City Guide / Austin

The 19 Best BBQ Restaurants in Austin: A Local Guide

By Veronica Meewes | Feb 16, 2024
The holy grail of barbecue at Franklin Barbecue: brisket ribs.

No visit to Austin is complete without tasting its culinary claim to fame: barbecue. People even plan trips to this Texan city just to eat. 

If you’re moving to the city or happen to be visiting soon, you’re in luck — you get to test some of the best BBQ in the world. You may have to spend a day waiting in line, but we promise it’s worth it. 

Fill up on slow-cooked ribs or brisket, special barbecue sauces, and unexpected desserts at the following 19 spots offering the best BBQ in Austin.

1. Franklin Barbecue

Long line of people in the front of a barbecue restaurant with the sign Franklin Barbecue.
Source: Wikipedia.

Often making top 10 BBQ in Texas lists, this award-winning East Austin joint has earned chef Aaron Franklin the title of “King of Brisket” and a James Beard Award. The restaurant has also secured a spot in the American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame.

There’s a chance you’ll wait in line, but that gives you plenty of time to work up an appetite for this standout barbecue. You’ll be met with a heaping tray of juicy brisket, tangy jalapeño-cheddar sauce, tender pulled pork, and smoky pork ribs. If you can manage to squeeze in dessert, try Ruby’s Dang Pie, a pineapple coconut delicacy made from a recipe passed on from the owners of the iconic (now closed) Ruby’s BBQ.

2. Interstellar BBQ

People in line at the front of a barbecue restaurant with the sign Interstellar BBQ.
Source: Photo by Richard Casteel.

This Northwest Austin BBQ joint from industry veterans John Bates and Brandon Martinez is one of the best Texas BBQ restaurants, securing the number-two place on Texas Monthly’s prestigious statewide list. 

Check out the peach tea-glazed pork belly, smoked scalloped potatoes, and “tipsy turkey” marinated in Live Oak hefeweizen. Plus, Interstellar’s unique, rotating specials, like smoked lengua tacos with tomatillo salsa and lime and the brisket-kielbasa BBQ torta with Morita salsa, avocado, and Oaxacan cheese, are worth coming back for again and again.

3. Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ

Source: Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ Website

Pitmaster Miguel Vidal combines the best of barbecue and Mexican cuisine at this South Austin trailer. Order smoked meats by the pound, or choose from tacos, like smoked carnitas with caramelized onions and tomatillo-habanero salsa, and sandwiches, like pulled pork topped with slaw and mesquite BBQ sauce.

If you can’t wait for lunchtime to dig in, fear not. This is one of the only Austin BBQ places that offers a breakfast menu. Chow down on massive breakfast tacos heaping with fried eggs, potatoes, beans, and bacon or try the brisket, pulled pork, or beef fajitas.

4. LeRoy & Lewis

Source: Photo by John Anderson.

Evan LeRoy opened this BBQ trailer in 2017 to rave reviews for its adventurous “new-school barbecue.” The South Austin joint is still going strong as one of the top barbecues in Texas years later, thanks to its one-of-a-kind offerings like beef cheeks, pulled whole hog, kimchi, and braised cabbage. Don’t miss the L and L burger, made from fresh-ground brisket trimmings, or the loaded pork hash over rice, topped with pork skins, scallions, and pickled smoked jalapeños.

Check out the restaurant’s weekend specials for unique offerings, like black garlic glazed chicken, jerk pork chop, and venison loin. And, if you can’t get enough of LeRoy and Lewis’ delectable cuisine, sign up for their monthly sausage club and routinely enjoy citra hop pork sausage and an exclusive rotating flavor, along with all of the fixings, like potato rolls and signature sauces.

5. la Barbecue


Co-owners and pitmasters Leanne Mueller and Ali Clemm have taken la Barbecue from humble beginnings in a trailer to a brick-and-mortar BBQ counter with lines looping around the block. 

Regarded as one of Austin’s best BBQ spots, la Barbecue gained its excellent reputation by serving up thick cuts of brisket and mammoth beef ribs. Visitors are in for another special treat: the restaurant makes jalapeño, chipotle, and regular sausages fresh daily using brisket trimmings. Try the jalapeño sausage in the restaurant’s famed Bobby Dog, named in honor of Mueller’s father, and load up your plate with vibrant sides, like sweet pepper and cucumber kimchi or queso shells and cheese with spicy smoked veggies.

6. Micklethwait Craft Meats

Source: Photo by John Davidson.

