These Are The Best Barbecue Restaurants In Texas

Whether you've ever set foot in "The Lone Star State" or not, everyone knows that you can expect great barbecue in Texas. It's home to one of the most (if not the one and only, depending on who you ask) iconic barbecue styles in the country, and the world, with a unique historic tradition that runs deep. The cow is the holy grail of Texas barbecue, defined by slow-smoked brisket with an almost crunchy layer of bark blanketing the tender marbled center, along with spicy, handground sausage, beef ribs falling off a bone that's bigger than your face, always served alongside homemade, stick-to-your belly side dishes, like coleslaw, potato salad, mac and cheese, baked beans, and more. That signature Texas-style barbecue sauce – thick, smoky, sweet, usually tomato-based, and often with a spiced-up kick – ties it all together for a transcendental dining experience that'll leave you stuffed, sticky, and swearing off all other forms of barbecue.

The opportunities to find this experience are far and wide within the state of Texas. From Dallas down to Houston, Austin over to Lubbock, and in so many tiny towns in between, you'll find amazing barbecue gems, some hidden secrets, others bringing in tourists from all over the country. But if you want to call yourself a true connoisseur of Texas barbecue, then you've got to check out the cream of the crop – the barbecue standouts in an endless sea of smoked brisket and sauce. These are the best barbecue restaurants in Texas.

Louie Mueller Barbecue

In the little town of Taylor, just north of Austin, you'll find one of Texas' best-kept secrets. The Lone Star State takes its barbecue very seriously, and so do the folks at Louie Mueller Barbecue. This humble little joint, which has been called the "cathedral of smoke," has been passed down through three generations of Muellers since it first opened in 1949. And more than 70 years later, it's still serving up some of the best barbecue in the state of Texas, racking up some serious accolades along the way. Louie Mueller's was the first barbecue joint in the country to win a James Beard Award. Food and Wine also calls it one of the best barbecue restaurants in America. And Texas Monthly has frequently ranked it as one of the top spots to get your brisket fix. You also don't want to miss the beef ribs and the house-made sausage.

Kreuz Market

If you believe that Texas is the capital of barbecue, then Lockhart, Texas has got to be city hall itself. The small town between Austin and San Antonio is home to a number of finger-licking barbecue joints. But almost no one can hold a candle to the behemoth that is the Kreuz name. Originally a meat market selling barbecued meats since 1875, Kreuz Market has evolved into a restaurant as well as an experience. Customers can see into the massive, open cutting room, where the meat is being smoked and freshly sliced right before their eyes. Kreuz is known for having some of the best sausage you can get, made with a smoky and spicy beef and pork mix. It's even sold at other barbecue joints that won't even attempt to make their own (via Huffington Post). The more than 120-year-old recipe has apparently never changed, and it's so ingrained in the Kreuz legacy that it isn't even written down anywhere.

Franklin Barbecue

It may not seem ideal to wait in line for hours to eat a meal, but at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, posting up among the snake of hungry diners marching slower closer to the counter of smoked meats almost feels like a rite of passage (via Texas Monthly). Franklin Barbecue is so much more than an Austin staple. The restaurant has garnered attention nationwide, and even a visit by a former president (via Thrillist). People come from far and wide, and with a lot of patience in tow, to get their hands on the handiwork of pitmaster Aaron Franklin. Franklin actually worked for John Mueller of the Louie Mueller Barbecue dynasty before he got started on his own, and quickly rose up the ranks to become one of the most recognized names in Texas barbecue, period (via Texas Monthly). Franklin's truly is some of the best of the best (via Bon Appétit). But we're not exaggerating about this line situation though. It's even had its own Twitter account in the past.

The Salt Lick BBQ

The roots behind the barbecue at The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood run deep. And so does the loyalty of the thousands of fans who flock to the small town to get their hands on the "world-renowned Texas barbecue" made from recipes dating back more than 150 years (with a "Texified" treatment over the years). The Salt Lick uses a unique recipe – with no tomatoes, but lots of sugar – to create their signature, caramelized meat, smoked over an open fire pit. It's a time-tested method and one that clearly works. The Salt Lick says it serves thousands of customers daily, smoking up more than 1.3 million pounds of brisket and pork ribs every year. The heaping, Texas-sized plates of finger-licking barbecue, served with potato salad, coleslaw, and baked beans, plus all the trimmings, has landed The Salt Lick in the spotlight on Food Network several times. While you're inevitably waiting in line to get your hands on the storied barbecue, you can take in the serene landscape surrounding The Salt Lick's cozy, tree-draped locale (via Texas Living). You may even happen to catch some live music when you make a visit.

