Smoke Trail

Central-city barbecue spots

A barrage of high-profile events brings plenty of hungry travelers to Austin every March. So whether you're visiting for South by Southwest, the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, or the state basketball tournaments, while you're here we suggest you indulge in one of travel's greatest pleasures: exploring distinctive local cuisine. We're always willing to boast about the diversity of good food to be found here, but for now we've chosen to focus specifically on barbecue. Central Texas is nationally known for great barbecue, and we consider the capital to be the burnished buckle of that famous barbecue belt. In part because Austin is where the South meets the Southwest, we've got it all here – the mesquite-smoked West Texas cowboy style, the German/Czech sausages and dry-rubbed smoked meats, and the soul-satisfying deep South style of meats smoked over hardwoods and slathered with sauce. Working on the assumption that many of our March visitors will be concentrated in the core of the city, we're featuring 11 worthwhile joints located no farther than a brisk walk or short cab ride from major central-city attractions. You can have barbecue and history, barbecue with several different kinds of music, organic barbecue, and even vegetarian-friendly barbecue (well, kind of). We've tried to highlight the specialties at each location. Don't head home without hitting at least one of these spots.

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House Park Bar-B-Que, Sam's BBQ, Stubb's BBQ, Ben's Longbranch BBQ, Pok-E-Jo's Smokehouse Inc., Ruby's BBQ, Green Mesquite BBQ and More, Artz Rib House, Lamberts, Iron Works Barbecue, Bowie Street BBQ at Whole Foods Market, SXSW

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