For many years the capital of Texas, Austin, was known more for their Tex-Mex and less for their barbecue. To get good barbecue you had to travel to the outlying counties of Lexington or Lockhart, places like that. Austin was always near some great barbecue, but never a part of it. That has all changed recently.
In the last decade though, Austin’s barbecue scene has exploded, and some of the best barbecue in the entire state of Texas now resides there.
This top 5 list is a rating of the best barbecue in Austin, Texas.
- Franklin Barbecue
- John Mueller Meat Company
- La Barbecue
- Micklethwait Craft Meats
- Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew
In 2009 Aaron Franklin set up a trailer on an I-35 feeder road, and just a few months later, had people waiting over an hour for his food. This success led him to open an actual restaurant. Franklin has received many awards and Bon Apetite magazine called Franklin’s the best in America. If you want to enjoy this place, you need to get there early. A normal wait is two hours and waiting times have been known to get over five hours long. The reason for the lines? The brisket here is the most consistent around and has some of the best flavors in the country.
John Mueller is considered royalty in Texas, learning barbecue from his grandfather and father at Louie Mueller’s Barbecue in Taylor, Texas. After a few years of bouncing around Texas, John opened a food truck location in 2011. John’s brisket is another one of the best in Austin, with a flavorful bark and a nice smoke ring. Mueller’s can get lines 40 and 50 people deep at times and is a favorite among many. Mueller has been knocked from time to time for consistency, but when it’s right, it’s hard to beat.
Another great restaurant from the Mueller family, La Barbecue is owned by John’s sister LeAnn. Head chef John Lewis is known for his special concoctions he puts on his briskets. Using a mix of pickle juice and yellow mustard to spray over his briskets as the smoke, Lewis has been applauded for his unique flavors. He also makes a mouthwatering pulled-pork which is considered tops around. It has a tangy sauce that smothers it. Not a lot of negatives at this place, but Texas is known number one for its brisket, not its pulled pork, and La Barbecue is not quite to the level of the other two restaurants, although it’s better than 99% of briskets out there.
Tom Micklethwait has carved his own niche’ in the Austin barbecue market with a unique and flavorful sausage. He has a constant changing menu of these meats, offering a large variety on the menu. His jalapeño grits are a wonderful addition to his choice of meats, but his ribs have been considered to fatty by some. His pulled pork is top notch, but in a town dominated by brisket, he has come up with a different way to gain customers, and move his way onto the list.
Owner Shane Stiles and cook Lance Kirkpatrick, who learned his trade under Louie Mueller, moved from Taylor to Austin in 2011. Another restaurant that has a special niche’ in the Austin market, Stiles has created a half barbecue, half sports bar hybrid. This place is known for its pork ribs and pork tenderloin, both of which are tender, flavorful and melt in your mouth. The brisket has been said to be a bit tough and dry, but the atmosphere and pork dishes easily make up for a few shortcomings.
If you’re looking for the best barbecue in Austin Texas, you can do a lot worse than the places on this list. So next time you visit, be sure to try one or all of these, you won’t be disappointed.