The 15 Best Barbecue Joints in San Antonio, According to Local Pitmasters

Meet the ambitious, meat-savvy pioneers putting Alamo City on the low-and-slow map.

Of all the things that put San Antonio on the map—the Alamo, the River Walk, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure—barbecue has never really risen to the top of the culinary bucket list like the city’s beloved Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants. Sure, like most other Texas cities, it may never earn the kind of recognition Austin has as a Barbecue City in capital letters, but San Antonio still manages to hold down a solid smoke scene, no matter how you slice it.

Two Bros
Two Bros

When it comes to barbecue, the Lone Star State is made up of a broad patchwork of regions, each with its own distinctive style that bleeds over into bordering territories like tangy mop sauce dripping onto hot coals. In Central Texas, you’ll typically find barbecue made with a simple dry rub, smoked at low temperatures over wood, with nary an accoutrement in sight. In the western part of the state, however, meats are often cooked over a lively open mesquite flame. East Texas pitmasters favor hickory wood for their low-and-slow methods, serving meats slathered with a tomato-based glaze, while down south, the sauce is often molasses-based and basted onto the meat to lock in moisture while it roasts. Here in San Antonio, you’ll find a barbecue style that borrows techniques and ingredients from all these regions while simultaneously infusing it with Mexican traditions that fuses—often even blurs the line between—Texas’ two most celebrated cuisines.

“San Antonio has a little bit of everything,” says Jason Dady, the restaurateur behind Range, Tre Trattoria at the San Antonio Museum of Art, Jardín, and Two Bros. BBQ Market. “Heavily inspired by Luling, Lockhart, and our Mexican influences, you can find all types of barbecue.”

Elsewhere, pitmaster Esaul Ramos, Jr. of 2M Smokehouse fame sees big things on the smoke-filled horizon for his city.

2M Smokehouse & catering
2M Smokehouse & catering

“Barbecue in San Antonio is definitely on the rise—I’ve always felt that it’s one of the last untapped markets in Texas,” he says. “Being from South Texas, there are flavors you can’t get anywhere else. The incorporation of that Tex-Mex touch is something that you grow up with. I think that South Texas has had a huge influence on a lot of the menu offerings you see today, and I love how it shines a light on Mexican culture—the seasonings, spices, and love just feels like home, regardless where you’re from.”

2M Smokehouse & catering
2M Smokehouse & catering

As such, tacos are a staple at several local barbecue joints, stuffed with fillings that elevate the form thanks to the style’s inherently meaty focus. And unlike most anywhere else in Texas, pairing your smoked brisket with a side of beans and rice is as commonplace as potato salad and coleslaw. The cuts of meat skew different, too, with tongue (aka lengua) leading the pack, followed by cow's head transformed into tender, juicy Barbacoa.

Ready to dig in? We’ve rounded up 16 area barbecue joints and food trucks worth a gut-busting visit, complete with endorsements from local experts.

Jason Dady Restaurant Group
Jason Dady Restaurant Group

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North Central
When the idea struck Jason Dady and his brother Jake to open a Luling- and Lockhart-inspired, market-style barbecue spot as his fourth San Antonio restaurant, he lucked into a great space surrounded by majestic oak trees. Two of his most popular items rely not only on the low-and-slow smoking technique, but also bold fruit flavors: cherry-glazed Baby Back Ribs and Barbecue Beans with peaches and bacon. The staff favorite is the Cheesy Chop, a pint-sized container layered with mac-and-cheese, chopped beef brisket, and espresso-tinged barbecue sauce, while housemade spicy pickles bring out the best in every dish. Family packs make it easy to feed a crowd, too, whether it’s for takeout or to enjoy with friends on the spacious patio.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout via Toast.

2M Smokehouse & catering
2M Smokehouse & catering

$$

Lower Southeast Side
Dady sums up pitmaster Esaul Ramos, Jr.’s 2M Smokehouse in two simple words: “Spectacular barbecue.” He points to their great brisket, sausages, side dishes, and barbacoa with tortillas as standouts among a menu that has earned the restaurant “best barbecue” accolades from food critics and everyday eaters far and wide. In addition to classic Akaushi Beef Brisket from HeartBrand Ranch and stellar pork ribs, 2M Smokehouse excels in sausage-making, especially the Pork Link studded with spicy serranos and Oaxaca cheese. Every Saturday, weekend warriors line up for their two-pound Beef Ribs that could each feed a small army. And it’s worth marking your calendar for the first Sunday of the month, when they prepare hundreds of pounds of their famous barbacoa. Note that they’re BYOB, so pack a cooler to make waiting in line a little more fun.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Smoke BBQ+Skybar
Smoke BBQ+Skybar

$$
Downtown
It’s a well-known fact that many—many—smokehouses are a little ramshackle when it comes to their dining spaces. And it’s also a known fact that the rough-around-the-edges vibe can be a big part of the draw. However, this downtown fixture has gone above and beyond (quite literally) to create an aesthetic rooftop wow factor that’s matched only by the barbecue hitting the plate. Rows of picnic tables line the deck with landmark buildings towering around the perimeter, an especially grand sight come sundown. Top their Best Damn Brisket Taco with guac, fresh white onion, pickled red onion, cilantro, and salsa verde, then wash it down with a Prickly Pear Margarita. Or gather the gang for the Skybar Feast: a pound of brisket, two quarter-chickens, two sausage links, and three pints of sides. You can get Margaritas by the yardstick, too, which makes them big enough to share while vibing to one of the regular live music acts.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout via Toast.

