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#1 BBQ Spot for Dtown Tourist with Limited Time

I need your help. I write on an Austin travel forum and we get questions several times a week from tourists (especially from overseas) asking where they can go for a fantastic BBQ experience. We tend to list our favorites and then it's up to them to search those websites and make a decision of where to go. Keep in mind they have no clue where these places are and 90% have no car, just staying in a downtown Austin hotel.

Some of the answers they get are to skip Austin BBQ and head out to Lockhart. BOOOOO! I used to live in Lockhart and I went to lunch in a carpool situation on Tues to Black's and I won't be back. (Sorry, if you are Lockhart BBQ fan).

Other answers are, of course, Salt Lick. Not crazy about it, but it certainly does have ambience, especially on a 70 degree day!

Sooooo, if you were from, lets say, Australia or UK or Chicago and wanted to sample some Austin BBQ downtown and did not have time to stand in line at Franklins, where would you go. Some of the spots are reachable by one Capital Metro bus from downtown, so that is not a problem for some who have no car. Just know that they are here for 2 to 3 days and have a lot on their sightseeing agenda.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. If they are truly "downtown", send them to Lamberts.
    If they are in the I35 corridor midtown (yech!) send them to Mann's Smokehouse on Research.
    There's two for you!

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikeman

      they are asking for a "fantastic BBQ experience" which rules out lamberts.

      la bbq and Jmueller are close to downtown and don't suck

    2. For a downtown visitor with a little time for travel, hop on the 1 bus to Stiles Switch from Congress.

      4 Replies
      1. re: verily

        I concur about Stiles Switch. I have been advocating taking the Metro rail and walking about a quarter mile south to get there from d.t.. I was not aware of a bus from dt that went up Lamar. Good advice.

        1. re: singlemalt

          Isn't there a light rail stop like right next to Stiles by Black Star? I believe there is. I'm a Stiles guy. The sides are actually decent there too.
          I'm going to throw a curveball and likely get crap but if I'm downtown and am hungry and don't want to deal with the BS from the uber popular places I'll go to Whole Foods. While not heavenly the brisket is good and it's likely better than what they are used to. Given the limitations they are going to get orgasmic BBQ. LA BBQ is the only real valid choice downtown. Iron Works isn't very good IMO.

          1. re: Rptrane

            What Austin needs is a "bbq bus"to make the rounds to all places,

            1. re: singlemalt

              Oooh - now I have a brand new career plan.......

      2. If they want to just pick up something downtown while walking around, they can get lunch at Stubb's and not to have to wait in a line like at Franklin, JMueller or LaBarbecue. It's not the best, but its decent.

        2 Replies
        1. The brisket at La Barbecue is excellent. There's also a free keg for while you wait in (the much shorter than Franklin's) line.

          1. rptrane, I totally agree with you. I love Whole Foods BBQ and all the sides. Everytime I go downtown, I dine at the "bar" or take some home. Brisket is so tender, I don't need a fork.

            Where is J. Mueller located now?. Google searches were such I couldn't tell old from new location. Tks.

            1 Reply
            1. re: redhatcharm

              I found his website - I thought he was way down south, though:

              http://www.johnmuellermeatco.com/home/

            2. One I've not seen mentioned a lot is Brown's BBQ trailer that's parked in a car wash lot on south lamar. I wouldn't put it up against Franklin/Jmueller/LA, but I've had better experiences there than at Iron Works or Stiles Switch. Pretty good brisket, very good ribs and excellent chicken thighs. If you care about sides, from what I can tell their potato salad and beans are probably just scooped out of a tub, but there's a smoked cabbage side i've not seen anywhere else that's really phenomenal.