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Eat Your World spotlights regional foods and drinks around the globe, from New York to New Delhi. Visit their Texas section for more of the best local dishes in Austin.
What: Smoked beef brisket is king among Texas barbecue, and one bite of the good stuff tells you why. What starts as the tough cut of meat from the breast or chest of a cow gets rubbed with salt and pepper, then wood-smoked (typically with oak in Central Texas) for anywhere from six to 24 hours — until the exterior "bark" is well-blackened atop a telltale pink smoke ring and the interior’s connective tissue and collagen are tenderized, resulting in marbled meat that’s magnificently toothsome, bursting with fatty, meaty flavor. It’s a simple yet seemingly mythical process that requires lots of skill on the part of the pit master — especially because in these parts, sauce is served only on the side (if at all) so as not to distract from the meat. To that end, brisket, like other BBQ here, is served plainly on butcher paper, with sides offered separately.
A note about Central Texas barbecue: This variety of ’cue is attributed to the German and Czech settlers who brought European meat-smoking traditions to the area — primarily to the towns of Lockhart, Luling, and Taylor, each within about an hour’s drive from Austin — in the mid-19th century. The holy trinity of this brand of barbecue is smoked brisket, sausage, and pork ribs; these meats (among others) will be offered everywhere. Only a local — or someone else with frequent and easy access — is likely to go from joint to joint and not giddily order all three of these meats. (Thankfully, meat is sold by the pound here, so you can ask for as much or as little as you want, making it ideal for grazing at multiple places.) Rather than lump these meats all together, we are listing them individually so that we may spread the love among multiple worthy barbecue spots.
Where: We loved a lot of things about Franklin Barbecue, but especially its perfectly smoked, moist Meyer all-natural Angus brisket, oak-smoked and seasoned simply with salt and pepper, served the traditional way: piled onto a butcher-paper-covered tray with white bread, pickles, onions, and your choice of sides. This place proves once and for all that you don’t have to leave the city of Austin to find great barbecue (though we still recommend you do, for fun).
Good to know: In a typically Austin origin story, Franklin started out as a tiny trailer just off Interstate-35. In March 2011, its incredible popularity (not to mention constant exposure to the elements) prompted the owner, Aaron Franklin, to move his excellent operation to an indoor space, which is where you’ll find it now.
When: Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. until sold out — often by 2 p.m., but sometimes earlier. Come early: People start lining up outside around 9 a.m. There’s always a line, and it moves slowly. The place is building a new brick pit so that they can handle more meat, more people, and maybe stay open through dinner.
Order: You’ll end up buying whatever you can get if things get sold out. We recommend trying multiple meats — a platter of two with bread and two sides costs $9.75 — but ideally you try the brisket (a nonnegotiable must), the pork ribs, and the sausage (but heck, even the pulled pork is delicious, and we loved the Tipsy Texan, a chopped beef sandwich with sliced sausage). The super nice staff will work with you to make you a plate you want, so just ask. Request the brisket fatty for the goods — sublime, supple, fork-tender sliced beef. And though this barbecue is always about the meat and not the sauce, be sure to try the three homemade sauces available —one is a sweet, regular barbecue sauce; one’s a vinegary Carolina-style (for the pulled pork); and the house favorite is dark, tangy, and made with espresso beans.
Alternatively: Just as notorious for its outstanding BBQ as its exclusivity — it is only open Saturday mornings — the award-winning Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, some 52 miles east of Austin, must be mentioned where brisket is concerned. At about an hour and 20 minutes’ drive, it’s the farthest BBQ-day-trip pilgrimage from the city that you’ll likely be tempted to make, but we hear it’s well worth it. (The praises of its smoky, juicy brisket, among other meats, have been sung as loudly by The New Yorker as Texas Monthly.) Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, about 38 miles northeast of Austin, also gets top marks for its brisket, as well as its jalapeño sausage, beef ribs, and turkey, of all things. But for people visiting the area for just a few days, it’s often most efficient to head down to Lockhart, a barbecue mecca 30 miles south of Austin that is home to several famous institutions easy to hop among. We enjoyed the brisket and sausage at Smitty’s Market, but you might also swing by the celebrated Kreuz Market — the parent of Smitty’s, which split off in 1999 — and/or Black’s Barbecue, the oldest barbecue restaurant in Texas continuously owned by the same family.
Laura Siciliano-Rosen is the co-founder of Eat Your World, a website that spotlights regional foods and drinks around the globe. Follow Eat Your World on Twitter @eat_your_world.
Austin’s Best BBQ: 5 Local Classics
Texas Hill Country style BBQ centers around brisket and traditionally involves cooking meats over wood ash, not just coals. Not many people do it the old-fashioned way– except for the celebrated pits pedaling the Best BBQ in Austin. If that sounds interesting to you, then you’ve come to the right place!
Like tacos, barbecue is a classic local food to enjoy in Austin. Eating BBQ in ATX is practically synonymous with the place!
For the true local experience, be sure to try Austin smoked brisket, BBQ ribs, and/or pulled pork. (I recommend ordering all three, which is a convenient excuse to share if you only have time to eat at one of the places on this list.)
