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BBQ- Blacks v Smitty's V Salt Lick

Coming to Austin and want the best Bbq. Heard great things about all three of these places. please recommend what to get at each or if one is better than the other.

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  1. Well, Smitty's and Blacks are in the same small town of Lockhart so if you visit one, you should probably visit the other along with Kreuz market.

    Salt Lick has a great atmosphere but the BBQ is perhaps not as venerable as other institutions.

    1. If you will search the board, you'll find a lot of recent data on the subject.


      1. You want pork or beef? IMO Black's easily has the best beef between those three. If you want pork, go to Smitty's.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PappyAustin

          I want everything, the best of the best no messing around here. Willing to travel anywhere in a 60 mile radius.

        2. At the Texas Monthly BBQ festival, I had some of Smitty's and Kreuz' beef. Salt Lick didn't make it to the festival. I had Salt Lick last week, and I'm concluding that the Salt Lick is living on its reputation, history and venue feel (which is nice I'll say). Of these, I've got to go with Smitty's.

          To be fair, at the TMBBQ Fest, all the restaurants were using mobile pits, so they were all playing 'away games', that may have affected things a bit....

          1. I'd send you to Franklins. In town and superior bbq. Just be sure to be in line before 11.

            3 Replies
            1. re: amysuehere

              I'll second that; Franklin's is the finest brisket I've had in central Texas. Don't be put off by the trailer, they are serious business.

              Smitty's is all-around excellent, as is Kreuz's (right down the road in Lockhart) although it lacks the ambiance. Salt Lick is where you go to drink beer and have a good time, not eat serious 'cue. Black's brisket was bland the only time I went there.

              1. re: heyzeus212

                Third Franklin's. That's serious Texas BBQ out of a trailer. Smitty's and Kreuz has history, atmosphere, and great BBQ to go with it. The last couple of times I went to Black's, I felt that other than the decent side dishes, they've really slipped compared to the other Lockhart places. Salt Lick has decent BBQ and a good sauce, but you don't come to eat Texas BBQ for sauce. It's living off of reputation.

                Another serious contender is brisket at Snow's in Lexington. But they are only open on Saturdays (and usually run out by 11:00am, opens at 8:00) so depending on time constraints, may not be an option.

                1. re: heyzeus212

                  Aaron Franklin is a genius. The BEST brisket in existence, if a tad salty. Don't miss Franklin's!!!

              2. My wife and I were in town last month to watch UCLA kick UT's butt. We hit all the Lockhart places, and thought Black's brisket was best - so much so, we hit it again before we flew out.

                1. I'll third that rec for Franklin BBQ. You get a nice smokey crusty end piece of brisket there, along with better pork ribs and pulled pork than any other place in town, and you'll be quite happy. heed the advice to get there before 11. they run out quickly and the line is SLOW.

                  If you can, go to Franklin's one day and do a BBQ crawl around Lockhart the next, and let us know your opinions. My pref in Lockhart is Black's for sausage and brisket, Smitty's for brisket and pork ribs. Salt lick actually has very good pork ribs, but the rest is blah blah blah, fun scene though, and better Cue than most non BBQ states pull off, just blah for texas.

                  the Salt lick
                  Driftwood, TX, Driftwood, TX

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: slowcoooked

                    The beef rib at Black's alone is worth the drive down. A truly outstanding barbecue experience. I love Franklin's brisket. Last time I got two sandwiches, the tipsy and the straight brisket. The tipsy is brisket and sausage with espresso sauce. I found the sausage mostly a distraction from that excellent brisket.

                    One thing that makes Franklin unique is the level of attention you get from the counter folks. They are more like barbeque concierges, making sure you get just the right cut of brisket to suit your individual taste, giving samples of the meat and sauces, and generally taking their time to make sure it's everything you want it to be. This is also the reason the line moves so slow and why it's a good idea to get in line by 10:30. It's worth it, though. I've noticed a trend of one or two people showing up early to run point for a group. One lines up and places a large order, the other stakes out a table (which are few) and the rest of the group will show up later, cruising past the long line waiting their turn. And, of course, when they run out, they run out---so you don't want to be near the end of the line.

