Not that long ago, to get first-rate barbecue you had to cruise the barbecue belt from Taylor and Elgin through Lexington, Lockhart, and Luling; now the best is right here in the 'hood, a short drive away.
1) Franklin Barbecue Aaron's superlative 'cue gets even better as the restaurant (and the queue) slowly expands. Get in line very early now on Saturdays and be rewarded with an ethereal beef rib.
2) John Mueller Meat Co. Mercurial John Mueller has mellowed and, for my money, hit a sustained, superlative groove, smoking amazing barbecue in his comfy Eastside chain-link compound.
3) La Barbecue John Lewis has escaped the shadow of mentors Franklin and Mueller and thrust his head high, with great sausage and amazing smoked meats at his new Eastside digs.
4) Micklethwait Craft Meats Tom Micklethwait is crafting unctuous artisanal sausages to go with the high-quality smoked meats he churns out from his vintage 1960 Comet trailer.
5) Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew Lance Kirkpatrick has got a sweet, smoky gig going on in Brentwood, and his brisket and ribs (beef chuck and pork spare) just keep getting better and better.
6) Live Oak Barbecue Tom Spaulding and the Stocktons are giving the other Eastside pits a run for their money, not only with their standard menu, but their creative smoky Saturday specials.
7) Blue Ox BBQ Chase Palmer's trailer off of Riverside sits next to Buzz Mill's retro-chic patio. These dudes have hit a home run with anything pork-related; best smoked pork tenderloin ever.
8) Kerlin BBQ The Kerlins are newbies, but have made a strong showing right off the bat: They use sweet-smelling pecan wood and crank out pork ribs and sausage to die for.
9) Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ Los dos Miguels (Vidal and Lerner) are another new trailer on the scene, using the kiss of mesquite to smoke pulled pork and brisket for heavenly tacos.
10) Mann's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que Jim and Sallie have been smoking top-notch beef ribs and pulled pork for years, but we also love the 15 different home-cooked sides they offer.
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