Hacking the Long Lines at One of the Best Barbecue Spots in the World

For this post to be useful or interesting to you, you need to like barbecue and be planning to visit one of the best barbecue places out there (Black’s in Lockhart, Texas). And it’s really only useful to review right before your visit. In other words, most of you can ignore this post and a few of you just want to bookmark it for later.

I’ve written about world famous Franklin Barbecue and about my favorite barbecue with sit down service, a full bar, and live music.

You can’t avoid the lines at Franklin unless you’re President Obama.

    Franklin Barbecue

But you can make reservations for Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue.

Most of the best barbecue places, though, are going to involve lines — especially on the weekends, and especially early (when you want to go, when the meat is the best, and later in the day they may run out anyway).

But there’s a way to hack the line, at one of the very best barbecue spots in the world.


My personal favorite is Black’s in Lockhart, Texas. (See Barbecue Throwdown: Black’s is the Absolute Best)

Like many top barbecue places, people line up. The line stretches outside the door (inside alone can be long enough) and down the block.

Here’s how to hack the line at Black’s.

If you are willing to (or prefer to) skip the sides

Then don’t get in line.

Instead of lining up for the entrance to Black’s, just walk in the exit.

    blacks barbecue

Walk through the dining room and proceed straight to the cash register where diners who have waited in line end up after their long wait. That’s where they order and pay for their meat.

This is where you go for:

  • Extra meat, if you want more after you’ve eaten. (You don’t have to go wait in line again.)
  • Takeout.

Except it isn’t just for takeout… They’ve told me at Black’s, and I’ve done this several times, if you’re not ordering sides, don’t wait in line. Just go straight to the register. Stand behind whomever is at the register. Once they pay for their food and move on, they’ll help you next.

You’ve just saved yourself up to an hour Enjoy..

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Can’t wait for everyone to do this, resulting in Black’s changing the rules to forbid it and the BBQ forums whining about how the BBQ bloggers kill everything 😉

  2. Now that’s travel hacking! The arrows are a nice touch. I sure hope the bloggers don’t kill this deal. #MillionBrisketSecrets

  3. And really, why order sides? They’re merely good, whereas the meat is one of a kind, out of the world.

  4. @Mike – what does race have to do with this? This is the restaurant’s procedure for everyone that isn’t ordering sides, it’s just that first-timers to the restaurant wouldn’t know it. And no matter what your race, when you walk to the front – which is what you’re actually supposed to do — you are skipping past those getting sides, no matter THEIR race (and you’re probably getting in front of mostly white people, it’s Central Texas barbecue after all). So I don’t think this is really an on-point criticism.

  5. Here’s another way. Walk up near the front entrance, and then turn around, facing the line. Stand there for a few seconds until people get used to seeing you there. Then, slowly, moonwalk backwards in a smooth and unobtrusive manner, past others in line and through the front door. Everyone will see you facing the exit and will assume you are leaving. Continue backwards until you reach the sides and grab a plate. Works for me every time.

  6. The first time I wen to Blacks, they asked if I wanted sides. I said I did not drive 4 hours from Dallas to fill up on cole slaw!

  7. Black’s now has a location at 3110 Guadalupe, limited selection but same quality. Don’t make the mistake of going to “Terry Blacks”, no relation, and it’s junk.

    Also, the La Barbeque truck 10 blocks south of Franklins is equally good and lines are shorter, but get there by 11am when they open.

  8. ….about world famous…
    We could probably tone down our exuberance from this ‘world famous’ claim, else we will have to bring plane-loads of people from all corners of the globe for a BBQ meal to make it so.

  9. I don’t eat meat, but I live in Austin and my husband loves barbeque. If you haven’t tried La Barbeque yet, you might want to give it a try. He thinks that La Barbeque is better than Franklin’s.

  10. At Oklahoma Joe’s, (which will be called Joe’s KC BBQ as of Tuesday) you can just call in an order, and pick it up with no line. The only problem is that you can’t eat in the restaurant, so you have to go somewhere else to eat. Not a big issue if it saves you 70+ minutes, though. That’s what Obama did the day before I was there, and anyone can do that.

  11. Wow! A complimentary First Class Upgrade! Awesome! If you then get weepy because you don’t have any greens can you bribe the waitress to bring you some?

  12. Been there and their food is overrated. I had to stand in line for like 5 minutes with the sides so not sure about the “World Famous” quote.

  13. To each their own, but after years of visiting the Austin area, Black’s doesn’t even make my top ten. In fact, it doesn’t even make my top 2 in Lockhart (I prefer Smitty’s and Kreutz’). For my money, I’ll drive the extra 20-30 minutes and head down to City Market in Luling. I’ll take some heat for this, but my last couple of meals at Salt Lick have been very good. My #1 favorite is way out in Lexington (Snow’s) and it’s only open Saturday mornings. The well-respected Texas Monthly has a list of their top 50: http://www.texasmonthly.com/lists/50-best-bbq-joints-world Note that Black’s only ranks #32 (though just ahead of Smitty’s and Kreuz’). Snow’s is #3 and Franklin #1.

  14. @Bruce I’ve definitely done City Market. Kreuz brisket is awful, the place has really gone downhill, and Smitty’s has become mediocre. Snow’s is worth the recommendation, but Salt Lick shouldn’t be called barbecue. Sorry, I do feel strongly about this!

  15. Hi Gary, Yes, Salt Lick definitely has its detractors. I’ve probably eaten there 5 times over the past decade, but I do stand by my last two trips there. Nonetheless, it’s not really my go-to place. If I’ve got two choices only, they’d be Snow’s and City Market. Thanks for the info regarding Kreuzs’ and Smitty’s. I hadn’t been to either for a couple of years. Oh, I should also add that I really like Coopers out in Llano. I’ve never been able to stomach the insane lines at Franklin’s, but I’ll be in town for a month in December, so I’ll probably get up early and get in line.

  16. It would stand to reason that if you are in Austin that standing in Franklin’s lines are preferable to being behind the wheel going down the road to stand in another line…..just saying………plus it would give you a chance to discuss whether Darrell Royal sits on the left or right chair next to God………

  17. That texas monthly list is total crap – 5 places in DFW above anything from Lockhart??? No place in Dfw even comes close to central texas bbq and i live in Dfw (especially bartleys in grapevine – wtf). This list must be based on something else – like donations 🙁

  18. You could be right. Ive never been impressed with BBQ in the Big D. I just assumed they had found a few places I’d never tried.

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