Things to Do

7 Great BBQ Joints in the Hill Country

By  | 

We hate spam too, we'll never share your email address

 

 

Chili might be the official state food of Texas, but BBQ is a very, very close second. From ribs to sausage, Central Texas has some of the best in the state. However, you can’t leave out the king of Texas BBQ: Brisket.

Take a look at some of the best BBQ joints in the Hill Country.

1. Franklin BBQ – Austin

7 Great BBQ Joints in the Hill Country

Photo: huffingtonpost.com

Franklin Barbecue opened in a trailer off IH 35 in 2009. Since then, it has amassed a huge following, moved to a brick building in east Austin, and won critical acclaim from such highly-regarded publications as Bon Apetit and Texas Monthly. It’s become known as the best barbecue in Texas, if not the U.S.

Hungry customers wait for three or more hours for the star of the menu: brisket. Proprietor Aaron Franklin runs the restaurant with his wife Stacy, and he has mastered the art of cooking brisket. He uses only all-natural, hormone-free and antibiotic-free beef, which he smokes for 12 to 18 hours. This cooking time is the reason why Franklin sells only a finite amount of brisket each day. The flavorful, moist brisket has a rim of perfectly rendered fat. It’s no wonder the restaurant sells its entire inventory by midday.

2. Louie Mueller Barbecue – Taylor

7 Great BBQ Joints in the Hill Country

Photo: louiemuellerbarbecue.com

Louie Mueller Barbecue opened in Taylor in 1949 and has operated out of its current location since 1959. For over six decades, this family-owned joint has consistently delivered some of the best barbecue in the state. Louie passed away in 1992, but his son Bobby has upheld his father’s legacy. This legacy lives on, bringing new customers and inspiring a new generation of pit masters. Aaron Franklin credits Louie Mueller Barbecue with inspiring him to smoke his first brisket.

Louie Mueller Barbecue is famous for its massive beef ribs – think prehistoric proportions a la Flinstones. All of the meats on the menu are oak-smoked for 6-8 hours, depending on the cut of meat. The brisket is moist and tender, with a nice smoke ring and a caramelized exterior. The peppery pork ribs are equally delicious and the ample sausage links have a nice kick.

3. Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que – Llano

7 Great BBQ Joints in the Hill Country

Photo: Flickr/Dave Hensley

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que utilizes a mesquite-fueled, direct-heat pit and is an established Hill Country standby. Tommy Cooper opened Cooper’s in Llano in 1963 to expand the existing family BBQ business operating in Mason, Texas. Tommy died in an automobile accident in 1979 and the business was sold in 1986 to the current owner, Terry Wootan.

This is one of the only BBQ joints in the state offering cabrito, or smoked baby goat. You can also choose from pork tenderloin, brisket, pork chops, sausage, chicken and ribs. If you ask for sauce, the pitman will dip your choice of meat in a bucket of sauce before serving it to you on a plastic tray. The best cut of meat on the menu is the two-inch thick pork chop, which is moist and peppery. It is Texas, so you have to try the smoky, delicious brisket, too.

4. John Mueller Meat Co. – Austin

7 Great BBQ Joints in the Hill Country

Photo: fcg-bbq.blogspot.com

John Mueller is part of a well-established BBQ legacy. He is the grandson of BBQ legend Louie Mueller. His brother, Wayne, is at the helm of the iconic restaurant in Taylor, and his sister LeAnn owns La Barbecue – more on that one later. He opened John Mueller’s B-B-Q in 2001 and had a fanatical following, but it closed 2006. He reappeared in 2011 with JMueller BBQ, a trailer in south Austin, which was a partnership with his sister. He was shut out of his popular trailer eatery after a major spat with LeAnn.

He reemerged (again) in 2013 with John Mueller Meat Co. in east Austin. He delivers his consistent brand of delicious smoked meats, which include sausage, turkey and the outstanding beef ribs. Unlike other sauces, Mueller’s is a must have. It’s thin, with hints of tomato, plenty of pepper and loads of sweet onion. Mueller might have gained a surly reputation, but he has been known to give free beers to customers waiting in line.

5. Opie’s Barbecue – Spicewood

7 Great BBQ Joints in the Hill Country

Photo: amazingribs.com

Opie’s opened in 1999 and is known for its bountiful array of meat and huge dessert portions. When you walk in, you’ll see a huge black metal box. The lid opens to an amazing display of smoked meats, including brisket, regular and jalapeño sausage, sweet-and-spicy baby back ribs, enormous pork chops, pork spareribs, pork loin, pulled pork, beef ribs and chicken.

Once you make your choice, proceed down the line for slicing and weighing, and to pick a few sides. You should definitely try the spicy corn and cheesy tater tot casserole. Beans, bread, and other accoutrements are free. If you still have any room left, go back for a peach cobbler or Coca-Cola cake.

6. Buzzie’s Bar-B-Q – Kerrville

7 Great BBQ Joints in the Hill Country

Photo: Buzzie’s Bar-B-Q’s Facebook

Buzzie’s is another Hill Country standby. Opened in 1997, this BBQ joint uses live oak to fuel its indirect heat pit. Because it’s Texas, you have to order the brisket. You won’t be disappointed with its tenderness, smoky oak flavor and marbled edges. They also offer sausage, pork loin, turkey and chicken on the menu.

The sides are standard BBQ fare and include potato salad, coleslaw and a choice of peach, blackberry, or cherry cobbler and pecan pie..

7. La Barbecue – Austin

7 Great BBQ Joints in the Hill Country

Photo: labarbecue.com

This trailer comes from two Texas BBQ legacies, one old and one relatively new. LeAnn Mueller, granddaughter of Louie Mueller and sister of John Mueller, owns it. After a disagreement with John resulted in his departure, she changed the name and recruited a new pit master, John Lewis. Lewis learned to smoke meats from none other than Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue.

La Barbecue resides in the same trailer in south Austin that first housed JMueller BBQ. Lewis smokes his brisket for 12 to 15 hours, and some customers have said it’s the best in town – better even than that of his former boss and mentor. They also offer a huge beef rib, sausage, pulled pork, and a wonderful chipotle coleslaw. Lewis unveiled a new, personally designed pit in early 2014, and with it, he is producing even better results.