If fatty, buttery brisket, burnt bacon ends, glistening pork chops, and sticky, tender ribs sound like your idea of food heaven, you'll find plenty of places to tantalize your tastebuds in Texas. From Amarillo to Galveston, El Paso to Houston, the state is teeming with barbeque joints dishing up a meat lover's dream. If you're ready to indulge in some of the best Texas BBQ you'll ever eat, here are 20 must-visit places to check out.
20. 4-T’s Bar-B-Q, Forney
In 2003, Mike Thomas quit his job in telecommunications and opened up a roadside brisket stand. Since then, he's moved into a restaurant of his own, keeping the BBQ lovers of Forney happy with his simple salt and pepper rubs, eighteen-hour brisket, and glistening pork ribs. Don't miss trying a slice of the gooey chocolate pecan pie made by Thomas’s wife, Cyndi, for dessert.
19. Bone Daddy’s, Lubbock
If slow-smoked meats, scrumptious side dishes, ice-cold beer, and handcrafted cocktails float your boat, don't miss a visit to Bone Daddy’s, a Lubbock favorite known for its friendly staff, authentic Texas BBQ, and friendly atmosphere. If you can't make it to Lubbock, you'll also find outlets in Plano, Austin, Dallas, Arlington, Grapevine, Willowbrook, and Webster.
18. La Barbecue, Austin
In 2012, LeAnn Mueller and Ali Clem opened La Barbecue - ten years later, it's widely considered to be one of Austin's hottest barbeque joints. Hungry customers line up out the door for a taste of their chipotle sausage and tender pork ribs. Neither the fatty, buttery brisket nor monster beef ribs disappoint either. If you want to skip the line, order five days ahead on the website.
17. Ray’s BBQ Shack, Houston
Described by theculturetrip.com as ‘smokin’ good with a whole lotta soul,’ Ray’s BBQ Shack in Houston knows the value of big flavors, big portions, and a big selection, serving up a huge array of everything from Chicago-style ribs to Louisiana-style hush puppies, baby back ribs to Cajun catfish. Along with the selection of smoked meats, there's also a huge variety of sandwiches, burgers, sides, and homemade desserts to fill your plate with.
16. Texas Pride Mesquite Smoked Barbecue, Adkins
If you're craving some good ole' fashioned barbecue, don't miss Texas Pride Mesquite Smoked Barbecue in Adkins. Combining a lively vibe with live country music and a family-friendly atmosphere, this homey restaurant does a mean mesquite-smoked brisket, wickedly tender ribs, and enough sandwiches, tacos, baked potatoes and wraps to keep even the hungriest diner happy. The customer service is as exceptional as the food... just be prepared to save some room for a generous serving of peach cobbler to round off your meal.
15. Luling City Market, Houston
For over 40 years, Houston's Luling City Market has been keeping hordes of BBQ lovers happy with its hearty portions of authentic Texan barbecue. Open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 7 p.m, it's a busy, friendly spot with a standout collection of mains (including post oak wood smoked brisket, ribs, chicken and home-made sausage links), a tasty collection of sides (don't miss the pinto beans, potato salad and coleslaw), and a tempting selection of sweet treats like mini pecan pies and Texas-sized brownies. Be sure to pick up a bottle of the housemade Bar-B-Que Sauce to bring away as a souvenir.
14. Tyler’s Barbeque, Amarillo
As texasmonthly.com says, Tyler Frazer is at the heart of the operation at Tyler’s Barbeque, meeting and greeting the customers and making recommendations. Clearly, the approach works, as in the ten years since it opened, Tyler’s has become one of the most popular BBQ restaurants for miles around. Key highlights on the menu include the black-peppercorn sausage and the mesquite enhanced pork ribs. Pop by on a Thursday to enjoy some flavor-packed green-chile mac and cheese.
13. Franklin Barbecue, Austin
Back in the 2000s, smoke master Aaron Franklin became one of the biggest stars on the Texas food scene, winning James Beard Awards, kickstarting an Austin food and music festival, writing two cookbooks, and drawing rave reviews for his glossy pork ribs, sweet pulled pork, and tantalizing sides. These days, he's taken a step back from the cooking side of operations, but Franklin Barbecue is still as big a crowd-pleaser as ever, serving up authentic, perfectly smoked meats, classic potato salad, tangy slaw, and a range of deserts that leave absolutely nothing to be desired.
12. Smolik’s Smokehouse, Mathis
Since 1989, Smolik’s Smokehouse has been keeping the BBQ lovers of Mathis happy using the same barbequing traditions the Smolik family have been using since they emigrated to Texas from the Czech Republic in the 1920s. The secret to their success lies in throwing a handful of beef fat into the fire to burn alongside the wood, a trick that imparts the flavor of direct-heat cooking into the meat while still using an indirect heat smoker. Don't miss the juicy pork spareribs and the succulent smoked chicken in particular.
11. Louie Mueller Barbecue, Taylor
The catering business is notoriously fickle, with many restaurants barely surviving a season before closing their doors for good. So, if a restaurant has been around for over 70 years, there's a good chance it knows exactly what it's doing. Louie Mueller Barbecue of Taylor was opened in 1949 by Louie Mueller. In the years since, it's become one of the most renowned barbecue joints in Texas, winning countless awards for its meaty offerings and even making an appearance on ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.’ Expect a menu teeming with classic, authentic BBQ options like beef brisket, jalapeno and chipotle beef sausage, baby back ribs, pork spare ribs, pork tenderloin, chopped beef, turkey, along with a tasty selection of sliced brisket, chicken breast, pork loin, pulled pork and double-sausage sandwiches and a tempting selection of desserts like hand-dipped ice cream and homemade peach cobbler.