Black's Barbecue

Another legendary barbecue joint hailing from Lockhart, Texas, Black's Barbecue has been making a name for itself since 1932. It started out as a small town grocery store and eventually evolved into a full-time restaurant. Four generations later, it's the oldest barbecue joint in The Lone Star State, and it's still family-owned to this day. Black's Barbecue says they're "open 8 days a week," with pitmasters working around the clock to feed the line out the door that forms every day, filled with Texans from all over, and plenty of traveling tourists who've heard about this must-try meat. Texas Monthly named it one of the best barbecue restaurants in the world.

Deeply flavorful brisket, big beef ribs, and homemade sausage are the way to go at Black's, all seasoned with their secret-recipe spice blend. And don't forget the sauce, still made the same way it was since the founder's wife, Norma Jean, created it (via Eater).

Lockhart Smokehouse

While Lockhart is undoubtedly the barbecue mecca of Texas, its influence is way too big to be contained in such a tiny town. You can find it in barbecue outposts like Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas. The restaurant traces its roots back to Kreuz Market, still a barbecue stalwart in the city of Lockhart itself. The granddaughter of Kreuz's founder opened up Lockhart Smokehouse with her husband only a decade ago, and already the restaurant has landed itself among the ranks of longtime barbecue giants. Lockhart feels like stepping into a Texas Hill Country smokehouse, complete with butcher paper in place of plates, a buffet of pickles, onions, and sauce to help yourself to, and a huge open meat counter behind the cash registers, so customers can see their barbecue cut to order. The brisket and burnt ends at Lockhart are hard to beat, as are the homemade sides, like burnt ends baked beans, jalapeño mac and cheese, and creamy potato salad loaded with chunks of brisket. Added bonus – the family connection means that Lockhart sells Kreuz Market sausage at its restaurants.

Cattleack BBQ

Located on the outskirts of Dallas is Cattleack BBQ, the result of a part-time passion project turned full-fledged career. Pitmaster Todd David, who opened the restaurant in 2010, takes his barbecue very seriously. His deep respect for the craft shows not only in the mural of Texas barbecue legends that covers the restaurant's outer wall – Cattleack's fast-growing reputation as one of the best spots for smoked meat in the metroplex and beyond is an even bigger testament to time and energy he puts into his meats. Last year, Cattleack landed at number six on Texas Monthly's list of the best barbecue joints in the entire state.

Perhaps another part of the allure of Cattleack is perhaps the fact that it's kind of hard to get. The restaurant is only open on Thursdays and Fridays for lunch hours, in addition to the first Saturday of every month, when David shakes things up and serves up whole-hog barbecue to the Texas crowd. Cattleack strives for a backyard barbecue atmosphere, encouraging guests to bring their own drinks and prepare to post up at a picnic table to enjoy a family-style meal. The wait is long, but it's well worth it.

Snow's BBQ

To make the trip out to Lexington, Texas to eat at Snow's BBQ is to gaze on the face of legendary barbecue history, and one of the most badass grandmas out there. The meat at Snow's is smoked to perfection under the supervision of world-famous, Barbecue Hall of Fame-inducted, not to mention James Beard Award-nominated pitmaster, Tootsie Tomanetz. She's affectionately known as "The First Lady of Texas Barbecue” (you've even seen her on Netflix's "Chef's Table") and she's got 50 years of barbecue experience under her belt (via Food & Wine Magazine). Tomanetz agreed to team up with Lexington local Kerry Bexley in 2003. Five short years later they were crowned the best barbecue in Texas (via Texas Monthly). And the word has spread like a wildfire ever since. Snow's BBQ is another spot that is hard to get your hands on. It's only open on Saturdays until the meat runs out, and to have a chance at it you'll need to drive an hour outside Austin and be prepared to arrive early for the good stuff (via Eater).