Austin has no shortage of dedicated BBQ joints, moreover. Still, the Big League players in this guide are commonly named for a reason. People here just do it right. In Austin, ‘Que is a passionate vocation for many, and a way of life for local meat-eaters.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
For the most rootsy experience, you’ll have to drive out to Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas, about an hour outside of Austin. (But that’s another story entirely more on that, later.)
Below is a basic rundown of the best BBQ joints in Austin, and what to order where for the most authentic, rewarding meals.
It’s all so good, which is why this list is in no particular order. Bookmark this guide for easy reference later!
Remember to ask for extra napkins, and enjoy!
Endearingly rustic Salt Lick BBQ is a classic ‘cue destination in Texas Hill Country. || Image via Facebook/ The Salt Lick
Salt Lick BBQ
Salt Lick BBQ— technically “The Salt Lick BBQ” but everyone just calls it “Salt Lick”– is a venerated local classic when it comes to good BBQ in Austin. Every BBQ snob in the city has eaten here at least once, and with good reason.
This old-fashioned pit has been around since 1967, and between its rustic outdoor ambiance and generous combo plates, it’s something of a wunderkind in the local BBQ vernacular. I love the brisket and the ribs, but there is so much variety and all of it is so excellent that it’s hard to believe one pit can manage to smoke so many different genres of meat so well.
Take, for example, the unique Bison Ribs Plate. This succulent, slow-cooked BBQ offering is hard to find not just in Austin, but anywhere. Bison Ribs are pretty rare, which is why I recommend ordering them here if you like trying new things.
They also do a mean Turkey and Sausage Plate and have “Relly Big Sandwiches” like Marino’s Triple Chop, featuring chopped brisket, sausage, and ribs with pickles and onions.
The original Salt Lick pit in Driftwood is BYOB, for those who drink. It’s also a great place to try fatty tips and brisket with a perfectly-smoked rind.
The pit’s reputation proceeds it so much that you can even sample some Salt Lick barbecue at the airport on the way home, in case you’re an out-of-towner looking to get one last fix.
(My husband once went to a bachelor party in Austin and brought some ribs home on the plane. We ate them in our New York apartment mere hours later. After years of eating here in Austin, I was surprised how well it held up after 5+ hours in transit!)
BBQ combo plates at Salt Lick are a thing of beauty. || Image via Facebook/ The Salt Lick
For the quintessential experience at Salt Lick, order the Brisket & Pork Ribs combo plate, which comes with potato salad, coleslaw, and beans. Bread, pickles, and onions are available upon request.
Also, Salt Lick makes their potato salad with sweet potatoes, a subtle but delicious detail that makes all the difference.
And for those who don’t eat beef, we also love the classic pork rib plate and the pulled pork combo plate (pulled pork with your choice of sausage, pork ribs, or turkey). Just be sure to save room for the delicious pecan pie as dessert!
And when they’re serving bread pudding (usually on Sundays), forget about skipping the sweets. You’ve got to try it.
For Austin’s best “half moist, half lean” brisket, head to Franklin Barbecue. || Image: Franklin Barbecue
If you want to try Franklin Barbecue in Austin, you’re going to need to plan ahead. Either wait in a long line or win the lottery– literally.
Helmed by James Beard Award-winning pitmaster Aaron Franklin, this iconic, world-renowned barbecue is open from 11 AM to whenever they sell out each day. This inevitably happens around 2 or 3 PM. It’s that good.
Basically, this celebrated Austin barbecue institution is known for its half moist, half lean sliced brisket and pork spare ribs with all the fixin’s. It’s one of the 50 Best BBQ Joints in America, and they claim to be “serving the best barbecue in the known universe”.
^ Many would agree. (I certainly do, though the hassle required to secure a meal here might be a little overwhelming for some.)
Order the brisket for the quintessential experience. Franklin Barbecue is known for its delicious smoked meats, which beautifully showcase the technique of Texas-style barbecue at its foodie-finest.
When I used to go to fancy food charity events in New York City, with many of the world’s greatest chefs in attendance, they used to raffle off tickets to be able to “skip the line at Franklin Barbecue in Austin”. Then, people would pay literally thousands of dollars for this privilege.
It was for charity, after all. But the price tag also says something about the raw intrigue of Franklin’s, and how coveted the experience of dining there is. (I always used to always wonder: “What if they get there and someone says, ‘Nope, you have to wait in line like everybody else.'” Lol.)
All of this is to say that Franklin Barbecue attracts a lot of hype and fanfare. Still, the product ultimately delivers. The flavors here are both subtle and mindblowing. Just be sure to arrive right when they open (ideally, 30 minutes sooner) to ensure you can get in.
The Notorious R.I.B. at Stiles Switch BBQ. || Image: Molly Beauchemin
Stiles Switch BBQ
Stiles Switch BBQ is still a sleeper hit among longtime Austin eaters, even though it has previously been named one of the 50 Best BBQ Joints in America.
This Austin BBQ joint is also famous for another reason, though: the restaurant is located in Violet Crown Plaza, which is where they filmed the Emporium scenes in the iconic Richard Linklater film Dazed and Confused. (The Emporium is the billiard hall where Ben Affleck gets paint dumped on his head.)