South BBQ & Kitchen
South BBQ & Kitchen

$$
Mission San Jose
Another Dady top pick, South BBQ specializes in smoked Prime Angus brisket, pulled pork shoulder, and chicken leg quarters, in addition to sausage and ribs. Tacos shine here, too, including the Chopped Brisket with guacamole and jalapeño-tomatillo salsa, as well as a version loaded with pulled pork, pickled red onions, queso Cotija, and smoked salsa de arbol. Or you can order several homemade flour tortillas and create your own tacos from just about anything on the menu. They’re all great with sides of Spanish Rice and Borracho Beans, but equally fantastic with Loaded Tater Tot Casserole. And don’t sleep on the garlicky, buttery, Pit-roasted Green Onions—they’re nothing short of amazing.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout online.

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Photo courtesy of Travel Texas

There’s more to Texas than just great barbecue, folks. Breathtakingly diverse landscapes, like Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas, offer a natural respite for outdoor enthusiasts while the San Antonio River Walk is a 15-mile oasis for the urban explorer. No matter your interests, the Lone Star State is a vacation destination unto itself waiting to be explored, so, plan accordingly. 

Pinkerton's Barbecue
Pinkerton's Barbecue

$$
Downtown
2M Smokehouse’s Ramos, Jr. loves this place. “It’s a solid spread, with their pulled pork and pork ribs being some of my favorites,” he says. “It also helps that they have one of the best bourbon and whiskey selections in the city.” Dady concurs, praising both the boudin and the “great bourbon selections.” Order up a whiskey and pair it with some sausage, Prime brisket (sliced or chopped), or perhaps the gargantuan Man Bear Pig Sandwich (a blend of pulled pork and brisket under one bun). Rosemary Bacon Mac-and-Cheese and Aunt Ruby’s Blueberry Cobbler can also be enhanced with a few sips of bourbon, of course.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

225 Urban Smoke LLC
225 Urban Smoke LLC

$$
Wilshire
Owned and operated by chef Samuel Ransom, Jr., and Daniel Jimenez, 225° Urban Smoke gets its name from what many pitmasters consider the magic low-and-slow temperature for smoking meats. In addition to the usual barbecue suspects (brisket, turkey, spare ribs), Ransom and Jimenez incorporate several Cajun dishes into their menu, too, so you can easily create a smorgasbord of Southern-style Catfish, Red Beans and Rice, Collard Greens, and a Big Easy Sandwich piled high with brisket, sausage, pulled pork, cracklins, and barbecue sauce.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery via DoorDash.

Curry Boys BBQ
Curry Boys BBQ

$$
The Strip
Not all barbecue has to be Texas-style to be great Texas barbecue. Dady says he’s impressed by this joint’s “awesome unique take on smoked meats and curries,” which are highlighted via four curry barbecue bowls with steamed white rice, one of which features oak-smoked prime brisket and green curry. Another takes smoked pork sausage and pairs it with spicy Panang curry. Cold Chili Garlic Noodles, Curry Creamed Corn, and a fresh Cucumber and Herb Slaw round things out. And don’t forget the Mexican-inspired Flan doused in nutty cold brew for a little caffeine jolt come dessert.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery via Postmates.

Garcia Barbecue
Garcia Barbecue

$$
Mobile
One of the food truck fixtures at The Divide, Garcia Barbecue has only been on the scene since 2019, but has already managed to pick up its fair share of devotees. Pitmasters Jonathan Garcia and Alex Garcia smoke brisket, pulled pork, and both beef and pork ribs to tender perfection, offering meats up by the pound, in sandwiches, on barbecue-sauced tacos, or as part of their famous Smoked Queso Nachos, which can be fully loaded with both brisket and pulled pork then topped with pico, jalapeños, and sour cream.
How to book: Stop by for counter service.

Smokey Boys Barbecue
Smokey Boys Barbecue

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Mobile
Launching a barbecue truck in the middle of a pandemic may not be everyone’s cup of sweet tea, but the Smokey Boys proved that success amid adversity can always be generated with great barbecue. Also found at The Divide, this outpost turns out smoked meats alongside birria tacos, ramen, and pizza. A can’t-miss option is the Pork Belly Smokey Bandit, a waffle topped with chunks of juicy pork and thick-cut coleslaw. Wash it all down with a creamy Horchata, then hang out in the fresh air and let the whole experience sink in.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery via Seamless.

