Day Trips: Spring Branch

New barbecue joint resurrects old Hill Country roadhouse

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Texas 46 BBQ outside of Spring Branch mixes modern-style smoked meats with an old-style Texas roadhouse. The result is good eating with a fine choice of adult beverages to wash it down with.

The low-slung red building has been a Hill Country landmark for more than 30 years. Famous for its burgers and cold beer, the place was owned and operated by Gary Stebbins until he passed away last year.

Louis "Cuatro" Kowalski added the roadhouse to his barbecue dynasty along with Freedmen's in the West Campus area of Austin, which was listed on Texas Monthly's Top 50 Barbecue Joints in 2017.

Kowalski installed a new smoker shed and equipped it with four 1,000-gallon tanks outfitted with offset fire boxes. He also brought in Austin Fry as executive chef and pitmaster, who has since handed the reins to LaVon Grant. The combination produces brisket cooked to near perfection with an even smoke ring and a minimalist bark.

Texas 46 BBQ has something for everyone. Along with house-made sausage, delicious pork ribs, and a family-size beef rib, the restaurant has a variety of sandwiches including "The Gary" burger honoring the former owner.

As good as the smoked meats are, the sides really step out at this highway diner. The coleslaw has a unique flavor profile that is a little sweet and a little spicy. A standout with the kids and the adults is the creamy mac & cheese.

Texas 46 BBQ is on Highway 46 about two miles east of Highway 281 south of Spring Branch. You can order at the counter or have table service from 11am to 10pm daily. Give 'em a call at 830/743-9885 to see what the pies of the day are.

1,405th in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at

This article has been updated to include the name of the current pitmaster.

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Texas 46 BBQ, Freedmen's, Louis "Cuatro" Kowalski, Gary Stebbins, Austin Fry, barbecue

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