Today, the restaurant’s exposed wood beam interior is THE place to linger over “BBQ and brews” on N. Lamar Boulevard. During SXSW and when weather permits, they often have live music, as well.
I went here for the first time on BBQ king Daniel Vaughn’s recommendation, and I ordered “The Notorious R.I.B.” (above shown). This cheekily-named special– and these are always changing– featured an epic 1-lb beef rib rack served on a bed of tater tots covered in queso.
Yes, queso. This is Texas, people!
It’s gluttonous and superfluous, sure– which means it’s also amazing and transcendently delicious.
The restaurant specializes in this kind of creative take on slow-cooked meats, from Brisket Enchiladas to Chicken Fried Steak with Sawmill gravy. Texas toast adorns each plate, and they include pickled red onions alongside their cuke pickles on every meat plate. (Just a small accent that I love.)
Stiles Switch, moreover, is one of those places where the meat is so flavorful that it doesn’t even need sauce. (A good litmus test, as any serious BBQ lover knows.) They know how to dress a plate to attract foodies and BBQ purists, alike.
Sides-wise, regulars love the corn casserole and the Hawg Rub Fries. There are also classics like mac n’ cheese, potato salad, and Switch House coleslaw. The so-called “Cadillac of the Menu” is the beef ribs plate, of course. Choose your own Texas-style adventure!
Either way, save room for dessert– e.g. homemade peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream tres leches cake (a distinctly Tex-Mex option that represents local fusion cuisine beautifully) chocolate Oreo pudding (recommended!) or the obligatory banana pudding. (<– No real BBQ menu is complete without it!)
For a unique experience, try the Texas Frito Pie— a combination of brisket chili, Fritos, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, cilantro, and pickled onion. It’s a unique Texas take on nachos, and worth trying for the gimmick alone.
^ The only other place you can get this kind of dish is in Santa Fe!
For live music and fantastic barbecued meats, Stubb’s BBQ strikes the perfect balance. || Image: Facebook/ Stubb’s Austin
The popular SXSW music venue Stubb’s BBQ is also a classic Austin BBQ establishment. They’re known for their tender Angus brisket, which is the thing that visitors to the city most commonly line up for, especially during the city’s most popular music festivals.
The smoke ring, the brisket’s crispy bark, and the way these two elements dovetail to make the perfect brisket sandwich is only made better with Stubb’s iconic Bar-B-Que sauce. (It comes in two flavors– Original and Spicy– and it’s one of the most iconic Austin souvenirs. Today, you can also purchase it at gourmet food markets around the country.)
Add a side of Stubb’s amazing Serrano cheese creamed spinach (the “world’s greatest”) along with housemade potato salad and a Peach Sweet Tea cocktail and you’ve got yourself a deeply Texas experience.
Locals also love the Red River ‘Rita— so named after the street where the restaurant’s 155-year-old stone building stands. It pairs beautifully with Stubb’s Wings, which are smoked then flash-fried, and dressed with buffalo sauce or Bar-B-Que. Served with the housemade super chunky bleu cheese and a cold Lonestar beer, there’s nothing better on Game Day (or any day).
For the quintessential sit-down experience, try to go for Sunday Gospel Brunch at Stubb’s. There may be a line snaking around the restaurant’s yucca-lined facade, but it’s worth the wait for live gospel music and authentic, family-style Texas BBQ.
In addition to three types of meat and three sides, all plates are served with biscuits and homemade sausage gravy, as well as coffee, iced tea, and “Nana pudding” to top it all off. And at $29 a person (and only
$12 for kids), it’s a great family value that will keep you full all day.
Otherwise, if you want something more casual and individual, simply enjoy your brisket sandwich standing up while watching a concert in the backyard. (Check out the concert calendar here.)
Ultimately, my favorite way to enjoy Stubb’s BBQ is simply to go for a show and order a to-go item at the concession counter. This combo of live music and barbecue is a classic Austin experience!
Fresh-off-the-grill ribs at Snow’s BBQ. || Image via Facebook/ Snow’s BBQ
Snow’s BBQ (Not Technically in Austin, But Worth The 1-Hour Drive)
Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas is not technically in Austin, but it is an easy drive from there.
This iconic Texas BBQ joint was also notably featured in Season 7 of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, a special BBQ feature that highlighted world-famous Pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz, who is 85-years-old as of this writing.
Tootsie cooks all of Snow’s meats with a firm dedication to old-school techniques, and she is part of the reason why this place has gotten so insanely popular in recent years. She insists on the doting details for which her pit has now become world-famous.
The obsessives at Texas Monthly even voted it “Best Barbecue in Texas”!
For Tootsie, moreover, barbecue is a true labor of love– and it shows. Two years ago, she was inducted into the BBQ Pitmaster Hall of Fame, and she still wakes up around 3 AM every Saturday just to get the coals going. (The pit is only open on Saturdays from 8 AM until sold out.)
