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One thing you need to know about Texans is not to get in between them and their smoked meats. Lucky for Austinites, some of the best barbecue in the world can be found right here in Central Texas.
And there are a lot of places to try out, whether you're a longtime resident, newcomer or just a barbecue fan. To get your barbecue journey started, here are some of Austin's favorite places to get their grub.
Franklin Barbecue, 900 E. 11th St.
Franklin Barbecue is known for having extremely long lines and amazing brisket from well-known pitmaster and "barbecue nerd" Aaron Franklin. From brisket to beef ribs and a Tipsy Texan sandwich, there's nothing more iconic to Austin than this particular barbecue joint. Along with barbecue lovers, celebrities such as Anthony Bourdain, Jimmy Kimmel and Barack Obama have celebrated the beloved spot. Since the pandemic, Franklin barbecue is only accepting preorders for extra safety precautions. 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. The dining room may be closed but curbside is available from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. daily except Mondays.
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. Besides, is there anything more Austin than skipping tradition and creating something completely unique? Valentina's serves incredible 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. You can also dine in from 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 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 Mickethwait 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.
Terry Black's Barbecue, 1003 Barton Springs Road
Family owned and operated by pitmasters Michael and Mark Black, the Black family knows barbecue. What started in Lockhart by Terry Black, has branched out to Austin by his twin sons, Michael and Mark, to provide Central Texas with the delicious family business. The meat market-style restaurant offers delicious brisket, pork rib, beef sausage and so much more for flavors and high-quality barbecue you can't miss out on. 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 preorder online for pickup or delivery, otherwise, the restaurant is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue, 121 Pickle Road
This new-school and uniquely creative food truck proves that barbecue isn't just for the traditional establishments in town. LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue opened their doors in 2017 in the Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden lot. Since then, pitmaster Evan LeRoy and Director of Operation Sayer Lewis have provided Austinites with amazing barbecue by also supporting local ranches in Texas. From brisket to sausage to barbacoa, LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue have all the fixins' and more for barbecue lovers in town. You can preorder online or eat in person from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. every day except Monday and Tuesday to try this inventive and mouth-watering barbecue.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, 6610 N. Lamar Blvd.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew is one of those barbecue joints in Austin that helped create the lavish barbecue scene Austinites know and love. Lead pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick learned his technique with a true Texan twist and provides Stiles Switch authentically delicious barbecue such as beef rib, pork ribs, sausage and so much more. 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. You can preorder online or dine at the patio at Stiles Switch from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. every day except Monday.
Kerlin BBQ, 2207 E. Caesar Chavez St.
In the competitive barbecue market in Austin, this barbecue joint manages to hit top rank in all categories. Kerlin BBQ has been providing Austin with amazing brisket, pork ribs, pork shoulder and best of all, brisket and cheddar kolaches since 2014. Bill and Amelis Kerlin bring their own personal taste and preference to their menu, helping cater to most barbecue lovers in town. Dine-in is available from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday-Sunday or to preorder, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 provide the family-owned and operated restaurant, along with any Austinite who walks by the delicious smelling barbecue, with great food on South Congress. Brisket, pork ribs, pork chops and beef ribs are only a small amount of what Cooper's has to offer. You can order for takeout or delivery if you don't want to dine in from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Mum Foods, 2113 Manor Road
If you're thinking of skipping out on Mum Foods, think again. The farm-to-table barbecue joint can be found around town at the Barton Creek, Cedar Park and Mueller farmers' markets, along with their shop, Mum's brisket. Serving Austinites with quality brisket, amazing pastrami, sausage, chicken and delicatessen, Mum Foods has it all for meat lovers in town. You can preorder online from Thursday through Saturday.
La Barbecue, 2027 E. Cesar Chavez St.
In a state where barbecue is the shining star, La Barbecue has put themselves up to the task of providing Texas with one of the best barbecue spots. La Barbecue, owned by LeAnn Mueller and wife Ali Clem, has provided Austinites with brisket, beef and pork ribs, amazing sausages and so much more. Pitmaster Ali 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 to try La Barbecue.
