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Best BBQ?

Hi all!

My husband and I are new in town, and we're curious: what would Austinites consider the best BBQ place in town? We're looking for something of good quality and affordably priced. Hit us with your best recommendations!

Thanks,
Laura

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  1. Welcome to Austin, Laura,

    As you might imagine, we take our barbecue pretty seriously around here, and as such, any talk of the "best" in or around town gets contentious pretty quickly. I would suggest a board search (the handy little box above) to get you the most recent opinions.

    Bear in mind that it's not unheard of for local 'hounds to drive an hour or so to get to central Texas meat meccas like Lockhart or Luling. I'll refrain from any specific rec - this topic comes up so often that you'll have no problem finding lots of mentions of crowd favorites.

    Besides, you and your husband may be the ones who discover the next great little hole-in-the-wall!

    good luck

    1. In Austin, my personal favorites are Iron Works (kind of expensive but they have beef ribs), House Park (solid but you actually do need teef to eat their beef), and Sam's (their mutton is real good if you don't mind grease).

      I'm ashamed to say that I haven't been to Mann's, which is by all accounts the best brisket in town.

      All that being said none of the places in Austin that I have been to come even close to the Lockhart, Luling, Lexington, etc. joints.

      6 Replies
      1. re: uarent

        Mann's is just okay. A neat old-timey place but the brisket compares to Bill Miller's below Pok E Joes or Rudy's. Bad sausage Eckrich quality which doesn't fly at all around here. Other meats just okay also. Nice people. Texas Monthly put them in the top 50 last year and that was a crazy sham. Go to Lockhart for bbq.

        1. re: BTAustin

          No way. Mann's brisket is leagues above all other Austin BBQ joints. Specific Rudy's location moist will compare but to mention Manns as being inferior to Poke Joe's or to compare to Bill MIller, where the meat isn't even cooked onsite, is just crazy talk.

          If you like the Lockhart style (salty bark, sizable layer of fat cap underneath) I don't see how you don't like Mann's as its in the exact same style and done well.

          1. re: BTAustin

            Went to Mann's on Friday and it was excellent. The brisket was, for me, the best I've had in town. Moist to the point that it melted in my mouth. The sides were good too, the service was friendly, and the ambiance was more than expected. And they passed around for free your choice of home made strawberry or peppermint ice cream. Long live Mann's.

            1. re: uarent

              Go on Thursdays where the brisket plate is like 7.69. And I think thursday is homemade brownie day.

          2. re: uarent

            In town, I've had pretty good luck with Texas Rib Kings at Research and Burnet. Pretty standard looking place that's mainly concerned with catering, but the brisket and (appropriately) the pork ribs were excellent. Their counter guy was excellent. Saw him bring out a new brisket and he didn't automatically cut off the fat.

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            Texas Rib Kings
            9012 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758

            1. re: exlnghrn

              I'll second Texas Rib Kings. I haven't tried much else but their pork ribs are the best I have had anywhere. And you certainly can't beat the price of their young 'n old plate at $4.99 (it's all I can eat). I ask for the end pieces (I love the chewy ends!) and it usually gets me an extra rib or 2.

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              Texas Rib Kings
              9012 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758

          3. One joint I wanted to hate is Woody's BBQ in San Marcos since they supposedly kicked out the fantastic Southwest Market. I finally stopped in a few weeks ago and wow that was some of the best brisket I've had since before John Mueller went off the deep end. When the girl tried to pick up a brisket to cut off my 1/2 pound, it broke in half. it was that tender. She commented that she'd get mine from a different one since that was too tender. Confident in their meat, she sliced it in 1" thick slices. Very moist with a black peppery crust. Didn't try anything else but I didn't have to.

            2 Replies
            1. re: achtungpv

              Man I miss John Mueller's joint on Manor Road. Sweet tender brisket.

              1. re: uarent

                Best intown for traditional BBQ is House Park, since 1943.

            2. This isn't quite in-town, but I'll throw a vote in for Johnny T's. Solid moist brisket with a good pink smoke ring. Sausage is respectable Elgin sausage (Meyer's I think). I also tried their pulled pork, not too common around here, and it was tasty with just enough bark thrown in for those that like such a thing.