As a result, visitors wait in the dark, in the cold, sometimes for hours, just to try Tootsie’s original Texas barbecue. Try the Brisket, the Pork Spare Ribs, or the Pork Shoulder Steak for the classic experience.
Since the Chef’s Table feature, Tomanetz has also become something of a local icon and selfie magnet. (Hard-core BBQ fans are always asking her to take pictures with them after they eat.)
There are certain people who travel all over America in search of good barbecue, and there’s a reason why Snow’s is always on the Bucket List.
How to choose a brisket
The recipes recommends keeping the flat cap on. In most cases, I’ve always recommended removing it, but Aaron argues that this will help keep the brisket warm. Because the cooking time on this is so much longer than other barbecue brisket recipes, I’m happy to go along with him here.
It doesn’t stop there though. Aaron recommends cooking the entire thing, which also means leaving the point and flat intact and connected.
So when you choose your whole brisket, you want both flat and point together. This is often referred to as a packer brisket. Doing this will also give you much more control over exactly what you trim later.
Keep an eye out for marbling. This is the streams of fat and connective tissues that we see running through the flesh of red meat. It’s an indicator of good meat for smoking because as it’s cooked low and slow it will begin to melt away, leaving us with beautifully moist and rich flavors.
Also keep an eye out for a thick flat. This will allow the leaner parts of the beef underneath it to cook at the same rate as the rest of the beef.
Welcome to the Best Seat in the House, a digital series from Visit Austin, bringing together some of the best personalities in Austin&aposs service industry sharing some ways to experience a taste of Austin from home.
In this episode, la Barbecue Owners LeAnn Mueller and Alison Clem share their simple 𠇊t home” brisket recipe.
La Barbecue Brisket
Season your trimmed brisket liberally with the salt and pepper on all sides. Place seasoned brisket in your offset smoker, with the fatty end towards the firebox. Build your fire up to 275° and cook until the internal temperature of the fatty end reads 190°. Wrap brisket in butcher paper and put back on the smoker. Cook wrapped brisket at 300° until the internal temperature is 202° on the lean end. Slice and enjoy!
LeAnn Mueller and Alison Clem
LeAnn Mueller comes from barbecue royalty. The granddaughter of the Taylor, Texas smoked meat legend Louie Mueller, and daughter of James Beard Award-winning barbecue luminaryobby Mueller, LeAnn was introduced to the art of Texas barbecue early in life.
In 2012, she opened la Barbecue in Austin, Texas, along with her wife Alison Clem and John Lewis. Together, LeAnn and Alison blazed the trail early on for women in the barbecue business. They have become a staple in the Austin community and continue to inspire others with their innovative menu.
la Barbecue was born of fire and controversy and has risen to the upper echelons of the barbecue world. They cook world class beef, pork, turkey and sausage in our custom fabricated smoker using local, perfectly seasoned post oak.
Aaron Franklin’s pinto beans
Now, I probably don’t need to tell you who Aaron Franklin is, but if you’re not familiar with him he has a barbecue joint in Austin called Franklin Barbecue, and is generally regarded as one of the finest pitmasters in barbecue. He’s most renowned for his brisket, and every day hundreds of people will wait in long lines to try a sample of his beef.
He recently came out with a book called Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto, which explains his method. While there aren’t many recipes per se, as far as cookbooks go it’s a wonderful read. The book starts off with the story of how he got into the barbecue business, and this section is especially compelling to me, as he not only goes into how much time and hard work he put into developing his barbecue technique, but he also describes how he’d sit quietly in his first barbecue trailer and dream about all that could be.
He then talks about everything you need to know to create beautiful barbecue, from building your own smoker to butchering your meat. The only thing he doesn’t cover is how to chop down trees for wood. I reckon he’s saving that for his next book.
I read a lot of cookbooks, but this might be the first that actually made me so homesick I almost cried. It’s clear that Aaron loves Texas but I also regretted that I didn’t have a backyard space to put into practice some of his barbecue philosophies, let alone the space and tools to weld a new smoker.
That said, as much as I enjoy Aaron’s brisket I think his beans may be even better. I’ve talked before about how much I love his pinto beans, which are peppery, flavorful, and rich. They’re perfectly seasoned and one time when I was at an event where he was serving barbecue, it was his beans I went back for seconds, not the meat. So while I’m not immediately able to smoke meat his way, in his new book he has shared a recipe for his beans and I can make that in my tiny kitchen.
His recipe is fairly simple. You soak the pintos with diced onion and a blend of spices, and then cook the beans with chopped smoked brisket. Of course, when you’re making these at home, you probably won’t have Franklin Barbecue brisket (unless you have leftovers, but I understand that rarely happens). But when I made the recipe with some local barbecue, the beans still turned out excellent.
Aaron’s instructions are for stovetop cooking, but I found that the recipe also works in a slow cooker, too. The most important thing if you choose to do it that way is to remove the lid for the last two hours of cooking so the broth can reduce.
These barbecue pinto beans make a fine side for your next gathering, though they’re hearty enough to be served on their own with slices of warm cornbread. And if you don’t eat meat, you could even make them vegetarian. While the brisket contributes a layer of flavor, it’s only a supporting player. In this dish, the beans are the true stars.