Reese Bros Barbecue
Reese Bros Barbecue

$$
Alamodome
One of the newest barbecue spots on the San Antonio scene (only open since January, 2022), this team-effort from brothers Nick and Elliott Reese has already attracted a legion of admirers, including 2M Smokehouse’ Ramos, Jr.. “Offering true craft barbecue with sides to match, I keep it simple with their homemade tortillas and brisket,” he recommends. Other items worthy of being wrapped in one of their handmade flour tortillas and slathered in salsa verde (or enjoyed completely naked), include housemade sausages including chorizo, serrano, and Oaxaca cheese, as well as smoked turkey and pork spare ribs. Tex-Mex influenced additions include Roasted Poblano Potato Salad, Jalapeño Cream Corn, Cilantro-Ranch Slaw, and Chorizo Mac and Cheese.
How to book: Reserve via Google.

wtfbbqsatx
wtfbbqsatx

$$
Pipe Creek
Sometimes, a WTF moment can be simply amazing—that’s the goal with everything they make here at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a food truck-turned-restaurant in Pipe Creek, a small town about 40 miles northwest of San Antonio. Their Dino Ribs (aka massive beef ribs) are a big draw, as well as the WTF Patty, a mound of brisket, pulled pork, and sausage so tall that the top bun stands no chance of staying intact. And if you’ve driven this far for barbecue, you should definitely reward yourself with a slice of Chocolate Brownie Bundt Cake. Or head to the Eagle’s Nest, their onsite bar, for a frosty Texas-brewed beer.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery via Grubhub.

Bandit BBQ
Bandit BBQ

$$
Lone Star
Ramos Jr. describes Bandit barbecue as “another joint putting out some solid ‘cue.” But that’s not all. “Sometimes you just want a good burger,” he adds. “And their Smash Burger has to be one of my favorite burgers around.” Other Bandit staples that will certainly steal your heart include Frito Pie drenched in queso and your choice of meat (chopped brisket works great), a Titan Dog made with jalapeño-queso beef sausage, and Totchos, tater tots dressed up nacho-style with pulled pork, queso blanco, and jalapeños. (If you’re sensing a trend, it’s true—the queso’s a big deal around here.) Save room for a slice of decadent homemade pie or take a whole one to-go. Flavors rotate, but they’re always extravagant.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout online.

Bbqlife By Chris
Bbqlife By Chris

$$
Eastwood Village
Among the fans of BbqLife by Chris is none other than Snoop Dogg himself. Now located in a former Sonic drive-in restaurant, Chris Ashford’s venture started out like many barbecue greats—as a food truck. Now, diners can get cozy indoors while downing Chopped Beef or Chicken Sandwiches, Smoked Turkey Legs on Fridays and Saturdays, super-spicy Habanero Rib Tips, The Spread (aka Lay’s potato chips ladled with brisket and cheese), four types of beans (green among them), and Peach Cobbler for dessert. As Snoop will likely attest, BbqLife by Chris will cure the munchies and then some.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery via DoorDash.

Windmill Ice House
Windmill Ice House

$$
Northeast Park
Look for the windmill as you drive down Nacogdoches Road and you’ll know you’re close to a backyard barbecue experience to remember. Seven varieties of smoked meats are available by the half-pound, then it’s up to you to choose your path. Go the tried-and-true Texas route and your meat comes with two slices of white bread, pickles, and onions. Or opt for the South Texas take and you’ll get flour, corn, or a mixture of tortillas plus pico de gallo to craft your own tacos. Or try the Good Day Sandwich with pulled pork or chopped brisket doused in creamy queso and pico on a sweet Hawaiian bun. Cornbread Pudding for dessert is a game-changer, too.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery via Grubhub.

Smoke Shack BBQ - Smokehouse • Catering
Smoke Shack BBQ - Smokehouse • Catering

$
Alamo Heights; San Antonio International Airport
It’s a bit hidden on the menu, but one of this award-winning outpost’s most popular dishes is the Brisket Grilled Cheese, an ooey-gooey concoction that’s definitely more meat than cheese. Their Wagyu brisket in all its variations, however, definitely demands a visit, whether you devour it on a traditional sandwich, dumped atop Frito Pie, or piled high on a mound of mac and cheese. Shack Packs feeding groups of all sizes make a convenient way to sample a little of everything when you’ve got folks to share with (or just enjoy getting creative with barbecue leftovers).
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout via Toast.

Steven Lindsey is an enthusiastic eater who’s never turned down a craft cocktail, glass of wine, or cold beer. He thinks dogs are the greatest creation ever and anxiously awaits his Covid hair growing long enough to finally donate to a children’s charity. But when it comes to travel, he prefers people leave their kids at home and that’s why he founded Travel Like An Adult.