Ever since Aaron Franklin put Austin on the barbecue map with Franklin Barbecue a few years ago, the city has become an international beacon of smoked meats.
But if you’re already reading the MUNCHIES Guide to Austin, then we don’t need to tell you that this town’s got great barbecue. You already know this. All we can do is nudge you in the right direction, so check out our seven BBQ pick in Texas’s Capitol City. Go to all of them. Fall into a meat coma and have dreams of brisket pink smoke rings.
Sam’s BBQ: This spot has been on the east side since the 1940s. Local lore says Stevie Ray Vaughan was a regular, and it’s still a go-to spot for their ribs and chicken since they stay open until 3 AM on Friday and Saturday. Look for “You Don’t Need No Teeth To Eat My Beef” scrawled on the side of the house.
Half Step: The Half Step is a welcome retreat in the midst of the nighttime chaos that’s taking over this former residential neighborhood. Choose from their selection of well-balanced cocktails they’re making that week or request a “Dealer’s Choice” from one of the friendly bartenders. It’s incredibly easy to cozy up in one of their wooden booths and order a few rounds, completely unaware of the madness outside (although there are great outdoor tables as well).
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ: Valentina’s takes the cake for combining two of the most traditional Texan specialities into one: Tex-Mex barbecue. The juicy smoked brisket taco with sea salt-lime guacamole is a thing of beauty indeed, and a great example of how fusion can be great. You’ll want to arrive at this trailer earlier rather than later, as they sell out pretty quickly.
Mickelthwait Craft Meats: This trailer has developed a loyal following since opening in 2012. The ribs are succulent and their sausage is a favorite. Everything they do here, from their sides (like cheese grits and lemon poppyseed slaw) down to their house-made Texas toast, is killer. Just follow the acorn sign that says “MCM” on Rosewood Ave.
Freedmen’s: There aren’t a lot of places in Austin to go out and have BBQ for dinner; enter Freedmen’s. Sit out in their beer garden and order the Holy Trinity with brisket, pork ribs, and sausage. They also have a great craft cocktail bar and a smoked banana pudding you can order by the pint.
La Barbecue: La Barbecue’s brisket is unsurpassed—people have been known to have it shipped to them across the country. The line may look intimidating but it’s worth the wait, especially when you finally dig into La Frito Loco, a Frito Pie topped with barbecued pork and chopped beef.
Franklin Barbecue: Aaron Franklin put Austin on the map as a national barbecue destination with this spot, and the lines around the block haven’t shortened since they opened. It’s with good reason, as Franklin has some of the best in the country—hands down. Folks line up hours before the 11 AM opening time, and yes, they do close once they’re sold out. But if you’re not up for waiting in line, it’s worth it to stop by later in the day to see what they may have left. The Tipsy Texan sandwich with chopped brisket, sausage, slaw, and pickles is a great option if they happen to be out of what you’re looking for.
For our complete list of cool shit to do while you’re in Austin, check out the MUNCHIES Guide to Austin.