I look forward to someday following Aaron’s approach for smoking meat. But these incredible pinto beans aside, his book still holds much value for me, as it’s not just about barbecue—it’s also a reminder that hard work and dreaming big are the keys to achieving any goal you may seek.
Would you like more Homesick Texan? Well, I’ve started offering additional recipes for paid subscribers to help with the costs of running the site. While I’m not taking anything away, if you’d like to support Homesick Texan and have access to exclusive, never-seen-before subscriber-only posts, please consider becoming a member annual subscriptions are as low as $25. Thank you for reading, your consideration, and your support!
Be sure to bring your appetite when you come to Austin, as you’ll quickly find out there’s a lot to sip, sample and savor everywhere you go. From craft beers and creative cocktails to melt in your mouthrisketਊnd savoryreakfast tacos, we’ve got what you’re craving. Take it all in with this weekend itinerary.
Courtesy of Suerte.
Kick start your weekend with a must-try Austin specialty: breakfast tacos. Grab a flavorful chorizo and egg taco from the legendary Juan in a Million (offering takeout and local delivery), or grab a picnic table at one of Veracruz All Natural&apossਏood trailers, famous for its migas stuffed with eggs, tortilla chips, avocado, pico de gallo and Monterey jack cheese (online ordering for takeout available).
Enjoy the outdoors (and maybe work off some of your breakfast) with an easy stroll along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, an urban green space along the scenic shoreline of Lady Bird Lake. Once you’ve worked up your appetite again, walk right on over to The Picnic, an outdoor food truck park offering a variety of local food trailers and plenty of spaced-out picnic tables. Must tries include Coat & Thai and The Mighty Cone.
After lunch, spend some time at Zilker Park and Barton Springs Pool, where you can either take a dip in the cool waters or just relax on the grassy shoreline. Spend the rest of your afternoon sightseeing on an East Austin Cocktail & Bites Food Tour or Private Walking Food Tour with Austin Eats Food Tours, or on a self-guidedike tour with Barton Springs Bike Rental.
If you have space in your stomach to spare for supper, try one of Austin&aposs hottest dining concepts. A few notable mentions are Sour Duck Market (open for takeout or dine-in with an expansive patio), Loro (dine-in, patio dining and takeout available), Suerte (limited indoor and outdoor seating),ਊrlo Grey (temporarily closed) or, James Beard Award-nominated Barley Swine for an Instagram-worthy feast (open Thursday-Sunday for dine-in or Friday forꂺrley Q Takeout) .
Cosmic Coffee & Beer Patio. Credit Giant Noise/Julia Keim.
Start your morning with indulgent dishes, such as ricotta hotcakes with bananas, pecan butter and maple syrup, at local fave Cafe No Se (dining room open Wednesday through Sunday). After breakfast, stroll up to the famous I Love You So Much mural for a picture, and then shop Big Top Candy Shop𠅋oasting more than 300 varieties of bulk candies—to stock up on specialty sweets.
Continue your foodie shopping adventure by browsing the homemade treats, gourmet snacks and more at the SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown, open Saturdays at Republic Square Park from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., or the flagship Whole Foods Market on Sixthਊnd Lamar, where all kinds of freshly made sandwiches, buffet items, baked goods and more await.
Spend your afternoon letting an expert show you around with a Live Music and Brewery Tour with Twisted Texas Tours. This 2.5-hour tour features a live band that provides entertainment on the bus ride to two breweries, where you can sample locally brewed craft beers. While public tours are temporarily canceled, private small group tours for up to 10 guests are still available.
After your tour, you can’t miss a taste of world-famous Texas barbecue. Sink your teeth into the ultra-tender brisketਊt Stiles Switch BBQ (limited indoor and patio dining open), or pair a local craft beer with decadent pork sliced belly from the new LeRoy and Lewis trailer at Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden (online ordering available).
Once the sun goes down, get a taste of Austin’s vibrant nightlife scene and its incredible cocktail culture. At cocktail hotspot Whisler&aposs, sip on creative, seasonal cocktails infused with unique ingredients.ਊt the sultry Midnight Cowboy, enjoy the low-key speakeasy vibe while sipping on a classic libation (reservations required).
Bird Bird Biscuit. Credit Chelsea Laine Francis.
Before departing Austin, make your last day count by indulging in decadent breakfast sandwichesਊt Bird Bird Biscuit - think spicy breaded chicken with cayenne black pepper honeyਊnd bacon-infused chipotle mayo, or chicken sausage and egg with cheddar and basil pesto on a huge homestyle biscuit (order online). Or opt for reinvented Southern cuisine𠅍ubbed Hill Country cuisine𠅊t Pitchfork Pretty, serving up gourmet breakfast sandwiches, fresh oysters and seafood, and sweets such as pecan scones with maple bourbon glaze (temporarily closed).
If you𠆝 rather sightsee and taste your way around Austin, don’t miss the 3 Winery Tour from Texas Wine Tours which includes pick up androp off at your lodging (within Austin) and aਃ-4 hour tour of some of the best wineries and vineyards in Texas Hill Country. Rather travel solo? Plan your own tour of nearby wineries and get the lastest information about current offerings and closures from Texas Hill Country Wineries.
