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While you’ll certainly find pulled pork, ribs and other types of barbecued meat around Texas, the Lone Star State’s barbecue is centered on tender slices of brisket and plump sausages, the contribution of German and Czech butchers. Destination-worthy barbecue is available across the state, in major cities like Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, as well as smaller towns between them. It’s the perfect food for a road trip—order some brisket and sausages to share, balance them out with zippy pickles, raw onions and other accompaniments, then hop back in the car. By the time you reach your next destination, you’ll be hungry again.

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Lockhart Smokehouse
Lockhart Smokehouse pays homage to the classic Lockhart barbecue joints, with Kreuz sausages, butcher paper and other hallmarks of the old-school spots. But Lockhart adds its own spin to classic dishes—sides include brisket deviled eggs and blue cheese slaw. Specials have ranged from leg of lamb to pit ham to barbecued salmon. It’s all in the spirit of classic barbecue, but with creative, delicious touches.

Pecan Lodge | Photo courtesy of @lafaveron

Pecan Lodge
Dallas’ Pecan Lodge made the leap from a farmers’ market stall to permanent location, and though the lines remain, the food is still worth the wait. Start with perfectly executed brisket and handmade jalapeño sausage, before moving onto Southern fried chicken or a “hot mess,” a sea salt-encrusted sweet potato with shredded seasoned brisket, chipotle cream, cheese and green onions.


Franklin Barbecue
The best-known Texas barbecue spot is Franklin, the lunch-only spot in downtown Austin that attracts hours-long lines. There’s no disputing that it’s a required stop on a comprehensive Texas barbecue crawl, so some tips for easing the wait: Go during the week, bring chairs, and designate one member of your team for breakfast taco and coffee runs. Don’t eat too much though—you’ll want to fill up on as much luscious brisket, snappy sausage and espresso barbecue sauce as possible.

La Barbecue | Photo courtesy of @manta_haig

La Barbecue
Food trucks are huge in Austin, and some of the city’s best barbecue comes from one. Head to La Barbecue and park yourself at a picnic table for tender, fatty brisket, plump, juicy sausages and a paper boat full of dill pickles. There’s usually a wait, but on weekends, La Barbecue eases the wait with free beer. You can also BYOB, and there’s a market just across the street that sells local canned beers.


Black’s Barbecue
Lockhart may be a small town, but it’s a major Texas barbecue center. One of the top spots is Black’s, which opened in 1932. Beyond the brisket, which has a terrific bark, the menu includes both pork and beef ribs, barbecue chicken and smoked pork chops, plus garlic and jalapeno-cheddar sausages. You’ll also find cheap local brews, red-and-white checked tablecloths on picnic tables and the kind of ambiance that makes you just want to hang out for a while.

Black’s Barbecue | Photo courtesy of @la_beretta

Kreuz Market
Another Lockhart institution, Kreuz Market serves great brisket, fat sausages and more unexpected items, like smoked boneless prime rib and jalapeño dry-cured sausage. Don’t worry though–this place isn’t fancy. The meat comes piled on butcher paper with a thick stack of white bread slices, sleeves of saltines, pickles and raw onions—everything you need for the ultimate Texas barbecue experience.

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San Antonio

The Granary ‘Cue and Brew
Located in the Pearl, the former Pearl Brewing Company, the Granary is a traditional barbecue spot for lunch, while dinner takes inspiration from barbecue and global flavors for its composed dishes. For lunch, build a plate with brisket, sausage and burnt-end baked beans, then go back for dinner to try smoked octopus with morcilla, Texas toast with barbecue butter and brisket ramen with barbecue shallots.

Two Brothers | Photo courtesy of @mcsessions

Two Bros. BBQ Market
If there’s a barbecue joint that encourages lingering, it’s Two Bros., which has a sprawling patio, a bocce ball court and live music on weekends. Of course, there’s also brisket, cherry-glazed baby back ribs, bacon-wrapped smoked stuffed jalapeños and chopped beef Frito pie. Order a few things and settle in for the afternoon.

Houston Area

Gatlin’s BBQ and Catering
The family-run spot’s motto is “Where love is the secret ingredient,” and whether it’s love or superior barbecue skills, it’s clear there’s something that sets the food at Gatlin’s apart. Get the Texas Two-Step, a platter of brisket and sausage (and opt for spicy or venison sausage to mix things up), and add some smoked corn, collard greens or cult-favorite spicy dirty rice to round out the meal.

Corkscrew | Photo courtesy of @stephen.fuller.austin

CorkScrew BBQ
Head outside the city to Spring, where CorkScrew BBQ serves some of the best Houston-area ‘cue. After years at a black and pink trailer with outdoor seating, they relocated to this brick-and-mortar spot. Lunch is your best bet, since they still sell out early, and go hungry—beyond barbecue staples, you’ll want to try the smoked turkey, giant pulled pork-topped potato and tacos stuffed with meat, cabbage and green chile ranch.


Tagged: Cheap Tips, Food & drink, Texas

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Amy Cavanaugh

Amy Cavanaugh

Amy is Senior Editor at Plate Magazine, where she covers chefs and bartenders across the country. Based in Chicago, she has also written for Time Out Chicago, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Serious Eats and Saveur.

4 thoughts on “The only Texas barbecue road trip your summer needs”

  1. U should check out Big ‘O’s BBQ in Valera, Tx. A little off the beat’n path but well worth it. And don’t forget to leave room for the chocolate or my favorite, coconut pie….unbelievable!!

  2. I live in Kansas, I use to get the sausage from Sam’s but they don’ carry it anymore. Where can I find some to buy, I love the smoked and polish sausage

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