Austin has the greatest concentration of truly excellent barbecue of any city in the world. The <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">78702 zip code</a> alone features enough stellar barbecue—Franklin Barbecue, la Barbecue, Micklethwait Craft Meats, Sam's BBQ, and Kerlin BBQ—to make most other cities in Texas blush. Of course, there's plenty of other great barbecue in the city as well, but sometimes it's hard to navigate when and where to visit, or what to expect when you get there. If you're traveling to Austin during SXSW (or really, any time), this guide to the city's best barbecue will help be a cheat sheet to being sure you have the best possible barbecue and the best possible experience eating it. And don't forget that within about an hour's drive you can also reach the barbecue destinations of Taylor, Elgin, Lockhart, Luling, Llano, and Lexington (refer to our list of Texas's <a href="">Top 50 BBQ Joints</a> for some leads). No car? No time? No worries. There's more than enough to eat without ever leaving the city limits. <h3 style="font-size: 18px;font-family: 'Verlag A', 'Verlag B', sans-serif;letter-spacing: 1px"><strong>FROM THE 2017 <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">TOP 50 BBQ LIST</a>:</strong></h3> These are some of the best joints in the state, so be prepared for a bit of a wait. Barbecue lines in Austin have become somewhat of a sport. Some spots even have chairs for rent, while others provide free beer to those patiently waiting. You'll need to allow some extra time to visit these joints, but they are worth the wait. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Franklin Barbecue</a></strong> (#2 in Texas) - Nobody waits longer for barbecue than a Franklin Barbecue customer. Lines have been known to stretch for four hours. The line starts forming here around 7:00 a.m. and if you wait until 9:00, you might miss your shot at eating any barbecue. Once you get inside, the fears of sunburn can dissipate, but you'll get plenty of exposure before the doors open at 11:00. Your reward of fatty brisket on butcher paper will make it all seem worth it. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">La Barbecue</a></strong> - You'll probably wait more than an hour at the prime times here. Get in line early for beef ribs and hot guts that can sell out quickly. It's hard to find a better brisket in Texas too. The barbecue counter is set up inside the Quickie Pickie convenience store, so once you've made your way past the barbecue line, you'll find a huge selection of beverages. There’s also plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Micklethwait Craft Meats</a></strong> (#8 in Texas) - Not too long ago, the fans of this joint used to laugh at customers who stood in line elsewhere. Now Micklethwait's is the cool kid on Austin's East Side, and the popularity is only going up. Homemade sides and desserts will go along great with Tom Micklethwait's creative array of sausages. Prepare to enjoy your meal outside as well if you want to use one of the picnic tables on site. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Stiles Switch Brew & BBQ</a></strong> - Beef ribs, homemade sausage, and incredible fatty brisket make this a great spot to eat barbecue. The big screens, great desserts, and good local beers on tap will make you want to linger. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Terry Black's Barbecue</a> </strong>- Unlike most of the great barbecue in the city, this one is on the south side. The beef ribs and brisket are hard to beat, and a big bonus is that it's open daily for lunch and dinner. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ</strong></a> - The homemade tortillas are so good that it's hard to not order the tacos here, but the smoked brisket, beef ribs, and pulled pork are pretty incredible on their own. There are sandwiches too, but who needs a bun when those tortillas are an option? Open for breakfast everyday, but closed all day Tuesday. <img alt="" class="wp-image-533765 size-full" height="960" src="" width="1280" /> Platter from La Barbecue. <h3 style="font-size: 18px;font-family: 'Verlag A', 'Verlag B', sans-serif;letter-spacing: 1px"><strong>FROM THE 2019 <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">BEST NEW BBQ LIST</a>:</strong></h3> <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Brotherton's Black Iron BBQ</a></strong> - It started as a sandwich shop, so concoctions like the pastrami Reuben and brisket banh mi are great, but so is the rest of the barbecue menu. <a href=""><strong>LeRoy & Lewis Barbecue</strong></a> - Evan LeRoy left Freedmen's Bar in search of his own place, so he teamed up with Sawyer Lewis for a barbecue food truck that advertises new-school smoked meats. That means whole hog and barbecue hash or tender smoked beef cheeks topped with smoked beet barbecue sauce on a rotating menu. Stop in on Saturday or Sunday for the smoked brisket. