photo credit: Roger Ho

The Salt Lick BBQ image

The Salt Lick BBQ



$$$$Perfect For:Classic EstablishmentImpressing Out of TownersUnique Dining Experience

There was a time in Austin’s history when The Salt Lick was synonymous with the best Central Texas-style barbecue you could get. But much like the popularity of frosted tips and double denim, that all changed in the early 2010s, thanks to the boom of “new-school” barbecue. Today, The Salt Lick might not be the best barbecue you can get in the Austin area, but it might be the most fun place to eat it. 

The Salt Lick in Driftwood feels like a Disney World version of Texas. It’s about 45 minutes from downtown Austin, and on the car ride over there, you’ll probably see deer, lots of cows, and the rolling hills that give the Hill Country its name. The parking lot rivals that of even the largest H-E-B (but with a lot more dirt), and there are designated areas for picnicking and kids to play in. And permeating through it all is a thick, savory smoke that will leave your clothes and hair smelling like they’ve just been doused in meat cologne. The dining room feels a bit like a big camp lodge built around a massive barbecue pit centerpiece—take your picture then move on through the expansive maze of tables, or grab a picnic table outside when the weather is nice. 

You can order meat by the pound or by the plate here, but then you’d be missing out on the whole point—all-you-can-eat barbecue served family-style. Brisket, ribs, and sausage are on an equal playing field here, and plates get refilled until you beg them to stop. Then someone at the table makes a joke about having “a second stomach for dessert” as you all roll your eyes and dig into your peach or blackberry cobbler. The Salt Lick offers an epic day of gluttony, scenic views, and a fun time—it’s something that everyone living in Austin needs to experience at least once. 

Food Rundown

The Salt Lick BBQ image

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Family Style

This is the ideal Salt Lick experience. It’s just over $30 per person for AYCE brisket, sausage, pork ribs, potato salad, cole slaw, and beans. Just flag down your server when you’re ready for a refill—it’s like Fogo De Chao, but Texas-style. We really like the sides of mustard-based potato salad and vinegary coleslaw, both of which add some much-needed acid and bite to an otherwise heavy meal.
The Salt Lick BBQ image

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley


The brisket is a little tough and won’t really compete with “new-school” barbecue spots in Central Texas, but it’s seasoned well and has some decent bark. If you’re ordering family-style, you’ll already have some on your plate. If not, we still think it’s worth trying.
The Salt Lick BBQ image

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Brisket Sandwich

If you’re just looking for a quick lunch—first, why did you drive all the way out here?—this is your best bet. The fresh-baked bread is fluffy, slightly sweet, and a perfect vehicle for a few slices of brisket. Make sure to douse it in plenty of sauce.
The Salt Lick BBQ image

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley


These are probably the best meat here. They retain just a little bit of bite, but still fall mostly off the bone. They’re a little bit sweet and go great with the spicy barbecue sauce.
The Salt Lick BBQ image

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Peach Cobbler

We wish the cobbler arrived a little hotter, but it’s a solid way to end a meal here. And it almost feels necessary after all that rich meat. Definitely add a scoop of ice cream to it.


Suggested Reading

Franklin Barbecue image

Franklin Barbecue

Franklin Barbecue in East Austin has earned a reputation as the best place for smoked brisket in the entire country, and rightfully so.

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue image

Lamberts serves barbecue out out of an exceptionally good-looking brick building downtown.

Micklethwait Craft Meats image

Micklethwait is serving up excellent smoked meats and creative sides out of a vintage trailer in East Austin.

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