Getting barbecue in Austin can be like visiting a theme park. To get to the thrills, you might have to brave some lines. The most famous of those lines is at Franklin Barbecue, which has (deservedly) earned lots of media attention. Franklin also symbolizes a shift in the Central Texas barbecue scene. Until a few years ago, barbecue spots inside Austin were overshadowed by those a few miles out of town, such as Kreuz Market and Smitty's Market in Lockhart, The Salt Lick in Driftwood, Cooper's BBQ in Llano, and Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor. (Two entries on this list, La Barbecue and John Mueller Meat Co., are owned by grandchildren of Louie Mueller.) Today, those legendary barbecue stops are joined by a host of delicious newcomers within the Austin city limits. This list focuses on some of your best bets for brisket, sausage, ribs and all the fixings, no road trip required.
What you've heard about Franklin is true: It is great, and the lines are crazy. In fact, I've never seen it without one. If you're making your pilgrimage, remember that they're closed Mondays and that on other days they're just open for lunch. A preorder might help you skip the line, but they sell out early, too.
Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew
If you've seen Richard Linklater's classic "Dazed and Confused," you might recognize the shopping center that's home to Stiles Switch as one of the movie's locations. Go through a cafeteria-style line for an array of meats and sandwiches. The sides hold their own; my favorites are the vinaigrette slaw and the corn casserole.
Micklethwait Craft Meats
If you pick up some brisket, sausage, ribs, or other to-go meats from this trailer a few minutes from downtown, they'll give you careful instructions on reheating it just the right way. That's how nice they are at Micklethwait, and how much they care about quality. Save room to get some pie for dessert.
Just east of Interstate 35, the La Barbecue truck serves up obsession-inspiring brisket (and I'm not even really a brisket fan), tender turkey, sausage, and more meats. My favorite side is the chipotle slaw. With the spicy sausage, it's a double dose of heat, so you'll be glad that you BYOB.v
John Mueller Meat Co.
Turkey isn't the marquee meat of Texas barbecue, but John Mueller Meat Co. proves that's an injustice with its peppery-crusted version. (Mueller is famed for being a bit peppery himself.) The brisket shares that crusty goodness, and the sausage has a savory snap. The sauce brings out the best in the meats without overpowering them.