I’d consider myself a barbecue purist and prefer to eat my meat unadorned by sauces and bread. But every once-in-awhile I get a hankering to wrap my hands around an over-sized sandwich and stuff my face. Here’s a list of Austin barbecue joints that feature some seriously delicious specialty BBQ sandwiches and a few other goodies to round out the list.
La barbecue is one of the most popular bbq joints in Austin and for good reason. The menu features multiple crafted sandwiches including La Chopped, El Sancho and El Sancho Loco. El Sancho Loco is aptly named as it’s a crazy concoction of succulent brisket, tender pulled pork, and spicy sausage. The smoky mountain of meat is balanced by the addition of pickled red onions. La Frito sandwich was added to the menu for Texas Barbecue Week but because of it’s popularity may become a menu staple. It’s topped with la barbecue’s signature brisket, spicy creamy chipotle slaw, pickled jalapeños peppers, cheddar cheese and fritos. It’s a mess of a sandwich, but the crunch from the fritos adds great texture. I’m not sure if it was intentional but during my visit with The Smoking Ho, they also added black bean salad and pickled onions. Maybe they’ll call this version La Frito Loca.
902 E. Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78702
Wed-Sun 11am-sold out
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew
Like it spicy? Then sink your teeth into Stiles Switch’s interpretation of the Diablo sandwich made famous by the movie Smokey and the Bandit. Sliced brisket and Switch sausage are stuffed between a white bread roll. While there’s debate about the contents of the actual sandwich in the movie, there’s no doubting the heat pickled jalapeños add to this fiery sandwich. A hint of sweetness from the homemade bbq sauce brings Buford T’s Diablo sandwich all together.
6610 N Lamar, Austin TX 78757
Tues-Thu & Sun 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm
Patrons wait hours in line to taste Aaron Franklin’s award-winning barbecue. The menu features the Tipsy Texan, a behemoth of a sandwich that’s amassed with a 1/2 pound of meat. Franklin slathers chopped brisket with a savory espresso bbq sauce and piles it high onto a roll. To finish it he adds sliced sausage, creamy cole slaw and pickle rounds. Bring a fork and your appetite –you’ll need both. I’m not sure it was named the Tipsy Texas because of it’s propensity to fall over or because of the barbecue euphoria experienced after eating it.
900 E 11th St, Austin TX 78702
Tues-Sun 11am-soldout (arrive early)
Micklethwait Craft Meats
Ok, technically Frito Pie isn’t a sandwich. Or is it? During a recent visit the Craft Meats’ crew was kind enough to fulfill my request to make a sandwich out of their frito pie. It’s easy to see from the picture above why it works. Micklethwait starts by ladling scratch-made chili fortified with smoked brisket atop crispy fritos and sprinkles it with shredded cheddar cheese. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, slices of lean brisket are added and it’s finished with a heaping spoonful of sour cream, chopped onions and pickled jalapeños. I love that everything down to the bread is homemade at Craft Meats. Rumor has it that newly opened Romanouskas next door is serving sandwiches that feature barbecue too.
Micklethwait Craft Meats
1309 Rosewood, Austin TX 78702
Tues-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 11am-3pm (or sold out)
Freedmen’s bar serves some of the most underrated barbecue in the city. Pitmaster Evan Leroy is consistently producing brisket with an outstanding peppery bark. The Smoke Stack is a two-meat sandwich that features slices of juicy brisket topped with moist pulled pork and pickled jalapeños. The sauce is served on the side so you can add it to taste or not at all. While the combination of beef and pork on the same sandwich isn’t typical, this sandwich works. It’s so big, Leroy stabs it with a knife to keep it upright.
2402 San Gabriel, Austin TX 78705
Tues-Wed 11am-11pm, Thu-Sat 11am-12am, Sun 11am-10pm
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
Valentina’s differentiates itself from other Austin barbecue joints by smoking over mesquite wood and offering a unique blend of tex-mex and barbecue. The menu focuses on sandwiches and tacos made with thick homemade flour tortillas. While they offer a variety of meats including brisket and pork, the Pulled Chicken sandwich with house slaw, lime-spiked guacamole and smoked chicken sauce is a great choice for anyone looking for a lighter sandwich that still offers amazing barbecue flavor.
7612 Brodie, Austin TX 78745
Tues-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 8am-10pm
The husband and wife team of Bill and Amelis at Kerlin BBQ started selling savory BBQ kolaches last fall. The demand has been high and they’ve continued to sell a rotating selection including brisket cheddar, sausage jalapeño and cheese, pulled pork with fontina and roasted red pepper with goat cheese. The kolaches are flavor bombs that pack a savory punch with golden-browned and slightly sweet crust surrounding Kerlin’s luscious pecan-smoked meat. The kolaches are quite rich and one goes a long way.
Slab prides itself on providing an unconventional approach to traditional Texas barbecue by serving a variety of sandwiches they’ve labeled “real dope bbq”. Slab’s amped up sandwiches include El Jefe which combines angus brisket, grilled onions, jalapeños and is finished with a drizzle of another Texas favorite, queso. If you’re a glutten for punishment, try The Donk, a 1 lb sandwich stacked with every meat on the menu, and pretty much everything else too.
9012 Reasearch, Austin, TX 78758
Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 12pm-6pm
Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue
Lamberts has reputation for serving fancy barbecue with creative rubs like brown sugar and coffee or fennel and coriander. They only serve plates for dinner, so you’ll need to come for lunch to try one of their BBQ sandwiches. The Pulled Smoke Pork Cuban is a creative interpretation of the classic cuban sandwich. It’s served on wood grilled ciabatta bread with smoked ham, dill pickles slices, jack cheese and topped with bbq sauce.
401 W 2nd St, Austin TX 78701
Lunch: Mon-Sat 11am-2:30pm, See website for dinner hours
Shake Shack isn’t a barbecue joint, it’s a burger restaurant, but they’ve teamed up with legendary Kreuz Market to develop the Lockhardt Link Burger. The cheeseburger combines Shake Shack’s famous all beef patty with Kreuz’s signature jalapeño cheese sausage link, special sauce and pickles. While this is probably more burger than barbecue it seemed like an appropriate addition to the list.
1100 S Lamar, Suite 2100 Austin TX 78704
Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm
If you’re visiting Austin or just unfamiliar with the BBQ scene, please be aware that some of the listed establishments can have a long line and sell out. I suggest arriving early or calling ahead to find out the estimated wait times. Happy eating!