If you're a fan of authentic Texas barbecue, then you know there's nothing like it in the world. It’s slow-cooked and kissed by wood smoke, leaving behind tender, juicy meat and sultry flavors. When the true masters of the craft put their own spins and twists on the generation family recipes, it can create a life-changing, nearly religious experience.
If you're planning a trip to Texas and you've had your fill of steak, then you don't want to miss out on the opportunity to taste some of the best BBQ in the country. From small-town joints to legendary establishments, here are ten places you have to try before you die.
10 Tyler’s Barbecue
Tyler Frazer, the owner of Tyler’s Barbecue, is determined to make sure barbecue lovers know that there are incredible options outside of Central Texas. Frazer traveled across the United States with the goal in mind to work large-scale events, learn from these triumphs and setbacks, then bring it home to Amarillo with a brick-and-mortar business. Locals and outsiders alike brave the elements to stand in line for the chance to sink their teeth into the Texas Panhandles’ rising star. Chopped brisket sandwiches, pulled pork, racks of ribs, and special offerings like delicious Frito Pie have become the stuff of legend as Frazer’s thriving barbecue joint has staked its claim among the Lone Star State’s very best BBQ establishments.
- Where : 3301 Olsen Blvd., Amarillo, TX 79109
9 Pecan Lodge
Born in a Dallas farmer’s market and now firmly entrenched in Deep Ellum (a
neighborhood near downtown Dallas), Pecan Lodge is another celebrated Texas restaurant with long lines that serve as a precursor to the mouth-watering fare it serves daily. Owners Diane and Justin Forton have pushed their way to the front of the line when it comes to talking about the best barbecue in the state, and it’s a well-deserved conversation. If it’s your group’s first visit to Pecan Lodge, you’ll want to order The Trough to get an education on why this place is so popular: one beef rib, a pound of pork ribs, a pound of brisket, half a pound of pull pork and three sausage links. That’s some tasty schooling. Top it off with a serving of classic peach cobbler, and you’ll wonder why it took you so long to visit the Pecan Lodge.
- Where : 2702 Main Street, Dallas, TX 75226
8 Killen’s Barbecue
Pearland’s Killen’s Barbecue opened in 2013 and set Southeast Texas firmly in place as a BBQ destination. Owner Ronnie Killen desired to keep the “heart and soul” of traditional BBQ cook-offs alive and well when he set up shop just outside of Houston, but he probably never imagined that his tempting offerings would soon garner national acclaim. Daily staples include tasty brisket, pork ribs, smoked beef ribs, turkey, and immaculate desserts such as bread pudding and carrot cake. Is your mouth watering yet? Then, you should be on your way to Killen’s Barbecue before they sell out for the day.
- Where : 3613 Broadway, Pearland, TX 77581
7 La Barbecue
Since 2012, Austin’s La Barbecue has pushed the boundaries of what it means to be a “traditional” barbecue establishment in Texas. Owned and operated by LeAnn Mueller and her wife, Alison Clem, La Barbecue are the rare women and LGBTQ+-led barbecue spot in a world that has routinely been ruled by men. Mueller’s father, Bobby Mueller, was an established barbecue master winning a James Beard award in 2006 and serves as the inspiration behind the restaurant, but Mueller and Clem have created something decidedly unique for themselves. La Barbecue has set roots as a premier barbecue destination in the state of Texas.
- Where : 2401 E. Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78702
6 Kerlin BBQ
Another Austin favorite, Kerlin BBQ, is served from a simple white food truck. It’s such a laid-back, easygoing location that you at first may think you’re in the wrong spot, but that’s where you’re wrong. Kerlin BBQ slings amazingly tasty dishes such as their kolaches (meat, cheese, and more baked into a dough), sliced brisket sandwiches, smoked corn with chipotle butter, and hot beef links. It doesn’t offer any frills and barely any seating, but Kerlin BBQ is certainly laying claim to the best barbecue in Texas.