                    1. re: flavrmeistr

                      I've noticed the same thing at Franklin's (where a couple of scouts get there early. It sucks to be in line and then see people just skating in. One time, two guys were in line just ahead of us - then their friends started showing up. A total of EIGHT people skipped in line with the two guys. I wish they wouldn't do that, but I'm choosing not to say anything. Showing up at 10:30 doesn't help when people show up at 11:15 and grab tables before you get your food.

                      OK - that's off my chest now!

                      I do agree, the counter service is awesome. He's a real nice guy. I told him that he was being positively mentioned on Chowhound, but he hadn't heard of this site.....

                      1. re: rudeboy

                        Funny, months ago I told him the same thing with the same response...

                        I couldn't agree with you more on the line slinking. There was a couple right in front of us for most of our time in line and by the time they got close to the front they had swelled to 12....and they all ordered individually - VERY frustrating.

                  2. They are all good. When I'm in the area, I find myself choosing Black's more often than not, mostly because Smitty's and Kreuz's make you play along with their fetishes: no sauce, no forks, no credit cards, no desert, etc. The older I get, the less patience I seem to have with other peoples' random conceits. A character flaw of mine, for sure.

                    I think the BBQ is comparable at all of them, on any given day, and I find Black's to be friendlier, with less posturing.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Dave Westerberg

                      Brisket at Black's yesterday was as good as any i've ever had there or anywhere else. The pork rib wasn't. The coleslaw was great. Edgar Black is still there making sure everyone was happy and things were running smoothly.

                      1. re: Dave Westerberg

                        This has been a peeve of mine for some time, too. I mean, Smitty's and Kreuz's are world-famous operations, with people standing in lengthy lines every day to pay a considerable amount for their goods. Not everything needs to be stuck in the past: recipes, sure; payment methods, no. I don't think that taking plastic would harm the tastiness of the meat, nor soak up too much of the profits.

                        1. re: ret3

                          according to their website, kreuz takes plastic

                          1. re: chrisdds98

                            And doesn't Kreuz have a huge Blue Bell case?

                          2. re: ret3

                            By coincidence, yesterday I visited Kreuz, Smitty's, Black's, and City Market in Luling. They all take plastic. The brisket at Kreuz was esp good, though Black's was a close second.

                            Makes sense that they all take plastic, as they all offer mail order 'cue as well.

                            City Market
                            633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

                            1. re: Steven Dilley

                              It has clearly been too long since I paid a visit then!

                              1. re: Steven Dilley

                                Cool. I guess they took this sign down then?
                                They sure make good food.

                                1. re: Dave Westerberg

                                  Ha. Knowing them, it's still up.

                                  Though they've added the news to their site:


                                2. re: Steven Dilley

                                  Yes, Kreuz has been taking plastic for quite a long time now. I was at Smitty's only about two weeks ago, though, and they definitely weren't taking plastic then. Although if Kreuz started it, I'm sure Smitty's can't be far behind--it seems that when one of them changes something, the other one has to change, too, just to compete!

                              2. re: Dave Westerberg

                                IMO, Blacks probably has best brisket and service out of the bunch, and Mr. Black's competition are no slouches...

                                When I lived up in Killeen, Texas I used to take my son on an annual road trip down to the Lulling, New Braunfels, and Lockhart region right around this time of the year. We would catch the Wurstfest down in New Braunfels and then stop off at all the good bbq places on the way.

                                There's way too much good bbq in that region...

                              3. MHO:
                                Black's for Brisket,
                                The Lick for Ribs,
                                Kruez's for Beef Shoulder and Smoked Pork Chop,
                                The worst smoked sausage I ever had was still pretty good,
                                Chicken? Really? :)

                                When I have pilgrims visit Austin on a BBQ quest, I drivie them to Lockhart and stop at Kruez's, Smitty's and Black's. Get the same small portions at each place: Brisket, Ribs, Sausage, and pork loin/chop. Treat them to a Big Red at Kruez's and a Dublin Dr. Pepper at Black's. Fun way to judge for yourself. If like me, you find that Black's still rules even after 2 previous servings of BBQ...well then, there you go!