5 of the Best Ribs Serving Restaurants in Texas

Texas and barbecue are synonymous. This vast state takes pride in its low-and-slow smoked meats, and ribs reign supreme as a Texas BBQ staple. From family-owned joints passed down through generations to newer establishments pushing the boundaries of flavor, Texas offers a rib-lover’s paradise. Whether you prefer them dry-rubbed, slathered in tangy sauce, or falling off the bone, get ready to embark on a culinary adventure to find the best ribs in the Lone Star State.

Terry Black’s Barbecue (Austin, Dallas)

History and Legacy: Terry Black’s Barbecue is a Texas institution, with its roots dating back to the original Black’s Barbecue founded in Lockhart, Texas, in 1932. Four generations of pitmasters have honed their craft, ensuring juicy meats and bold flavors. Their expansion to Austin and Dallas has brought their legendary barbecue to even more Texans.

Rib Style: Terry Black’s beef ribs are a thing of beauty – massive, expertly smoked, and boasting a beautiful bark (the flavorful outer crust). Their pork spare ribs are equally impressive, delivering tender, flavorful meat with a satisfying bite.

Beyond the Ribs: While ribs steal the spotlight, don’t overlook their juicy brisket, house-made sausage, and classic sides like mac & cheese and potato salad.

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The Salt Lick BBQ (Driftwood)

A Hill Country Tradition: Nestled in the rolling hills of Driftwood, The Salt Lick BBQ is a Texas pilgrimage for barbecue enthusiasts. This iconic establishment opened its doors in 1969 and has been drawing crowds ever since with its open-pit cooking style and all-you-can-eat feasts.

Rib Style: The Salt Lick’s ribs embody classic Central Texas barbecue. They’re cooked over an open fire pit fueled by oak and pecan wood, resulting in a smoky, peppery flavor with a good balance of fat and lean meat. Go for their signature beef ribs or try their tender pork ribs.

The Experience: The Salt Lick BBQ is not just about the food; it’s about the Texas Hill Country experience. Enjoy the scenic views, BYOB policy, and the opportunity to see the pitmasters in action.

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Franklin Barbecue (Austin)

Worth the Wait: Franklin Barbecue, helmed by renowned pitmaster Aaron Franklin, is an Austin phenomenon. Lines form hours before opening, and sellouts are common. But for those willing to endure the wait, the reward is some of the most sought-after brisket and ribs in the country.

Rib Style: Franklin’s ribs are the epitome of Central Texas perfection. Smoked low and slow over post oak, they achieve a tender interior, a rich mahogany bark, and a deeply satisfying, smoky flavor. Franklin Barbecue focuses on pork spare ribs.

The Hype is Real: Franklin Barbecue has garnered national attention and awards, including a James Beard Award for Aaron Franklin. It’s not just about delicious food; it’s about an experience fueled by dedication and passion for the craft.

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Hurtado Barbecue (Arlington)

The Newcomer with Old-School Charm: Hurtado Barbecue might be relatively new on the Texas barbecue scene, but it’s quickly become an Arlington favorite. Pitmaster Brandon Hurtado draws inspiration from the classic Central Texas style with a focus on bold flavors and expertly cooked meats.

Rib Style: Hurtado Barbecue offers both beef and pork ribs, each with its own distinct flavor profile. Their beef ribs are massive, delivering a rich, beefy flavor with a satisfyingly smoky crust. The pork ribs are cooked to perfection, tender and juicy with a subtle sweetness.

More Than Just Ribs: While the ribs are a must-try, don’t overlook Hurtado’s brisket, which is smoked to a melt-in-your-mouth consistency. Their unique sides like elote-style street corn and smoked mac & cheese are also worth exploring.

Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor)

A Texas Legend: Located in the small town of Taylor, just outside of Austin, Louie Mueller Barbecue is a cornerstone of Texas barbecue history. Established in 1949, it has remained in the Mueller family, preserving the tradition of wood-fired pits and time-tested recipes.

Rib Style: Louie Mueller Barbecue upholds the Central Texas tradition with their focus on beef ribs. They’re seasoned simply with salt and pepper, allowing the natural flavor of the meat and the slow-smoking process to shine. The result is a beefy masterpiece with a tender bite and a beautiful smoke ring.

Old-School Atmosphere: Stepping into Louie Mueller Barbecue is like stepping back in time. The no-frills atmosphere, aroma of smoked meats, and the sight of pitmasters tending to the fires create a truly authentic Texas barbecue experience.

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Conclusion

Texas is a vast state with diverse regional barbecue styles, and the pursuit of the perfect rib is an ongoing adventure. This list of five outstanding establishments offers a starting point, but there are countless hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re a seasoned barbecue aficionado or just starting your Texas rib journey, get ready to savor the smoky, tender flavors that define Lone Star State barbecue.

Additional Tips for Your Texas Rib Adventure

  • Embrace the wait: Popular barbecue joints often have long lines, especially on weekends. Arrive early or be prepared for a wait that’s worth every delicious bite.
  • Order with abandon: Go hungry and order generously! Texas barbecue is best enjoyed with a sampling of various meats and sides.
  • Explore different styles: Each barbecue joint has its own signature style. Try different places to discover your favorite flavor profiles.
  • Don’t forget the sauce: While sauce is optional in places like Central Texas, try it to experience the full spectrum of flavors.
  • Enjoy the experience: Texas barbecue is about more than just the food; it’s about the atmosphere, the camaraderie, and the tradition.
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MBS Staff
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