8 Places You Need to Try On a Texas BBQ Road Trip
Head to these must-try spots for the ultimate Texas barbecue tour.
In Texas, barbecue is in a category all its own, and for good reason. The craft — cooking, smoking, grilling and all of the other careful steps which coincide — is one that requires great effort, patience, fine ingredients and a lot of heart. From region to region of the great state, utmost care goes into choosing the wood and meat for smoking. And the preparation, many times an all-night process, is conducted with grace by a trusty pit master, watching and guarding. Famed locales have earned the notoriety for their craft, which is often garnered from generations of learning, passed down family recipes and just plain honest-to-goodness talent. Go forth and seek them out. With a plethora of noteworthy options spanning from the panhandle to the coast, a Texas barbecue road trip should be on your foodie bucket list.
900 E. 11th St.
Austin, TX 78702
What began as a labor of love between Aaron and Stacy Franklin is now a central Texas barbecue phenomenon. Since 2009, Franklin Barbecue in Austin has reeled in the crowds with its famed brisket, spiced with a salt and pepper rub and cooked for 16 hours, resulting in a perfectly moist and smoky bark — sometimes referred to as "black gold" — and bold, oaky flavor. Picture perfect slices are complimented with tart pickles, white bread and sides like pinto beans and potato salad. Bourbon banana, pecan and key lime pies are worth saving room for, and best enjoyed a la mode, featuring ice-cream from LICK, an Austin-based creamery.
2702 Main St.
Dallas, TX 75226
Helmed by husband-and-wife team Justin and Diane Fourton, Pecan Lodge is proof that there is life after leaving a corporate job. The two gave up the hustle and bustle and quickly gained notoriety for thoughtfully prepared barbecue cooked on hickory and oak, including their famed brisket and one-pound beef ribs. Pork is also well-favored, notably the pulled pork, made aromatic with a Carolina-style vinegar sauce resulting in a savory melt-in-your-mouth moment. Sausage is made in-house, and the "Hot Mess" is a worthy side, built with a jumbo sea salt-crusted sweet potato topped with South Texas barbacoa, chipotle cream, cheese and butter.
26608 Keith St.
Spring, TX 77373
Owned and operated by Will and Nichole Buckman, Corkscrew BBQ was born from a successful catering gig at Will’s corporate job, which then resulted in catering gig after catering gig around town. A decade later, its brick-and-mortar in Spring, Corkscrew is known today for its top-notch smoked meats cooked on red oak, namely the brisket which packs a peppery bite. Sides are aplenty but the potato salad is a house favorite, and in true Texas fashion, barbecue sandwiches, potatoes and more can be topped with house-made queso.
Blood Bros. BBQ
5425 Bellaire Blvd.
Bellaire, TX 77401
Like its name suggests, Blood Bros. BBQ is run by brothers Robin and Terry Wong and childhood friend and pit-master, Quy Hoang. The trio have earned a solid reputation among the Texas barbecue community, offering brisket, sausage and ribs — sourced locally from 44 Farms and Black Hill Meats — at their casual Bellaire joint, while also garnering inspiration for dishes like brisket fried rice, sticky Korean ribs and pork belly bao from their years growing up near Houston’s famed Chinatown. Visitors soon become regulars, in an effort to sample all of the innovative Asian barbecue plates created by these three imaginative culinary minds.
516 Main St.
Lexington, TX 78947
Foodies and fans of knee-buckling barbecue flock to the small town of Lexington — population 1,000 — for a taste of Snow’s BBQ and to bare witness to the legendary Tootsie Tomanetz, female pit master extraordinaire. Choose between traditional or jalapeño sausage (both are handmade with care), and from pit to plate, the brisket remains luscious and tender, leaving only the need for classic sides like beans, coleslaw and potato salad. Despite its all-star status in Texas, the modest barbecue destination makes its bounty available only on Saturdays.
215 N. Main St.
Lockhart, TX 78644
An iconic Lockhart destination, Black’s Barbecue is one of the oldest barbecue restaurants in the state helmed by four generations of the Edgar Black family since 1932. Rooted in family tradition, meats are cooked low and slow on local post oak by third-generation pit master Kent Black, while second-generation pit master Norma Jean — a 70-plus year veteran at Black’s — is to thank for hard-to-resist pinto beans and homemade barbecue sauce. Try the giant beef ribs, almost 10 inches long with mouthful after mouthful of tender meat and a nice, crusted bark.
Evie Mae’s BBQ
Wolfforth, TX 79382
This panhandle favorite has garnered a loyal following since its humble beginnings using a trailer parked in an empty parking lot as a storefront. Now, with a permanent space down the road, the family-owned Evie Mae’s BBQ provides diners with plenty of tasty opportunities as they make their way through the crowded, albeit fast-moving, cafeteria-style line. Neatly sliced strips of brisket, moisture-laden and with pops of deep ruby color, are succulent on their own, but if you can’t get enough, there is the brisket chili, presented with a generous sprinkling of cheese and fiery red peppers. Spice is a common thread here, as sides also include jalapeno corn bread and green chile grits.
Louie Mueller Barbecue
206 W. 2nd St.
Taylor, TX 76574
What was built by Louie Mueller in 1949 is now under the direction of his grandson, third-generation pit master, Wayne Mueller, and continues to serve as a stop worth making in the small town of Taylor. Dino-sized beef ribs are every bit as hearty as they appear, the brisket boasts a simple but stupendous rub resulting in a crisp and satisfying bite, and homemade desserts like peach cobbler baked to golden perfection assist in completing a well-rounded meal. As if visiting for its no-nonsense menu and pure barbecue lineage isn’t enough, Louie Mueller Barbecue was awarded the "American Classics" award by the James Beard Foundation, one of the first barbecue names to receive such an honor.