Truth BBQ

Representing the newer class of pitmasters looking to take Texas barbecue to the next level, Truth BBQ in Houston is quickly rising in the ranks among notable smoked meat mainstays in The Lone Star State. Truth was founded in 2015 by a young, hardworking pitmaster with a vision named Leonardo Botello IV. Botella spent years honing his skills, inspired by the methods of Austin greats like Aaron Franklin and John Lewis (via Houston Press). He started out sleeping next to his smoker and waking up to immediately start cutting meat for the day's crowd. His dedication paid off, and Truth BBQ quickly received recognition as a top barbecue destination in Texas, and its reputation has only grown since. Botello himself has also been featured at the New York City Wine & Food Fest, on Food Network's "Chopped," and more (via Truth BBQ). You won't be disappointed in the fatty brisket blanketed in chewy bark, the East Texas-inspired ribs and pulled pork, or the scratch-made sides at Truth. But whatever you do, make sure you don't leave without trying a slice of their famous cakes (via Texas Monthly).

Interstellar BBQ

The food at Interstellar BBQ in Austin can aptly be described as out of this world. At Interstellar, they're putting their own twist on Texas barbecue, going way beyond the basics in exciting, delicious new ways. While they've got the basics nailed down, on the menu you'll also find things like peach tea glazed pork belly, jalapeño popper sausage, smoked scalloped potatoes, mole baby back ribs, and handheld banana cream pies (via Eater). Notably, Interstellar BBQ's sides menu even earned it a shoutout from Texas Monthly as a great option for vegetarians who may dare venture into a barbecue establishment – in fact, the wife of one of the co-owners and chefs is a vegetarian. This up-and-comer opened just three years ago and has already cemented itself as one of the best places for barbecue in Austin, which is a major feat (via Austin American-Statesman). Safe to say Interstellar is now a must-try on the Texas barbecue circuit.

Pecan Lodge

Tucked inside the Dallas Farmers Market is a local barbecue legend known as Pecan Lodge. It was launched in 2009 by a couple who left the corporate world to take up a catering hobby. Their innate knack for barbecue, passed down from their grandparents, quickly garnered attention especially with the exposure from the crowds of hungry shoppers who flock to the farmers market. That attention skyrocketed after Guy Fieri caught wind of Pecan Lodge and featured the restaurant on "Diner's, Drive-ins and Dives." By 2013, Pecan Lodge grew so big it needed to move into its own restaurant space (via Eater), where it's been ever since. Come to enjoy the brisket, of course, as well as beef ribs supposedly so juicy you don't even need sauce on them (via Texas Monthly). Might we also suggest the "Hot Mess," a loaded sweet potato smothered with Texas barbacoa, chipotle cream, cheese, butter, and green onions.

Evie Mae's BBQ

The family behind Evie Mae's BBQ never really expected it to be big. Barbecuing became a way of life for founder Arnis Robbins and his wife, Mallory, after he was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Their hobby evolved and grew with the help of hungry friends and neighbors, and eventually, the Robbins sold their landscaping business, moved from Arizona to the West Texas city of Lubbock, and opened Evie Mae's BBQ (named for their daughter) in a food truck in 2015. Within a few short months, word got out about their smoking skills, and the customers just kept coming. Just over a year later, Evie Mae's moved from a food truck into a full-fledged restaurant. And today, they feed around 1,000 people each day they're open. That's what happens when you're known as one of the best places for barbecue in Texas (via Texas Monthly). Like all the other great barbecue joints, yes, you'll wait in line when you get there. Unlike most places though, at Evie Mae's you can help yourself to a free beer while you wait (via And before you know it, you'll be digging into slabs of brisket, burnt ends, and Evie Mae's signature, juicy beef ribs (if they aren't sold out already).

Terry Black's BBQ

Descended directly from Black's Barbecue out of Lockhart, Terry Black's BBQ is bringing the next generation of family barbecue fame to the hungry carnivores of Texas. The restaurant opened in Austin in 2014, and added a second location in Dallas in 2017, quickly joining the ranks of their predecessors among the barbecue giants of Texas (via D Magazine). However, this story isn't also without a Texas-sized controversy. Terry Black's is run by the nephews of Kent Black, the pitmaster at the original Black's Barbecue. Kent's brother, Terry, and his side of the family broke away around 2013 after a massive falling out involving the business (via Eater). At Terry Black's they make their meats using the same smoking techniques that made the family famous, adding their own signature tweaks along the way. That's served alongside scratch-made sides and desserts, all made from family recipes (via Dallas Morning News).