The 5 Must-Visit Barbecue Joints In Austin

Barbecue is king in Austin, and here are the spots keeping the tradition alive. 

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September 22, 2015 3 min read
Austin is home to a bevy of excellent BBQ joints.

Austin is home to a bevy of excellent BBQ joints.

There is little denying Texas’ collective love affair with barbecue. According to a report by the real estate search engine Estately, the Lone Star State has several impressive rankings when it comes to serving up barbecue, including fourth in the country for number of enthusiasts and and sixth in the total percentage of restaurants. Perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than the capital city, where graduates of the Austin culinary school are creating some of the finest barbecue around. Need more definitive proof? Be sure to check out these smoking barbecue joints across Austin:

1. Salt Lick BBQ: Though the first Salt Lick storefront opened in 1967, the restaurants’ history dates back much further. In 1867, owner Scott Roberts’ great-grandmother, Bettie Howard, moved to Texas and started cooking barbecue, using an approach that involved searing the meat and then slow cooking it over coals. Now, 100-plus years later, Roberts and his staff still cook the very same way. The results are old-fashioned, fall-off-the-bone favorites like brisket, pork, turkey and sausage. The only thing that’s really changed? In recent years, Salt Lick expanded to a location at the Austin-Bergstrom Airport.

2. Lamberts Downtown Barbecue: There exists a belief among most enthusiasts that true barbecue is a down-home affair, with friends enjoying slow-cooked meat in a backyard somewhere. That’s not the approach taken by the owners of Lamberts, though. Opened in 2006 – and located in the restored Schneider Brothers Building in downtown Austin – Lamberts offers a slightly luxurious spin on classic barbecue. That means pork ribs rubbed with fennel and coriander, or short ribs served with a scallion slaw. Even with the more high-end tweaks, Lamberts’ recipes don’t seem to forego good old fashioned quality.

3. Franklin Barbecue: No discussion of Austin barbecue would be complete without mentioning the bastion known as Franklin Barbecue. For anyone who has ever visited this Austin staple, a wait time in the neighborhood of three to four hours is not unheard of. Plus, the restaurant only stays open until it runs out of meat, which often results in doors closing around noon. Yet despite these circumstances, Franklin’s has become a must-visit barbecue spot, with people happily waiting some of the most tender and succulent meat this side of the Mississippi River. Just bring a chair while you wait.

4. Stiles Switch: Though its only been open for a decade or so, Stiles Switch has quite the connections to local history. Named after the famous I. & G. N. railroad stop of the 1800s, the restaurant is a cornerstone of the 1950s art deco Violet Crown Shopping Center. Plus, the restaurants’ lease space is featured in the 1993 film “Dazed and Confused”. The staff at Stiles Switch readily embraces its rich heritage, slow-cooking all of its meat – with specialties including pork loin, brisket and beef chuck ribs. Just bring your apptetitie, because Stiles Switch sells most of its meat by the half pound.

5. Stubb’s BBQ: Stubb’s was first opened in Lubbock, Texas in 1968 by chef and namesake Christopher B. Stubblefield. Over the course of the next 30-plus years, Stubblefield helped to redefine barbecue in the Lubbock area, offering slow-cooked meats while playing host to musical legends like Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Muddy Waters. Though Stubb’s has since made the move to Austin proper, the same formula applies. Stubb’s play hosts to a number of popular music acts each week, all while continuing to deliver genuine barbecue staples, from pulled pork sandwiches and pork spare ribs to Angus beef brisket and chopped beef.

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