Over the past few years, the quality and popularity of BBQ in Central Texas have reached new heights. There are more BBQ joints in and around Austin than ever, and there are certainly more great joints than ever. Bottom line: quantity and quality are at record highs. The region’s rising population and the addition of a crop of talented, craft purveyors of smoked meat are among the reasons the public’s interest in Central Texas BBQ is at a fever pitch. The Austin metro area has become a sort of BBQ mecca, if you will. Forget milk and honey, folks: Here, it’s all about the meat. The offerings can seem overwhelming, so here is a sample of what our BBQ promised land has to offer.
Austin – Franklin Barbecue
What started as a tiny BBQ trailer little more than 5 years ago, Franklin Barbecue is now arguably the most famous BBQ joint in the country. Seemingly every major media outlet has profiled owner and pitmaster Aaron Franklin and his brisket, for which people wait in line for hours. Unless you hire someone to wait in line for you (yes, people do this.), clear your schedule, bring some drinks and friends, and make a fun experience out of the wait. If you’re not up for waiting in line, check out their pre-ordering system or book the BBQ Fast Pass.
900 E. 11th St.
Tuesday – Sunday, 11AM until sold out
Austin – la Barbecue
la Barbecue is a very popular soon-to-be-brick-and-mortar BBQ trailer. The line forms early and gets long, but moves efficiently. Hip in person and hip on social media, la Barbecue, like several other craft joints in town, is open until they sell out. Located in a food-trailer park on the east side of the interstate downtown, it’s easy to get to. If you’re staying downtown, you can even walk to it. You might be in too much of a meat coma afterward to walk back, but at least you burned some calories getting there.
2027 E Cesar Chavez
Austin, Texas 78702
Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm (or sold out)
Austin – Micklethwait Craft Meats
Not far off the interstate, off E. 11th St., sits Micklethwait Craft Meats, a tiny trailer serving smoked meats, homemade sides & desserts, and homemade bread. Like the other popular craft-meat trailers, you can expect a line; but Micklethwait’s hours are a tad longer than some others, so getting fed isn’t a problem. You can enjoy your meal on a picnic table and even snag a smoothie from their smoothie trailer neighbor.
1309 Rosewood Ave.
Tuesday – Saturday, 11AM – 6PM; Sunday, 11AM – 3PM
Austin – Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, a popular BBQ trailer on bar-and-restaurant-lined West 6th Street, recently moved a few miles south of downtown. A San Antonio native, proprietor Miguel Vidal blends smoked BBQ with Tex Mex offerings into an array of BBQ tacos, served on homemade flour tortillas. Want a brisket taco with salsa and queso? Smoked chicken with pickled onions? Pulled pork on tortillas chips? Not a problem at Valentina’s.
11500 Manchaca Road
Tuesday – Friday, 11AM – 10PM; Saturday & Sunday, 8AM – 10PM
Frisco – Hutchins BBQ
You better get here quick before they sell out! Hutchins BBQ, originally named Roy’s Smokehouse, has been serving up some of the best barbecue in the Lone Star State since 1978. Known for their juicy, tender brisket and fall off the bone ribs, this BBQ joint is a must-visit when in North Texas.
9225 Preston Road
Wednesday – Sunday, 11AM – 9PM
Lockhart – Black’s Barbecue
According to the friendly folks at Black’s Barbecue, they are the oldest BBQ joint in Texas run by the same family. Long a staple in Lockhart (declared the “BBQ Capital of Texas” by the Texas Legislature), Black’s recently opened a location in Austin near The University of Texas and another (Kent Black’s BBQ) in nearby San Marcos. After you chow down, so long as their staff are not overrun, they will happily take you on a tour of the kitchen/pit.
215 N. Main St.
Sunday – Thursday, 10AM – 8PM; Friday & Saturday, 10AM – 8:30PM
Pearland – Killen’s Barbecue
Killen’s Barbecue is no ordinary BBQ spot. They are named Food Network‘s #2 Top BBQ, Zagar U.S. Hottest BBQ Joints, and Houston Chronicle’s #8 Best Restaurants. The mouth-watering menu is filled with homemade, juicy meats, savory sides, and a dessert list you won’t be able to resist. Since 2013, Ronnie Killen has been cooking the best BBQ around, and we are big fans.
3613 E. Broadway Street
Tuesday – Friday, 11AM – 8:30PM; Saturday, 11AM – 9:30pm; Sunday, 8AM – 10PM
San Marcos – Hays County Bar-B-Que
Located on the I-35 frontage road in San Marcos, Hays County Bar-B-Que is an easy stop between Austin and San Antonio. The hardworking Hernandez family will take care of you, with an array of meats, slow-smoked in one of their several large smokers. You can dine inside, or you could go to the back, where you will find a space unlike any other in Central Texas, with lots of tables, games, a stage, and a bus-turned-bar.
1612 S. Interstate 35
Monday – Thursday, 11AM – 9PM, Friday & Saturday, 11AM – 10PM
Spicewood – Opie’s Barbecue
Located about halfway between Austin and Llano on beautiful Hwy. 71, Opie’s Barbecue serves slow-smoked BBQ 7 days a week. Just inside the door is a holding pit, and when they lift the top and reveal their offering of proteins, just start pointing at what you want, and they will snag it for you. Take your tray of selections to the counter, and while they slice it up for you, pick from an array of homemade side items and desserts.
9504 Hwy. 71 E.
Daily, 11AM until sold out
Taylor – Louie Mueller Barbecue
If you take the Hwy. 79 exit off of I-35 in Round Rock and head about 15 minutes past the Dell Diamond, you’ll drive right to Louie Mueller Barbecue, a longtime Taylor BBQ joint and one of the most popular in all of Texas. The building is rich in history and its walls and ceilings show the signs of decades of BBQ smoked. It’s one of those BBQ joints where, as soon as you walk in, you know you’re somewhere special. Take your camera, because the place is full of picture-worthy spots.
206 W. 2nd St.
Monday – Friday, 11AM-6PM (or until sold out), Saturday, 10AM – 6PM (or until sold out)
Texas – Texas Q Tours
Central Texas BBQ tourism is actually a thing. Texas Q Tours, a business I started more than three years ago, takes clients on private tours of Central Texas BBQ joints, and we make stops at other popular attractions like craft breweries, wineries, distilleries, dessert shops, & more. We’ve had clients from California to Connecticut and from as far as Canada and Australia. Our business is growing, as locals and out-of-towners alike clamor for a taste of the slow-smoked meats Austin and the surrounding areas serve these days. I kid you not: A booking just arrived in my email inbox, as I type this. If you’re interested in a private BBQ tour, contact us for availability and pricing!