In search of some of the best barbecue joints in the Lone Star State Craving great Texas barbecue? Hungry enough to make a day of it and have a Texas-sized adventure? Why not take a barbecue road trip this weekend?
Just look for an old storefront building with a squeaky screen door, a water-cooler air conditioner hanging from the ceiling, dusty deer-head mounts on the walls (maybe even a jack-a-lope!) and a fire pit in the floor. These little diamond-in-the-rough Texas gems are scattered across the Lone Star State.
Belmont Social Club
Big, barn-like family place with live music and good eats in a real ghost town.
The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que
Open daily, 11-10. BYOB,
Smoking meat here since 1967. This place is laid-back and family friendly. Set in the country outside Austin, the Salt Lick boasts great barbecue served in big portions, family style. Their smoked turkey and chicken are always a hit. Big rings of sausage and generous sides of potato salad add to the delight, and the sauce is mustard-based, zesty and sweet. Sit outside in the shade of enormous oak trees and bring your own beer and wine — Driftwood is dry, so the Salt Lick encourages folks to bring their own coolers if they don’t want iced tea and sodas.
The official “Barbeque Capital of Texas”
(888) 632-8225 toll-free
Their slogan? Great barbecue “8 Days A Week.” Open since 1932. They claim to be Texas’ oldest restaurant continuously owned by the same family.
Open Mon-Sat 10:30-8. Closed Sunday
They’ve been smoking meat in this building since 1999; at “Smitty’s” location since 1900. Try the barbecue brisket, chicken, beans, sauerkraut and more. And don’t forget to taste their hot jalapeño cheese sausage. No barbecue sauce may be found on this property; they refuse to serve it — don’t want it to interfere with the subtle flavors of the barbecue. Closed Sundays.
Open Mon-Fri 7-6, Sat 7-6:30, Sun 9-3
Smoking meat on this spot since 1900. The atmosphere here is classic: the long room of smoke-stained walls still has little chains nailed to them where butcher knives were once attached “so people wouldn’t walk off with them or get stabbed in a fight,” says the owner. A local post oak fire blazes in the ground, enveloping you in smoke while you stand in line for meat. The parking lot is a sea of chopped wood. A family squabble forced a name change (Kruez Market to Smitty’s) when a sibling opened a new barbecue joint under the old name. The name changed, but the quality here didn’t. Locals took sides in the split, and many refuse to patronize the new Kruez Market. Some folks still call Smitty’s by its former name, only to sigh and say, “I mean, you know, the Old Kreuz’s.” Open on Sundays.
Louie Mueller Barbecue
Open Mon-Sat 10-7:30 or until sold out. Closed Sunday
Smoking meats at this location since 1959 and since 1949 at the original location nearby, this place almost always makes the magazines’ “Top 10” lists for great barbecue. They feature heavily seasoned brisket caked with a powerful cracked pepper rub. Try the 100-percent beef jalapeño sausage in its pork casing for a Texas-sized kick.