AUSTIN (KXAN) — There’s no shortage of good barbecue spots in the Austin area, and the 2021 edition of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ places in Texas proves that.
Seven of the 50 spots, including three in the top 10, are held by Austin smoked meat havens that are leading the charge in the evolution of Texas BBQ.
At No. 7 is a familiar face with a worldly following, Franklin BBQ. Owner Aaron Franklin isn’t really hands-on in the pit cooking meat anymore, but he supervises all aspects of the cook, Texas Monthly says. And, it says its current ranking isn’t due to a dropoff in quality — far from that.
Franklin BBQ had the top spot in 2013 and No. 2 in 2017, but Texas Monthly said while “no one does the traditional barbecue lineup better,” innovations by newcomers are “reshaping the scene in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few short years ago.”
The dining room still isn’t open due to COVID-19 protocols, but you can still call in an order and pick it up.
“New School BBQ, Old School Service,” is the mantra for the No. 5 barbecue spot on Texas Monthly’s list, LeRoy and Lewis. It’s a food truck that’s been parked next to Cosmic Coffee in south Austin since it opened in 2017, and Texas Monthly said its smoked barbacoa and sliced beef cheeks are reasons to keep coming back for more. Also worth mentioning is the Akaushi beef brisket, which comes from the Akaushi breed of Wagyu raised in Japan.
The highest-rated Austin barbecue joint by Texas Monthly is InterStellar BBQ in northwest Austin. Coming in at No. 2, it’s quickly becoming a destination for BBQ junkies to get a taste of, Texas Monthly said. A classic rub of salt, pepper and garlic goes on the brisket, and along with “obsessive heat management,” pitmaster John Bates has the Texas signature cut of beef dialed in. One of the place’s more avant-garde dishes piqued the interest of Texas Monthly editors: the Tipsy Turkey Breast. It’s marinated overnight in wheat beer, specifically hefeweizen.
The remaining four Austin spots on the list represent the new and classic BBQ spots. Distant Relatives is the youngest of them all, opening in the Meanwhile Brewing Company parking lot this year in south Austin. La Barbecue, Micklethwait Craft Meats and Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ round out the local selections on the list.