Looking for even more fun ways to experience Austin’s culinary scene? Check the upcoming tasting classes at Antonelli’s Cheese Shop and Con’ Olio olive oil shop, shop for something sweet at the Maggie Louise Confections flagship store, or find more of our top restaurants in Austin this year.
Notes about this recipe
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We’ve helped you locate this recipe but for the full instructions you need to go to its original source.
If the recipe is available online - click the link “View complete recipe”– if not, you do need to own the cookbook or magazine.
Aaron Franklin smokes his briskets with post oak or live oak, according to Robb Walsh. He also cooks them to the “unheard-of internal temperature of 201 to 203 F.” We cain’t git oak for smoking around here, so we used a combination of briquettes and hickory. Not exactly the same, I know, but the ‘cue came out mighty good. I’ll give you both recipes here, and should you be able to replicate Aaron’s exactly, by all means, try. Our instructions are in ital.
1 (8-10 pound) first-quality beef brisket, untrimmed
Salt and coarsely ground pepper
1/4 cup Worchestershire sauce
Sprinkle the brisket on both sides with salt and pepper. Combine the Worchestershire sauce and water in a mister.
Prepare a fire for indirect-heat cooking in your smoker (the coals on one side only) with a water pan. Use wood chips, chunks or logs and keep up a good level of smoke. The smoker is ready when the temperature is between 275 and 300.
Put the brisket in the smoker on the cool side of the grate and close the lid. Cook for 6 hours, adding wood as needed to keep the fire burning evenly. At this point, test the brisket with an instant-read thermometer the internal temperature should read 165.
What we did here was use an off-set smoker: Crumple one broadsheet newspaper page and place it under a chimney starter. Fill the chimney 3/4 full of Kingsford briquettes. Light the paper and wait 1/2 hour until the briquettes are glowing orange with grey ash around them. Set them in the smoker’s box. Place several large chunks of hickory on top.
The coals last between 1 to 1 1/2 hours, so you will need to repeat this process every hour. It takes 30 minutes for the coals to be ready (glowing orange with grey ash around them), and you need to always be ahead. Set your timer, and start the coals each hour. Wait until they are ready, then put them in the box, and place the hickory. Wait. Wait and watch. Watch the smoke coming out of the chimney watch the temperature. Barbecue is an art, not a science.
Remove the brisket from the smoker. Spray it with some of the Worcestershire solution (there will be a lot leftover), wrap it in butcher paper and return it to the smoker. Let it cook in the paper for 2 hours longer.
Remove the wrapped brisket from the smoker and place it in an empty cooler or a 200 degree oven for 3 or 4 hours. The brisket is done when a toothpick passes effortlessly through the fat or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers at least 185 but preferably as high as 203.
Put it in the oven for 2 hours. Placed the butcher paper-wrapped brisket in a gallon freezer bag and put it in the downstairs fridge. (Our downstairs fridge only has beer and wine, so the hope is that the amazing smoky smell won’t infuse any other foods that might be in there. If you don’t have an extra fridge, you might want to do a double-wrap.) Three hours before dinner, remove the brisket from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 250. Let it sit out for an hour. Then reheat, wrapped in paper, on a sheet pan, for 2 hours, until the internal temperature reaches between 170 and 200.)
To ensure the brisket remains moist, do not trim away the fat cap before serving. Slice only as much brisket as needed and serve immediately. The remainder will keep well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to a week.
The Best Texas Brisket Rub
For those who love grilling, smoking, and the flavor of the outdoors, there is never a bad time for a Texas-sized hunk of meat packed with savory spices. A delectable, carefree meat for summer hosting, while also warm and hearty for crisp autumn or winter afternoons.
Try it hot and falling off the bone with a side dish of potatoes, or sliced cold between bread and drizzled with sauce for enviable leftovers. It’s simple enough for even novice cooks to fire up, but with robust results that’ll bring herb-lovers to tears. We have already covered the Texas style BBQ in our Tastes of USA BBQ series, make sure to check it out here!
Here, I’ll include several brisket recipes for eye-popping meat dry rub recipes , suitable for all proteins from steak, chicken, seafood, to even the mighty Texas Smoked Brisket. If you’ve ever stared at a freezer full of tasty meats with plenty of ambition but not enough know-how, this article is for you. And if you’re a grill connoisseur with thawed steaks and an appetite big as I’ll get out, keep reading!
To begin, pick the recipe that best suits your taste, because any beef recipe isn't complete without a rub:
Recipe 1: Texas-Style Brisket Rub
- 1/2 cup paprika
- 1/4 cup Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cumin
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1/4 cup fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 Tbsp cayenne pepper
Recipe 2: Traditional Texas Brisket Rub
- 2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt or sea salt
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp sugar
Chuck Wagon Texas Brisket Rub
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
I know, I know. We’ve got a Texas/cowboy sort of theme going. But that’s a good thing. I can already smell the campfires, the pungent spices, and the tough taste of roughin’ it.
