Your Austin barbecue experience is dependent on one crucial factor: how long you’re willing to wait in line. Many people assume that the quality of barbecue is directly proportional to the time you have to sacrifice for it - but that’s simply not true.
There’s enough excellent BBQ in Austin that you don’t need to spend three hours waiting to get insanely delicious feast of meats. That being said, we understand your need to have that seminal experience. So whether you’re looking for a crash course in Austin BBQ, or you’re looking for a new place to either kill a few hours or get meat into your system immediately, this list has you covered.
the bbq spots
The County Line makes excellent barbeque. If you’re on a boat in Lake Austin, drive up to the dock and get some. If you’re on 2222, keep driving until you see that massive parking lot. With its festive environment, County Line is great for big groups, graduations, and all those other need-to-please everyone gatherings.
Franklin Barbecue is unbelievable. Seriously, you may not be able to believe what your mouth is telling your brain, because you've probably never had meat that’s been so perfectly smoked. So, yes, Franklin is worth the three-plus hour wait. That being said, if you enjoy eating BBQ regularly, and you're not self/un-employed, you should probably find a new go-to (start with this list) that you can actually get your hands on in a normal amount of time.
La Barbecue is also cranking out best-of-the-best barbecue that has stirred up a frenzy of its own. Thanks to the fact that the whole city (and a good portion of the country) knows about La Barbecue by now, the line will definitely be long. Really long. Consider yourself lucky if you have the chance to eat it, especially if you're there in time to catch their legendary beef ribs.
Another trailer on this list, John Mueller is the direct competitor to La Barbecue, and not just because they’re selling a similar product out of similar vehicles. There’s big family BBQ drama here - the owners of the two joints are siblings who used to be in barbecue business together, but things ended on bad terms and now they’re each running their own operations. Anyway, the most important takeaway here is that John Mueller is Franklin-quality meats, minus the insane line, and their brisket is absolute fire. They do run out of meat quickly, so get there earlier than you think you might need to.
Located inside a gas station/convenience store, this place serves solid barbecue for great prices. They also make serviceable breakfast tacos if you’re in need. It’s a little outside of the main spectrum of town, but not a far drive with locations north and south.
Located in the corner of a North Austin shopping center, Stiles is a newer spot that's already developed a major cult following. The beef ribs and sausage here are must-orders, and the diverse beer selection is a big plus. Avoid at lunch time on most days as the secret is definitely out on this one.
Lambert’s serves what you would call fancy barbecue. And while BBQ snobs might disagree, we think it's pretty great. Lambert's is practically a steakhouse, but hipper, and with food you’ll be more excited to eat. It’s also a great place to watch live music.
If pulled pork sandwiches are your jam, this is your spot. It feels like a place Coach Taylor might go brood in after a loss, as it’s next to a big high school football stadium.