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Franklin Barbecue
Franklin Barbecue
Franklin Barbecue [Official]

The Best Bets for Barbecue Near SXSW

From meaty morning goods on-the-go at Kerlin BBQ to a smokey escape from chaos at Brown’s BBQ truck to preordering tips at Franklin Barbecue

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Franklin Barbecue
| Franklin Barbecue [Official]

Barbecue is essential to the Austin experience, so, naturally, it would top most South by Southwest (SXSW) attendees’ list of things to eat. The city has a wealth of ridiculously tasty smoked meat options. With that in mind, this is an updated guide to nationally ranked and under-the-radar barbecue found in the city without having to trek too far from the center of the festival.

Try Kerlin’s barbecue trailer for meaty kolaches or sit down for a spell at South Austin barbecue restaurant Terry Black’s, with indoor seating. Stay in the SXSW action at Cooper’s downtown or escape from the chaos and duck into South Lamar barbecue truck Brown’s BBQ. Spend a pretty penny at fancy downtown barbecue restaurant Lambert’s or stop by La Barbecue, found within East Cesar Chavez market Quickie Pickie. And, of course, there’s always the ever-famous Franklin Barbecue.

Whatever your budget, timeframe, and particular cravings are, remember Austin during SXSW is a different type of Austin. The traffic is worse. The lines are longer. And the meat sells out faster. Eater’s advice? Expect to wait in very long lines, call ahead to make sure meat is still available, and never, ever ask for sauce.

For more dining and drinking ideas, check out the rest of Eater’s SXSW coverage. For more barbecue needs, scope out Austin’s essential barbecue spots, new barbecue places, ribs, barbecue sandwiches, desserts, and for some day-trips: the best barbecue spots in the Hill Country and a guide to Texas’s barbecue capital, Lockhart.

With updates by Nadia Chaudhury.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Black's BBQ

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3110 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705

If you don’t have time to trek down to the state’s barbecue capital Lockhart, head to the Austin outpost of Black’s BBQ instead, found near campus. Though the menu isn’t as expansive as the original location (no pork baby back ribs and barbecue chicken), you can still find enough to fill you up for lunch and dinner.

Barbecue from Black’s BBQ
Barbecue from Black’s BBQ
Black’s BBQ Austin/Facebook

2. Franklin Barbecue

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900 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 653-1187
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Lines are tremendous for the nation's hottest barbecue. The wait is legendary and only getting longer for lunch-only barbecue. Lately, weekend waits have stretched five to six hours. Planning ahead? Skip the line, and place a preorder now. Otherwise, with SXSW-mania, it's a safe bet there will be a long wait for meat. Or opt for Franklin’s on-site taco truck, which serves those beloved smoked meats in tortillas.

Franklin Barbecue’s barbecue tray
Franklin Barbecue’s barbecue tray
Franklin Barbecue [Official]

3. Micklethwait Craft Meats

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1309 Rosewood Ave
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 791-5961
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The insider-favorite serves up creative sausages, brisket, ribs, and pulled lamb starting at lunch time in Central East Austin. For something even better, opt for the brisket Frito pie. End the meal with banana pudding or buttermilk pie.

Bill Addison/E

4. Lamberts Downtown BBQ

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401 West 2nd St.
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 494-1500
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Larry McGuire and Tom Moorman’s "fancy barbecue" joint is more expensive and upscale than the other options, but, hey, the downtown restaurant is table-service and takes reservations. Then there are good cocktails, a nice patio, and Sunday brunch which includes a lot of barbecue.

A dish from Lamberts
A dish from Lamberts
Lamberts [Official]

5. Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que

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217 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 474-4227
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Grab barbecue right in the heart of downtown with the Austin branch of the famed Llano joint. Devour smoked meats (brisket, ribs, cabrito) anywhere in the two-floor (and a patio) restaurant, along with drinks. it’s open for lunch and dinner, and late-night for those midnight barbecue cravings.

6. Terry Black's BBQ

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1003 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704

Venture across the Colorado River for barbecue from a different branch of the legendary family with Terry Black’s, named after twin brothers and co-owners Mike and Mark’s father, open for lunch and dinner.

7. EastSide Tavern

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1510 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 840-1799
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The table-service barbecue and cocktail spot on the East Side is slinging brisket, ribs, pulled pork, smoked poultry, and brisket-cheddar tater tots. Bonus: there are cocktails, too. Score a spot on the rooftop or patio, if you can.

Barbecue from EastSide Tavern
Barbecue from EastSide Tavern
EastSide Tavern/Facebook

8. La Barbecue

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2027 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 605-9696
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La Barbecue’s quality meats include brisket, sausages, ribs, turkey, sides, and sandwiches like the La Frito Loco for lunch and early dinners. Like Franklin, this spot accepts preorders. Just place 'em three days in advance. The location at the Quickie Pickie makes it an ideal stop to fill up and stock up on supplies for the inevitable lines you're going to wait in.

La Barbecue
Barbecue from La Barbecue
LeAnne Mueller

9. Kerlin BBQ

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2207 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 412-5588
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Now in a new home on East Cesar Chavez, Kerlin BBQ still doles out brisket, pork ribs, sandwiches, and barbecue klobasniky (aka savory kolaches) for lunch. Of the latter, choose from temptations like brisket and cheddar, smoked sausage, jalapeno, and cheddar, and rotating vegetarian options as well.

10. JNL Barbecue

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5012 E 7th St
Austin, TX 78702

The new East Austin barbecue truck is helmed by a Franklin Barbecue alumnus, so you know it’s going to be good. Pitmaster Ben Lambert serves up the usual barbecue staples (brisket, ribs, pulled pork), plus sides for lunch. The truck’s parked at the new Buzz Mill Shady, which means proximity to coffee and cocktails too.

