Day Trips: Under-the-Radar Barbecue Joints Worth the Drive

Make a side trip to these notable meat-makers

By a rough estimate, I have visited at least 65 barbecue joints in Texas in the last five years. These are some of my favorites.

Austin’s BBQ Eagle Lake is a little town southwest of Houston best known for being near the entrance to Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge. The old-fashioned barbecue joint in a converted gas station landed on the Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ Joints list in 1988, 2000, and 2008. It’s still really good. Pro tip: The banana pudding is top notch.

515 E. Main St., Eagle Lake, 979/234-5250, Wed.-Sat., 9am until sold out,

Brick Vault Brewery & BBQ It’s usually a pretty good sign when a restaurant is surrounded by cop cars at lunchtime. When I visited on a Saturday there were at least three law enforcement agencies represented in the line. The brisket was a bit fatty for my taste, but the turkey was smoked to perfection. Pro tip: The locally crafted beers are as delicious as the food.

102 U.S. 90 W., Marathon, Thu.-Fri., 5-8:30pm; Sat., noon-8:30pm; Sun., noon-3pm, 432/386-7538,

LaVaca BBQ Pitmaster Kelli Navarez cooks the delicious briskets and other smoked meats at the award-winning Port Lavaca location and delivers it daily to the northern outpost. The Navarez family plans to move the kitchen operation to the much larger former tire shop in Victoria. Pro tip: The sun-dried tomato bread alone is worth the trip.

2001 N. Navarro, Victoria, Thu.-Sat., 11am-7pm; Sun., 10am-3pm, 361/212-4860,

Tony DeMaria’s Bar-B-Q This family-owned joint has been cranking out great barbecue since 1946. Fourth-generation pitmaster Blake DeMaria can often be seen at the butcher block. Get there early because they often sell out by 1pm. Pro tip: Try the smoked bologna.

1000 Elm St., Waco, Mon.-Sat., 9am-2pm or sold out, 254/755-8888,

1,695th in a series. Everywhere is a day trip from somewhere: Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Day Trips
Day Trips: Boutte’s Boudin Cajun Market and Deli, Lumberton
Day Trips: Boutte’s Boudin Cajun Market and Deli, Lumberton
Authentic Cajun food in the woods north of Beaumont

Gerald E. McLeod, April 19, 2024

Day Trips: Tonkawa Falls City Park, Crawford
Day Trips: Tonkawa Falls City Park, Crawford
Historic waterfall is still a prime swimming hole

Gerald E. McLeod, April 12, 2024


Austin’s BBQ, Brick Vault Brewery & BBQ, LaVaca BBQ, Tony DeMaria’s Bar-B-Q

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle