Brisket me Austin!
August 16, 2016 9:22 AM   Subscribe

I'll be traveling to Austin for work in a month or so and would love to change my mind about bbq brisket. Help me on my quest for the best barbecue I can find!

I've always been of the mind set of why would I want a dry, tough piece of meat in a world where pork shoulder exists, but I realize that it's likely because, like hush puppies, I've never actually had a version that could be described as competent or well executed. I've an afternoon to myself when I arrive and want to find some of the best texas barbecue that I can.

I'll be staying I guess downtownish a few blocks from the capitol it looks like. I'm not familiar with Austin at all so I've no idea if that's close to anything or a bad spot to be, but I'm happy to travel a decent distance to find the best beef. Any recommendations for places would be appreciated, as would the best method to get there (taxi/public transit/etc).
posted by Carillon to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My recommendation is to rent a car and drive 90 min to Llano for Cooper's Barbecue.

If that's too far you can drive 40 min to Lockhart for Kreuz Market.

I was Co-President of the University of Texas Barbecue Club and those were my favorite places a decade ago. Haven't tried any of the new hot places in Austin.
posted by grouse at 9:28 AM on August 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you are willing to wait, you can walk to Franklin's -- expect that to take all morning into early afternoon. Bring a chair, beer, and a deck of cards and make friends. Just did it after 4 years living in Austin, and it was great. Easy walk from Capitol (assuming you are at the Doubletree?)

Mickelthwait's is also good if you want to stay in Austin. Just east of Franklin's. Also LA Barbecue on Cesar Chavez.

Otherwise, go to Lockhart -- Kreuz or Smitty's.
posted by hrj at 9:31 AM on August 16, 2016

Response by poster: Sadly my flight gets in at 2:30pm, so it sounds like Franklin's would be out if I'd have to get there in the morning. Thanks for the recommendations so far!
posted by Carillon at 9:44 AM on August 16, 2016

Yeah, if the brisket you've had is dry or tough, then it wasn't competently executed.

I don't know if Franklin's is the best, but he knows his stuff and it's certainly the "coolest" joint around right now. If nothing else it's the BBQ equivalent of having tried Pappy Van Winkle.
posted by cmoj at 9:45 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sadly my flight gets in at 2:30pm, so it sounds like Franklin's would be out if I'd have to get there in the morning. Thanks for the recommendations so far!

Are you looking to get BBQ in the late afternoon? That limits things. Most of the best place serve until sell out. I'd say Lockhart is your best bet. Plus it is a cute little Texas town.
posted by hrj at 9:49 AM on August 16, 2016

Best answer: You could even get the moist brisket from Rudy's if all else fails. It's better than average and hardly tough or dry. Not the best I have ever had, but at least should change your mind about this wonderful cut of meat.
posted by SoulOnIce at 9:49 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: late afternoon/dinner yeah, I didn't realize that would limit my options tbh.
posted by Carillon at 9:55 AM on August 16, 2016

I've always been of the mind set of why would I want a dry, tough piece of meat in a world

Note that there are different options as to brisket as well - while I don't think a lean cut of brisket, cooked properly should be either dry or tough, note that many places now also offer "fatty brisket" or "moist brisket" which is definitely my go to if it's available.
posted by Karaage at 10:05 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Man, there's so much good BBQ in Austin. My go-to was Billy's Brew n Que, (don't skip the buttermilk pie!) but really, even Rudy's, which is usually attached to a gas station, will have good solid brisket. Just don't pick the "lean" option, because why would you do that?
posted by restless_nomad at 10:22 AM on August 16, 2016

Best answer: Micklethwait is my favorite. They *might* still be open by the time you get there. It depends on the day. On yelp it says they're open until 6, but that's not accurate.

This isn't going to help your specific situation, but it may help people in the future reading this. You can now preorder Franklin's if ordering 5 lbs. This is for hot food and pre-chilled briskets.
posted by lownote at 10:23 AM on August 16, 2016

I have been known to rent a car at the airport and drive straight to Lockhart. There are four barbecue places in Lockhart, and you'll probably be able to find brisket in the late afternoon at at all of them. And if you can't, you have the others as backup.

I actually prefer a beautifully-smoked lean brisket. Doing it well takes more skill. Try both lean and moist if you have the option.
posted by grouse at 10:36 AM on August 16, 2016

Lambert's downtown is much fancier than any normal BBQ joint, but it is damn good. Their sides are also damn good. And you could walk there.
posted by adamrice at 10:36 AM on August 16, 2016

Best answer: Best late brisket is at Ruby's (with a B). it's just north of campus and a funky joint that has been there forever. Outside of Lockhart it's the best. Get the mac & cheese as a side and put some of their sauce on it.
posted by mrcrow at 10:52 AM on August 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

All the answers so far are excellent.

I'll throw Hwy 29 BBQ in the mix, because it's right up 183 and is run by my wife's coworker. I've been there a couple times (and have also had them cater a wedding shower) and it's consistently amazing.

Something else that most people aren't aware of is that the Whole Foods at 6th and Lamar has BBQ inside, and their moist brisket is legitimately great. They have some good mac and cheese as well (honestly their brisket is better than Rudy's, but I'm not here to start a fight).
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:32 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Whole Food's barbecue at 6th and Lamar is way better than grocery store barbecue should be. I've had the brisket and pulled pork and both were excellent.
posted by lownote at 12:37 PM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't worry about it, go anywhere. The worst brisket in Austin is still likely way better than anything you've ever had.

(I've never had bad brisket here and I have a moral objection to standing around for hours before I can eat)
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:09 PM on August 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Freedman's

Absolutely delicious, and one of the Yelp reviews even describes it as the best choice for travelers who don't have time to get to Franklins.
posted by MsMolly at 1:16 PM on August 16, 2016

Cooper's just opened a place on Congress (DT). I'm not too sure how this stacks up against the original in Llano, but if you're short on time, it might be worth a shot. Black's (of Lockhart, TX) has a place on Guadalupe (north of campus). Again, not too sure how this stacks up against the original location, but maybe worth a try. I agree with Mickelthwait's, or driving to The Salt Lick or Lockhart (Smitty's, Kreutz's, or the original Black's).
posted by ATX Peanut at 1:23 PM on August 16, 2016

Best answer: There is so much good brisket here! I never ever thought I would say this, but I'll second Rudy's if you don't want to wait around forever. I had their moist brisket (get the moist) a couple Sundays ago and it was pretty fucking delicious, and I've had most of the other joints mentioned in this thread.

Burnt ends are the other secret to Texas brisket. Moist, with some burnt ends in there. I'm salivating.

You pretty much can't strike out in Lockhart.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:27 PM on August 16, 2016

Best answer: Fourthing Micklethwait if you can swing it. Amazingly good brisket and sides, less of a wait than Franklin's.
posted by eponym at 8:17 PM on August 16, 2016

Meuller's on E 6th and Pedernales. It's a little known gem.
posted by TheCoug at 8:50 PM on August 16, 2016

If you don't want to travel out of town, I think Stiles Switch is one of the more underrated BBQ places. You don't have to wait an hour in line outside AND it's got parking. If you're not driving, you can either take a bus up there or take the rail to Crestview and walk a bit south, or just order a Fasten.
posted by monologish at 8:57 AM on August 17, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks to all the help, in currently sitting in Ruby's right now about to eat their brisket plate! I considered ask the suggestions but a few places are closed today so it made it easier for me. Appreciate the work mefites!
posted by Carillon at 1:27 PM on September 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

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