8 Under-the-Radar Barbecue Joints

By Megan Giller  |  December 18, 2013

Not everyone wants to get in line to eat smoked meat at 8 AM. We know, it’s a radical statement. Fortunately, there are plenty of places around town that offer tender brisket, fall-apart ribs and juicy sausage without the hassle of waiting in line or driving outside city limits. Here are eight places serving superlative smoked meats without all of the rigmarole. And remember, barbecue is an art that’s gone when it’s gone, so we do always advise securing yours as early as possible.

  • Micklethwait Craft Meats

    The little trailer in East Austin turns out some big flavors. The homemade sausage stands out most, with pitmaster Tom Micklethwait playing with flavors like lamb, pork belly andouille and more. Be sure to try their house-baked bread, homemade sides and desserts, too.

    1309 Rosewood Ave.; 512-791-5961

  • Freedmen’s Bar

    This may be a craft cocktail bar in West Campus, but pitmaster Evan LeRoy is serious about his meat. He turns out some of the best brisket we’ve tasted in town, as well as unusual specials like smoked duck. The locale just recently started offering lunch, and we’re very into their brisket sliders. Or stop by for brunch, dinner or late night; they’re open until - gasp - midnight.

    2402 San Gabriel St.; 512-220-0953

  • Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew

    Sit down and enjoy yourself at this relaxed spot in North Austin, where you’ll often find live music, but will always find solid smoked meats. We like the beef ribs, which you don’t find on many menus. But it’s not all about protein. Be sure to get some of the sweet corn casserole, too.

    6610 N. Lamar Blvd.; 512-380-9199

  • Blue Ox Barbecue

    Housed in a trailer behind newish coffee shop the Buzz Mill on East Riverside, this joint is hidden except to those in the know. Pork spare ribs and brisket are the way to go here, but also be sure not to miss Sunday brunch with all-you-can-eat pancakes: a little unusual for a barbecue joint, but hey, that’s Austin.

    1505 Town Creek Dr.; 512-537-2047

  • Credit: Robert Jacob Lerma

    Schmidt Family BBQ

    The only reason this place is under the radar is that it’s brand new. From the Lockhart families behind Smitty’s and Kreuz, Schmidt is already cooking up a storm of both smoked meat and accolades. We advise going now before word gets out further.

    12532 Farm to Market 2244, Bee Cave; 512-263-4060

  • Kerlin BBQ

    The East Side boasts several solid barbecue trailers, and this is one of them. In the style of newfangled pitmasters, owners Bill and Amelis Kerlin are young and hip, with Bill sporting a giant beard and the two making even the sides in-house (pickles, blue cheese coleslaw). The barbecue is serious stuff too, with coveted pork ribs and fall-apart-tender brisket.

    1700 E. Cesar Chavez; 512-412-5588

  • Mann’s Smokehouse BBQ

    This place isn’t new or fancy or even hip, but they’ve been making solid smoked meats since 1996 and have won their fair share of praise. Somehow they still fly under the radar, though the lunch rush can be a little crazy.

    8624 Research Blvd;, 512-459-5077

  • Live Oak Barbecue

    If you’re tired of trailers, head to this sit-down, market-style restaurant on the East Side. The meats here are solid, as are the traditional sides like potato salad, coleslaw and beans. They’re open for lunch and dinner, and yes, they actually have meat left in the evening. Their motto? “You can get here after we open.”

    2713 E. Second St., 512-524-1930