Tom Micklethwait left his baking career for backyard barbecue experiments with friends — which became a veritable BBQ business in a renovated Comet trailer. A decade after its opening, Micklethwait Craft Meats is still drawing crowds and selling out of its pit-smoked meats and sides like jalapeño cheese grits, lemon poppy cole slaw, and beet salad. Plus, if you’re hankering for Frito pie, you’ll love this spot’s take on the indulgent casserole, topped with sliced brisket, chili, cheese, Mexican crema, and escabeche.

Consider Micklethwait for your next night out, too, as this Austin BBQ grill has an on-site icehouse called Saddle Up, offering craft beers, natural wine, and sweet treats to accompany your meal.


Source: Photo by Richard Casteel.

After visiting Austin, Kareem El-Ghayesh quit his Cairo finance career and relocated to Texas to perfect the art of smoking meat. El-Ghayesh not only successfully became a pitmaster but brought something new to the city: Middle Eastern flavors like za’atar, pomegranate, and mint. Don’t miss the lamb-bacon ribs with mint-serrano chimichurri and brisket rice bowls topped with pine nuts, pistachios, golden raisins, and tahini.

KG BBQ is located at Oddwood Brewing, so you can stay for a craft beer after experiencing El-Ghayesh’s distinctive cuisine. 

8. Kerlin BBQ


Husband-and-wife duo Bill and Amelis Kerlin are other pitmasters who simply couldn’t resist Austin’s fare and moved from Arizona to open Kerlin BBQ in a humble East Austin trailer that served up “transcendent” brisket, unique sides (like jalapeño bleu cheese slaw), and kolaches (meat and cheese pockets). 

Although the Kerlin’s closed the trailer, Kerlin BBQ still offers catering and takes large orders, so you can enjoy its fare if you have a gathering coming up.

9. Distant Relatives

Source: Distant Relatives Website.

After working for some of the city’s top restaurants, chef Damien Brockway opened Distant Relatives. His menu pays homage to the flavors of the African diaspora through the lens of Texas barbecue using nose-to-tail cooking and preservation methods. Brockway’s extraordinary approach to Texas BBQ earned him a well-deserved James Beard semifinalist award.

As one of the most unique barbecue places in Texas, the menu features classics with a twist, like pulled pork with tamarind molasses and beef brisket with smoked mustard butter sauce. Plus, dig your teeth into mouth-watering sides, like black-eyed peas and collards in BBQ broth.

You can find the Distant Relatives trailer at Meanwhile Brewing in Southeast Austin.

10. Black’s BBQ

Source: Photo by John Anderson

This iconic Texas BBQ chain, which the Black family opened nearly 100 years ago, has several convenient sit-down locations. And if you’re hankering for barbecue but want to eat it from the comfort of your couch (or your home office if you’re working remotely), you’re in luck because Black’s offers BBQ delivery in Austin. Whichever way you decide to enjoy Black’s BBQ fare, you’re in for a delight, with options like bark-laced brisket, massive ribs, and homemade sausage that follows a decades-old family recipe. 

Black’s BBQ hits the spot when you’re craving classic sides, too. Order rich mac and cheese, creamy mustard potato salad, or second-generation pitmaster Norma Jean’s famed pinto beans.

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11. Terry Black’s Barbecue

Source: johntannersbbqblog.wordpress

Two younger descendants of the family owning the renowned Black’s BBQ chain in Texas, Mike and Mark, opened this Bouldin Creek spin-off, which has gained a reputation as one of the city’s best barbecue rib restaurants.

Mike and Mark Black keep long-held traditions alive with the family’s unbelievably moist turkey and juicy housemade jalapeño cheddar sausage — but they also dream up indulgent new menu additions, like corn and crisp green beans, fatty brisket, and peach cobbler.

12. Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew

Source: Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew

This central Austin sit-down BBQ restaurant has a loyal fanbase for both its barbecue classics and unique menu items like half-chickens in Alabama white sauce, St. Louis pork ribs, and oak-smoked wings. Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew is also known for its housemade sausages and mouth-watering daily specials, like smoked chicken enchiladas, prime rib, and brisket green chili cheeseburgers. 

Shane Stiles and pitmaster Lance Fitzpatrick have expanded Stiles Switch with a new BBQ location in Cedar Park, as well as a Cajun-focused collaboration with chef Todd Duplechan called The Switch in Dripping Springs.

13. Moreno BBQ

Source: Photo by Raphael Brion.

Pitmaster Bo Moreno grew up smoking barbecue with his grandfather in Corpus Christi and preparing meals at family gatherings before opening Moreno BBQ in 2019. What sets this Austin barbecue joint apart is its ultra-tender Akaushi Wagyu brisket and weekend-special Duroc pork belly. 