Now it’s just a matter of finishing the three simple steps:
STEP 1: Prepare The Ingredients for the Texas Brisket Recipe
Firstly, you’re going to pick your brisket. Emphasis on PICK. This is no meandering through the meat aisles poking ribs and counting calories. You want to ensure the biggest, best, and tastiest brisket ever.
- Quality Check. The three options for good meat is Prime, Choice, and Select. Prime is the highest grade, a mixture of perfect marbling and tenderness however, it can be rather pricey. Select has the least marbling, is less moist, and tends to be cheaper. Choice is probably the perfect balance between budget and palate. If possible, opt for either Prime or Choice for the best brisket, unless you’re going gourmet and happen to find Certified Angus Beef (CAB) briskets.
- Weight. It’s good to remember that, depending on the fat to meat ratio, the brisket will shrink some during cooking. Try to opt for beef briskets that are well marbled, so the flavor and juices from the melting fat absorbs evenly.
- The Perfect Cut. While price and convenience play a part, nothing can rival the taste of a solid brisket, cooked whole and untrimmed (or “packer cut”). You won’t have to hassle with uneven chops, and the raw fat will keep the meat moist. Just make sure the overall brisket has consistent thickness, else thinner ends will get crisped while thicker parts are still in the red.
You can also find more information on cooking brisket in our “How to Smoke a Brisket” article!
STEP 2: Cooking The Beef Brisket
There are a several options for cooking that heavenly slab of meat. First, thaw your brisket (if you haven’t already.) Next, choose your dry rub ingredients from the selection above – Texas-Style, Traditional, or Chuck Wagon. Mix the ingredients together in a plastic container or a medium bowl (each recipe is suitable for a brisket between 5-10 lbs.) Scatter the mixture over the meat, using a spatula to pack into the meat. Cooking time may vary.
Finally, choose your cooking method:
- Indoor – Oven. While not ideal for rugged meats, it comes in handy for those rainy days you didn’t bank on, when you’ve got your meat thawed and in danger of spoiling. Begin with a 350 degree oven, and cook time until your meat is savory and brown.
- Indoor – Slow Cooker . Cook on low all day, or high for six hours. Again, it won’t catch the smoky outdoor flavors, but the simmering will make for delectable and moist meat. Also, you may have to trim down your beef if you invested in a whole cut!
- Outdoor – Grill. Now this is what Texas Brisket is all about simply flip onto a prepared grill, and cook to an internal temperature of 165. Tender, smoky, flavorful goodness!
- Outdoor – Smoking. A time-consuming but tasty option that holds its own among the competition. It’s basically grilling, only you add a handful of wet wood chips to the seething coals, creating more smoke to smoke brisket keep the temperature about 225 degrees until the meat reaches 165 degrees, the slower process giving more time for flavors to absorb. Texas -style smoked brisket is the best.
STEP 3: Finishing Strong
The star of the show is completed safely wrap your brisket in foil, and stow away in a 150 degree oven or roaster until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, it’s time to round out the meal with sides dishes. In the realm of briskets, nothing is impossible go for an Oriental flavor with cabbage and egg rolls, breakfast with biscuits and eggs, or high-class with mashed potatoes drizzled in gizzard gravy.
Here are a few of the more traditional options:
- Potatoes. When it comes to anything Texas, meat and potatoes are the kings of the palate. Whether French fried, oven fried, mashed, hashbrown, or au gratin, adding a starch brings your meal to a whole new level of satisfaction. Not sure where to start? I’ve got you covered. You can start with something real easy, like baking potatoes on the grill. Don't forget to serve bbq sauce .
- Veggies. Just about any form or variation will do. Corn on the cob, coleslaw, and baked beans are among the most popular with brisket. However, don’t let that keep you from considering sweet potatoes, peas, broccoli, carrots, green beans, or a sweet ‘n simple salad. Check out our “Vegetables on the grill” article for more ideas!
- Bread. This concludes the sacred trio of southern sides – starch, veggies, and bread. This can be in the form of golden cornbread, bread sticks, biscuits, or fluffy dinner rolls.
- Dessert. Round out an impressive course with something light, like pudding, ice cream, or mousse. Cake, brownies and cookies will do well if you skip the bread during the meal.
As you can see, a Texas-style brisket banquet can be as simple as tossing meat in the oven, cracking open a can of green beans, a bag of Hawaiian King rolls, and a store-bought dessert or as deliciously complex as tenderly smoked meat, crisp veggies, and a homemade caramel mousse. Add a bit of barbecue sauce and you're all set. For me, it’s more than a lip-smacking good meal it’s rehash of my hometown legacy, and the perfect way to create memories that last!
Did you enjoy this overview on the art and science of Texan brisket perfection? Or do you have your own method, tips or tricks? Let me know in the comments below!
Before I let you go, I have even more information for all you cooking enthusiasts. Here’s a video with BBQ Rub tips for your perfect recipes:
12 of the weirdest things to eat and drink in Austin
Austinites like being weird just as much as we love eating and drinking. In order to please your weird palate, we've uncovered some of the strangest things to eat and drink in Austin, found everywhere from food trucks to dive bars to fine dining rooms.