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Loro</a></strong> - Described as an Asian smokehouse, the menu here is based on smoked meats treated with Asian-influenced sauces. Smoked bavette steak is a favorite, and you'll have to wait until 5 p.m. for the smoked, sliced brisket. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Switch</a></strong> - It's almost out to Dripping Springs, so think of this as the southwest location of Stiles Switch, but with a Cajun flare. Try the smoked brisket gumbo and the house-made sausages. <h3 style="font-family: 'Verlag A', 'Verlag B', sans-serif;letter-spacing: 1px;font-size: 18px"><strong>GREAT BBQ WITH SHORTER LINES:</strong></h3> You can get in and out of these places where lines aren't a big problem. It's not that the barbecue's bad, but not all of these are quite as popular as some of the more familiar names. It's good barbecue without the wait. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Alzer's Barbeque</a></strong> - Smoked lamb chops, quail, and Cornish hen aren't the average Austin barbecue menu items. At this halal-friendly joint, they do the unique cuts and the basics well. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Banger's</a></strong> - Known more for beer and sausage, Banger's has added on a smokehouse dedicated to the art of whole hog barbecue. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Brown's BBQ</strong></a> - Come to this gem of a barbecue trailer for great smoked chicken, brisket, and shoulder clod. The smoked cabbage is also one of Texas's best barbecue sides. Brown's is parked in front of Corner Bar on South Lamar, and it's worth seeking out. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Interstellar BBQ</a></strong> - The barbecue is great at this former location of Noble Sandwich Co., as are the homemade sausages. Beyond that, the star might just be the smoked scalloped potatoes. <strong><a href="">Iron Works BBQ</a></strong> - More out-of-towners are probably introduced to Texas barbecue here than any of the bigger names. It's a close walk from downtown and right next to the Convention Center. Thankfully, it also serves great baby backs and big beef ribs. The sliced brisket is better than average, and so is the peach cobbler. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Kerlin BBQ</strong></a> - Even if you're here for smoked meat kolaches, stick around for the great barbecue. The word is out that the brisket is worth waiting for, and the pork ribs are some of the best in the state. Don't miss the smoked corn. <strong><a href="">Schmidt Family Barbecue</a></strong> - So, it's technically in Bee Cave, but it's close enough. This is barbecue that hails from Lockhart but has an Austin feel. The brisket, spare ribs, and chicken are all good bets, and remember to add a ring of the Kreuz sausage as well. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Whitfield's</a></strong> - This trailer closed for a few months in early 2019, but it's back with the same menu of juicy brisket, tender ribs, and vast array of pickles that made it notable to start with. <img alt="Interstellar BBQ" class="wp-image-597012 size-full" height="866" src="" width="1385" /> Most of the menu at Interstellar BBQ. <h3 style="font-family: 'Verlag A', 'Verlag B', sans-serif;letter-spacing: 1px;font-size: 18px"><strong>OPEN ON MONDAY:</strong></h3> Your options start to dry up at the start of the week with many of the popular names taking the day off. Here are some that help make Mondays bearable. <a href=""><strong>Cooper's BBQ</strong></a> - The newest addition to the downtown Austin barbecue options is a transplant from the Hill Country. They have the same giant pork chops as the original in Llano. Try the beef and pork ribs too, and don't forget the blackberry cobbler. <a href=""><strong>Green Mesquite</strong></a> - See below. <a href=""><strong>House Park Bar-B-Que</strong></a> - It's Austin's oldest barbecue joint, and the original brick pit is still in use. Stop in Monday-Friday for lunch only and grab a brisket sandwich. <strong><a href="">Iron Works BBQ</a></strong> - See above. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Lambert's Downtown Barbecue</a></strong> - There's much more to the menu here than barbecue, but the coffee-rubbed brisket and crispy wild boar ribs will keep you from straying. You may need reservations for a group, but a spot at the bar will usually open up if dining alone. Don't leave without trying the banana pudding. