Food & Drink

11 BBQ Spots Around Austin That Are Worth the Road Trip

Published On 03/03/2015 Published On 03/03/2015

How far is too far to go for great barbecue? Well, people come to Texas from all over the world to eat it, so it's possible there's no such thing as "too far." That said, "an hour or two, tops" seems like a reasonable cutoff. Now, admittedly, Austin's already full of amazing smoked meats, but variety is the spice of life, and nothing quite replicates that rush you get experiencing a top-notch BBQ joint for the first time. With that in mind, these 11 'cue institutions are all within a thoroughly manageable driving distance from Austin. If you haven't been yet, remedy that.


Black’s Barbecue Lockhart
Yes, there are now locations in Austin and San Marcos, but nothing quite beats the original Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart. The cafeteria-style sides that you can pile absurdly high compliment the deliciously post oak-smoked meats that have made Black's so popular. If you manage to save room for dessert, it's possible you haven't had enough meat, but take solace in the fact that you're about to have some life-changing cobbler. Better yet, stuff your face and take the cobbler to-go!

 

Flickr/rwoan

Buzzie's Bar-B-Q

Kerrville
If you're in Kerrville and need a barbecue (or Bar-B-Q), you simply can't do better than Buzzie’s. Beyond their arsenal of smoked meats to choose from, they will occasionally boil up some crawfish when the season is right. But ultimately, this is about more aggressively carnivorous pursuits, and with that in mind, you should know that the Wednesday special is the all-you-can-eat ribs plate. 

Flickr/joshbousel

City Market

Luling
The City Market in Luling (don't mistakenly go to the similarly-named establishment in Houston) doesn't always get top-billing among Texas' great BBQ giants, but it's well-known among those who truly know and love the craft. This is not a place that requires a website or social media presence to get the word out. The pork ribs, brisket, and sausage speak for themselves. When you speak for yourself, don't you dare ask for a fork -- a hint of the mustard-backed BBQ sauce to go with your brisket is an acceptable request. 

Mike Cortez/Thrillist

Kreuz Market

Lockhart
Kruez Market is like a cathedral of Texas barbecue. What started as a meat market and grocery store in 1900 has evolved into one of the most beloved barbecue joints in central Texas. They keep things simple here: signs posted throughout the building note that there are no forks and you won’t find any sauce. They don’t have anything to hide behind. Grab a thick cut of brisket and see for yourself.

Louie Mueller Barbecue

Louie Mueller Barbecue

Taylor
Louie Mueller might rightly been the king of Texas barbecue. He was the grandfather of John of J. Mueller Meat Co. and LeAnn of La Barbecue, and was even once said to have been the inspiration for Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ, who was blown away by their brisket. With massive dinosaur-sized beef ribs, juicy smoke brisket, and fatty sausages, Louie Mueller Barbecue is a Texas legend that still has its fastball.

Meyer's Elgin Smokehouse

Meyer's Elgin Smokehouse

Elgin
This self-appointed "‘Cue-topia" for barbecue fans has some pretty solid meats selections, but it's the sausage that keeps people coming back. The sausage recipe came from the 1800s, when Henry Meyer immigrated from Germany, and the Meyer family has honed the tradition ever since. The sausages have become so in-demand that you'll find them in local grocery stores, but there's nothing quite like having one at the source.

Mike Cortez/Thrillist

Opie’s Barbecue

Spicewood
As you walk into Opie's, you're greeted by a huge black pit that looks like some sort of malevolent coffin, but once the lid comes up you are a greeted by the daily array of smoked meats. Unlike many of the classic joints in the state, Opie’s is a rather bright and almost alarmingly clean place that is surprisingly devoid of years' worth of soot. Don’t worry, all the extra light gives you a chance to admire the beauty on your plate. The pinto beans are free, but make sure you get a side of their tater tot casserole to make your experience complete. 

Flickr/joshbousel

Smitty's Market

Lockhart
Now this place is old-school (it was the home of Kreuz Market for more than five decades). If you enter the building from the front, you walk into a smoky dim hallway that seems like something out of a horror film. As you head towards the back, you enter another room where you'll find people waiting to order, standing just inches from the open fire pits. The room is beyond hot, but it smells too delicious for anyone to care much. Once you decide on your selection of meats, you can enter the main dining room where you can order a drink to cool off and a few sides to make the meal complete. The brisket here is solid, as is the sausage -- but there is something about the pork ribs that are just mind blowing. If you can only come for one thing, make it the ribs.

Flickr/smashz

Snow’s BBQ, LLC

Lexington
There are a few things about Snow’s BBQ that make them a singular BBQ establishment. First, pit master Tootsie Tomanetz is a 78-year-old woman who can smoke meats with literally anyone. Secondly, Snow’s is only open on Saturdays at 8am until sold out, so you’re going to have to get up early and make the drive if you want first choice on meats. In 2008, Texas Monthly named Snow’s the best BBQ in the state, and ever since then they have been busy every Saturday with locals and tourists alike looking to get a taste of exactly what makes Snow’s so damn good. Spoiler alert: it's the other-worldly brisket. 
 

Southside Market & Barbeque

Southside Market & Barbeque

Elgin
Like at many fine BBQ spots, choosing a favorite meat at Southside is no easy exercise (also not easy: following that exercise with actual exercise). The pork steak is thick and juicy, the ribs seems to just melt off the bone, and the brisket is consistently moist. Southside recently opened a second location in the town of Bastrop, so it makes it more convenient to get your barbecue fix no matter what part of Austin you start your road trip from. Just make sure to leave room for the cobbler, served with a heaping scoop of Texas-made Blue Bell ice cream. 

