Last Updated: 28-March-2022
Having lived in Central Texas (North Austin and now Georgetown) for over 20 years, I have enjoyed quite a few smoked meats and all the fixin's; Texas style. This post is likely to be a living document of places that I have been, places I want to go, and elsewhere, perhaps a post of lament remembering some places and experienes that are no longer operating.
Now that we live in Georgetown, TX, and meeting many people that are new to Texas, I get asked "Tell me more about the BBQ!"
But first, a moment for John
Texas, and specifically, Texas BBQ, lost one of its greatest cooks last month. John Mueller passed away far too early, at age 52, in December 2021. Some great tributes in reply, here, and a little bit of history, here.
I wish I had more time to get to know John, but in the time that I did share with him he always showed me a kind heart. I frequented primarily his South 1st St/Elizabeth Ave location in Austin as a regular attender, then visting him when he was in Shiner, then West 6th St back in Austin, then Granger, and finally the last time I saw John was at The Granary in Jarrell, TX.
My wife jokes with me that I've never met a bbq joint that I haven't tried, and usually liked. I tell her that the good ones are worth driving for. We've made some road trips. For her, its about the brisket, or chicken or turkey if it keeps its moisture, and sides that aren't too carb-loaded (good luck). For me, I'll try it all, although I have to admit that my favorite if I 'make room for it' is the Texas Trinity; brisket, ribs and sausage and some peach cobbler al-la-mode.
The only order I have in mind for this list is in distance from the North side of Georgetown, TX.
Within an hour's drive:
- The Granary in Jarrell, TX. Google Maps Link - This was John Mueller's last BBQ cooking in Central Texas before he moved up to Hutchin's BBQ in McKinney, TX. Like everywhere John has been, he's left a great legacy. Give it a try. You'll like it.
- Louie Mueller Barbeque in Taylor, TX Google Maps Link - It's a crime that I haven't been to where the Mueller BBQ story started, and its just down the road. Gotta go...
- Miller's Smokehouse in Belton, TX Google Maps Link - Went there for the brisket and I'll be back to try out everything else. One block from the square. Open at 7:30 each day for breakfast and at 11am for BBQ. Baked goods, coffee, and beer on tap.
- Stiles Switch BBQ - Cedar Park in Cedar Park, TX. Google Maps Link - Third of the Stiles Switch establishments. Check out their specials, and follow them on Instagram.
- S.L.A.B. BBQ in Cedar Park Google Maps Link - Slow. Low. And. Bangin'. Mainly pork, and their sliders and sauces are the main attraction for me.
- Stiles Switch BBQ - North Lamar in North Austin, TX (just south of 183 on North Lamar Blvd.). Google Maps Link - This is the original location for Stiles Switch BBQ. "They do it right", was what John Mueller told me when I asked about them. That's all I needed to know. You'll enjoy it.
- County Line on the Hill in Austin Google Maps Link - County Line is not at the top of my list for BBQ, but it's near the top for memories shared with friends and family. The meat is usually a little dry to my expectations, but their bread is scrumptious and I enjoy the back deck at this location on a lazy Sunday afternoon. See Also: County Line on the Lake - ok, it's more like a river in Austin, not far from "The Hill" location. Google Maps Link. Same menu, as I recall. Different view.
- Franklin BBQ in downtown Austin, TX Google Maps Link - Literally as seen on TV. Great BBQ, and a line to beat all. If you're not in line by 8am, you're going to risk them running out of meat by the time you get to the door at 1pm. Go once to say you've been there, and then keep going back to Stiles Switch. That's what I do. :)
- Micklethwait Craft Meats BBQ & Catering Austin in Central Austin Google Maps Link - In my opinion, if you want to go downtown Austin for some BBQ, this is Franklin's without the hubabaloo. It's a trailer, with some tables, and some GREAT BBQ.
- Terry Black's Barbecue in downtown Austin Google Maps Link - Another great BBQ joint with a great straight-forward Texas BBQ atmosphere.
- la Barbeque downtown Austin, TX Google Maps Link - another place influenced by John Mueller. Launched independently and owned by his sister, paying respects to their father, Bobby Mueller. I haven't been here yet, but I gotta go someday soon.
Just outside an hour's drive
- Opie's BBQ in Spicewood, TX Google Maps Link - I've never been, but I have heard good things.
- Snow's BBQ in Lexington, TX Google Maps Link - Voted Best in Texas by TexasMonthly and featured in the Netflix's 2020 mini-series "Chef's Table BBQ". I haven't been there, but I need to go.
- Black's Barbecue Lockhart in Lockhart, TX Google Maps Link - this is the Original. I've always enjoyed this one, and the trip down to Lockhart and the square, as well. They have opened stores in Austin, New Braunfels, and San Marcos.
- Coopers Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano, TX Google Maps Link - Another classic no-fuss BBQ experience. Good destination during Bluebonnet season. This was my first Texas BBQ and it was nothing like I'd ever experienced. It was good, for sure.
- The Switch BBQ on the border of Dripping Springs and Austin, TX Google Maps Link - a fancier version of the other "Stiles Switch" properties with a decent-sized bar.
- The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, TX Google Maps Link - This is the original Salt Lick BBQ, and is consistent in their fare and has a great location and atmosphere. I just can't say that their BBQ is GREAT. It just doesn't measure up to the hype. (they have on in Round Rock, but I didn't bother to list that one, either.)
Down the road a piece
This list will be about places that I've enjoyed in the DFW Metroplex, Houston, and parts a bit further down the road from Georgetown.
- Heim Barbecue Ft. Worth in Ft. Worth Google Maps Link - I've enjoyed every visit here, probably because I went here a few times on the way up or back from work trips to the DFW area and made a point to visit here.
- Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell, TX (just north of DFW airport) Google Maps Link - Was on a job site and asked around; "just go to Hard Eight". Yes, indeed.
I'm not a BBQ snob. I was told early in my BBQ-eatin' days by some who are BBQ snobs, that this next place is 'bad'. It's not. In fact, if you need a BBQ fix this place is just plain reliable. Don't expect greatness, but you can surely expect goodness, and they also make a solid breakfast taco.
- Rudy's Country Store and BBQ in Round Rock multiple locations Google Maps Link to Round Rock store - My second BBQ in Texas, 20 years ago, was at Rudy's on Hwy 183. Their BBQ is not outstanding, but it's not bad, either. Their staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and when they ask "Have you been to Rudy's before?" you will be treated well. Get the moist brisket, the sausage is good, and the ribs are tasty, too. If you're in there before about 9:30am, enjoy the breakfast tacos. I could go on... However, I feel sad about the Waco Rudy's location; just sub-par performance all the way around.
What this list is and what it is not
Although I may make a few notes on what I enjoyed at each spot our would like to try, I'm not going to write any kind of formal review of each place and their food. Nobody wants to read all of that on a "list" post; perhaps some other dedicated posts will follow.
I'll update this list as much as possible, and probably break it up into < an hour drive, and < 2 hour drive, and < 4 hour drive (one way).
- TexasMonthly.com - I will likely never get in to an argument with these folks on the topic of BBQ, so let's start there as a place to do some research on the Best in Texas.
- Texas Monthly's Golden Age of BBQ - a statewide list of their top 10 BBQ joints in Texas. I've been to a few of these, and I'd add a few more.
- TexasMonthly Top Fifty - 2021 List - a gold mine; updated annually. 2017 List, 2003 List.
January 5, 2022 - editorial and added La Barbecue, Louie Mueller Barbeque, and County Line
March 28, 2022 - added Miller's Smokehouse