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Rudy's Country Store & Bar-B-Q</a></strong> - For a statewide barbecue chain, it's admirably consistent across Texas. The smoked meats won't rival Franklin, but you probably won't leave hungry either. With so few options on Monday, it's hard to go wrong here with smoked turkey and creamed corn. The fatty brisket can also be a stunner at times. <a href=""><strong>Scotty's BBQ</strong></a> - This food truck on the East Side serves up great pecan-smoked ribs and plenty of other smoked meats every night. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Loro</a></strong> - See above. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Kemuri Tatsu-Ya</strong></a> - If there's a fatty brisket of the sea, it's Kemuri's smoked fish collar, a welcome addition to the Texas barbecue pantheon. The restaurant offers plenty of other great smoked items as well, including the slices of brisket that bolster the bowls of ramen. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">SLAB BBQ</a></strong> - Stop in for the famous McDowell's sandwich with boneless ribs and Soul-Glo sauce. Do yourself a favor and order a banana pudding too. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Terry Black's Barbecue</a> </strong>- See above. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ</strong></a> - See above. <a href=""><strong>Vic's BBQ</strong></a> - They're open early if you want some smoked brisket on a breakfast taco. Go for the ribs and smoked turkey if you stick around for lunch. <img alt="" class="wp-image-533766 size-full" height="705" src="" width="938" /> Beef rib from Valentina's. <h3 style="font-family: 'Verlag A', 'Verlag B', sans-serif;letter-spacing: 1px;font-size: 18px"><strong>LATE NIGHT SMOKING:</strong></h3> Texas barbecue is traditionally a lunch time food, but you can get your fix after the sun goes down at these spots. <a href=""><strong>The Green Mesquite</strong></a> - They serve their incredible smoked and fried chicken wings until 10:00 every night. Get them with a side of the hand cut fries and a slice of pecan pie. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Sam's BBQ</strong></a> - On Friday and Saturday night you can get mutton ribs until 1:00 in the morning. You're better off getting the brisket chopped and sauced rather than sliced. Expect the sausage to be spicy. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">SLAB BBQ</a></strong> - See above. Open until 9 every day but Sunday. <strong><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Terry Black's Barbecue</a> </strong>- See above. Open until 8:30 every night. <h3 style="font-family: 'Verlag A', 'Verlag B', sans-serif;letter-spacing: 1px;font-size: 18px"><strong>AUSTIN BBQ MAP:</strong></h3>
<p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="media-image attr__typeof__foaf:Image img__fid__33079 img__view_mode__default attr__format__default attr__field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]__ attr__field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]__" src="" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e53313f6-242a-45e6-f8d5-e7728ae47802">Bacteria found on a single production line in Blue Bell’s Brenham creamery has been linked to five illnesses, resulting in three deaths, that have occurred over the past year in a Kansas hospital. As a result, Blue Bell issued the first recall in the company’s 108-year history </span><a href="" target="_blank">on Saturday</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e53313f6-242a-45e6-f8d5-e7728ae47802">The bacteria that was found on the production line in Brenham is called </span><em>Listeria monocytogene,</em> which is usually transmitted through contaminated food, especially dairy products. The illness it causes is called listeriosis, which developed in the five patients. The Blue Bell outbreak is the first one of 2015.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e53313f6-242a-45e6-f8d5-e7728ae47802">The five reported cases of listeriosis all occurred in a single hospital, </span><a href="" target="_blank">Via Christi, in Wichita, Kansas</a>, and all of the infected patients were older adults, a group at higher risk of severe listeriosis complications. Each of the affected patients was already in the hospital for unrelated issues, and symptoms of the bacterial infection started developing between January 2014 and January 2015, according to <a href="" target="_blank">a report by the Centers for Disease Control</a>.</p> <!