              Where they excel is their sides. There are a lot of options, but I personally like the apple slaw with its vinegary bite and the sweet potato fries that are nicely crisp on the outside and not overly salty. Made a sandwich out of leftover pulled pork and the apple slaw and it was full of deliciousness. They have a free pickle bar with escabeche and whole pickled okra, too.

              It's in Round Rock, off of 620. If you want something good in-town, my favorite provider of BBQ at this point is Ruby's near UT.

              1. As far as ribs go, I like Artz Rib house the best. Especially their country style back ribs. Good atmosphere (if you like a "well-used" building) - bluegrass music practically all the time. I cannot vouch for their brisket cause I can never get past the ribs.

                2 Replies
                1. re: rudeboy

                  I'm not sure why Artz Rib house doesn't get more love on this board. I really like the beef rib, and like you Rudeboy that's all i've ever had. Admittedly, I have only been about 3 times, but I plan to go more.

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    I agree. I like Artz very much. I usually get the brisket but most people enjoy the ribs. I think the sides are very good there too. That being said, the best Texas style bbq I've had has been at Blacks in Lockhart.

                  2. If y'all are new to Central Texas I would use this as an good reason to get out and explore some. Head to west to Salt Lick, to Lockhart (I prefer Black's & Smitty's, but I haven't been to Kreuz in a while and need to get it another try), and to City Market in Lulling. In town, Iron Works is great and definitely go to Sams. I think Rudy's is good and has some of the most tender, fall apart with a fork moist brisket of an place, but the flavor is pretty weak compared to a place like Blacks.

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                    Salt Lick Restaurant
                    18300 Fm 1826, Driftwood, TX 78619

                    1. If you want a BBQ driving adventure, get up early one Saturday and head to Snow's BBQ. I've done this once so far and I was rewarded with excellent BBQ. Its a little challenging to get since they are only open on Saturday from 8am until they run out. It was a nice trip though, I got some BBQ for breakfast and then got some to go and brought it home for dinner. http://www.snowsbbq.com/ Lockhart as some have mentioned is a great place to go too. In town my favorite so far is Rudy's despite being a chain. I mean, its not the best BBQ in the world, but it is really quite good, easy to get and consistent. I'm fairly new myself though so I haven't tried all the in town ones yet.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pdm

                        I gotta agree with PDM on this one. Snow's in Lexington & City Market in Lulling are the best there is. And that's not just one opinion, it's a fact. They don't have just one thing they do really great, ALL of it is good. Lockhart has some good stuff, but it's worth the extra few miles to go to Lulling.

                        Rudy's takes a lot of crap for being a chain, but it's definitely better than average. I use it as my personal benchmark. Is it better than Rudy's? Is it enough better to make the trip to where ever it is?

                      2. for here in town I agree with those who like Artz, but often there is live music going on inside. It is a place for bluegrass musicians to congregate. While I generally like the music it can make dining with conversation a challenge. IMHO anyone who offers food and live music together better think long and hard about the repeat business they will be missing. Ditto for places with good food but just too much noise. But yup, Artz is good.

                        I haven't found anywhere in town I'd put in the same league with the Luling City Market. I heard Simmerhansel's in Smithville re-opened. It used to be awfully good.

                        BBQ places are often inconsistent. I have had some mediocre (but still pricey) meals at Ironworks and some really good (and reasonably prcied) ones at Green Mesquite.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: tim irvine

                          Oh god, I love City Market. Best brisket I ever et.

                          1. re: tim irvine

                            So is the City Market in Luling better than other City Markets (specifically for brisket)? Im coming from Houston and figured Id stop off at the one in Giddings since its on the way and which Ive heard good things about (rather then drive all the way into Austin where Im staying then turn around and drive down to Luling). Or should I damn the torpedos and head to Luling no matter what the cost?

                            1. re: Insidious Rex

                              If you're traveling on a Saturday morning, you should just take the short detour up 77 from Giddings to Lexington for a stop at Snow's, which has the best brisket I've ever put in my mouth.

                              1. re: Insidious Rex

                                Well, there are several small-town BBQ joints called "City Market," because back in the day it would actually be the local grocery - the city market - that began selling the smoked meats. So each one is different. (Which is better? I'm not gonna step in that one...)