If you’re into luscious sides or eccentric takes on barbecue classics, Moreno won’t let you down, either. The restaurant serves up delectable gouda shells and cheese, creamed corn, and borracho beer beans, plus brisket grilled cheese sandwiches, loaded baked potatoes, and pulled pork nachos. Round out your meal with one of Bo’s wife Nora’s must-try desserts, like pecan pie, banana pudding, and chocolate chip cookies.

14. Brown’s Bar-B-Que

Source: ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse

Brown’s Bar-B-Que specializes in old-school barbecue smoked by pitmaster Daniel Brown using firewood from his South Austin property and is worthy of any local or visiting foodie’s culinary bucket list.

Stop in for the salt-and-pepper brisket, cooked low and slow for 21 hours or the moist smoked chicken that sells out daily. Top your plate with coleslaw, potato salad, and creamy brisket mac and cheese for an unforgettable meal.

15. SLAB BBQ & Beer


SLAB BBQ & Beer is an Austin chain that stands out thanks to flavor infusions from the Carolinas, Alabama, St. Louis, and Memphis. 

Order meat by the pound, like St. Louis pork ribs with strawberry habanero glaze, or heaping sandwiches, like The Notorious P.I.G. (pulled pork topped with mustard slaw and Backyard Red sauce) and The Donk, a one-pound sandwich stuffed with every smoked meat imaginable and an incredible selection of toppings.

16. Lamberts


If you’re seeking an outing that balances barbecue and bar, check out Lamberts, which offers late-night BBQ in Austin. This upscale barbecue joint serves up slow-smoked meats and creative appetizers and sides, like red snapper ceviche and cider-braised collards. Lamberts also boasts an extensive selection of whiskeys, eclectic wines and beers, and craft cocktails, like the “Holidays in Jalisco:” apple brandy, tequila, Grand Marnier, and spiced honey. 

Lamberts also features live music and has a special section for events and parties, making it a must-stop evening destination and perfect for any celebration.

17. Loro: Asian Smokehouse & Bar 

Source: Loro’s Website.

If you’re into delicious collisions of far-flung flavors, check out Loro to explore smokehouse classics infused with Asian flavors. You’re in good hands: Loro was created by the same brilliant chef behind the famed Franklin Barbecue, Aaron Franklin. 

Loro offers innovative fare like smoked beef or salmon bowls loaded with coconut rice and seasoned pickles, a cheeseburger smothered in yuzu 1000-island dressing, meaty ramen, and brisket topped with Thai herbs. This creative joint with laid-back vibes is ideal for happy hour or a night with friends at the bar, which pours out boozy slushies, sake, and Sapporo.

18. Rollin Smoke BBQ 

Source: Yelp. Photo by Erik S.

Rollin Smoke BBQ stands out from the competition because of an oak and pecan wood smoking process that gives incredible flavor to its specialty spare ribs and pork belly burnt ends. There’s something for vegetarians, too, like smoked portobello tacos and veggie sandwiches with spicy slaw. 

Rollin Smoke is open late for diners looking for hearty meals or snackers who want sides that hit the spot after hours — and is an excellent option if you’re looking for vegetarian BBQ options in Austin. 

19. Sam’s BBQ

Source: Photo by John Anderson.

This Austin, Texas community favorite lives up to its tagline (“You don’t need no teeth to eat my beef!”) with brick-pit barbecue that melts in your mouth. Sam’s serves up ribs, mutton, chicken, traditional brisket, and four staple sides: baked beans, potato salad, green beans, and mac and cheese. 

Sam’s BBQ isn’t only special because of its extraordinary flavors but also because it’s beloved by locals and visitors alike. Patrons from the average SXSW concert-goer to Stevie Ray Vaughan has stopped at this neighborhood favorite that opened in the 1940s. What’s more, Sam’s is open (very) late, serving up BBQ until 3 AM, long after the city’s other joints have closed.

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Thinking of moving to Austin, or considering it after reading about the city’s mouth-watering fare? Landing offers fully furnished apartments in Austin, all with flexible leases that make it easy to stay in town on your terms. Learn more about Landing memberships to start your next adventure. Endless BBQ exploration awaits. 

Veronica Meewes

Veronica lives in Austin, Texas, where she writes about food, beverage, travel and lifestyle for a number of media outlets and brands. She's currently working on her fourth book project, a drinks guide to Austin, and her work has appeared in Forbes Travel Guide, Food & Wine, Texas Monthly, Tasting Table, GOOD, PUNCH, The Today Show, The Local Palate, Cosmopolitan, Vera, Serious Eats, EatingWell, Austin Monthly, Fodor's, Vinepair, Texas Highways and more. When she's not seeking out the best food and drink around the globe, you can find her hiking, swimming, doing yoga, enjoying all the live music Austin has to offer, and exploring with her pup Banjo. Follow her on Instagram @wellfedlife and visit