A barbecue plate at JNL Barbecue
A barbecue plate at JNL Barbecue
JNL Barbecue/Facebook

11. Brown's BBQ

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1901 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 517-8520
Visit Website

Brown’s is the rarest of beasts in Austin barbecue — convenient to downtown, truly good, and never too busy. Perhaps because so many top barbecue spots are clustered on the east side, Brown’s bright red trailer is easy to miss, but the brisket and pork ribs here are among the best in Central Texas. There’s nothing glamorous about the setting — you’ll be eating at a picnic table while traffic blazes by on South Lamar — but this is an easy sub-$10 rideshare from the main SXSW area, and you’ll be back to your next event promptly.

1. Black's BBQ

3110 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705
Barbecue from Black’s BBQ
Barbecue from Black’s BBQ
Black’s BBQ Austin/Facebook

If you don’t have time to trek down to the state’s barbecue capital Lockhart, head to the Austin outpost of Black’s BBQ instead, found near campus. Though the menu isn’t as expansive as the original location (no pork baby back ribs and barbecue chicken), you can still find enough to fill you up for lunch and dinner.

3110 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705

2. Franklin Barbecue

900 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702
Franklin Barbecue’s barbecue tray
Franklin Barbecue’s barbecue tray
Franklin Barbecue [Official]

Lines are tremendous for the nation's hottest barbecue. The wait is legendary and only getting longer for lunch-only barbecue. Lately, weekend waits have stretched five to six hours. Planning ahead? Skip the line, and place a preorder now. Otherwise, with SXSW-mania, it's a safe bet there will be a long wait for meat. Or opt for Franklin’s on-site taco truck, which serves those beloved smoked meats in tortillas.

900 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702

3. Micklethwait Craft Meats

1309 Rosewood Ave, Austin, TX 78702
Bill Addison/E

The insider-favorite serves up creative sausages, brisket, ribs, and pulled lamb starting at lunch time in Central East Austin. For something even better, opt for the brisket Frito pie. End the meal with banana pudding or buttermilk pie.

1309 Rosewood Ave
Austin, TX 78702

4. Lamberts Downtown BBQ

401 West 2nd St., Austin, TX 78701
A dish from Lamberts
A dish from Lamberts
Lamberts [Official]

Larry McGuire and Tom Moorman’s "fancy barbecue" joint is more expensive and upscale than the other options, but, hey, the downtown restaurant is table-service and takes reservations. Then there are good cocktails, a nice patio, and Sunday brunch which includes a lot of barbecue.

401 West 2nd St.
Austin, TX 78701

5. Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que

217 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

Grab barbecue right in the heart of downtown with the Austin branch of the famed Llano joint. Devour smoked meats (brisket, ribs, cabrito) anywhere in the two-floor (and a patio) restaurant, along with drinks. it’s open for lunch and dinner, and late-night for those midnight barbecue cravings.

217 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

6. Terry Black's BBQ

1003 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

Venture across the Colorado River for barbecue from a different branch of the legendary family with Terry Black’s, named after twin brothers and co-owners Mike and Mark’s father, open for lunch and dinner.

1003 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704

7. EastSide Tavern

1510 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702
Barbecue from EastSide Tavern
Barbecue from EastSide Tavern
EastSide Tavern/Facebook

The table-service barbecue and cocktail spot on the East Side is slinging brisket, ribs, pulled pork, smoked poultry, and brisket-cheddar tater tots. Bonus: there are cocktails, too. Score a spot on the rooftop or patio, if you can.

1510 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702

8. La Barbecue

2027 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702
La Barbecue
Barbecue from La Barbecue
LeAnne Mueller

La Barbecue’s quality meats include brisket, sausages, ribs, turkey, sides, and sandwiches like the La Frito Loco for lunch and early dinners. Like Franklin, this spot accepts preorders. Just place 'em three days in advance. The location at the Quickie Pickie makes it an ideal stop to fill up and stock up on supplies for the inevitable lines you're going to wait in.

2027 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702

9. Kerlin BBQ

2207 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702

Now in a new home on East Cesar Chavez, Kerlin BBQ still doles out brisket, pork ribs, sandwiches, and barbecue klobasniky (aka savory kolaches) for lunch. Of the latter, choose from temptations like brisket and cheddar, smoked sausage, jalapeno, and cheddar, and rotating vegetarian options as well.

2207 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702

10. JNL Barbecue

5012 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702
A barbecue plate at JNL Barbecue
A barbecue plate at JNL Barbecue
JNL Barbecue/Facebook

The new East Austin barbecue truck is helmed by a Franklin Barbecue alumnus, so you know it’s going to be good. Pitmaster Ben Lambert serves up the usual barbecue staples (brisket, ribs, pulled pork), plus sides for lunch. The truck’s parked at the new Buzz Mill Shady, which means proximity to coffee and cocktails too.

5012 E 7th St
Austin, TX 78702

11. Brown's BBQ

1901 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

Brown’s is the rarest of beasts in Austin barbecue — convenient to downtown, truly good, and never too busy. Perhaps because so many top barbecue spots are clustered on the east side, Brown’s bright red trailer is easy to miss, but the brisket and pork ribs here are among the best in Central Texas. There’s nothing glamorous about the setting — you’ll be eating at a picnic table while traffic blazes by on South Lamar — but this is an easy sub-$10 rideshare from the main SXSW area, and you’ll be back to your next event promptly.

1901 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704

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