--break--> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e53313f6-242a-45e6-f8d5-e7728ae47802">The timing of the five cases and the investigation of Blue Bell’s Brenham facility by the Texas Department of State Health Services is a bit confusing. The illnesses in Kansas have recently been linked to contaminated Blue Bell products, but since they occurred over a year’s time, they didn’t immediately raise enough concern for the FDA to launch an investigation. </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e53313f6-242a-45e6-f8d5-e7728ae47802">It was the discovery of listeria bacteria in </span><a href="" target="_blank">Blue Bell products being held in a South Carolina distribution center</a> on February 12, during a routine check, that prompted the investigation of the production line in Brenham and the eventual recall.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e53313f6-242a-45e6-f8d5-e7728ae47802">A strain of Listeria bacteria was found in two Blue Bell products being held in the South Carolina distribution center during the routine sampling</span><span>—Chocolate Chip Country Cookie Sandwiches and Great Divide Bars. A very similar strain of the bacteria is what led to the illness in the Kansas patients, four of whom had consumed hospital-prepared milkshakes made with Scoops, a Blue Bell ice cream product.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e53313f6-242a-45e6-f8d5-e7728ae47802">Those three products are all made on a single production line in Blue Bell’s facility in Brenham. </span><a href="" target="_blank">In an interview with the <em>Houston Chronicle</em></a>, Paul Kruse, Blue Bell’s CEO, said the production line wasn’t in use on February 12, when the contaminated products were found in South Carolina, and isn’t in use today.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e53313f6-242a-45e6-f8d5-e7728ae47802">“It’s a complicated piece of machinery, it’s been down for about a month and a half, and what we’re likely going to do with it is throw it out the window, so to speak,” Kruse said in </span><a href="" target="_blank">an interview with the <em>Wichita Eagle</em></a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e53313f6-242a-45e6-f8d5-e7728ae47802">Kruse also said all of the products made on that production line were sent to hospitals and distribution centers, not to grocery stores, and have since been recovered.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Even though Blue Bell says the contaminated products have all been reclaimed, the CDC warns that more cases of listeriosis linked to the Brenham production line could arise, since symptoms take anywhere from three to seventy days to show up. </span></p> <p dir="ltr">In healthy patients—if caught early<span style="line-height: 18.9090900421143px;">—l</span>isteriosis is treatable with antibiotics. One of the largest outbreaks of the infections <a href="" target="_blank">occurred in 2011</a> and resulted in 33 deaths, all of which were traced back to cantaloupes from a single farm in Colorado.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e53313f6-2434-3f1f-5d16-9483aafcc88b">No legal action has been taken against Blue Bell yet, but Fred Pritzker, a food safety lawyer who has worked with listeria lawsuits in the past, </span><a href="" target="_blank">told the Food Poisoning Bulletin</a> that the production problems “will be heavily scrutinized by plaintiffs’ attorneys.”</p> <blockquote> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e53313f6-2434-3f1f-5d16-9483aafcc88b">“We’ll want to know exactly what was happening with the machinery and what precautions the company took to protect consumers from contamination,” Pritzker said. “How bad was it and what did the company know?”</span></p> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e53313f6-2434-3f1f-5d16-9483aafcc88b">A full list of the recalled products is available through </span><a href="" target="_blank">Blue Bell’s website</a>.</p>

On Sunday, Texas Monthly threw its third annual BBQ Festival, in Austin, on the open air terrace of the Long Center. Twenty-one barbecue joints handed our samples to an estimated crowd of 3000, who listened to live music, swigged beer and other adult beverages, bought T-shirts,  got tips from the “barbecue genius” booth manned by Texas A&M, and ate till they were bug-eyed.  The participating pits had been featured in our 2008 story on the fifty best barbecue joints in Texas, plus there were two newcomers of the year representing places that opened after 2008. The heat, in the nineties, drove many fans inside the Long Center for some air-conditioning, which is where we found most of these folks below. Daniel Delaney, Brooklyn, mastermind of the Brisketlab project, a series of brisket-by-the-pound pop-up restaurants in New York. “We missed all the meat! We came up here to the VIP Lounge and started talking, then the floodgates opened for the general admission crowd, and that was that.” [Delaney, below right] Daniel Vaughn, the “Barbecue Snob,” and Texas Monthly barbecue blogger, Dallas. “The biggest surprise of the day was Stanley’s brisket. Nick [Pencis, owner] said he was