Flickr/Sarah Page

Zimmerhanzel's BBQ

Smithville
Zimmerhanzel's is another Texas joint that is doing its smoked meats right, but its sausage is what's really winning fans over. The brisket and ribs are still on-point, but those links made in-house with beef and spices are on an entirely different level. After smoking in the pit, the skin pops nicely upon the first bite. Be careful, those sausages are juicy, and they have been known to burn a mouth or two.

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1. Black's Barbecue 215 N Main St, Lockhart, TX 78644

Lockhart, Texas is the self-proclaimed "barbecue capital of Texas," and Black's Barbecue is one of the cornerstones of the city. It's been owned and operated by the same family for generations,serving up slow-smoked ribs, pork, and other meats since 1932.

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2. Buzzie's Bar-B-Q 213 Schreiner St, Kerrville, TX 78028

This Kerrville BBQ spot has an arsenal of smoked meats to choose from, and they will occasionally boil up some crawfish when the season is right. But ultimately, this is about more aggressively carnivorous pursuits, and with that in mind, you should know that the Wednesday special is the all-you-can-eat ribs plate.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. City Market 4726 Richmond Ave, Luling, TX 78648

The City Market in Luling doesn't always get top-billing among Texas' great BBQ giants, but it's well-known among those who truly know and love the craft. This is not a place that requires a website or social media presence to get the word out. The pork ribs, brisket, and sausage speak for themselves. When you speak for yourself, don't you dare ask for a fork -- a hint of the mustard-backed BBQ sauce to go with your brisket is an acceptable request.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. Kreuz Market 619 N Colorado St, Lockhart, TX 78644

Originally opened as a meat market around 1900, Kreuz's been smoking insanely delicious BBQ (some of the best in all of Texas) ever since. You won't get a fork or extra sauce in here. You'll eat with your hands and like it!! Out of all the barbecue joints in America, Kreuz Market is by far one of the best.

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5. Louie Mueller 206 W 2nd St, Taylor, TX 76574

Louie Mueller might rightly been the king of Texas barbecue. He was the grandfather of John of J. Mueller Meat Co. and LeAnn of La Barbecue, and was even once said to have been the inspiration for Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ, who was blown away by their brisket. With massive dinosaur-sized beef ribs, juicy smoke brisket, and fatty sausages, Louie Mueller Barbecue is a Texas legend that still has its fastball.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Meyer's Elgin Smokehouse 188 Highway 290, Elgin, TX 78621

This self-appointed "Cuetopia" for barbecue fans has some pretty solid meats selections, but it's the sausage that keeps people coming back. The sausage recipe came from the 1800s, when Henry Meyer immigrated from Germany, and the Meyer family has honed the tradition ever since. The sausages have become so in-demand that you'll find them in local grocery stores, but there's nothing quite like having one at the source.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Opie’s Barbecue 9504 TX-71, Spicewood, TX 78669 (Spicewood Springs)

As you walk into Opie's, you're greeted by a huge black pit that looks like some sort of malevolent coffin, but once the lid comes up you are a greeted by the daily array of smoked meats. Unlike many of the classic joints in the state, Opie’s is a rather bright and almost alarmingly clean place that is surprisingly devoid of years' worth of soot. Don’t worry, all the extra light gives you a chance to admire the beauty on your plate. The pinto beans are free, but make sure you get a side of their tater tot casserole to make your experience complete.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Smitty's Market 208 S Commerce St, Lockhart, TX 78644

The brisket at this old-school spot is solid, as is the sausage -- but the pork ribs are likely what you'll be writing home about. Grab an order with a side of mac 'n cheese or cole slaw, and a Lone Star or Shiner Premium to wash it all down.

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9. Snow's BBQ 516 Main St, Lexington, TX 78947

Snow’s BBQ is famous in Texas with owner and chef Tootsie Tomanetz, a living folk legend. Award-winning by many and voted #1 BBQ by Texas Monthly, Snow’s is a must-eat. BBQ for breakfast? Snow's BBQ is only open on Saturdays from 8am until there's-no-more-meat-left pm, so getting there early is the move. Try the brisket, mouthwatering soft and undeniably the best. If you’re anywhere in Texas - no the United States - it’s worth the drive.

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10. Southside Market & Barbeque 1212 Hwy 290, Elgin, TX 78621

Like at many fine BBQ spots, choosing a favorite meat at Southside is no easy exercise (also not easy: following that exercise with actual exercise). The pork steak is thick and juicy, the ribs seems to just melt off the bone, and the brisket is consistently moist. Southside recently opened a second location in the town of Bastrop, so it makes it more convenient to get your barbecue fix no matter what part of Austin you start your road trip from. Just make sure to leave room for the cobbler, served with a heaping scoop of Texas-made Blue Bell ice cream.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. Zimmerhanzel's BBQ 307 Royston St, Smithville, TX 78957

Zimmerhanzel's is another Texas joint that is doing its smoked meats right, but its sausage is what's really winning fans over. The brisket and ribs are still on-point, but those links made in-house with beef and spices are on an entirely different level. After smoking in the pit, the skin pops nicely upon the first bite. Be careful, those sausages are juicy, and they have been known to burn a mouth or two.

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