Brown's Bar-B-Que, 1901 S. Lamar Blvd.
It seems like the list of barbecue joints in Austin is never going to end, proving that there is no place better to find your favorite barbecue. Brown's Bar-B-Que adds to the list of incredible barbecue in town, providing South Austin with award-winning bone ribs, brisket, chicken, pulled pork and all the fixings. Pitmaster Daniel Brown has been in the barbecue game for a while, making incredible brisket and giving Austin yet another delicious barbecue spot. Visit from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, or 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays.
Green Mesquite BBQ, 1400 Barton Springs Rd.
An Austin classic, Green Mesquite BBQ has been providing Barton Springs with great barbecue since 1988. With affordable prices and all the mouthwatering flavors you can think of, this Austin barbecue spot switches thing up by featuring mesquite barbecue, a method of cooking meat over a fire using mesquite wood, giving it a distinct flavor. Try their smoked chicken wings for the best bite of chicken you'll ever have. Plus, both Austin locations are open for dine-in.
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 preorder your feast the day before or enjoy the open dining room and patio from 11 a.m. until sold out Wednesday-Sunday.
Isabella Lopes contributed to this story.
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Austin's food scene is like a phoenix rising from the ashes as restaurants expand and grow after a grueling year in the service industry.
From pop-ups going permanent to local expansions, here are some developments in Austin food.
Fat City Stacks opening permanently at Yard Bar
Born from the need to adapt to the hardship COVID-19 imposed on the restaurant industry, Fat City Stacks comes from the same minds behind Asian-Southern fusion restaurants the Peached Tortilla and Bar Peached. Originally a pop-up restaurant, Fat City Stacks is putting down permanent roots at Yard Bar, a dog-loving cocktail bar, selling chicken and beef sliders or "stacks," plus golden crinkle-cut fries and tater tots that pair with the restaurant's numerous craft sauces. The move is mutually beneficial—Fat City is currently in the process of renovating Yard Bar's patio, located at 6700 Burnett Road, adding a play area for kids and revamping the putt-putt holes. According to its website, Fat City will open in person around "June...ish" but presently offers delivery.
Tso Chinese Delivery x Bom Bakeshop
In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, ghost kitchen Tso Chinese Delivery, which has made a name for itself by offering no-tip free delivery service, is pairing up with local bakery pop-up Bom Bakeshop to celebrate Asian cuisine. The bakeshop, known for bringing Austin its first mochi donuts, created a new Mandarin Orange donut flavor that will only be available for the rest of the month and will raise money for #tsogiving, Tso's charity to help end hunger in the city. The fruity donut comes in a two-pack, along with a chocolate sprinkle mochi donut, for $9 with $2 donated for every order.
Though it's only available for a very limited time, Mooby's, the fake fast-food chain featured in Kevin Smith movies like "Dogma" and "Clerks II," has transcended the silver screen and can be enjoyed at 3TEN ACL Live, located at 310 Willie Nelson Blvd, through Saturday. With the signature golden calf mascot watching over you, you'll find classic and vegan fast-food items like the "Cow Tipper" burger, "Cock Smoker Chicken Sandwich," "Hater Tots," and "Onion Rings to Rule Them All." You'll also get to enjoy an immersive, retro-themed environment to chow down in and relive the classic 1990's movies. You can make reservations here.
Simply Pho House relocation
Moving from its former Bee Cave location to the Hill Country Galleria at 12913 Galleria Circle, Simply Pho House is relocating and making room for a menu upgrade that will include a weekend Dim Sum brunch. The Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai fusion restaurant has been serving Austinites since 2014 and will take over the former spot of Pei Wei. If you're not hungry for some Pho or Pad Thai, the restaurant also has an extensive boba tea menu!
New Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ brick-and-mortar
Moving a little outside Austin, official Austin FC vendor and Austin's beloved blend of Tex Mex barbecue, Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ, is gearing up to head south and set up a brick-and-mortar location in Buda. Currently operating as a food truck on 11500 Menchaca Road, the restaurant is moving to the Buda Mill & Grain Co. shopping center at 306 S. Main Street "within the next year or so," so there's still plenty of time to enjoy the truck. Valentina's will only be a 15-minute drive South, so they aren't going far, and you'll still be able to get your fix at Q2 Stadium!
