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Austin is quickly becoming one of the country’s culinary capitals. While there are plenty of great restaurants in town, Austin specializes in grilling. Texas barbecue style typically uses the taste of the fat in the meat to flavor it while it cooks low and slowly. Dry massages are more popular in Texas and the sauce is always served on the side. We’ve compiled our list of the best grill restaurants – big and small, world-famous and little-known – for you to try in the area.
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ was recently named Best Grill at the Austin Chronicle’s Best of Award 2021. But this isn’t the only place for great barbecues in Austin!
Here are some of the best BBQ spots in Austin!
For the brisket:
Coopers Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que
All the way from Llano Hill Country comes Cooper’s tender brisket. This downtown restaurant has two levels with seating and a bar on both levels so you can order a beer to wash off your food.
Originally a grocery trailer that moved into the Quickie Pickie in East Cesar Chavez, Pit Master LeeAnn Mueller smokes her brisket over Texas Oak for 14-16 hours. Guaranteed to melt in your mouth.
Probably the most famous barbecue area in Austin, the owner and pit master Aaron Franklin, was named the best barbecue area in both Texas and America. Franklin’s brisket was eaten by President Obama, Anthony Bourdain, and Jimmy Kimmel.
For the pork ribs:
Micklethwait Craft Meats
Tom Micklethwait is a quaint old school trailer on the east side. He smokes his meat with Texas Oak and prides himself on the fact that his grill is the best meat you can find. Their pork ribs are juicy and fall straight off the bone.
For a more chic barbecue experience, head to Lamberts in the heart of downtown Austin in a historic building. Your pork ribs are rubbed with a fennel and coriander mixture, which gives the ribs a unique taste.
BBQ from Rudy’s Country Store
Rudy’s is known for its “Worst BBQ in Texas” sign and consistently serves delicious barbecues at a gas station. They serve two types of pork ribs, St. Louis and Baby Back, and we’re huge fans of both of them!
For the beef ribs:
Terry Black’s BBQ
With four generations of Pit Master experience from Lockhart, Texas, the Black family knows Texas grilling. Terry Black’s uses high quality prime beef ribs that are smoked with Post Oak Wood for 12 hours to give the meat a deep smoky flavor.
Iron Works BBQ
When you grill at Iron Works, you are sitting in a piece of history. Originally a decorative ironworks, grilling took over in 1978. Your giant beef rib is our favorite. If you like the Iron Works BBQ, you can take home a bottle of their homemade liniment.
Stiles Switch BBQ
“No corners cut” is the theme for the owner and pit master of Stiles Switch, Shane and Lance. The restaurant is located in the Violet Crown Shopping Center, the famous place for Dazed and Confused. Movies aside, Stiles Switch has a fun atmosphere to hold onto the absolutely huge beef ribs.
The Salt Lick
Just a short drive from Austin, The Salt Lick fries and smokes their turkey over pecan shells to give the poultry a unique flavor. Their Driftwood location is a day trip in itself. You can visit BYOB or the winery next to the restaurant.
Grilling off a school bus turned into a food truck must be great, right? Scotty’s hands out delicious turkey thighs, but only on Saturdays.
Green mesquite BBQ
Right on Barton Springs Road is Green Mesquite, which has been open since 1988. This restaurant uses mesquite wood, which is seasoned or “green”, to get its smoky flavor. Your turkey is tender, aromatic and delicious.
For the pulled pork:
Great taste comes from this little food truck that is in front of the Corner Bar in front of South Lamar. We love Brown’s BBQ for their pulled pork sandwich. Pro tip: ask about all fixings.
Miracle Pig BBQ Co.
This little food truck is located in the Far Out Lounge & Stage and serves pulled pork just as delicious as it is in South Carolina. They use mesquite and oak to slowly cook their pork and the taste is amazing.
If you’re on Rainey Street and you’re hungry and it’s well after dinner, check out Gebby’s BBQ. This food truck smokes its pork for twenty hours. Yes, twenty hours. It’s slim, delicate, and just what you need at 11pm
For the sausage:
The folks at Interstellar took it to the next level with their beef kielbasa and cheddar with jalapeño sausage. The sausages and all of their other grilled dishes are available walk-up counter style in northwest Austin.
J. Leonardis Grill
They keep things pretty traditional at J. Leonardi with their sausages. Hung vertically in the smokehouse and smoked perfectly. The meat is also bought locally, so you support two local businesses from a single source!
Banger’s Wursthaus + beer garden
As the name suggests, it is a sausage house that meets a beer garden. With over twenty homemade sausages and over two hundred beers on tap, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for. The chefs at Banger’s comb ingredients like figs, bacon, ducks and port into a sausage for an incredibly tasty dish.
For the sandwiches:
Slab BBQ has two sandwich sections on the menu: BBQ Sammiches and Texas Sized Sammiches. The Texas Sized Sammiches are piled high with smoked brisket, sausage and all the fixings on top. Guy Fieri even ate at this restaurant so you know the sandwiches have to be Food Network worthy.
This third generation grill place makes it super easy with their sandwiches. Choose from seven grilled dishes, a single or double sandwich, and off you go. Texas purists stick to the onions, pickles, and sauces available at Black’s.
Tender, moist brisket on a warm bread roll – what more could you want? Kerlin serves three types of sandwiches from the East Cesar Chavez Food Truck. And while kolaches aren’t technically a sandwich, we highly recommend brisket and cheddar.
For a unique spin:
LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue
The food truck chefs LeRoy and Lewis, who have been open since 2017, serve what they like to call a “New School Barbecue”. They support local ranchers with dishes like Citra Hop Sausage and Akaushi Brisket. You can grab a drink at the Cosmic Coffee Yard to wash off your grill.
Valentina’s Tex-Mex grill
The folks at Valentina are doing a Tex-Mex spin on their mesquite smoked grill in North Austin. For example, their smoke chicken fajita is served with pico de gallo, poblano peppers and tortillas. No wonder readers voted her the best barbecue in Austin at the Austin Chronicle’s Best of Awards 2021!
From the ingenious minds of Uchi and Franklin Barbecue comes an Asian smokehouse that meets Texas Barbecue. The brisket is absolutely delicious and the frozen slushie drinks are strong!
Looking for great Austin restaurants? Check out these spots!