10. Kreuz Market, Lockhart
Named as one of the best BBQ joints in Texas by Southern Living, this unpretentious, family-friendly haunt in Central Texas has customers queuing around the block for a taste of its beef brisket and shoulder clod. The secret to its success is simple - simplicity. Top-quality cuts of prime meat are rubbed with salt and pepper, smoked over post oak wood in the restaurant's century-old brick pits, then served. No complications, no fancy marinades - just tender, flavor-packed Texan BBQ exactly as it should be.
9. Schoepf’s Bar-B-Q, Belton
A Belton institution for the best part of two decades, Schoepf’s Bar-B-Q believe that variety is the spice of life, offering a heaving menu bristling with a huge selection of smoked meats (brisket, chicken, pork chops, pork ribs, pulled pork, sirloin, turkey breast, sausage, and even quail, along with baby back ribs and rib-eye steaks on Friday's and Saturdays) and an equally gut-busting variety of sides (cucumber salad, cheesy potatoes, potato salad and macaroni and cheese). Stop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner... if you're feeling particularly indulgent, make it all three.
8. Micklethwait Craft Meats, Austin
Austin is heaven for barbeque lovers, with enough trucks and restaurants serving up fatty brisket and monster ribs to keep even the most committed carnivore happy. Located just a few minutes from the legendary Franklin Barbecue is Micklethwait Craft Meats, a quirky little food truck surrounded by picnic tables with short lines (expect to wait no more than 15 - 30 minutes), friendly service, and a lip-smacking array of peppery, butter-soft brisket, tender pulled pork, glistening pork ribs, and melt-in-the-mouth beef rib. Be sure to heap your plate with plenty of sides (the creamy, mustardy potato salad and lemon poppy-seed slaw are to-die-for) and leave a little room for a slice of their superlative buttermilk pie.
7. Heim Barbecue, Dallas
In 2015, Travis and Emma Heim began operating Heim Barbecue out of a truck with almost zero capital and no prior experience of running a business. Within a year, they'd become successful enough to nab their own spot on West Magnolia, and are now looking into opening a second location. The reason for their success? The beef rib... that, and their bacon burnt ends, which are a close to heaven as $7 and a big appetite will get you.
6. Evie Mae’s Pit Barbeque, Wolfforth
If you're in the mood for some West Texas barbecue, set the sat nav for Wolfforth and join the line at Evie Mae’s Pit Barbeque. Owned and operated by Arnis and Mallory Robbin, two former landscapers who decided to swap mowing lawns for smoking meat, the restaurant does a bustling trade in fatty brisket (don't miss those scrummy burnt ends), subtly seasoned, perfectly smoked St. Louis–cut ribs, flavor-packed German smoked sausage, and a lip-smackingly good selection of sides like fresh green beans and green-chile cheese grits. Make sure to leave some room for dessert - the pecan pie, strawberry cake, and Texas sheet cake are all particularly noteworthy.
5. Miller's Smokehouse, Belton
As Only In Your State mentions, Miller's Smokehouse managed to go from a taxidermy shop to one of Texas' best barbeque joints in less than five years. Despite its overnight rise to fame, it's still a humble, down-home family-owned business with an unpretentious vibe, a simple menu, and unfailingly friendly service. The menu isn't fancy (expect a choice of brisket, ribs, sausage, pulled pork, turkey, and chicken, all sold by the pound, along with a selection of sandwiches and sides like corn chips, slaw, pickles, and onion), but the juicy, fall-off-the-bone meat and flavor-packed marinades will have you planning your next visit before you've finished your first bite.
4. Snow’s BBQ, Lexington
If you're within traveling distance of the small town of Lexington, be sure to stop by Snow’s BBQ on Saturday morning to enjoy an authentic Texas BBQ experience. Load your plate with a selection of barbeque meats like turkey, sausage, pork steak, pork spare ribs, jalapeno sausage, brisket, and chicken, choose between one of the signature sauces (pepper sauce, original BBQ sauce and spicy BBQ sauce), and prepare for a belly-busting meal you won't forget in a hurry. Just be sure to arrive early - when the food's this good, it doesn't take long to run out.
3. Rib Hut, El Paso
As smokegears.com says, with so many BBQ places in El Paso, finding the best barbecue the city has to offer can be tricky, with everyone having their favorite spots. But even in a city as rich in great BBQ as this, Rib Hut stands out as something special. Expect affordable prices, generous helpings, and enough sweet, sticky, meltingly tender meat to keep even the hungriest carnivore sated. Wash it all down with something cold and frosty from the restaurant's excellent selection of craft beers.
2. Pecan Lodge, Dallas
Pecan Lodge in Dallas believes ‘the best things in life are smoked in a pit and steeped in the traditions of generations gone by’ ...considering the deliciousness of their BBQ, it's hard to disagree. Everything that can be made from scratch is, from their Southern Fried Chicken to Aunt Polly’s banana pudding - even their sausages are ground and stuffed on site by hand. Their BBQ pit burns 24 hours a day, yielding tender, melt-in-the-mouth smoked meats that leave absolutely nothing to be desired.
1. Panther City, Fort Worth
A few years back, Chris Magallanes and Ernest Morales won an amateur barbecue competition, let the success go to their heads, quit their jobs, and opened what texasmonthly.com has named as one of the top barbeque joints in Texas. Located in a prime position in Fort Worth’s lively Near Southside neighborhood, Panther City offers a gut-busting selection of barbequed meats, including achingly tender spareribs glazed with sweet barbecue sauce, sweet, sticky morsels of pork belly, spicy smoked turkey, and a scene-stealing brisket elote that packs layers of creamed corn, chopped brisket, queso fresco, cilantro, and hot sauce in a cup of pure heaven. If you can, leave room for a sliver or two of the Nutter Butter cheesecake pudding for dessert.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn