This truck describes its food as "Cuisine Texicana," but everything besides the excellent addition of pickled red onions seems traditional to me. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I had an overwhelmingly joyous reaction to this brisket that I can only compare to the first time I had excellent Texas barbecue at City Market in Luling.The glossy pork ribs are subtly sweet and smoked just long enough that the meat pulls away easily from the bone, but doesn't disintegrate.
I can't say with total confidence that La Barbecue served the best barbecue I've had, but the El Sancho sandwich was a work of art as far as I'm concerned. A humble roll is piled high with snappy smoked sausage, chopped brisket, and pickled red onions. The meat was so incredibly moist that it doesn't need any sauce at all.
John Mueller Meat Co.
Texas barbecue enthusiasts are happy to see John Mueller back in the pit. His barbecue is all about the crispy and smokey bark (crust), flecked with copious amounts of coarsely ground black pepper. The tender brisket was a favorite, as well as the pork ribs with meat completely falling from the bone. The sauce is vaguely evocative of a salsa—spicy, acidic, and packed with chopped onion. As someone who usually saves all her stomach room for meat, I can confidently say that the potato salad, full of dill and mustard, is worth eating.
Mickelthwait Craft Meats
The tender brisket at this East Austin trailer is on par with many of the region's best barbecue spots. But Tom Micklethwait's homemade sausage—varieties like duck and cherry, lamb and apricot, which rotate daily—is what truly distinguishes his operation. Even the beef sausage, flavored deeply with Thai chilis, is moist and snappy. Sides like coleslaw and mustardy potato salad are also assembled thoughtfully. Get some beers at the convenience store next door and enjoy your barbecue at the picnic tables under the lights.
Valentina's Tex-Mex BBQ
Located behind Star Bar downtown, this Tex-Mex trailer serves brisket, pulled chicken, and smoked carnitas in sandwich or taco form. They don't skimp on the meat wrapped in delicate homemade flour tortillas, and the tacos are often garnished with citrusy guacamole. These tacos are best eaten with a margarita from the bar while sitting under the ceiling fan on the patio.
A father and son team is responsible for smoking all of the meat at this humble trailer wedged between a car wash and a Jiffy Lube. They make barbecue chicken worth eating with an exceptionally crispy skin and juicy meat. The working lunch crowd also clamors for the pork ribs that are on par with some of the more famous joints in town.
Brown's Bar-B-Que: 1311 South Lamar Boulevard, Austin TX 78704 (map); 512-517-8520;
Boss Hogs Kitchen
The name indicates that this is one of the few barbecue trailers without brisket on the menu. Boss Hogs Kitchen excels in finely shredded pulled pork sandwiches—menu choices include a Cuban sandwich and a smoked turkey and melted Gouda sandwich. I loved the Asian fusion tacos with pulled pork wrapped in flour tortillas and garnished with wontons and a barbecue sauce reminiscent of hoisin. It was like smokey moo shu pork.
Blue Ox Barbecue
Respectable barbecue is served from this trailer located in the Buzz Mill Coffee patio. The chunky pulled pork was the winner of the 3 meat plate, but I also appreciated the coarse texture of the homemade pork sausage. The brisket had a nice smoke ring, but it wasn't as tender as I'd like. My biggest complaints was the sauce—a sweet ketchup based sauce that just didn't seem right. But in Texas, if the biggest complaint is the sauce, that's a good thing.
I was startled to discover that the shabby Sugar Shack barbecue trailer has suddenly morphed into the fancy new SLAB BBQ truck. Yet the same delicious smoked meats remain, albeit with a new sandwich menu. The Tony Montana Sandwich is their version of a Cuban with pulled pork, smoked sausage, and pickles smothered in queso and tangy housemade barbecue sauce
Hoover's Texa Mexi Que BBQ Trailer
On offshoot of the classic Hoover's Cooking across the street, I'm a little confused about what at this trailer is considered "Mexi." The menu looked similar to other barbecue spots—there was brisket, pork, chicken and choices of 1, 2, or 3 meat plates. There were also some salsas, but it wasn't really clear to me how it all fit together.
I played it safe and ordered the chopped brisket sandwich. The smokey meat was sliced into sizable pieces and coated, but not drenched, in a tangy red barbecue sauce. The brisket was piled high on a bun, but still called out for the addition of pickled and onions. I drank it with a frozen lemonade flecked with lemon seeds-- an odd yet satisfying choice at a barbecue stand.
It's All Good Bar-B-Que
I feel sort of bad for this South Austin truck located just a few blocks from La Barbecue. The brisket might not be in the competition for best in Austin, but it's still tender. Best of all, there's no line! You can also try the pulled pork Frito pie for something a bit different.