Barbecue is impossible to avoid in Austin, and that holds especially true for the city's chefs. As part of Barbecue Week, Eater asked Austin chefs and restaurant owners to share their favorite barbecue places and go-to orders. The list runs from La Barbecue to Ruby’s BBQ, ribs to barbecue breakfast tacos. Read on and get hungry.
Jesse Griffiths, Dai Due
"I have loved John Mueller's beef rib since he was on Manor Road and I lived down the street. This beef rib changed my perspective on barbecue and I really think he was one of the first town to elevate barbecue to where it is now. And, of course, the brisket at Franklin Barbecue. Aaron is my hero because he's a consummate craftsman and he can consistently make something so incredibly good."
Sonya Coté, Hillside Farmacy and Eden East
"Austin’s two favorite foods combined into one: breakfast taco and barbecue. My favorite hands down has to be Valentina’s. It was a rainy morning and I sat in my car with my boyfriend as we ate an amazing Tex-Mex version of barbecue that blew my mind. I looked at my partner and shed a tear because he got the corn tortilla. My go to order is the ultimate bean and cheese with the smoked brisket on a handmade flour tortilla."
Steven Dilley, Bufalina
"I love, love Franklin, La Barbecue, and, more recently, Valentina's. And I typically end up at one of those spots when friends visit town. But my go-to spot since '92 has been Ruby's BBQ on Guadalupe. And my go-to order hasn't changed: two meat plate with sausage and fatty brisket, collard greens, mac and cheese, white bread, and an iced tea."
Bryce Gilmore, Odd Duck and Barley Swine
"I end up at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ often because it's close to my house. All their barbecue is great, but I like to order the brisket tacos—barbecue plus Mexican makes for a truly Texan experience.
Jennifer Costello, The Bonneville
"La Barbecue for starters. Everything there is fantastic, but our favorites are the chopped brisket sandwich and the beef ribs...just gotta have ‘em every time. The new location is awesome, still has the trailer-feel even though it’s a bit further down the road. It's the one barbecue we have no problem waiting in line for. Stiles Switch up on North Lamar is also a big time Favorite of ours. Being a Northerner, we originally just did not understand the merits of smoked turkey. Damn it’s good. Love those guys and all they do—wicked awesome pickles, too."
Zane Hunt, Via 313
My go-to these days, and when friends visit from out of town (I mean no disrespect to the big three of first wave of the current Austin scene: Franklin/La Barbecue/John Mueller’s), I take them to Freedman's on campus for a few slices of brisket and the best chopped beef sandwich I have ever tasted. The sandwich should just be renamed "Meat Velvet," it has tremendous balance. Their beans are top shelf, too, and make a great pairing with the greatness of that sandwich. I like to finish off the meal with the incredibly decadent smoked chocolate mousse...nobody ever leaves that place unhappy. I really think pitmaster Evan LeRoy deserves more attention for the work he is doing there. I also love the barbecue coming out of Valentina's."
Thai Changthong, East Side King Thai Kun
Favorite barbecue place: La Barbecue; go-to order: pork ribs
Andrew Wiseheart, Contigo and Chicon
"I don't eat barbecue very often in Austin—but when I do, I am partial to Franklin Barbecue and it is hard to go wrong with anything on that menu. My favorite barbecue spot of all time is Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano. It is on the way to San Angelo (my hometown), and when I make it that way, I will usually stop in and buy way too much, which makes for days worth of leftovers. I haven't been to the downtown Austin location yet, but need to make it by to see how it stacks up against the original."
Kristine Kittrell, Weather Up
"I like to preorder a whole brisket from Franklin for when friends come into town. That way I don't have to wait in line. The fatty end slathered in the espresso barbecue sauce is where it's at. Sorry meat purists, but I'm a saucy lady."
Jason Stude, Boiler Nine Bar + Grill
Favorite barbecue place: Micklethwait Craft Meats; go-to order: pork ribs
Jacob Weaver, Juliet
"Though just outside of Austin, my pick is an old school favorite, The Salt Lick. A good sliced brisket or chop beef sandwich evokes nostalgia and the original location delivers it with a full package ambiance plus no line if you go at the right time."
Tyson Cole, Uchi and Uchiko
"Franklin Barbecue is my favorite. I always get the pulled pork, with extra espresso barbecue sauce."
Iliana de la Vega, El Naranjo
"La Barbecue. And I always prefer pork, so the ribs and sausage are delicious. My husband prefers the brisket, so I always have the chance to have a little of that too. I also always order the chipotle slaw and their potato salad."
Drew Curren, 24 Diner, Easy Tiger, Italic, and Irene’s
Favorite barbecue place: Green Mesquite; go-to order: smoked chicken wings
Callie Speer, Geraldine’s
"I love Opie’s Barbecue, just outside of Austin in Spicewood. My daughter and I love going to Krause Springs to swim, then going to Opie’s for their tater tot casserole and banana pudding. They have the best banana pudding in the world."
Stephen Bonin, Geraldine’s
"Had my wedding rehearsal dinner at Stiles Switch, delicious and friendly. My go-to order is the T-Man from Bert's BBQ, they've been open over 40 years, an Austin original."
Shawn Cirkiel, Parkside, Backspace, Olive & June, and Bullfight
Favorite barbecue place: Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew; go-to order: Frito pie
- Sarah McIntosh, Épicerie
"I love the pulled pork and potato salad from La Barbecue. And the pork ribs and housemade pickles at Micklethwait Craft Meats."
CK Chin, Swift’s Attic and Wu Chow
"Barbecue is like music. Depends on my mood. Franklin's brisket is Mozart, done perfectly and when I have time, I close my eyes and enjoy. Stiles Switch is like Motown to me, always their fantastic sausage links and pork ribs bring me back to a simpler time and their corn casserole is something I wanna sit on the dock and eat while wasting time. Salt Lick, is classic rock. Their habanero chicken melts my face off and their burnt ends are like the crispy embodiment of an almost too long guitar solo but it's not because it's just that good."
Paul Qui, Qui, East Side King, and Otoko
Favorite barbecue place: Franklin Barbecue; go-to order: brisket
Joe Anguiano, Vox Table
Favorite barbecue place: Freedmen’s; go-to order: fatty brisket and smoked beets
Damien Brockway, Counter 3.Five.VII
"Freedmen's is where you will find me when I want to get down with some Austin barbecue. My go-to order is brisket and house-made sausage with coleslaw and pickles. Most importantly, you will spot me pairing my barbecue with their whiskey of the month in the beer garden."