The New Smart Choice for Barbecue in the Barbecue Capital of the World: Black’s of Lockhart Now in Downtown Austin

My favorite barbecue – anywhere – is Black’s in Lockhart, Texas.

I believe barbecue is all about the meat, and that meat is brisket. Sauce shouldn’t be necessary, it just hides the taste of good barbecue.

I’ve had Franklin Barbecue in Austin and it is amazing. Technically perfect, even. But I find Black’s brisket more flavorful.

Last month I shared a trick to avoid the lines if you make the trip from Austin out to Lockhart and drop in on Black’s, which is the clear winner of the four barbecue places in that famous barbecue town.

Austin-area barbecue has to be the most densely competitive enclave in the world, and that makes nearly all of it excellent. ‘Bad’ barbecue for the region is still ‘good’ in some objective sense, or at least relative to what you’ll find in most places.

There was a lot of excitement about “Black’s” opening in Austin proper. It wasn’t the same Black’s as in Lockhart, exactly, it was a family member and there was a bitter squabble over it and use of the name. It debuted as “Terry Black’s” and it’s good by world standard, but not great and certainly not Black’s.

Likely out of spite or concern that people would think that was Black’s, the family opened their own Austin outpost out past UT Austin at 31st and Guadalupe.

Unlike the original Black’s, there’s no separation between filling your plate with sides and ordering meat. A limited amount of sides are behind the counter and you order what you want there.

There’s not even a huge space for queuing. That’s fine, when I went there was no line at all. It was on the late side for lunch (pro tip: barbecue is usually best right after open, the later in the day you go you can expect it won’t be as good) but I was still surprised to see only a few people inside.

There’s both indoor and outdoor seating.

The key thing to know is that this is the same barbecue as Black’s in Lockhart. They drive the meat out from the Lockhart pit. And it is good, great even.

The brisket was moist, the fat and meat complemented each other perfectly and the ends perfectly done. The pork ribs were juicy and both sweet and salty and fell off the bone easily. They were mostly meat not just fat. The jalapeno cheddar sausage was perfect, as always.

If you are in Austin, there’s really no longer a reason to drive to Lockhart.

  • Black’s is the best in Lockhart
  • The meat at Black’s in Austin is the same as in Lockhart

I’d say this is a big win. And factoring in not facing any line at all, I’d say this is a great time to go.

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, 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. I just arrived in Austin for three days of vacation. Black’s in Lockhart was on the list. Now it isn’t. Black’s in Austin is.

    I love you, Gary.

  2. You are a whitebread Virginia boy who never lived in Texas nor do you understand Texas or its’ BBQ……You need to cease and desist on TEXAS BBQ as if you actually have a clue YOU DON’T……….STOP IT ALREADY! U R A STORE BOUGHT COWBOY IN THE WORST WAY!

  3. “I believe barbecue is all about the meat, and that meat is brisket. Sauce shouldn’t be necessary.” As a native of Austin, I concur.

  4. How the….? I live in Austin and am also a big fan of Blacks. And yet I hadn’t heard about this glorious news until reading this. Thank you!!

  5. @Just saying and anyone else: I’m not from TX and not hugely carnivorous, but I have a great respect for food done with passion and craftsmanship. What makes TX brisket the best? Wood smoke? Low temp 24 hour cooking? Correct humidity in the pit? What else?

  6. @JustSaying I don’t hail from Virginia. What do you disagree with here anyway, you don’t even suggest what claim you think is wrong (and more importantly why)? Austin is hardly a cowboy culture, have you been lately?

  7. There is a certain arrogance and pompousness to the way you write about BBQ……… write as if God has anointed you the interpreter of BBQ for the masses…….even in Austin’s sophisticated culture, they don’t cotton to foreign born (non Texans) reviewers of their art……..Maybe that should be the title of your next book, “I’ll Never Be Texan”

  8. @JustSaying – again, attacking ME and not the contentions made in the post. I don’t think anyone would mistake me for in any way anointed by a supernatural deity in ANYTHING. The best of Austin barbecue on the other hand has pretty clearly been so anointed!

  9. JustSaying–>Jeez, get over your bad self.
    I finally made it to Austin this fall and almost left without eating any bbq. I’ll never do that again – the BBQ in Austin and surrounding areas might be one of the top 3 meals I’ve had in this world.

  10. My goodness Justsaying, you’ve spent this post personally attacking Gary and calling him names and he is supposed to feel bad that you aren’t going to subscribe to his blog anymore? That’s strange.

  11. We stopped in today, thanks for the post Gary. I was a bit apprehensive as the Yelp reviews seemed mixed for the new location.

    We got there at 12:30 and there was no line. The moist brisket was very good. We had one pork rib and it was also tasty, although I can see how some of the Yelp reviewers would say it was salty.

    All in all it was a good stop. We’re gonna try the one in Lockhart on the way to San Antonio later this week.

  12. DaninMCI: Sorry dude, but Austin (and it’s surrounding area) IS the BBQ capital of the world, just like NYC is the pizza capital of the world. Past visits to Black’s in Lockhart didn’t excite me, but I’ll try the UT branch just because it’s close. Had both La Barbeque and John Mueller’s this past week. La Barbeque was much better, but I’ll give Mueller’s a pass since sometimes you hit places on days that aren’t their best. Also, John wasn’t around, so maybe his friendly staff just missed that day. Maybe someday when I feel like a four hour meditation session I’ll head over to Franklin’s. I still vote Snow’s as #1, but it’s a long hike to Lexington. While I understand opinions differ, this is the one place in the country where I don’t and won’t eat sauce on my brisket and I don’t usually add more than the pitmaster to my ribs. If you need sauce to disguise the quality of the smoking, then maybe that quality isn’t too good to begin with. Interestingly, Mueller’s half pint of sauce that came with my meal worked quite well in a veggie stir fry.

  13. Gary, if you haven’t tried La Barbeque, I highly recommend it next time you’re in Austin!

    PS – Ignore the trolls, aka JustSaying. They aren’t worth even a second of your time. Keep up the great work!

  14. Recent Yelp reviews of Terry Black’s place on Barton Springs seem to indicate that it’s better than the other Austin Black’s. Same family though one might argue that they don’t all get along very well as you previously noted.
    Yippee! Two more places to try that don’t involve long drives.

  15. Any update on the Black’s outpost in Austin? How’s it holding up? Will be in Austin next month and wondering if I need to trek to Lockhart or go with the Austin location.

  16. I’ve never been a fan of the Lockhart location and would go to either Smitty’s or Kreutz’ instead; then again, I haven’t been to Lockhart in several years, but I absolutely love the Black’s in Austin. Several other worthwhile road trips would be to Snow’s or Cooper’s; what I especially like about Cooper’s is that it’s truly a locals kind of place. I’d also recommend LA BBQ in Austin. Great food and you don’t have to wait forever to get it.

  17. @Bruce La Barbecue is outstanding. Black’s in Lockhart is marginally better than in Austin. Kreuz has fallen down, and Smitty’s is inconsistent. Snows is special but Saturday am only.

  18. Eeesh, I need an edit button – didn’t mean to hit post yet –
    He visited 48 states over the course of a year and sampled different restaurants in each of them. Also on his list Franklin, Blue Ox, Freedmen’s, Valentina’s Tex-Mex, and Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart.

    Any opinion on Kerlin?

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