Summer heat is here and that’s just as good an excuse as any to hunker down with a whole mess of barbecue.
Luckily, some of the best barbecue in the world can be found here in town. If you’re new to ‘cue, start here, if you’re an experienced eater, see how many you’ve checked off your list.
Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que | 217 Congress Ave.
For any barbecue lover who hasn't tried the pork ribs at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, it's time to finally do so. Pitmasters Kenny Oestreich and Louis Garcia run the family-owned and operated restaurant, making that delicious barbecue smell wafting on South Congress. Brisket, chicken, jerky and even goat are a fraction of what Cooper's has to offer. You can dine in from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Distant Relatives | 3901 Promontory Point Dr.
Parked at South Austin’s Meanwhile Brewing, Distant Relatives and pitmaster Damien Brockway sport a James Beard nomination despite its youth as a business. The food here is spiced with African influences—try the pork ribs, burnt ends, collard green and smoked peanuts. Distant Relatives is open from 12-8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.
Franklin Barbecue | 900 E. 11th St.
Known for having extremely long lines and mouth-watering brisket from pitmaster and "barbecue nerd" Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue is loved by locals and celebrities such as Anthony Bourdain, Jimmy Kimmel and Barack Obama. From brisket to beef ribs and a Tipsy Texan sandwich, there's nothing more iconic to Austin than this particular barbecue joint. Described by Texas Monthly as "serving the best barbecue in the known universe," Franklin Barbecue is a must-try if you're new to town. Franklin’s is closed on Mondays and open Tuesday-Sundays from 11 a.m.–sold out, which comes earlier than you think so arrive early to line up.
Green Mesquite BBQ | 1400 Barton Springs Rd. and 9900 I-35
An Austin classic, Green Mesquite BBQ has been serving barbecue at Barton Springs since 1988. This Austin barbecue spot switches things up by featuring mesquite barbecue, a method of cooking meat over a fire using mesquite wood that gives it a distinct flavor. This is the spot for chicken wings, fried okra, baked potatoes and sweet smoky meat. The Barton Springs location is open daily from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and the Southpark location is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Interstellar BBQ | 12233 Ranch Road 620 N
Using high-quality ingredients and wood, and cooking in small batches, low and slow is the motto Interstellar BBQ goes by. Of course, you can get all the classic favorites: brisket, pulled pork and ribs, but Interstellar has some pretty stellar signatures. Try the peach tea glazed pork belly, brisket taco, jalapeno popper sausage and you can even get bulk sauces or beef tallow to cook with. You can take out your feast or dine in from 11 a.m. until sold out Wednesday-Sunday.
La Barbecue | 2401 E. Cesar Chavez St.
La Barbecue is a shining star of Texas barbecue. Owned by LeAnn Mueller and wife Ali Clem, La Barbecue serves brisket, beef and pork ribs, sausages and so much more. Pitmaster Clem has established her influence on La Barbecue with help from Francicso Saucedo, especially for the sausages and pork ribs for a perfect barbecue experience. You can preorder online or dine in from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.
LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue | 121 Pickle Road
This new-school and creative food truck blends new school flavors with traditional embellishments. LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue opened their doors in 2017 in the Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden lot and pitmaster Evan LeRoy and Director of Operation Sayer Lewis have provided Austinites with locally-sourced barbecue since. From brisket to sausage to barbacoa, LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue have all the fixins' and more for barbecue lovers in town. Grab some grub from 11 a.m.-9 p.m., or sold out, Wednesday–Sunday.
Micklethwait Craft Meats | 1309 Rosewood Ave.
Micklethwait Craft Meats is no stranger to the well-known barbecue game in Austin. Also featured in Texas Monthly as one of the best barbecue spots in Texas, pitmaster Tom Micklethwait brings standout items to the Austin food game. With brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, homemade sausages and so much more on their menu, Micklethwait Craft Meats is the perfect spot for meat lovers looking for a new destination. You can get your barbecue fix Thursday-Saturday either through preorder or walk up and there's even an outdoor picnic area that is open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew | 6610 N. Lamar Blvd.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew is led by pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick, with a hometown twist and celebrity status of being featured in “Dazed and Confused.” Owner and Texas native Shane Stiles named Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew after a Central Texas railroad stop on the I&GN Railroad from the 1800s. The authentically delicious barbecue such as beef rib, pork ribs and sausage are just the start of the menu. You can dine in from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Terry Black's Barbecue | 1003 Barton Springs Road
Pitmasters Michael and Mark Black, from the famous Black’s Barbecue family, bring Lockhart's barbeque knowledge to Austin. The meat market-style restaurant offers delicious brisket, pork rib, beef sausage and shining sides . If you're new to town and thinking of sending a gift to your friends and family outside of the state, Terry Black's offers nationwide shipping for most of their meats. Austinites can dine in from 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and Friday-Saturday from 1:20 a.m.-10 p.m.
Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ | 11500 Manchaca Road
In a city where tacos and barbecue aren't hard to find, pitmaster Miguel Vida brings Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ to Austin with a twist on both food groups. Is there anything more Austin than skipping tradition and creating something completely unique? Valentina's serves brisket, pulled pork and chicken and beef fajita with a Mexican twist. Make sure to try their smoked brisket taco and order online before it all sells out. Valentina’s is closed Monday-Tuesday, but open for dine-in from 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. (or until sold out) Wednesday-Sunday.
The 2022 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists list is here and four of its candidates call Austin home.
One of five recognition programs awarding restaurateurs, leaders and media professionals, the James Beard Foundation Media Awards have been running since 1991. Austin already boasts four James Beard Award winners: Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue, who won in 2015; Paul Qui of East Side King, who won in 2012; Tyson Cole of Uchi, who won in 2011; and Diana Kennedy, an Austin-based cookbook author, in 1986.
For the first time, the James Beard Foundation will award the Best Texas Chef, a category that was announced in 2020 but had to be postponed after the 2021 awards were canceled due to accusations of bias. Previously, Texan chefs were listed in the best chefs of the Southwest category.
Austin may have nabbed four nominations but fellow big Texas cities got away with even more—Houston claimed nine nominations, while Dallas and San Antonio each made out with seven nominations.
Emerging chef nominees:
- Edgar Rico, chef and co-owner of Mexican eatery Nixta Taqueria.
- Amanda Turner, chef de cuisine of Southern restaurant Olamaie, which had seen three finalist nominations in the past.
Best New Texas Chef nominees:
- Damien Brockway, pitmaster and barbecue truck Distant Relatives owner.
- Iliana de la Vega, executive chef and co-owner of Oaxacan restaurant El Naranjo. This will be her third semifinalist nomination.
Finalists will be announced on March 16 before commemorating the winners during a June 13 ceremony at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
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