News flash: Mother's Day is this Sunday. Don't worry if you forgot, these Austin businesses have you covered on the last-minute gifts front. These specials are so nice, mom won't even know you waited until the day before to celebrate her.
Here are a few places that are celebrating moms this year.
Intero, 2612 East Cesar Chavez Street
If you want to make the mom in your life feel special, get her some chocolates that are (almost) as pretty as her. East Austin Italian restaurant Intero is doing a special Mother's Day carryout brunch featuring bougie brunch tartes, beet and chocolate muffins, chianti braised wagyu beef, specialty cocktails and free chocolates for mothers who dine in. For carry out, menu items serve 4-6 people and Intero is offering a Zoom chocolate tasting class. Place your orders by Friday at 4 p.m. before they run out!
Texas AVA Tasting Room, 12345 Pauls Valley Road
Combining two local Hill Country wineries, C.L. Butaud's and Wine for the People, Texas AVA is offering a free glass of rosé to all mothers who go in for a tasting. One glass is never enough though, so you can enjoy flights from one or both of the wineries, allowing you to experience 100% Texas wines. Tastings last about 60 minutes and tickets are $25 per person. Reservations are encouraged—your mom will thank you.
Tiny Pies, multiple locations
Tiny Pies is pulling out all the stops for Mother's Day this year with some delectable tarts and not-so-tiny quiches. On this year's menu: quiche lorraine, vegetarian quiche, mixed berry tarts and strawberry rosé tarts. Best of all, these goodies are made for sharing so it's a gift for everyone. They also have gluten-free options. Pickup times will be on May 7-9 so place your orders by Friday at 5 p.m.
Trace, 200 Lavaca Street
Give the mom in your life an experience she'll never forget at Trace's "Drag Your Mom to Brunch." Hosted by drag queen Vylette Ward, this restaurant inside the W Hotel is treating mothers to a glass of free bubbly and an 80's-themed show. It wouldn't be a drag show without a full cocktail menu, complete with saucy drinks like the "kilt lifter" and "naughty chocolate milk," as well as plenty of fancy food options like lobster grilled cheese and brunch burgers. Showtimes are at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. so don't forget to make a reservation!
Uchiko, 4200 N. Lamar Blvd
If you're looking to show mom you really love her, Uchiko is putting together a box of sweets that delivers the message without needing words. This box will set you back $95 but is filled with six handcrafted, decadent sweets: a salted caramel candy bar, matcha cassis tart, citrus petite cake, raspberry white chocolate bombe, apple tartin and a chocolate hazelnut choux. That isn't all—the box will also come with a bottle of 2020 Gris Blanc Rosé. Call the restaurant at (512) 916-4808 to order yours and pick up on Saturday or Sunday.
And if nothing else, don't forget to call the mothers in your life!
Listen up, new Austinites. Austin loves its food and rightly so—it certainly has its own brand of vittles. The cuisine scene is leveling-up and diversifying day-by-day, though Austin has long been a hub for excellent grub.
Whether you just moved here, are just visiting or have lived here your whole life, here are some food options that you must try to get a feel for Austin's unique gastronomy.
As the birthplace of the breakfast taco, if you only try one food in Austin it must be the humble breakfast taco. You may have heard of similar breakfast fares, like breakfast burritos or taquitos, but the breakfast taco stole the hearts of Austin's Tex-Mex-loving populous. A cheap, easy and timeless staple, breakfast tacos are Austin's unique soul food.
By way of two brothers from Monterrey, Mexico, Vaquero Taquero, 104 E. 31st St., sells tacos of both the breakfast variety and otherwise. With the choice of in-house fresh corn or flour tortillas, topped with eggs and chorizo, bacon, machacado or nopales, Vaquero Taquero's breakfast tacos are made with love.