                                Or, they could just steal the name from one of the small-town joints (see: City Market in Houston).

                                You mostly hear about Luling and Gonzales City Markets around here, not sure about Giddings.

                                Edit: And as soon as I write that, Giddings gets a good report here:

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/587131

                                I haven't been to Snow's, but if that fits your time frame - they're only open Saturday mornings - that would be the don't-miss-it for me due to the many, many positive reviews here and elsewhere.

                                1. re: Insidious Rex

                                  The problem with Luling is the city smells like gas. It's not City Market's fault, but I can't imagine stopping to eat in that town.

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                                  City Market
                                  633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

                                  1. re: Dave Westerberg

                                    Want to state that I am sensitive to chemical smells and while I have noticed the gas smell around Luling it is not detectable in City Market

                                    -----
                                    City Market
                                    633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

                              2. Get yourself a copy of Texas Monthly's Top 50 BBQ joints, published every 5 years - most recently 2008. It is the definitive source on a notoriously undefinitive subject. It's the only reason anybody has heard of Snow's, and was nominated this year for a James Beard award.

                                The best Q is, as you have probably gathered, found outside of Austin.
                                My $0.02:
                                Brisket - Mueller's in Taylor
                                Sausage - Smitty's in Lockhart
                                Ribs - City Market in Luling

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: cibodivino

                                  Luling City Market then Black's. Smitty's is pretty good too.

                                  1. re: cibodivino

                                    There's a new book out about Central Texas BBQ, "Republic of Barbecue", Elizabeth Engelhardt et al. UT Press. About $15 from Amazon. Quite an interesting read; a series of interviews with the reigning BBQ families (owners and operators of famous Central Texas BBQ places). With quite a lot of interesting stuff about BBQ served up. No attempt is made to critique the restuarants. You'll find many ideas for new places to try in reading the book.

                                  2. Best BBQ? If your in Austin, try Rudy's its really good. If you dont mind driving south about 45 miles, then I highly recommend Luling City Market in Luling Texas. Best BBQ sausage in the world!

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                                    City Market
                                    633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: tacostand

                                      In ATX city limits, for brisket, Franklin's on the frontage road of I35, just south of 38th street. Nowhere else in Austin comes remotely close. If you want to travel, then City Market in Luling and Cooper's in Llano provide the best BBQ beef in the world. There is good BBQ in many small towns around Austin, and the holy trinity In Lockhart (Black's. Smitty's, Kreuz's) is worth a visit, but not as good, IMHO, as the aforementioned 3. In town, Ruby's, not Rudy's, is fine, though the extra-moist brisket at Rudy's is reliably good. The Saltlick in Driftwood and the County Line on Bull Creek have fun and different atmospheres though the cue is mediocre. I would avoid Poke E Joes, Ironworks etc, though i believe that bad BBQ is still better than no BBQ. Unless you are coming from Luling or Llano, most Austin BBQ is going to be better than what you know.

                                      -----
                                      City Market
                                      633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

                                    2. WHOA Best BBQ needs an update! Go: Franklin BBQ. PHENOMENA 3421 N 35, north side between Edgewood and Concordia streets, Wed-Sun at 11-12. www.franklinbarbecue.com before they sell out daily to the privileged few. They are hunting a brick and mortar site so more of Austin can enjoy the artestry off their giant smokers. Someone said that 1st bite gives them the shivers--this is succulent, salt/pepper brown edge, glorious meat to melt and tantalize every savory taste bud you can handle. This is forgotten slow process BBQ that is naturally fork tender because they start with quality meat. They love making the sides as well, and Aaron and crew are so marvelously humble-proud of what comes out--that ya gotta love these guys for bring the glory back to eating in Texas. They love their ribs and we love their brisket-- You no longer need to drive to Taylor, Lancaster or any other place else.

                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: jrolli

                                        Been there. Got the brisket and the t-shirt. I will be back.

                                        1. re: jrolli

                                          It's marvelous. The brisket is very good, but was my least favorite thing. That's only because the sausage and pulled pork was the best I've had period. The ribs were also fabulous, and I like that they have mustard-y potato salad. I can't wait until they find a permanent spot.