't mind the daily specials trading out. It's worth checking to see what's on special since you're going to want one of the daily specials for sure. Smoked half-chickens also make this a great destination for BBQ lovers looking for a lighter meat option.
They’re also known for their dessert menu, with banana pudding and homemade peach cobbler offering classic options. You might want to try the Tres Leches cake too, though.
In a hurry? Sandwiches here are flavorful and fun, but a little quicker. You’ll want your napkins though, they aren’t the neatest sandwiches.
Also worth checking the website for live entertainment since they bring in live music pretty regularly. Of course, you can also get a private room for your group if that isn’t your thing.
If you aren’t planning a visit to Lockhart, Black’s Austin location is the next best thing. The same menu, the same flavor, the same unforgettable BBQ taste. One of the special things about Blacks is that every kind of protein is just as good as the rest. Love chicken, they’ve got great BBQ for you, prefer beef, have your pick, craving BBQ pork, yup, that’s excellent too.
Seen the spice blends in grocery stores? Yeah, this is that Black’s.
Rollin Smoke BBQ food truck is a blessing to those of us who don’t want to eat early to get the best pickings. This food truck often caters to Austin's bar crowd and stays open till 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. They also stock the truck well enough that most of the menu is available right up till close, unlike a lot of the popular restaurants that run out of local favorites part way through service.
Love Frito Pies? Rollin Smoke makes this side a little less messy by wrapping it in a flavorful tortilla. Or, sample all their meats at once in the Playboy sandwich – just be aware that the jalapeno cheddar pork sausage on top packs some heat.
Plus, the tacos here are wonderful. BBQ might be even better with a tortilla, a little lime, and some salsa.
Leroy and Lewis is another BBQ place that every local is going to know. In fact, this food truck-style restaurant runs out of some of the community favorites almost every night, so it's best to get there early when the whole menu is still available.
Known for being one of the best places to get a burger, Leroy and Lewis have also mastered brisket, regularly run out of beef cheeks, they also have some innovative sides and desserts to take your meal to the next level.
Everything is served with pickles, beet BBQ sauce, a mustard BBQ sauce, and potato bread, so don't worry about going home hungry either.
Plus, if you get the chance to be there when the restaurant is doing a whole hog cookout, you won't want to miss it.
While Valentina’s is in an Austin Suburb rather than the city proper, this is still some of the best BBQ you can get in the Austin area. If you’re looking for great eats just a little Southwest of the city, this is the restaurant you want to visit.
Don’t let the humble nature of the food truck fool you. Food trucks offer some of the best food anywhere, and here in Austin, BBQ food trucks have a lot of competition to help them up their game and make the best food.
Love BBQ but want a different spin on the flavor? KG BBQ has you covered with an Egyptian-Texan fusion that takes class BBQ flavors and shakes them up in new presentations and combinations.
Did we mention that pitmaster Kareem El-Ghayesh was a James Beard Award finalist?
While you’re there, you might want to take advantage of the local brewing company, Oddwood Brewing, for some of the best beer pairings you could hope for.
Want BBQ that comes with a legacy? Sam’s was originally opened by Sam Campbell back in the 1950’s. The restaurant was taken over by Dan Mays Sr. after Campbell’s death, and his son Brian Mays is the current head of the restaurant today.
The BBQ you get here isn’t just delicious, it’s also got its roots in the older trends in BBQ and Texan cooking. If you want a taste of regional cuisine while you’re here, this is where you’ll be getting the real thing.
Not to mention, this restaurant offers mutton on the menu. If you’ve never seen how the richer flavor of mutton enhances BBQ before, this is your chance!
Photo Credit: "a generous ¾ lbs beef rib and ¼ lbs of fatty burnt end brisket." by chris.wojtewicz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
The culture of BBQ is a little different from most other restaurant cuisines. There really is something about having a communal family-style experience that makes BBQ better. Michlethwait serves an excellent version of the 3 meat platter, with their own unique twist being the addition of a Czech-style sausage.
Tired of the same old BBQ sides? Mcklethwait has updated them, giving you a more modern flavor palate, more complex combinations, and a refreshing finish.
Everything here from the bread to the brisket is made from scratch right here in the restaurant.
There you have it! The 13 best BBQ restaurants in Austin. Still craving more BBQ? Well check out these 41 BBQ side dish recipes and get cooking!