Tacodeli is another excellent stop on the breakfast taco front, having served them to Austinites for 22 years. Serving popular options like the sirloin, egg and cheese or the freakin' vegan, with refried black beans and avocado, Tacodeli has options for all kinds of palates.
If you're new to Austin, you're probably confused about the whole "kolache" thing and if you're not, believe it or not, kolaches can be found in other states as well but they just aren't as popular as they are in Central Texas. Brought over by a wave of Czechs searching for new opportunities before the Civil War, Texas became home to sizable Czech communities who brought along the popular pastry.
Flaunting kolaches of all kinds, for breakfast lunch or dinner, Lone Star Kolaches has got you covered. The locally-owned chain has six locations across Austin so you're never too far from your fix—they even sell breakfast tacos!
If you're willing to venture outside Austin City Limits, Dos Gatos in San Marcos will treat you to an enormous array of Texas, Czech and seasonal flavors. With over 30 varieties to choose from, these kolaches are well worth the drive.
Don't get a local started on Tex-Mex unless you're ready to listen—Austinites have a particular love affair with the altered cuisine, characterized by its abundance of queso and fusion influences.
When looking for Tex-Mex restaurants in Austin, there is no shortage of options. Tamale House, 1707 E 6th Street, has been serving up tamales, tacos and tortilla soup for the Austin community since 1958. The East location is situated in a cozy garden and will make you feel right at home as you chow down.
Another oldie, Matt's El Rancho, 2613 S Lamar Blvd, has been peddling Mexican comfort food since 1952. You can get their famous migas here among other places, and if you don't know what migas are—well you'll just have to try them. While it started as an unassuming family-owned homemade tamale cart, the restaurant has come full circle, still makes everything from scratch and is proudly family-run.
Food trucks may not be unique to Austin but the city has the fastest-growing food truck industry in the nation. In fact, even well-established restaurants, like Austin's beloved Torchy's Tacos, have broken into the food truck biz.
While Gourdough's also has a brick and mortar location, the restaurant started in an Airstream trailer, 1503 S. 1st Street, in 2008. Combining a love for southern cuisine and donuts, Gourdough's proudly serves decadent, indulgent "Big. Fat. Donuts." like the "gettin piggy with it" donut burger, which is served with pulled pork and candy jalapenos, or the sweet "baby rattler," which is topped with fudge, Oreos and a two-foot gummy snake.
Now with several locations, Veracruz All Natural also started as a trailer in 2008. Started by two sisters who were born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico, the pair were taught to cook by their grandmother and now use their culinary prowess to bring flavors of their childhood to the people of Austin. Veracruz serves a taco for everyone, homemade salsas and refreshing aguas frescas.
Bouldin Creek Cafe, 1900 S. 1st Street, is more than just a locally woman-owned vegetarian restaurant, it is a community staple that supports the community it serves. When you order from the restaurant, whether it is their kool hummus sandwich or vegan blueberry cornbread, you are helping support the small businesses Bouldin Creek Cafe sources from as well.
JuiceLand has been slinging green juice right here in Austin for 20 years but the juice joint, which was the shop's former name, sells more than just vibrant drinks. Each JuiceLand store has a full plant-based vegan menu with options ranging from jackfruit carnitas to the queso roller. Plus, if you've never had a wheatgrass shot, this is the place to go.
You can never go wrong with Amy's Ice Cream. As a brand that is essentially synonymous with Austin, Amy's has made a name for itself by dancing the "Time Warp" with customers and doing elaborate, acrobatic tricks with the scoops. With crowd favorites like Mexican vanilla, a rotating myriad of flavors and important homages like Zilker Mint Chip, Amy's is the ice cream of Austin.
Growing up in small communities where they only ate homemade ice cream, Anthony and Chad could never eat at a big box ice cream chain. Together, they created Lick Honest Ice Creams to make a rotating menu of fresh treats from locally sourced ingredients, the way it should be. When you walk into one of Lick's three Austin locations, you can choose from a huge amount of specialty flavors like Goat Cheese, Thyme & Honey or Cilantro Lime, all made from Austin ingredients.
I'm getting hungry just thinking about all these local favorites!
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