6/22/2012 11:05:00 AM

The 5 Best BBQ Restaurants in the Austin Area

A rib from Louie Mueller BBQ 
What would summer in Austin be without some bitchin' cue? If you answered "no fun," you hit that nail right on the head. There are plenty of barbecue restaurants to choose from in the city, but which are the best? We've gathered up the Top Five from our recently published Texas Restaurants guide. With legions of 'cue fans around town, this one is sure to stir up some debate, so if we missed your favorite joint, let us know about it in the comments. 

No. 1: Louie Mueller BBQ
Food: 29
Decor: 16
Service: 21
Cost: $21
The dining room itself is “charred with years of accumulating smoke” at this “real-deal” circa-1949 Taylor BBQer declared “one of the best in Texas” thanks to its “simply divine”, “thickly crusted”, “flavorful” brisket that “passes the doesn’t-need-sauce test”; service is “cafeteria-style” and “neon beer signs” are the only decor, but it’s “well worth the drive”; P.S. it “closes when they run out of food”, so “get there early.”

206 W. Second St.; 512-352-6206

No. 2: Snow's BBQ
Food: 28
Decor: 15
Service: 22
Cost: $18
It’s “only open on Saturday mornings” so diehards “show up at dawn and stand in line” for “melt-in-your-mouth” brisket and “tender, meaty” ribs at this Lexington smokehouse called “as close to heaven as meat eaters can get”; its “no-pretensions”, “far-off-the-path” locale “down a back alley in a forgotten town” is definitely “part of the charm”, and so is the “friendly” hospitality.

516 Main St.; 979-773-4640

No. 3: Franklin Barbecue
Food: 28
Decor: 11
Service: 19
Cost: $17
Originally a trailer, this brick-and-mortar BBQ upstart in East Austin is “giving the big names a run for their money” with some of the “finest brisket in the entire state of Texas” plus pulled pork and other “exceptional”, “simple smoked meats”; the modest space opens at 11 AM and closes whenever the eats run out, which is usually early.

900 E. 11th St.; 512-653-1187

No. 4: Smitty's Market
Food: 27
Decor: 14
Service: 15
Cost: $18
A “mecca” for “BBQ aficionados”, this Lockhart butcher shop set in the original site of the Kreuz Market is cherished for its “superb” brisket, “thick pork chops” that “rock your socks” and links “to die for” (a good thing since “your arteries may never recover”); all comes served straight from the pit in an “old-time, fire-seared” setting abetted by a friendly staff and cold beer.

208 S. Commerce St.; 512-398-9344

No. 5: City Market
Food: 27
Decor: 15
Service: 19
Cost: $17
This “classic, old-time BBQ” spot in Luling is a “must-try” for its brisket, ribs and sausage served up by the pound on butcher paper and wolfed down at communal picnic tables; don’t expect much in the way of decor or service, but do “expect a line.”

633 E. Davis St.; 830-875-9019


  1. C'mon Zagat, the title's not even a stretch, it's inaccurate. Only Franklin's is within the city limits, while the remainder are an average of 30 minutes to an hour's drive from Austin.

    Here's a freebie: "The Best BBQ in Central Texas"

  2. Replies
    1. I agree, I canot believe they did not metion the Salt Lick. Here are some folks that Like it...Sandra Bullock
      "My God, this food! It’s the best, I mean, the best!"
      Adam Richman, Host of Man v. Food - The Travel Channel
      "My never ending quest for barbeque bliss has lead me to the Salt Lick. Unbelievable! It melts in your mouth. One of the best things I have ever eaten! And the burnt ends of the brisket – a work of true, true poetry - crispy, creamy, chewy, salty, and sweet from the sauce. They were perfect!"
      Bobby Flay, The Best Thing I Ever Ate – The Food Network
      "Here is the real deal. I eat a ton of those Salt Lick beef ribs. They are fantastic! Lots of flavor! Salt lick makes their own barbeque rules. It is so good. Beef ribs are something I don’t usually cook. It is something I leave to the Salt Lick."
      Duff Goldman (Ace of Cakes), The Food Network
      "My favorite plate of barbecue is at The Salt Lick in Austin, Texas. It’s huge. Awesome! The flavor of the sausage is so intense. The brisket is super tender and really good."
      David Letterman
      "Paul and I were in Austin a year ago and if you want good, real actual BBQ, you got to go to Austin…Salt Lick, that's right, Salt Lick…tremendous. I bring this up because I'm hoping they'll send us some." (and we did!)
      Lance Armstrong
      "The best barbecue is at a place called The Salt Lick."
      Pat Green
      "My favorite barbeque restaurant is The Salt Lick in Austin, Texas. Man, it’s the sauce. I don’t know what they put in that stuff. I mean, a cow’s a cow. You put that stuff, that sauce, that they got on them cows...I don’t know. Maybe they feed them cows that sauce in the beginning. Maybe that’s the trick."
      Dennis Quaid
      "Ten miles out of town in the Hill Country there’s a great barbecue place called The Salt Lick that’s worth the drive.

      Bring cash, they do not accept credit cards!

      18300 FM 1826
      Driftwood, TX 78619

      Driftwood Hours: Open every day 11am to 10pm

      Restaurant: 512-858-4959

  3. You're not helping people by not telling them what cities these places are in. Snow's is 90 miles from Austin!

  4. Taylor, Lexington, Austin, Lockhart, and Lulling. Only 1 in Austin, none in the Hill Country?
    Thank you though for not listing Salt Lick, the most over rated gas smoked bbq in the State.

    1. The Salt Lick does not use gas to cook. here is their website link... http://www.saltlickbbq.com/

      Better than Lockheart for sure! This person is way off the mark!

  5. I am going to agree partially, but I must admit, I have not eaten at all of these. Here are my Top 3:

    1. Franklin's for the Pulled Pork--not the brisket. To anyone who grew up in Memphis, which I did, Pulled Pork is heaven. If you are going to stand in line at Franklin's, and I recommend that you do, get as much Pulled Pork as you can put into the back seat of your car and eat it all week.

    2. Lamberts for Sunday Brunch. Wonderful wonderful ribs and a host of other menu items. Austin does not have a lot of true brunch outlets, but Lambert's is enough. Go there every other week and you won't be disappointed. Here is a link to a Non-Foodie review in Austin Real Estate Secrets:


    3. Rudy's for brisket and baby back ribs. Rudy's combo of (Memphis) dry rub and incredible BBQ sauce will melt your taste buds. And the cream corn is good enough to take home to your grand mother. She will think you took her recipe from Thanksgiving and gave it to Rudy.

    My mouth is watering now. I need to head out to Lambert's. See you there. (Look for the bald ugly guy).