- Where : 2207 E. Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78702
5 Black’s Barbecue
The second Lockhart establishment on this list, Black’s Barbecue, has been serving heavenly barbecue creations for 90 years now. In fact, the current pit that the family still cooks on was first built by Edgar Black Jr. in 1949 and is still burning strong. That much barbecue history is hard to find and even tougher to beat in Texas. But, if you’re passing through Lockhart, the “BBQ Capital of the World,” you owe it to yourself to stand in line at Black’s, a Texas tradition since before former President Lyndon B. Johnson was in office (in fact, LBJ had his picture taken here years ago). Giant beef ribs, slowed smoked Turkey breast, chopped beef brisket sandwiches. There are almost too many mouth-watering options to name. There are three more Black’s BBQ locations now in Austin, New Braunfels, and San Marcos, but to truly understand why it became a Texas tradition, you need to hit the road to visit the original location in Lockhart.
- Where : 215 North Main Street, Lockhart, TX 78644
4 Smitty’s Market
Established in 1948 by Edgar “Smitty” Schmidt at the historic Kreuz Market space in Lockhart, Texas, Smitty’s Market is continuously ranked among the best Texas barbecue stops. Lockhart itself is often called the “Barbecue Capital of Texas,” so when you’re considered the “best of the best,” it’s high praise. The Schmidt family still owns and operates the restaurant (even when a very famous feud nearly tore the business down), where patrons still line up daily to get all their favorites. It’s more than deserving of a spot on your food travel list.
- Where : 208 South Commerce Street, Lockhart, TX 78644
3 Goldee’s Barbecue
A relative newcomer to the Texas barbecue scene, Goldee’s Barbecue has made a huge impression in a short amount of time. Established in 2020, owners Lane Milne, Jalen Heard, Nupohn Inthanousay, Jonny White, and PJ Inthanousay (all of whom are under 30 years old) have established themselves as the barbecue heavyweights in a state known for its barbecue heavyweights. Named by Texas Monthly as the “No. 1 Texas BBQ Joint” for 2021, Goldee’s is pushing the boundaries of tradition by introducing new savory items, such as Laotian sausage, to complement Texas standards like brisket and spare ribs. If Goldee’s is the future of Texas barbecue, then the future is very bright indeed.
- Where : 4645 Dick Price Road, Fort Worth, TX 76140
2 Snow’s BBQ
To put it simply: Snow’s BBQ is a Texas barbecue institution. When it opened in March 2003, owner Kerry Bexley and legendary pitmaster Norma “Tootsie” Tomanetz never imagined that their humble beginnings would one day turn into one of the most famous barbecue stops in the world. “The Queen of BBQ” Tootsie Tomanetz started her barbecue career in 1966, and now, well into her 80s, she’s still going strong using the same cooking techniques and secrets that have built her legend over the years. Snow’s BBQ was named “#1 BBQ in Texas” by Texas Monthly in 2017, and in 2020 it was featured on the Netflix series Chef’s Table: BBQ, which rocketed the restaurant’s popularity into the stratosphere. If you want to try some of Tootsie’s magic, you’ll need to get there early because the line is often hours long, but it remains well worth the wait.
- Where : 516 Main Street, Lexington, TX 78947
1 Franklin Barbecue
Franklin's Barbecue is a cultural icon in the world of Texas barbecue. When Aaron Franklin and his wife Stacy took a chance by opening a barbecue joint on the side of a Texas highway in 2009, they never envisioned that they would spark a revolution. The restaurant has been featured on numerous national media programs, and celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel, Anthony Bourdain, and former President Barak Obama count themselves among some of Franklin’s biggest fans. In 2015, Aaron Franklin was awarded the James Beard Foundation Award for ‘Best Chef: Southwest,’ becoming the first chef who specializes in barbecue to be nominated or receive this coveted award. Franklin's Barbecue has also been ranked as one of the "Top 50 BBQ Joints" in the United States by numerous media publications. Easy to say, this is one Texas barbecue spot that should be high on your ‘BBQ Bucket List.’
- Where : 900 E. 11th Street, Austin, TX 78702