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The 11 Best BBQ Restaurants in Austin

A mouth-watering tour through one of America's most revered barbecue scenes.

Austin's barbecue culture is seasoned with centuries of tradition. Native Americans slow-cooked meat in the Texas hill country long before the first Europeans arrived. And as Czech and German settlers trickled in, they brought a European meat-smoking style with them. Towns and cities cropped up, and barbecue became a poor man's food, a way to buy meat in bulk for a cheap price and preserve it for long periods. Butchers adopted this practice for leftover meat; and when they saw how popular it was for migrants in the area, some meat markets began to specialize in smoked meats. The BBQ joint was born.

As Austin grew, so too did its taste for barbecue. More butcher shops became smokehouses. Roadside pits became buildings. And the bricks laid for these pits became a rare constant in a city sprawling ever outward and upward — pits so well-seasoned over the decades that their masters needn't add even a dash of salt or pepper to the brisket that was slow-cooking within. These old-school Austin barbecue joints, such as House Park Bar-B-Que and The Pit Barbeque, look at a new wave of young barbecue tinkerers rolling into town with a mix of both reverence and a feeling that the simple staple dish is becoming a touch overcomplicated. New-school barbecues such as Franklin Barbecue and la Barbecue add a heavy hand of science to their approach, obsessing over factors such as airflow and fluid dynamics inside of a cooker.

This mingling of traditional and avant-garde smoking techniques makes for one of the best barbecue scenes in the world. Here are 11 barbecue restaurants in Austin that any self-respecting lover of smoked meats simply cannot miss.

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