This is a short article talking about every bbq place I tried during my one month stay in Austin, Texas. My usual order is 1/2 lb of brisket and the side can vary based on what the place has (mac n cheese, coleslaw, peach cobbler, pecan pie, banana pudding, etc.).

I tried:

Still on my “to-try” list: (either too far or ran out of time to try)

What I look for in BBQ

The brisket has to be tender. A lot of times in the photos you can tell how dry/tender a piece of brisket will be. That’s honestly all I can base it off of. I’m not going to rate their bbq sauces.

Price is a factor…but it is bbq, it is surprisingly expensive. The cheapest brisket is $23/lb and the most expensive brisket is $34/lb. (Which doesn’t seem like a lot but that means you could be paying almost 50% more at two different bbq places for seemingly the same meat) Some places change prices daily to accomodate demand/supply. I also ate at all of these places during a pandemic so quality can still vary. (For example: Franklin BBQ does not do lineups/indoor dining, you have to order online on their website and order 3lb minimum of meat in your order)

A lot of people like ribs but I almost never order the ribs. Firstly, rib bone have weight. So if you order the meat by weight, you technically also pay for the bone. Other reason is that I usually try these places alone and I can only eat 1/2 lb of meat normally and most places don’t do smaller denominations than 1/2 lb. (So if I want to try other cuts of meat I need to go back to a place multiple times)

BBQ Place Brisket per $/lb My rating (out of 5)
Franklin’s 34 5
Terry Black’s 31.98 4
Salt Lick 31 0
La Barbeque 30 3.5
Valentina’s 30 5
Cooper’s Old Time Pit 29.56 2
Micklethwait 28 4
Rollin Smoke 28 3.5
The Original Black’s 23 2.5

Franklin BBQ

Yelp, Menu

My order: 2lbs of brisket ($68), 1lb of pulled pork ($28), 2 sausage links ($8.80) for $104.80.

Franklin’s is the best bbq in Austin. As much as I wanted to hate the most expensive priced brisket (at $34/lb), the very commercialized merch (sold in airports and at their place), and the forced 3lb minimum order (during the pandemic for curbside pickups), it was undoubtedly the best brisket from all of the places I tried.

It was not even close. The brisket actually melted in your mouth and was the best tasting as well. It doesn’t come cheap with $34/lb of brisket, $30/lb for ribs, $28/lb for pulled pork, $28/lb for turkey, and $4.40 per sausage link. The sausage and pulled pork were just good, the brisket really was a standout.

You may notice the above order is massive. I split that with someone else and still had leftovers I packed. In total it was upwards of $100 for the entire meal but it was insanely good. It is famous for a reason. (They had no ribs on the day we ordered, I would’ve liked to try that too)

Rating: 5/5

Terry Black’s BBQ

Yelp, Menu

My order: 1/2lb brisket ($15.99), 1 piece of cornbread ($1), 5oz peach cobbler ($3.25), side of pickles and red onions (free) for $20.24.

Terry Black’s is probably the easiest barbeque to get (the line is usually a manageable length) amongst the popular places, and is a solid option overall. The variety of sides and usual consistently of the brisket makes it one of the better bbq places.

They have $1 cornbread (insanely good) and all the side fixins such as cream corn, beans, mac n cheese, etc. and peach cobbler, pecan pie, and banana pudding for desserts.

Rating: 4/5

La Barbeque

Yelp, Menu

My order: 1/2lb of brisket ($15), spicy coleslaw ($3.75) for $18.75.

This brisket was pretty good. It is tucked away in East Austin and doesn’t get too long of a line up around opening. The coleslaw was a bit disappointing. It was just too much pepper and was not a great accompaniment alongside the brisket.

Rating: 3.5/5

Salt Lick BBQ

Yelp, Menu

My order: Brisket plate which was 1/2lb brisket, coleslaw, potato salad for $21.

This place was very bad. You can tell from the photo it is super dry brisket and biting into it felt like eating plastic. The beans and potato salad just generic tasting and nothing special.

The weird thing was that this place was actually really busy. It is a bit of a drive to get to in South Austin and I was confused why people drive to a place that wasn’t located in Central Austin and served sub-par bbq.

This place isn’t worth going to under any circumstance. The food is bad. It’s one of the more expensive places for bbq and it is clear cut the worst bbq I had in my entire time in Austin.

Rating: 0/5

The Original Black’s BBQ

Yelp, Menu

My order: 1/2 pound brisket ($11.50), side of mexican cream corn ($2.59), side of pecan cobbler ($2.59), side of pickles and red onions (free) for $16.68.

Similarly named to “Terry Black’s BBQ”, this was place was not terrible but it wasn’t great either. The brisket had a lot left to be desired and the pecan cobbler just felt really bready. (Not sweet like a dessert) The mexican cream corn was just decent.

I would maybe recommend this place since it was the cheapest bbq option and was still fairly decent. Generally I know bbq can be pricey so I’m willing to just pay more for good meat than to save a little money and get really bad meat.

Rating: 2.5/5

Micklethwait Craft Meats

Yelp, Menu

My order: 1/2 pound brisket ($14.00), banana cream pie ($3.50) for $17.50.

I think the BBQ is pretty solid. The brisket was actually pretty tender. The banana cream pie was a different story and was really bad. It was mind bogglingly bad. It was probably store bought flavourless crust and basic cream with bananas. It was also $3.50.

Rating: 3.5/5

Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ

Yelp, Menu

My order: 1/2lb brisket ($14.78), 1/4lb jalapeno and cheese sausage ($3.19), jalapeno mac n cheese ($4.19) for 22.16.

This was just okay. Not terrible and it is located downtown Austin. You can definitely do better, but when I arrived at 4pm in the afternoon and for the relatively decent pricing, it wasn’t the worst option. The brisket was a bit dry but this place was not outright terrible. In a pinch, this place is okay, but there are other locations that are better. (those better locations may be sold out at 4pm though)

Rating: 2/5

Rollin Smoke BBQ

Yelp, Menu

My order: Regular brisket sandwich ($12) and banana pudding ($3) for $15.

I really liked Rollin Smoke BBQ. It was oddly good. It is in an unassuming parking lot beside Cisco’s bakery and bar. There was no line up and their prices are on the lower end (which usually indicates worse brisket).

I think the brisket was actually really tender in the sandwich. I’m not sure why I chose to get the sandwich over just meat by the pound when I went. I guess this throws consistency out the window.

Their banana pudding was also really good. Decent portion for $3 and had a nice banana flavour with a lot of whipped cream and nilla wafers.

Rating: 4.5/5

Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ

Yelp, Menu

My order: Real Deal Holyfield Taco ($13) and 1/2lb of brisket ($15) for $28.

You know how ice cream cake is cheating where it is both ice cream AND a cake? Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ cheats in a similar way serving both high quality brisket and great tex mex taco offerings.

The brisket is almost on par with Franklin’s. It is also siginificantly cheaper at $30/lb compared to Franklin’s $34/lb. The Real Deal Holyfield taco is a bit on the pricier side but it could be a meal in itself. It is a taco with a 1/4lb piece of brisket, bacon, egg, potatoes, and refried beans. It’s insanely good.

Huge plus that they give you homemade tortillas to eat with your tacos (instead of generic white bread most places give)

I love this place and my only gripe is that it is in South Austin which is really difficult to get to without a car.

Rating: 5/5

Conclusion

These are the places I got to try in my brief stay in Austin. Hopefully in the future I get to try a few more places!

My favourites for sure are Franklin’s BBQ, Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, Terry Black’s BBQ, and Rollin Smoke.