going to do a salt-and-pepper-seasoned brisket and it is really great. I could gush about Pecan Lodge, too. And the line to get Franklin’s was longer here than at the restaurant.” [Vaughn, above left] Max and Andrea Castillo, Houston. Max: “We ran from place to place getting samples without stopping to eat them. When we sat down, we couldn’t remember which was which! I saw one guy with a Sharpie and Ziploc bags, labeling them. Smart.” Andrea: “We should sell bibs!” Matt Diffee, cartoonist for the New Yorker and Texas Monthly’s “critter page.” “I tried to talk Jake [Silverstein, editor of Texas Monthly] into letting me do portraits of the pitmasters on butcher paper using a piece of fatty brisket instead of a pencil, but he just said, ‘How’s that critter page coming?’” Doug Wallace, defense contractor, Fort Worth. “I got to all 21 booths—the first 12 I ate the whole sample. After that I just tasted it. I use the Texas Monthly barbecue app, and today I rose from number 13 to 8 on the leaderboard rankings of who’s visited the most barbecue joints. Back in 1997, my dad had a heart attack [and we knew his time was limited]. He and I started visiting barbecue joints every Saturday. We’d leave at 8 and get back at 5 or so. It was all about the drive and the visit.” Jo Ann, Chris, and Isabella Bjornson. JoAnn: “Chris made all 21 tents at the festival today—he is a connoisseur. Brisket was one of the first meats our daughter Isabella ever ate. She’s been tasting it all today. I’m from Virginia so I was only familiar with pork. After I tried barbecued beef, I told Chris it was a religious experience.” Chris: “I’ll be in a meat coma by the end of the festival.” [JoAnn and Isabella pictured] Esaul Ramos and Kristen Toscano, San Antonio. “This is our first TM BBQ Festival. We saved up all our money to spend on food and then we found out the samples were free! We love it. We’ve had everything.” Ginger, Jason, and Addison Bolen, just moved to Austin from Texas City. “We kept the hand fan from the Texas Monthly festival last year and our four-year-old daughter Addison uses it as a menu in her play kitchen now. She calls it her ‘barbysauce.’ Actually, that means both a menu and sauce.” Cole Newman, 15 years old, Austin. “The festival is pretty good, but there aren’t enough people. I expected it to be in a park, with grass and trees, like on Town Lake. So far Big Daddy’s ribs are my favorite, but I haven’t gotten into the brisket yet.” The White Family: Inman White, community behavioral health administrator, Longview, with Banks White, son and chef in Berkeley, Breia White, daughter and film editor in Los Angeles, Kathy White, sister and schoolteacher in Nashville, and Frances White, mother and retired school teacher in Palestine. Inman: “We are a barbecue family. I was born in Luling and I guess I’m just steeped in it. We know that at Thanksgiving we will be scattered all around the country, so we decided to get together here. This is our second barbecue Thanksgiving at the festival, and you can count on us next year.” Davey Griffin, Professor of Meat Science, Texas A&M University, College Station. “We had a guy from New York last year who asked us, ‘Can I do barbecue up there where it’s so cold?’ He was using a small home smoker. We told him sure, it was a matter of keeping the temperature consistent, no big swings. He came and found us this year and said it worked! The most common error in cooking brisket is inconsistent temperature, followed by having the temperature too hot—lack of patience.” Adrienne Newman, aka “Madame Cocoa,” craft chocolate maven, Austin. Question: Barbecue or chocolate? Answer: [long pause] Chocolate. Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue, Austin, and Harold E. “Buzzie” Hughes, Buzzie’s, Kerrville. Franklin: If Texas Monthly throws a dinner to honor the pitmasters, we want a salad bar. Hughes: With some shrimp. Or maybe have a fish fry. Franklin: Just don’t make us have barbecue.” Diane and Justin Fourton, with son Henry, owners of Pecan Lodge barbecue, Newcomer of the Year for the 2012 Texas Monthly BBQ Festival. Diane: “It’s a little surreal that we’re here at all. At one point, we were within two days of closing. We had had to stop cooking barbecue at Pecan Lodge [until they satisfied a city of Dallas regulation] and our business had dried up. We took all the money we had in the bank and bought meat and our customers came back. Then the Food Network called, and Southern Living called. When you guys called and asked us to be the Newcomer at this year’s festival, we just about freaked out.” Justin: “We used to wait for the Texas Monthly barbecue issue to come out. The pitmasters who were in the top fifty had been around for years. To be part of that group—we never imagined it could happen.”