photo credit: Raphael Brion
If you find yourself around Zilker or Bouldin Creek, Brown’s Bar-B-Que is going to be your best nearby bet for traditional Central Texas-style barbecue. Find them parked outside Corner Bar on South Lamar, the chill neighborhood bar with 20 taps that pretty much guarantees to keep their 10 TVs on non-stop sports mode. Brown’s excels at the basics, especially where it matters. The brisket—thickly sliced with a healthy, rich bark, and simply seasoned with salt and pepper—can most certainly hold its own among the best in Austin.
Most of the food at Brown’s is solid, including the pulled pork and smoked turkey. The sausage has a good snap and a deep, rich flavor. Unfortunately, pork ribs are often overcooked and mushy, and the beef back ribs are, on one occasion, so disastrously dried out they were basically inedible jerky. No barbecue sauce could save them.
Where Brown’s really shines is with their more uncommon dishes on the periphery of the menu. The smoked chicken thighs are phenomenal, with dark meat that's fattier and juicier than you'd ever think possible. Sides like coleslaw, mac and cheese, beans, and potato salad are all perfectly serviceable. But it’s the smoked cabbage—vinegary, smokey, and sweet, with some bite to it still—that stands out. This is not your dad’s cabbage, well, unless your dad ran a barbecue trailer on South Lamar. And yes, while Brown’s does have a simple banana pudding, there’s also a nice peach cobbler. Almost like a bread pudding, it’s so good you should always make space for it.
The outdoor ambiance at Brown’s is far from bucolic—it has all the charm of a bunch of picnic tables in a parking lot alongside four lanes of traffic on South Lamar. But you can take your barbecue inside Corner Bar, where the friendly bartenders will happily put your game on if you ask nicely. If you’re in the mood to hang at a bar and watch football and eventually eat some good barbecue, we can't think of a better spot to do it. Do keep in mind Corner Bar's great deal: on Sundays from 3-5pm, if you start a $15 tab at the bar, they’ll hook you up with a free plate of barbecue from Brown’s.
This might not be the kind of barbecue spot you drive clear across town for, but you should consider yourself lucky if you find yourself nearby. Although that cobbler might just be worth dealing with stop-and-go traffic on I-35.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.
Simply seasoned with salt and black pepper, the brisket at Brown’s is a solid example of Central Texas barbecue. You would not be embarrassed to bring this brisket home to your parents (or roommates or significant other). They would like it very much.
The slightly crunchy smoked cabbage is sweet, smoky (no surprise there), and vinegary. Crumbled bacon adds a fun pop of flavor, too. One of the more memorable and unique sides in town, it belongs on your table.
Not something you see too often at barbecue spots, the chicken thighs (sometimes quarters) at Brown’s are a must-order. They’re incredible, with a crispy skin and juicy, smoky dark meat. You’ve never come across a chicken quite like this before.
Don’t leave—we repeat—don’t leave without getting dessert. The peach cobbler is our favorite here. Almost like a bread pudding, it’s cinnamon-y, warming, crispy, and sweet.