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. In addition to their lauded standard BBQ fare, the menu features 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 was added to the menu for Texas Barbecue Week in 2015 but became a permanent menu item. 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. The most recent addition is The Javiachi a hot dog, Texas hot gut sausage and all the fixings of a traditional Chicago-style dog.
902 E Cesar Chavez
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
Patrons wait hours in line to taste Aaron Franklin’s award-winning barbecue. The Tipsy Texan, is 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
Micklethwait Craft Meats & Romanouska’s Deli
Ok, technically Frito Pie isn’t a sandwich. Or is it? During a visit last year 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. Try it with or without the roll. For more information about this and other BBQ Frito Pie around town, see the post by The Smoking Ho.
Micklethwait’s sister trailer Romanouskas opened in 2015. Patrons enjoy New York-style deli sandwiches created using Texas-style smoked meats. The results are a truly unique sandwich experience. Try the Beef Sandwich with smoky beef loin, tart pickled onions, peppery arugula and creamy horseradish mayo on a salted and seeded potato bun. Or for something lighter, nosh on the Smoked Chicken Salad Sandwich. Moist smoked chicken is layered atop a schmaltz role with pickled grapes and herbed mayo. Toasted almonds add a refreshing crunch and nutty flavor.
Micklethwait Craft Meats
Romanouskas Craft Deli
1700 E 6th St
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
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. While the Brisket Taco isn’t technically a sandwich, it’s one of the best tacos in all of Austin and worth a special trip.
7612 Brodie, Austin TX 78745
Smokey Denmark’s Food Truck
When Bill Dumas departed Smokey Denmark’s late in 2015, Keenan Goldis took over the reins as pit master. He’s is known for making wildly creative offerings like sweet and savory apple pie sausage featured this past Fall. The menu routinely offers a custom sausage fabricated by Goldis for a limited period of time. The boneless beef rib sandwich seen above is periodically available. The most recent off-menu special is a Cuban Pork Sandwich with smoked pulled pork, tangy mojo sauce and crisp vinegar slaw.
3505 E 5th St
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 a drizzle of queso. If you’re a glutten for punishment, try The Donk, a 1 lb sandwich loaded with every meat on the menu, and pretty much everything else too.
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 Cubano. It’s served on wood grilled ciabatta bread with smoked ham, dill pickle slices, jack cheese and bbq sauce.
401 W 2nd St
Rollin Smoke BBQ
While Rollin’ Smoke hasn’t achieved the notoriety of other local BBQ joints, they’re still slinging a serious sandwich game. There’s nothing modest about The Playboy, a whopping 1/2 pound of brisket, pulled pork and sausage heaped onto a sweet bun with sauce, pickles and onions. Bring a bib or change of clothes as this sandwich is sure to get messy. True BBQ aficionado’s would scoff at the thought of vegetarian bbq, but their Veggie Option is worth a mention. This vegetarian barbecue sandwich is filled with smoked mushrooms, spicy slaw, pickles and onions.
Rollin Smoke BBQ
1501 E 6th St
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
Every BBQ joint in Austin will serve you a sandwich with your favorite meat on a bun or between two slices of bread, but this post was meant to feature the uncommon. If you’re visiting Austin or just unfamiliar with the BBQ scene, 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.
This post is part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for 2016. Happy eating!