Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Would you go to the Louvre and skip the Mona Lisa? Would you go to Blarney and not kiss the stone? Would you hit up the Red Light District and not...just kidding! But, seriously, are you gonna come to Austin for SXSW and not have some Texas BBQ? Not if you're awesome. So, if you're wondering where you should head for BBQ while you're in town, we've got you covered. (As for BBQ at SXSW itself, here you go.) Depending on how much time you have and how willing you are to drive a few miles, here are the joints you don’t wanna miss (and my recommended order for each):
  • Franklin Barbecue (Austin): Austin's newest BBQ trailer. Hip, urban BBQ. Best brisket in town. Recommended order: brisket
  • Lambert's Downtown Barbecue (Austin): Upscale BBQ in trendy downtown location. Not your typical Texas BBQ joint, but downtown, so no drive necessary. Recommended order: pulled pork
  • Rudy's (Austin): Yes, it's a chain, but it's good and consistent. Perfect place to get introduced to Texas BBQ. If you're a first timer to Rudy's, be ready for the hoots and hollers, and enjoy the samples they give you before you order. Oh, and be sure to wash your hands in Rudy's nifty hand washer - and get a sticker to show you did. Recommended order: any BBQ, so long as you get a side of creamed corn.
  • The Salt Lick (Driftwood, 24 miles SW of Austin): Authentic Hill Country setting, with a pit right inside the door. Go family style, if you're really hungry, and BYOB. Recommended order: chicken, outside-cut brisket, and sauce.
  • Meyer's Elgin Smokehouse (Elgin, 25 miles East-ish of Austin): Famous for its sausage, Elgin is an easy drive from A-town. The Meyer family will treat you right. Ask nicely, and you might just get to see the vaccum tumbler. Recommended order: beef ribs and brisket.
  • Snow's BBQ (Lexington, 52 miles East-ish of Austin): An atmosphere like no other, Snow's is only open on Saturday, 8 AM until they run outta food before normal lunchtime. If you can pull him away from the tv cameras, say hello to owner and pitmaster Kerry Bexley. Recommended order: pork shoulder and brisket.
  • City Market (Luling, 44 miles South of Austin): This is one of those places you know is going to be good, when you walk in and are immediately met with the delicious smells from the pit. The sauce, similar to The Salt Lick's, is fantastic - if you decide you need it. Recommended order: pork ribs and sausage.
  • Smitty's Market/Kreuz Market/Black's Barbecue (Lockhart, 29 miles South of Austin): If it's cliche, it's cliche for good reason. "The Barbecue Capital of Texas" serves up solid BBQ to the masses who flock there day in and day out. If it's great service you care about, head to Black's. Recommended orders: pork ribs and sausage (Smitty's), pork ribs and ham (Kreuz), beef ribs and turkey (Black's)
  • Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (New Braunfels, 49 miles South of Austin): The home of the "Big Chop" is a straight shot down Interstate 35. Whatever you order, be sure to let them dip it in the bucket of sauce that sits in the holding pit. Recommended order: chicken and brisket
  • Opie's Barbecue (Spicewood, 34 miles West of Austin): Our pick for Best Overall of 2009, Opie's is definitely worth the drive West on 71 to Spicewood. Their sides and desserts are the best we've had, and owners Kristin and Todd Ashmore are always gracious hosts. Recommended order: sweet-and-spicy ribs, pulled pork (if they have it), spicy corn, tater-tot casserole, and banana pudding
  • Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor, 39 miles NE of Austin): Our Best Overall of 2008 and runner-up (by 1 point) in 2009, LMB is fantastic. Housed in an old school gymnasium, the walls (at least the parts not covered by awards) are blackened from the pit smoke, adding a nice touch to an already classic ambiance. Owner Wayne Mueller is as nice as they come. Recommended order: beef ribs, sausage, and turkey
If you hit up any of these (or any other joint), we'd love to hear your thoughts, particularly if you're new to Texas BBQ. Feel free to send us a Reader Review, pics, and scores. Regardless, happy hunting.


Jacob said...

Good list Drew. You may also want to mention that SXSW is offering suttle service to Salt Lick. I couldn't find a link for it, but I have heard it from enough reliable people.
If only they would offer shuttle service to Lockhart.

Also, heard a great rumor that John Mueller (of Louie Muellers, Wayne Muellers brother) will be cooking BBQ for party goers at the unoffical SXSW day party this saturday.

Anyone intrested in going, send me an email.

roadkills-r-us said...

Just curious why you didn't include everyone who placed in the top 10 sauces in the list of BBQ venues?

Drew Thornley said...

Several reasons. First, to keep the post at a reasonable length. Second, several of the places are too far from Austin to be meaningful suggestions. Third, the top 10s are the judges' picks for the sauces in our contest, while the SXSW BBQ post is our list of BBQ recommendations.

Drew Thornley said...

Fourth: Haven't been to several of them, so I can't recommend them.

Anonymous said...

Gonzales Food Market in Gonzales, Tx (14miles east of Luling) is better than most on your list.

Drew Thornley said...

Maybe so, but I limited my picks to places within an hour's drive. Luling, even, is pushing the limit.

Anonymous said...

I hate to but I have to give away a secret. Mann's on 183 in in town, family owned and operated. It is the best I have had in town. But remember it's a secret.

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