Scallion panquesadilla with pork cotton candy
Anyone who lives in Texas is no stranger to Tex-Mex and has, most likely, made many a late night quesadilla at home. Substitute tortillas for scallion pancakes, add melted cheese, sriracha, green onion and cilantro — maybe even an egg — and you’ll have what the Dumpling Happiness truck outside Whisler’s calls a “scallion panquesadilla.” But theirs is also topped with dried, shredded pork they call “pork cotton candy,” also known as “pork floss” or rousong in Chinese. While it’s not the kind of cotton candy you’ll find on a stick at the circus, it’s mighty tasty on this savory pancake.
Available seasonally, this dish features chapulines — also known as crickets. The toasted chapulines are served with crispy kale and epazote on house-made corn tortillas. Note: This is an off-the-menu specialty.
The brisket cider made by Austin Eastciders is much more than a gimmick. While most wine and cider fermentations are fed powdered yeast nutrients nowadays, they used to be fed with beef back in the day. The east side cidery partnered with Micklethwait Craft Meats, who provided some whole smoked briskets as well as some burnt ends, for the process. “We steamed off the fat, made the one vegetarian on the team cut up the brisket, then wrapped it in cheesecloth and added it to the apple juice at the beginning of the ferment. The yeast loved it,” explains Austin Eastciders owner Ed Gibson. The resulting still cider is smoky with a savory finish that is anything but overwhelmingly meaty. Sample the creation at the new cidery and look for another small batch release next year.
Hay Elotes features a menu full of colorful, spicy snacks, most based around a chip product of some sort (think a bag of Cheetos dressed up with chamoy, lime and “Ingredient X”). Their Tostitolocos starts with a Tostitos chip bag, which is then topped with Japanese peanuts, jicama, cucumber, sweet chiles, lime juice, Hay Elotes’ special red sauce, pork skins, vinegar and powdered chile. You can’t call yourself an Austinite until you try it.
Frap’s Bloody Mary
Casino El Camino
This monster of a Bloody Mary can only be obtained when the bartender known as “Frap” is working. Get there early Saturday for the freshest selection of toppings, including (but not limited to) sliders, sausage, corn dogs, meatballs, taquitos, grilled cheese, bacon, pickled, olives, cucumbers and celery. This concoction must have been invented to soothe a real Texas-sized hangover.
Drunken Hunk Donut
Gourdough’s has been pushing the envelope on what defines a donut since opening its first trailer. At the brick-and-mortar, creations have only gotten bigger, featuring donut sandwiches, burgers and entrees. The Drunken Hunk is just one decadent example. A hot donut stands in as the base for bacon-wrapped meatloaf, a potato pancake, fried egg, candied jalapenos and house-made bourbon barbecue sauce.
Vince Young Steakhouse
When invited to cook at the James Beard House a few years ago, Vince Young Steakhouse co-owner Laura Brown and her husband, executive chef Phillip Brown, were brainstorming a play on cookies and milk. They experimented by blending their house wine, Eleven Ten Cabernet Sauvignon, with homemade vanilla ice cream and the Wine Shake was born. You won’t find this secret menu item listed at Vince Young Steakhouse, but order it anyway like a boss.
Croque Madame with pesto and dulce de leche
Burro Cheese Kitchen
If you crave the marriage of sweet and savory, you may find nothing weird about this sandwich at all. In this take on a Croque Madame, Burro Cheese Kitchen begins with Easy Tiger bread, smoked ham and gouda cheese, which is then dressed with pesto aioli, dulce de leche sauce and a fried egg. And with a convenient location on South Congress, there’s no better place for indulging in a cheesy delight (with a sweet surprise) after a day of shopping and people-watching.
Smoked rattlesnake sausage
Hudson’s on the Bend
You can still get your fix of rattlesnake sausage from Hudson’s on the Bend, where they’ve been specializing in high-end game meats since 1984. The smoked rattlesnake sausage comes with jalapeno sauerkraut and horseradish honey mustard, and the protein appears in other specials like rattlesnake cakes. You might say there’s no better place to take visiting relatives for a real Texas experience.
While there’s nothing inherently “weird” about takoyaki (in fact, these balls of octopus are a fairly popular snack item in Osaka), you won’t normally find them peddled out of a bright orange Love Balls bus. The octopus variety is only sold Thursday through Saturday, but there’s a whole menu of weekday dishes that come with grilled rice balls, keeping up the tradition.
Green eggs and ham
Searsucker, Salty Sow
There are not one, but two, places to find green eggs and ham in town. Salty Sow serves chopped ham hocks and slow-cooked egg in a jar with grits and basil-parmesan sauce. Searsucker’s version features an egg nestled in pork belly, balanced on a cube of brioche and topped with a bright green herb sauce.
We’ve all heard of bacon-infused vodka, but TRACE at the W Hotel honors the Lone Star State by infusing Dickel rye whiskey with their house-smoked brisket. Taking a shot of it will certainly put some hair on your chest. It also appears in TRACE's Brisket Bloody Mary, topped with pickles and an Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap floater.